“Small actions, like encouraging your friend make a change, helps”


Galway City



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Carbon Footprint of Different Kinds of Coffee Preparation

Coffee: here’s the carbon cost of your daily cup – and how to make it climate-friendly


13.8 kg per year: the same as taken up by one mature tree

My personal sustainability action was

I’ve started cleaning my coffee pods and recycling them at a Nespresso drop-off point.

Why I made this change

I felt guilty using my Nespresso machine – I knew that I wouldn’t be able to wittingly continue as I was. I researched recycling methods and found that Nespresso would take their used pods and ethically dispose of them.

The impact of the change

I feel better using my Nespresso machine, but it’s also given me the boost I needed to work towards. Finding out the most sustainable coffee solution for me.

Tips or advice for sustainability actions

Do what you can, when you can. Small actions, like encouraging your friend make a change, helps; it’s planting a seed that we all need to be more mindful of our world.

How to keep your coffee sustainable

There is now a myriad of ways of making coffees and plenty of research comparing their sustainability. If we consider just two things that really matter to sustainability in coffee consumption (leaving out the cups) we should focus on water consumption and CO2 emitted during the life cycle.

 To track these we need to see:

  • Is there is a difference in the amount of coffee used? This will affect the amount of water needed.
  • Is there a difference in the amount of energy used? This will affect carbon emissions.
  • Is here a difference in waste produced – particularly non organic or mixed waste?

Luckily there is research (peer reviewed and published in scientific journals) that clears this up.

The research found that in essence,:

Moka Coffee Maker

47-59 g CO2e/cup

Esspresso Machine

74-96 g CO2e/cup

Coffee Capsules

57-73 g CO2e/cup

The production of one cup of coffee gave rise to 45-57 or 47-59 g CO2e when using the Moka pot heated by an induction- or gas-fired stove, 74-96 g CO2e when using the espresso coffee machine, 72-92 g CO2e when using the pod coffee machine, and 57-73 g CO2e when using the capsule coffee machine, whether the post-consumer wastes were incinerated or disposed of in landfills. Moreover, by using coffee pods or capsules, the contribution of the packaging material production and post-consumer waste disposal increased up to represent the secondary share of the overall GHG emissions. Based on these estimates, the environmentally aware consumer should be conscious that the preparation of a cup of coffee with a coffee pod or capsule machine would result in extra emissions of 27.6 or 12.6 g CO2e with respect to those emitted with an induction Moka pot.

Matteo Cibelli, Alessio Cimini, Gabriella Cerchiara, Mauro Moresi, ‘Carbon footprint of different methods of coffee preparation’ Sustainable Production and Consumption, Volume 27, 2021, Pages 1614-1625, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spc.2021.04.004

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