10 ways to be a more ethical coffee drinker

Keen to curb throwaway culture and be kinder to the planet without kicking your speciality habit? Squeeze a few of these simple swaps into your daily routine and your conscience will be as clear as that fruity filter

Feature from The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide No 4 – buy your copy here.

1. Dig the doggy bag

If you’re defeated by the epic slice of cake accompanying your coffee, don’t forget to ask for a doggy bag (bonus points if you take along your own container). Not only will you be super chuffed when round two rolls around later on, but you’ll also be saving money and reducing food waste #doublewin.

2. Home grown beans

While your chances of stumbling upon coffee plants cultivated down the road are pretty slim, most home brewers are likely to find a local roaster bronzing speciality-standard beans nearby. Pick up your local Independent Coffee Guide and you’ll discover a treasure trove of roasters – fewer miles to your front door means less CO2.

3. Cup-le up

If your mobile caffeine kicks still come in a plastic-lined paper cup, it’s time to ditch the disposable for a reusable model. Every minute, over a million cups make their way to landfill and takeaway coffee plays a big part in the spiralling pile-up.

Speciality coffee shops were championing the reuse revolution before the chains jumped on the bandwagon and most offer a tidy discount if you rock up with a KeepCup. An increasing number of cafes such as Baltzersen’s in Harrogate are taking it a step further by banning single-use cups altogether and taking a hit on profits in order to curb throwaway culture.

4. New life in old grounds

As the region’s penchant for speciality peaks, so do the piles of used coffee grounds heading for the bin. The old grounds are no longer good for brewing coffee, but plants and flowers can’t get enough of the stuff, hence the growing number of gardeners taking the soil enhancer off baristas’ hands.

And it’s not just green-fingered coffee fiends putting the grounds to good use: savvy coffee shops are using them to make products such as soap and face wash.

5. Shop local

Speciality coffee shops are often a great place to bag local foodie products and artisan goodies. If you can’t pick up provincial preserves, freshly baked loaves or handcrafted chocolate at your fave spot, you should be able to stock up on speciality grade beans.

6. Retro dairy

Remember when milk would appear on your doorstep each morning as if by magic? The milkman is making a comeback and an increasing number of indie dairies are bringing back the daily delivery. Find your local milk float online or ask your nearest coffee shop who’s supplying the white stuff. Glass bottles reduce plastic waste and buying from a smaller supplier supports local business.

7. Pick the long(life) straw

Yes, you know to swerve plastic straws in favour of a recyclable alternative. Yes, you know a reusable metal one is even better. We’ll stop preaching to the converted.

8. Return of the tupperware

Picking up grub to-go from your fave cafe? While a lot of speciality shops offer biodegradable packaging, these green disposables have to be disposed of in an industrial composting facility to reap the full benefits (read: not in your average bin). So don’t be shy about asking the cafe team to pop lunch in your Tupperware.

9. Kick your local hangout into action

Ask the team at your fave cafe whether they’re recycling, taking steps to reduce food waste, sourcing local produce and coffee, and making an effort to become greener. If they’re not, ask why. Your questions could be the catalyst for change.

10. Sniff out sustainable roasteries

It’s not just coffee shops that are working to become more sustainable; roasteries across the region are also taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Leeds’ North Star has launched a range of retail beans packaged in 50 per cent recycled coffee cups, while Grindsmith‘s new roastery is bronzing beans on an eco-friendly Loring Smart Roast.

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