Coffee is by no means a low-waste food item. It's shipped from the corners of earth, often via another corner, to get to Cape Town. But there are things we can do to make it better and put some care into understanding what coffee is, what makes it good, and how to use less waste to get our moment of coffee awesomeness.
I happened upon Global coffee and I really enjoyed figuring out with Charles which coffee to buy. We bought 10kg, which was their minimum order at the time, in one large bag that had been used and can be reused. The company does seek out Fair Trade production, but they don't have the Fair Trade label... yet. I was really impressed at Charles' level of knowledge and he and his team's openness to sharing more about roasting coffee despite our being total newbies. We bought Columbian and the coffee is consistently better than anything we could get at even the best coffee shop.
Here's how we've settled on roasting, in excruciating detail:
|The green beans start out in a large dog food bowl.|
|Eug uses a second-hand heat gun, which is basically a very hot hairdryer, to roast the beans.|
|They roast evenly and the chaff floats off as the beans cook. There's a lot of control using this method of roasting.|
|The final product: a really even roast.|
With this level of knowledge, perhaps we can influence our tiny bit of the local economy, and even get to know a coffee farmer- his/her needs, how s/he creates an coffee farm, and how we can help that farmer be a better steward. As a commodity that can't be grown in our back yard, we depend on farmers around the world for our coffee: if we're pressuring them to give us coffee at low prices, they are pressured to eek extra coffee out of their land, which is not good for the soil, for their environment, or for their families.