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Are Espresso Machines Good for the Environment?

            Image of espresso machine dispensing coffee into bamboo cup

Are you an espresso drinker who cares about the environment? Have you stopped to consider your coffee preparation choice? The truth is some espresso machines are not good for the environment.  

    The Truth About K-Cups and Aluminum Pods

    Many environmentalists go to great lengths and take care to recycle, plant trees and engage in other activities that demonstrate their environmental stewardship. Yet, some have not stopped to consider that their coffee machine may be a huge culprit in their efforts.

    John Sylvan may have invented the K-cup, the ubiquitous single-serve plastic coffee pod, but that doesn’t mean he uses it. In fact, the Boston-based inventor regrets his invention now, not only because of its relative cost, but mostly because the cups are non-recyclable. He admits the waste his invention has created is a valid concern. Sylvan has said, “I find them rather expensive per cup. I really don’t know why people have them.”

    To add insult to injury, the Keurig machine is itself considered a disposable appliance; it was built to be non-repairable with a short life span, so the equipment itself is a huge contributor to landfill mass.

    Many of you may be thinking that K-cups are recyclable - and they are - but here is what Jennifer Kalish from Waste and Recycling News has to say about it:

    “K-Cup pods consist of a combination of plastic, aluminum, organic material (coffee grounds) and a paper filter.  While all said items may be easily recycled separately, the K-Cup pod as a whole cannot be recycled.  The components need to be separated and sorted into the correct categories for recycling or composting.”

    But haven’t we evolved from the K-cup? After all, Nespresso with aluminum capsules is all the rage. Regrettably, the single serve aluminum pod creates a lot of waste too. Unfortunately, most of the aluminum pods wind up in landfills and are not recycled. When you consider the volume of pods sold each year (billions are sold year), the waste generated is alarming.

    Landfill filled with coffee cartridges and capsules

    The Benefits of Espresso Machines That Use Real Coffee Beans

    With an espresso machine that uses real coffee beans - whether it's manual, superautomatic or stovetop - the only waste you are left with is organic matter or coffee grounds. And even coffee grounds can be recycled. In fact, coffee grounds can be used in many ways, some of which, you may have never considered. So before you throw out those coffee grounds, check out this list:

    1. Fertilizer: use coffee grounds in your garden as a fertilizer for plants and flowers.
    2. Pest control: use it in the garden to fend off slugs and other pests.
    3. Deodorizer: make candles or soap or use them on your hands to remove the smell of garlic or other potent scents.
    4. Beauty product: use it as a body scrub or hair mask.
    5. Household uses: use it as a natural scrub to clean pots or clean your fireplace.
    6. Crafts: make play dough to look like dirt.

    Buzz Feed has an extensive list of 34 ways you can use coffee grounds. Check out the list for more ideas and instructions on how to use your coffee grounds. 

    Financial Benefits of Espresso Machines that Use Coffee Beans Instead of Capsules

    Let’s face it: as consumers, we make choices that are self-serving. The popularity of machines that use K-cups or aluminum pods is a result of convenience. Using pods is quick, efficient with little to no mess or fuss. This convenience is a huge selling point. The impact that the disposable components have on the environment is not the first thing that comes to mind when we reach down in our pockets to make the purchase.

    If the environment is not your first priority when considering your coffee machine purchase, perhaps your pocket book is. If you stop to seriously consider the cost of the coffee you are drinking from a pod or capsule, as opposed to the coffee you can enjoy from an espresso machine that uses real coffee beans, you may think again.

    This graphic clearly shows the financial benefit of an espresso machine.

    If you are still stuck on the convenience of pods, you really need to check out a superautomatic machine and learn how superautomatic machines work.  They produce a coffee with a push of button and the coffee grinds are dispensed in a dreg drawer, so the process is quick, easy and with no mess or fuss.

    Other Benefits of Superautomatic Espresso Machines

    If you are an environmentalist, a superautomatic espresso machines is a great choice. Here's why:

    • You have chosen an appliance that produces minimal waste.  In fact, the only thing left behind after you make you coffee are coffee grinds which can be recycled and used in a variety of ways. 
    • By making your coffee at home, you eliminate the need to go to the drive-thru, reducing gas emissions.
    • With your superautomatic, you can use a reusable coffee cup (even if you take it to go), reducing the number of cups that end up in landfills. 
    • Superautomatic espresso machines can be repaired.  They will last a long time but when it does reach its end of life, the parts can be recycled.  

    Here you have it: compelling reasons why you should consider an espresso machine that uses real coffee beans as opposed to pods or cartridges.

    If you have any more questions about espresso machines or espresso related products, contact us and we will be happy to answer your questions.

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