When we began roasting we very much wanted to be a sustainable coffee company that sold great coffee beans. As the years have gone by we hope we’re getting there although we are aware there’s always more to do and are constantly seeking more sustainable alternatives to reduce our carbon footprint. The concept of zero waste has become popular for many companies over the last number of years and we’re trying to do our best but before we tell you about our zero waste coffee solutions let’s start with a definition.
The Zero Waste International Alliance defines zero waste as “the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health”.
Zero Waste Coffee Solutions
When we began roasting we were aware that our business needed to deliver coffee beans to coffee shops in a way that was sustainable.. Over 90% of our coffee production is organic so we felt delivering to restaurants and coffee shops had to be in a way that was good for our business and the planet. We started out with tins but as we grew we discovered another Irish business that was producing containers that really fit the bill. We believe in supporting local businesses where possible so made our first order and we’ve been using them ever since.
Zero Waste: Coffee In Cans
In a similar system to the milkman of yesteryear, we will deliver your coffee beans in 6-kilo cans, collect them when you’re done, bring them back to our roastery, clean them and leave you with new ones so you can get on with brewing your zero waste coffee. It’s a circular economy meaning you’re left with no empty bags to dispose of so it’s automatically more eco friendly. At present we can only offer this as a wholesale service in Dublin. Someday we hope to expand it but for now we need to collect the containers that are delivered ourselves as it’s just not possible with couriers.
Zero Waste: Our Coffee Sacks
When our coffee arrives at the roastery it comes in large coffee sacks and these can build up. Simply throwing them out would hardly be reducing waste, so every few months we send out a message on social media where we give away these sacks for free. The response has been great and it’s encouraging to know that what is effectively our rubbish, is being put to good use. From bee keepers to gardeners, to those who can fashion a cloth bag or reuse the sacks as cushion covers, we’re really happy to know they’re being used in both practical and creative ways.
Zero Waste: Coffee Chaff
A by-product of roasting green coffee beans is chaff and it provides another use for the waste we produce. Again we’ve had gardeners come to us and collect this chaff. It has a high nitrogen content and helps to improve soil health. It is yet another way to use what the roastery produces but doesn’t need in a manner that is beneficial to others.
Zero Waste Coffee in Cafes
As we learn more and more about climate change, many in the coffee industry are trying to do things differently regarding their coffee waste including cafes. Many have encouraged people to consider the environment by asking customers to bring their own reusable cup instead of disposable paper cups or by introducing compostable packaging. You’ll also often now see cafes offering spent/waste coffee grounds to use as fertiliser for customers in their homes. Many zero waste stores have also popped up all over the country with many selling coffee beans you can buy without the packaging. It’s a whole new world and we’re delighted to supply several customers in this space.
Making Coffee at Home
What is your coffee brewing routine? How do you make your own coffee at home? What coffee maker do you use when you try to brew the perfect cup? Are you a single cup coffee drinker or are your taste buds only satisfied after several cups? My daily routine for making what is hopefully great coffee is always brewing with a v60. Once I’ve filled my kettle and the water starts boiling, I weigh out my coffee beans and then drop them into a Comandante coffee grinder. It’s an exceptional grinder and will do a great job regardless of the brewer you use. Multiple grind settings mean it’s perfect for a french press, moka pot, aeropress, v60 or even espresso. I’m a huge fan of drip coffee at home and at work where our coffee maker of choice is our Moccamaster
So how do you go about a minimal/zero waste cup of coffee at home once you’ve bought coffee beans? It’s now a little easier to do this. Buy your coffee from a zero waste store. Buy a stainless steel filter and simply insert this in your brewer instead of disposable coffee filters and start your morning coffee routine. Once you’ve finished imbibing, the best use for those spent coffee grounds is as fertiliser in your garden. Hey presto, a more eco friendly way of coffee brewing.
Zero Waste: Coffee Beans Shop
Another change we’ll soon be making in order to offer more sustainable coffee is to have our own zero waste store of sorts in the roastery once you buy our coffee online. More and more people are enjoying brewing a cup of coffee at home and we’re beginning to see a desire (particularly from those in our local community), to order coffee from us and come in and collect it. Many have asked can this be done using their own containers or a glass jar instead of receiving it in the usual plastic packaging. We hope to have this zero waste coffee service for homes up and running soon.
How Will It Work?
We think this will fill a gap and work for a lot of people. The idea is that once you order through the shop on our website, you can then come and collect whatever coffee you want, be it from our organic “story” coffee range or any of our single origins. We can’t offer this service for ground coffee. It will just be for whole beans as we’re a very small team. We’ll need to fill each container and having to grind the coffee too just isn’t practical. If you’re in the market to buy coffee beans in this manner we hope to see you very soon. If you do need your coffee ground, you can still buy coffee online from our site and you can either come to collect or we’ll deliver it to you so you can get on with your coffee brewing at home.
Zero Waste: Our Story
As a business, we at Imbibe Coffee Roasters have grown in a very organic manner. We’ve done things slowly not just because we’re a small business but because we want what we do to be authentic and true. Having started our journey with our zero waste cans, last year we purchased on electric van. We live in a world of optics where all is not sometimes as it seems and we’d like to be different. In donating 1% of our sales to Women’s Aid, giving 1% to projects at coffee origins and sharing 1% with our staff we hope that message comes across and that our concept for a zero waste shop of sorts will appeal. There are many coffee companies in Dublin and indeed throughout Ireland but we hope our ethos of running our business on a model of “Conscious Capitalism”, helps us to stand out as doing things in a more sustainable way.
Zero waste isn’t always possible and simply not an option for many cafes who sell retail bags. Up until quite recently Ireland didn’t recycle soft plastics so a bag that could be recycled seemed a little pointless. A government announcement this year meant this has now changed so we’ll be changing our coffee packaging. At the time of writing we have had new bags designed and will soon be placing our order for a bag you’ll be able to recycle. It’s another small step on a path to improvement which will be more eco friendly and sustainable for the environment.
We believe small changes can have an impact so if you believe in this too we hope our business ethos and coffee will appeal to you. If you have a cafe in Dublin and are in search of a zero waste approach to your coffee, then don’t hesitate to call us as we’d love to speak with you. If you buy coffee online in Ireland or abroad and enjoy it from a coffee market at home such as a french press, moka pot or V60 we hope you’ll consider buying your coffee beans from our site. We can either deliver it to your home or you can come in to to collect from us.
Imbibe Coffee Roasters