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Capsule coffee – it’s not a pleasure for the environment

by | Mar 16, 2020 | Coffee | 0 comments

Do you know how many capsules of coffee are drunk in the world? We hope that you are sitting when you read the number now: 12,300. No, not in the year, not in the month, but in every single minute. That’s what the big brand manufacturers claim. Can you imagine? It gets even more serious if you now imagine the mountains of rubbish that 738,000 coffee capsules accumulate every hour. Or the 17,712,000 a day. In words: seventeen comma seven seven two million. Do you like that? Probably even less if you knew that capsule coffee can damage your health. This is how Stiftung Warentest found out that acrylamide is released during the preparation of the capsules. The amide is suspected to be a precursor to cancer.

Our coffee thirst stops at this thought for a moment. The environment and the climate are not breathing anyway. It is not only the disposal of coffee that presents our planet with immense problems. Above all, the production of coffee capsules is an overexploitation of Mother Nature. The production of the required aluminium consumes a horrendous amount of raw materials, water and energy. To illustrate it more precisely: With coffee capsules you are indirectly cutting down the rainforest. (For the same reason we also criticise the purchase of coffee pods). This is because bauxite is mainly used for the production of aluminium. This natural mineral is mainly found in countries with rainforest areas. To get at it, huge areas are cleared to the extent of several sports fields. The mineral is then processed further. In this process, lead and mercury, among other things, occur, contaminating the immediate surroundings and thus contributing to the extinction of forests and species, for example in Brazil or Indonesia, the home of Kopi Luwak.

A plastic coffee capsule is of course not an option either

To make a plastic capsule, the rainforest is not affected. But it is not much friendlier to the environment. Because plastic is not recyclable. This means that the plastic capsule remains in the material cycle for a long time, in the worst case it contaminates an ocean or is burned and emits exhaust gases into the atmosphere. The use of coffee capsules made of organic plastic is not quite as alarming, but it is not a benefit for nature and the climate. At least they are made from “renewable raw materials” such as corn starch. But when this “organic raw material” is grown, pesticides and above all fertilizers are not too seldom used, which is bad for the soil and groundwater. The “bio-plastics” cannot be decomposed in a purely biological way either, which again means that they have to be sent to an incineration plant.

So you see, a coffee capsule always causes a form of waste – and not too little. So that you can enjoy just three grams of coffee, throw at least six grams of aluminium or plastic into the bin after each use of a capsule. Recycling the aluminium containers? No. Aluminium capsules are always burnt. The CO2 balance of your short-lived coffee enjoyment reads twice as badly due to the great effort involved in production and disposal.

Manual work instead of capsule machine: environmentally friendly coffee drinking

Before you completely stop drinking our coffee, we would like to reassure you. Of course there are alternative(s) to capsule coffee that taste at least as good (probably even much better) and have a much more positive ecological balance. We will show you two ways of preparing coffee that allow you to (almost) completely do without aluminium and instead achieve maximum enjoyment. But before we do, we’d like to give you a few useful tips to help you drink coffee in an environmentally friendly way in your everyday life:

  1. Pay attention to fairly produced coffee that takes into account both animal and human welfare in its production and that does not use pesticides or other harmful substances in its cultivation.
  2. If possible, always make exactly the amount of coffee that you or your guests want to drink at any given time. This keeps energy consumption low, you don’t have to pour it away or even reheat it.
  3. If there is any coffee left over, or you would like to enjoy your coffee on the go, please use a reusable coffee to go cup. There is no plastic or paper waste that you have to throw away again and again.
  4. Admittedly, tip number four is something for the really environmentally conscious. But have you ever wondered what you can do with the coffee grounds that are still in your kitchen after brewing? Ask your flowers, who are looking forward to this exclusive fertilizer. Or use the coffee grounds for cooking! Pardon? Yes, for hot dishes where you want to achieve a smoky aroma, coffee grounds are a really tasty secret ingredient.

Alternative preparation methods to capsule coffee

The hand filter or the French Press

Do these two brewing types look familiar to you? We’re glad to hear it. On our Coffee Routine page you will find detailed instructions on how to prepare an insanely delicious coffee cup by cup with these two simple household helpers. As a short summary, however, we will reveal a lot here: All you basically need is coffee and hot water. That is it. There is really no more natural and environmentally friendly way to make coffee, don’t you think?

The Cooking Pot

A bit trickier to operate than French Press or hand filter, but still with a rather reduced mode of operation, the cooker jug works. It is even more climate-friendly than a machine for coffee capsules. So why not give it a try? With a little practice you will feel like an Italian coffee connoisseur. Because jugs are particularly popular for preparing espresso or mocha.

You need to know that: The pot is made up of three parts, a lower part into which you pour the water, a sieve into which the freshly ground coffee is placed and an upper part that has to be screwed onto the previous two parts in the last step. Now you are ready to start. Heat the water in the kettle (saves energy) and in the meantime grind the freshly ground coffee. Pour the hot water into the lower part of the cooker jug until it is marked. Put the coarsely ground coffee into the filter and screw it onto the lower part. Still fit the upper part of the machine and place it on a hot stove. As soon as the first liquid flows upwards, you can switch the hotplate off again and put the jug away – the residual heat provides the final touch. After a few minutes you will be holding a cup of perfect coffee in your hand.

Conclusion on the subject of capsule coffee

We hope that our article has provided you with some information and entertainment about the effects of coffee in capsules. Perhaps we have even raised your critical awareness of coffee consumption to a certain extent.

Coffee is a wonderful pleasure if it is prepared properly. Always be aware of this and, if you like, share this blog with other coffee lovers.