How Eco Is Your Coffee? | Sustainable Environment

New “Coffee Trends”

Coffee shops and cafes are the new dairies of the 21st century. Once, nearly every corner had a small dairy on it, though most of these have shut due to the cost cutting of the supermarket chains. A lot of these once-dairies are now cafes or small coffee hang outs. Why? Coffee is a fundamental part of food culture all around the world, and its consumers demand access to it. They are also a great alternative to pubs to gather in and have a natter.

As a foodservice operator or restaurant owner, it’s important to stay ahead of new trends so you can capitalize on what’s new and popular. Here are some general trends that appeared in the coffee industry (Jones):

Coffee For Younger Audiences

Currently, would you believe that the fastest growing demographic of coffee drinkers is between the 13 to 18 year old age group. As a result of this rapid growth, the coffee industry is changing and creating new drinks that appeal to the tastes and wants of the younger generations, such as coffee shakes and sweetened alternatives and ready-to-drink coffee.

Cold Brew Coffee

The cold brew coffee is a new trend that has caught the attention of investors and consumers, the flavour is seeped out of the grinds over 12 - 24 hours with cold water. This gives a full rich flavour without any heat to bitterness to brew, giving a new category to the coffee culture and as it can be made and stored for up to two weeks there are some great sustainable options like our Mason Jar Cold Brew Filter. Another bonus is that without heat and the risk of bitterness it does not require a diploma to make! The immersion of coffee to the ready-to-drink category, has grown incredibly, having a notable 580% sales growth in the U.S. from 2011 to 2016 (Sago). See our cold brew blog here.

Side Effects Of The Coffee Culture In The Environment

Let’s get down to some hard hitting info on you and your coffee needs. Some coffee habits contribute enormously to the increasingly urgent plastic pollution crisis. You can see in this infographic from Associated Coffee that it is not a great situation, but I'm pretty sure we already know that. Hence the reason we have decided to make reusable coffee a key category for us at Intentionally Sustainable, We are on a mission to find a reusable product to suit every caffeine addict out there and why not start at the top with these three big players in the pollution game:

Single-Use Coffee Cups

Currently, the world uses up to 16 billion disposable coffee cups each year. Those cups represent 6.5 million trees cut down, 4 billion gallons of water and enough energy to power 54,000 homes for a year. The decision to use a disposable or reusable cup might actually be the most environmentally intense decision of the whole coffee supply chain (Hoag).

Therefore, it is important to generate an ecological conscience in both coffee shops and consumers to reduce the use of disposable cups. A good option is to start using reusable coffee cups, which can significantly reduce this important source of plastic pollution in the coming years.

Pod-based machines

Sales of coffee pod machines have rapidly increased during the past decade, from 1.8 million units in 2008 to 20.7 million in 2018 (Moskwitch). By now, more than 40 per cent of US households own an espresso pod machine; in the UK, it’s nearly one third. This new trend of making coffee is generating an inordinate amount of waste due to the single-use coffee pods. About 39,000 of these coffee pods are made worldwide per minute, while up to 29,000 are dumped in landfill sites (Moskwitch).

However, pods and capsules can take a more sustainable strategy, even better than other methods of making coffee. Recyclable stainless-steel pods, and reusable plastic pods capsules, can be an innovative technique to reduce waste and take advantage of this new method (Moskwitch).

Plastic Stirrers

The main problem of plastic stirrers is the economics. A bag of 1000 plastic stirrers costs little more than $5. This is far cheaper than any other option for coffee-on-the-go, and though some may change to sustainable options, many will continue to think in terms of short-term budgets rather than saving the planet.

We will have, arriving very soon, some beautiful Stainless Steel Reusable Coffee Stirrers. Many of us carry around reusable straws now, so these will make a great addition to your Stainless Steel Straw set, and help environmentally conscious coffee drinkers reduce the plastic pollution caused by the disposable plastic stirrers.


Because of the importance of coffee in our culture and its prevalence in food service, restaurant owners and operators must keep up with what's current. More importantly, because younger generations are joining the coffee culture, having a new market to develop and explore.

In the same field, due to the current increase in the coffee culture, ecological awareness of the coffee pollution problem is very important too. At the government level, at the coffee shop level and the level of the individual, we need to create a more environmentally friendly coffee culture with feasible alternatives that help us to keep drinking this incredible beverage without causing negative effects on the planet.


Hoag, Becky. The environmental impacts of a cup of coffee . 6 February 2019. 30 August 2019.

Home Ground. History of Coffee: Where Did Coffee Originate and How Was It Discovered? 2019. 26 August 2019.

Jones, Janine. Top Coffee Trends of 2019 . 2019. 26 August 2019.

Moskwitch, Katia. Turns out coffee pods are actually pretty good for the environment . 3 May 2019. 30 August 2019.

National Coffee Association USA. The History of Coffee . 2019. 26 August 2019.

Sago, Renata. Cold brew coffee is straight hotness right now . 23 January 2019. 30 August 2019.

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