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Eco-Friendly: 6 Ways to Minimize Waste in Coffee Shops

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Going green isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also good business. In fact, perhaps the best way to improve your bottom line and help the environment is to minimize waste. You’ll see costs cut and stock lasting much longer.

And whether it’s a matter of reusing spent coffee or preventing waste in the first place, there are plenty of small changes that any shop can make – and a few big ones as well. Let’s dive into some of the ways you can minimize waste at your own shop.

SEE ALSO: How Can We Minimise Waste in the Coffee Industry?

1. Weigh Your Coffee

This is the quickest, easiest, and most effective way to minimize waste. If you pre-weigh your coffee for filter use, instead of just guessing, it both speeds up service on a manual brew bar and dramatically improves consistency and accuracy – meaning that you make better coffee even quicker and for less money. And you probably don’t even need any new equipment. What’s not to like? (But while you’re at it, make sure your filter coffee is prepared on a scale with a volumetric water dispenser. Not weighing your water is a recipe for disaster.)

weighing beans

Weighing coffee means provide better coffee with better service for less money. Credit: @nickbrehany

2. Use Real Mugs

Even if you recycle all the paper cups and sleeves you give out, it’s still an enormous amount of unnecessary waste. So if you want to eliminate waste without spending any money, start using real mugs for every person that is drinking in. Some customers might be averse to switching from paper cups, but you can encourage them to bring a travel mug. While it’s unlikely that we can eliminate every paper cup from service, we can do a lot to minimize their use.
latte art

When you see someone unpacking their laptop, give them a real mug. Credit: Pixabay

3. Save Milk

If you want to see just how much milk you’re wasting, save all the leftover milk from an entire shift; you’ll be shocked at how much it is. Sometimes milk wastage stems from overstretching the milk, sometimes it is as simple as overfilling or using a steaming pitcher that is too large. To fix the problem, don’t use the same pitcher for a 5 oz cappuccino that you would for an extra large latte. Have your baristas practice not just pouring milk and making beautiful, elaborate designs, but also consistently stretching the right amount of milk to the exact amount needed. And, if you want to take it to the next level, install a milk dispensing system. These systems are designed to always give the same amount of milk every time, and often hands free.

milk splashing

Spilled milk isn’t anything to cry over, but it does need to be addressed. Credit: Pixabay

4. Install Green Fixtures

Cutting down on wasted energy is just as important as cutting down on wasted coffee. Start small, with energy efficient LED light bulbs; their longer life and daily energy savings make them worth the investment. Some power companies even offer a rebate on them. Another relatively low-cost fixture is a dedicated pitcher rinser. For a couple hundred dollars (USD) or less, you can install one and it will dramatically cut down on the amount of water (and time) used to rinse pitchers. For other larger purchases, cash flow may dictate when you can replace them – but keep up on your maintenance. Clean the coils on refrigeration units and make sure all the seals work properly. Fix leaky faucets. All of this will help cut down on energy bills.

light bulb

Green energy: you can achieve a lot just by replacing light bulbs with LEDs. Credit: Pixabay

5. Repurpose Coffee Bags

If you’re running a roastery, you’ll have no shortage of old coffee bags. A quick scroll through Pinterest will leave you with no shortage of ideas on how to reuse them. They can make stylish decorations or even be reworked for some creative coffee merchandise to sell in your shop. And if you decide not to use them yourself, you can always offer them to your more creative coffee customers.

coffee bags

Repurposing coffee bags is both eco-friendly and stylish. Credit: @ercsguitar

6. Use Spent Grounds

In the same vein, you can repurpose your spent coffee grounds. They can be used as fertilizer for acid-loving plants, if you or your customers keep a garden. They are a great component in a compost pile. Spent coffee also makes a great fabric dye, or even an air freshener. There are plenty of great ideas for using spent coffee out there, if you simply look.

green waste

Coffee is great for compost, but not all filters are compostable. Double check before you toss them in. Credit: Pixabay

If you’re willing to take an honest look at waste in your shop, you’ll find lots of ways to both go green and cut costs. It’s more than just a trend: it’s an investment in your coffee shop’s future.

What are some things you do to minimize waste in your shop? Did we miss anything off our list? Let us know in the comments, on facebook, or instagram.

Written by E. Squires and edited by T. Newton.

Feature photo credit: Pixabay

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