Posted in Kafevend Blog

When we have talked about sustainability in the past on this blog, it has typically been related to how our coffee, tea and chocolate is grown. Something that is important to consider however is the potential environmental impact they have throughout their life time, and the part we are going to have a look at today is the fun bit- when we get to drink them! As a nation we've become big fans of visiting various coffee shop chains and independent cafés for our caffeine hit, so what can they do to reduce their environmental impact?

Last month, Costa opened a new store in Telford, though it's no ordinary store. Instead, it's a testbed for a variety of eco-minded design decisions. Following around a year of running, Costa will see how it has performed, and consider either building more and/or retrofitting older stores with some of the designs. There's quite a lot going on with it: first up is the frame. In lieu of a steel structure, they have used timber in order to reduce the carbon footprint of the building. The walls are designed with insulation in mind, in order to keep heat in during cold weather and conversely to keep cool during warm weather. Working in tandem with this is passive ventilation and underfloor heating, the latter being powered by solar panels, along with the rest of the electrical equipment in the shop such as the espresso machines. Even the orientation of the building has been specifically chosen to get the most out of the sunlight and shade!

Of course, you don't need to pay an arm and a leg for a fancy new store in order to reduce your environmental impact in a coffee house. Simple changes to the way you do things can help. With regards to electricity, changing over your light bulbs for more efficient types is easy enough, as is adjusting the thermostat. Though you may balk at the idea, keeping equipment clean is another good way to reduce energy usage, as it allows it to work more efficiently. Recycling is also worth considering, and putting a few properly marked bins in place for folk to put their cups into isn't too onerous. The coffee grounds themselves can also be recycled, as they make for good fertilizer. Finally, stocking sustainable coffee is a must. Not only are you supporting good practices, but you also make sure you don't negate all your hard efforts by using something that has been produced cheaply without much thought given to its potential impact on the environment.

We hope this blog has given you some food for thought- it's all too easy not to realise quite how wide ranging the effects of something as simple as a cup of coffee are. Hopefully as people become ever more aware of the bigger picture, companies will see the value of changing their ways to show the public they mean well and attract the business of eco-minded clientele!

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