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"A society built on green design, sustainable energy and closed loop systems, a civilization afloat on a cloud of efficient, non-toxic, recyclable technology." ~~Alex Nikolai Steffan



photo by Green Tallahassee

You and I, we love our coffee.  I give a cursory nod to my one or two friends who allegedly are tea drinkers, but we and 25 million of our closest friends from around the world drink coffee. 

Since coffee is not a locally grown product, how does this importation for our consumption impact our carbon footprint?  

This web article estimates:
  • One pound of coffee can generate as much as 4 pounds of carbon emissions before leaving its country of origin:
    • Roughly 2 pounds on the farm, 1.25 pounds at the mill, and another .75 pounds in shipping preparation--depending on the size of the farm, the processes and technologies used, and adding all the shipping energy into the equation
  • Of the 10 to 11 pounds of carbon emissions that the average pound of coffee creates, as much as 50% is created at the retail and consumer level.
Energy efficient measures in shops where machines and lights are turned off overnight would help.  Check out this a post from a while back that highlights some innovative energy efficiency choices made by the first LEED certified restaurant/coffee shop in St. Petersburg, Florida that included:   

  • Energy-efficient insulated concrete foam walls to reduce air conditioning usage by approximately 40%
  • Energy-efficient lighting, including motion sensors for restrooms and offices
  • Water-efficient plumbing fixtures, low-flush toilets, and the usage of well water rather than potable water for all irrigation
  • Waste from the construction site was diverted to the local recycling center
  • Designated areas within the restaurant for storage/collection of recyclable materials
  • Met IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) standards for debris/dust/garbage levels during construction
Brewing and drinking can reduce the amount of carbon impact. We, as consumers, can reduce the impact by using cups and mugs instead of paper (or Stryrofoamtm) cups, composting our coffee grounds and skipping the paper napkins. Walking inside the shop rather than idling in the drive-thru (a particular pet peeve)! Or brew at home, just don't forget to unplug the coffee maker.

But, if you're ready to change things up and look for a local solution for (at least) some of those cups of coffee, check out this post on the 100 mile diet alternatives to the coffee bean.  



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