Sustainable Coffee Guide for Eco-Friendly Coffee Makers

30 June 2021 Shares

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By 30 June 2021 Shares

Sustainable Coffee Guide for Eco-Friendly Coffee Makers

Brew Coffee Right & Fair in 7 Steps

Whether you like the convenience of single-serving capsule coffee, the sound of drip coffee in the morning, or the pureness of fresh ground coffee? There is always a way to make your black coffee more green and eco-friendly.

There are multiple ways to make more sustainable and eco-friendly coffee, for example, by purchasing an eco-friendly coffee maker. An eco-friendly coffee maker allows you to reduce the waste of single-use plastics and enjoy a fair and zero waste coffee moment at home or work.

Recommended Coffee Machines

Let’s start this guide with a few examples of coffee machines that are more sustainable. We get quite some questions from our readers about sustainable coffee machines, so we share our recommendations with you below.

These machines don’t make use of single coffee cups or pads. So it would help if you had (eco-friendly) ground coffee or coffee beans.

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#1 | Cuisinart DCC-3200P1 Perfectemp Coffee Maker

Durable stainless steel coffee maker includes a reusable filter

  • This is a very popular drip coffee maker. The Cuisinart ensures hotter coffee without sacrificing the flavor and quality of your ground coffee.
  • The coffee machine can make 1-4 cups of coffee but also a large glass carafe for 14 cups. After brewing the machine shuts off automatically and cleans itself.
  • Type: Brewer for ground coffee
  • Capacity: 14 cups

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#2 | Mueller Ultra Coffee Maker

Includes a permanent coffee filter, so no more single-use filters

  • The stainless steel Mueller coffee brewer has a permanent water filter, easy cord storage and a built-in water reservoir that make water filling easy and safe.
  • Allows for pouring a cup of coffee at any time during brewing your favorite coffee blend.
  • Type: Brewer for ground coffee
  • Capacity: 12 cups

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#3| Ninja CE251 Programmable Brewer

Perfect to brew a small ammount of coffee (1-4 cups)

  • The affordable Ninja Coffee brewer is a programmable coffee maker that makes hot and flavorful coffee. You can choose for classic or rich brew settings.
  • You can keep your fresh coffee hot up to 4 hours without burning it. You can also make one serving.
  • Type: Brewer for ground coffee
  • Capacity: 12 cups

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Go Green & Enjoy Your Coffee in 7 Steps

How can you make your cup of coffee or espresso more sustainable? For instance, by exchanging disposable coffee capsules for reusable capsules or swapping out single-serve packaged coffee creamer, milk, and sugar with refillable dispensers. Or replace single-use coffee cups with reusable cups and replace single-use stirrers with reusable spoons that can be reused repeatedly.

On this page, we want to give inspiration for a more sustainable and eco-friendly daily coffee routine.


Sustainable Coffee Guide:

reuse-reduce-recycle-iconEvery minute about 39,000 single-use coffee capsules are made worldwide, while 29,000 are dumped in landfill sites.Research by Evergreen

Step 1: Coffee Machines:

There are multiple ways to make a flavorful cup of coffee, espresso, or cappuccino. Which electronic coffee machine is best to brew the most eco-friendly coffee at home or the office?

A fully-automatic espresso machine and a traditional ‘auto-drip’ coffee maker are your best option because they make fresh coffee with beans or ground coffee and never use plastic or aluminum capsules.

Automatic coffee machines don’t require single-serve coffee pods, pads, or capsules. These single-use pods are wasteful and harm the environment since recycling rates of the capsules are very low. In 2018 alone, more than 15 billion single-use capsules were thrown away and not recycled.

Espresso Machines
Use Fair Trade Coffee Beans

Espresso machines are designed to enjoy freshly ground coffee without coffee pods or other single-serve capsules. We recommend high quality engineered espresso makers that contain durable commercial grade stainless steel parts rather than plastic parts.

For commercial use, it is convenient to opt for an automatic espresso machine with a grinder.

De’Longhi EC9335M
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Breville BES880BSS
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Breville BES980XL
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More Espresso Machines

Drip Coffee Machines
Use Fair Trade Ground Coffee

A pour-over drip coffee maker is a popular and easy to use the coffee machine. It contains one chamber for water and a basket for ground coffee.

We recommend making use of reusable coffee filters or 100% biodegradable ones. Also, opt for a durably made coffee brewer that is mostly made of glass and metal parts to last you longer. You can use (fairtrade) ground coffee or grind your own (espresso) coffee beans with a coffee bean grinder.

Ninja CP307
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Wilbur Curtis
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More Drip Coffee Makers

Compact Coffee Makers
Use Fair Trade Coffee

Besides full automatic espresso machines and pour-over coffee makers, there are also more compact ways to make coffee at home or in the office. These include a french press, also known as a coffee press, where you press your coffee manually with a plunger or piston.

With a coffee percolator, you make fresh coffee on your stovetop, but some also have an integral electric heating element. A Moka pot is also a stainless steel or aluminum pot for making a fresh espresso on your stovetop.

Mueller French Press
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Presto Percolator
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Bialetti Moka Pot
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Step 2: Coffee Beans & Ground Coffee


How do you make your black coffee greener? One of the easiest ways is to purchase fair trade coffee. By choosing Fairtrade coffee, you will support the coffee farmers around the world, and you protect the environment.

You can buy fair trade as ground coffee or coffee beans. For the beans, you need to use an automatic espresso machine or a zero-waste coffee grinder.

Fair Trade & Organic Coffee

Fairtrade certified coffee guarantees, local farmers a minimum price that helps cover costs for sustainable production. Besides having a Fairtrade certification, coffee can also get licensed under ‘USDA Organic Certification’ and the ‘Rainforest Alliance.’

USDA Organic ensures the product was grown in an environmentally friendly way. The Rainforest Alliance works with sustainable coffee farmers audited annually with detailed environmental, social, and economic criteria.

Another tip is to purchase eco-friendly packaged coffee, for instance, coffee packaged in paper or biodegradable packaging. Also, buy your coffee in bulk to reduce waste.

Ground Coffee
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Coffee Beans
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Coffee Beans
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More Fair Trade Coffee

Step 3: Coffee Filters & Reusable Pods

A drip coffee machine that uses ground coffee requires a coffee filter. To reduce waste it is recommended to make use of reusable coffee filters or 100% natural and organic filters which are biodegradable.

Single-serve coffee machines make use of capsule coffee and this way of brewing your coffee can be very wasteful. This form of ‘mono-use’, where you buy, brew and then bin the coffee isn’t a circular way of making a cup of coffee.

Reusable & Biodegradable Coffee Filters

Reusable filters can be bought separately for your brand and type of coffee machine. After usage, you can clean them quickly and reuse the filter for your next brew.

Some coffee machines already come with an included reusable filter. Compostable (zero waste) coffee filters are unbleached and thus chlorine-free and are made of, preferably, FSC-certified paper.

Also, make sure the coffee filters are compostable, see if the filters are, for instance, certified for composting by the ‘Biodegradable Products Institute.’

Reusable Coffee Filters
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Biodegradable Coffee Filters
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Biodegradable Baskets
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Reusable Coffee Pods

Standard coffee capsules commonly get made from aluminum or polypropylene. These capsules benefit the freshness of the coffee and extend the coffee’s shelf life.

Modern techniques can even recycle both aluminum and polypropylene, but research shows that the coffee capsules often end up in landfills, making coffee capsules part of the environmental crisis. Thus, the study concludes that coffee cups, pads, and capsules end up in the black sack most of the time, and therefore on the landfill.

Compostable capsules are not a desired alternative because they are difficult to sort, separate, and recycle. The best alternative for single-use capsules is to use reusable coffee pods that are refillable with your favorite ground coffee.

Reusable Nespresso Capsule
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Reusable Keurig K-Cup Capsule
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Reusable Illy iperEspresso Capsule
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More Reusable Coffee Capsules

Step 4: Coffee Cups

In commercial environments, it is common that coffee gets served in single-use plastic cups. Also known as coffee ‘on the go,’ which you can buy at your local coffee store, which also gets served in a disposable coffee cup. These cups are not very eco-friendly because most of them are not recycled properly.

Reusable & Biodegradable Coffee Cups

It is better to use permanent coffee cups, such as glass or porcelain coffee mugs, reusable. If you want to grab a takeaway coffee on the go, we recommend ‘bringing your own cup.’

Some coffee stores even give you a small discount for bringing your cup. When a disposable cup is unavoidable, then opt for 100% compostable coffee cups.

Reusable Cups
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Coffee Tumbler
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Biodegradable Cups
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Step 5: Milk & Sugar Dispenser

Instead of using single packaged powdered coffee creamer and sugar, it is more sustainable to serve coffee creamer and sugar in large dispensers and let everyone help themselves.

Dispensers for Coffee Creamer & Sugar

You can use glass canisters for sugar and powdered creamer. Or place an insulated creamer carafe for cold coffee milk.

Dispenser Set
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Dispenser Set
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Step 6: Reusable Spoons & Stir Sticks

Around 138 billion plastic coffee stir sticks get thrown away globally every year. When you want to make your coffee green, you should stop offering and using disposable plastic stir sticks.

Reusable & Biodegradable Coffee Stirrers

Replace single-use plastic coffee stir sticks with stainless steel coffee or tea spoons. Or make use of biodegradable alternatives such as bamboo or birch wood coffee stirrers that are compostable and also more eco-friendly to use.

Coffee Spoons
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Bamboo Stir Sticks
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Bamboo Stir Sticks
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Step 7: Compost Bins & Knock Boxes

Did you know that about 6 million tonnes of coffee grounds get sent to landfill every year? To prevent the coffee ground from ending up in landfills, it is essential to separate coffee grounds in a dedicated recycling bin.

Compost Bin for Coffee Grounds

One way to recycle coffee grounds is to use a compost bin, as coffee grounds are compostable. You can use a small composting bin on the counter that you can empty into a larger composting bin when it is full in the kitchen.

The separated coffee grounds must be composted for around 100 days before you can use them as a fertilizer. Otherwise, it may still contain chlorogenic acid and tannins that are harmful to plants. Read more ways to use coffee grounds in your garden.

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Joseph Joseph
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More Compost Bins

Espresso Knock Box

An espresso knock box is a dedicated container for your used ground coffee. It helps to separate coffee grounds from other waste streams.

It gets called a knock box because you can ‘knock out’ the used ground coffee out of the portafilter. Of course, you can also use the knock box as a dump bin to throw away compostable coffee filters with coffee grounds from your drip coffee maker.

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More Knock Boxes


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Coffee to Go? Bring Your Own Cup

Many people like to drink their coffee on their commute to work or school. So, making coffee at home in the morning and bring it with them in an insulated coffee tumbler.

But most people like to buy their coffee on the go to a local coffee shop. Instead of ordering your hot coffee in a disposable cup, you get it at the store.

You can also bring your reusable cup to shrink your environmental footprint. Some stores, such as Starbucks, even offer a cup discount, so you save a bit of money too.

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More Reusable Coffee Cups

For The Tea Drinkers Among Us

Some people prefer to drink tea rather than coffee or switch to tea later to avoid caffeine. Many don’t know that your average tea bag can contain plastics, and therefore these are not appropriate to compost or recycle. However, below we have provided some eco-friendly, plastic-free solutions for this issue.

Eco-Friendly Tea Bags and Infusers

Tea Ball Infuser
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Natural Tea Filter Bags
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Teapot with Infuser
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Loose Leaf Tea

English Breakfast Tea
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Davidson’s Green Tea
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Lipton Loose Black Tea
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Sustainable Coffee Guide Infographic

Share the 7 sustainable coffee tips with your own network.


Step Up: Recycle, Reuse & Reduce

The three arrows of the recycling symbol represent the three main stages of the recycling process: recycling, reusing and reducing. Together the arrows form a closed loop. Step up and implement eco-friendly replacements in your daily life.


Join the movement! Step Up the waste hierarchy together to a goal of Zero Waste.

By 30 June 2021 Shares

2 Comments on “Sustainable Coffee Guide for Eco-Friendly Coffee Makers

  1. Great info about the of coffee. Thank you for sharing this article. Such quality content always helps the people getting valuable knowledge. I would like to mention that I have shared useful tips and info for cleaning of coffee makers in the mentioned site.

  2. Great blog!! I think the idea of reusable things is amazing and I just love these coffee cups I will buy one for me and I will definitely start to use the reusable thing in my office. thank you so much.

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