I love coffee. When we’ve had absolutely zero disposable income, I didn’t miss shopping for clothes or having cocktails or weekend trips… it was being able to go out and buy a coffee whenever I wanted.
Granted, I don’t buy coffee out much, but I like having the option. And when I don’t… I’m a sad, sad girl.
Luckily, though, an at-home cup is always on the table and since going zero waste I’ve tried to minimize the amount of waste that comes with making a cup of coffee. (And tea. I don’t drink much tea but my husband sure does!)
I love to pop it in my trusty KeepCup and pretend like I’ve splurged an unnecessary $4 or $5!
Sure, the most zero waste option of all would be to completely forgo coffee and tea (the growing process uses tons of water and has a fairly appalling human rights record, transportation from far away causes pollution)… but honestly, cutting down on my personal consumption seems like a happy medium.
Here are some of my tips on how to brew zero waste coffee or tea:
Zero Waste Coffee
TO BUY: Luckily for coffee lovers, bulk coffee is so widely available you can pick it up basically anywhere. Meijer, Fresh Thyme, Market District, Earth Fare, even some Walmarts… Most even have fair trade/organic options for a broader selection.
Best of all, stores with bulk coffee almost 100% have their own in-store coffee grinders so you don’t actually have to own one if you’re not too much of a coffee snob. (Spoiler alert: I’m not.)
TO BREW: After getting sick of all the paper filter waste that comes with brewing coffee in a traditional machine, I finally opted for a stand-alone coffee maker. I pair the Osaka pour over* with a vintage silver long-spout pitcher to pour the hot water. I’ve been so, so pleased with this system!
Yes, it takes more care to produce a cup of coffee, but it’s kind of relaxing to make a cup like this and it doesn’t take much longer than 3 or 4 minutes.
To make a cup of coffee, I put my grounds in, do one large pour over of hot water called the “bloom” and then 2-3 smaller pours. I’m definitely not doing it with the precision of a real coffee maker, but the coffee is strong and good.
I then add sugar I’ve bought in bulk (see a list of Indy’s bulk stores here) and a bit of milk or cream. Enjoy!
Zero Waste Tea
TO BUY: Shop bulk!
I think Market District and Teavana are probably the best options in town for loose leaf tea, but Good Earth Indy also has a few options. I’ve also been told that David’s Tea in Keystone Mall also has plenty of options which you can purchase in reusable tins, but I don’t get out to that area much so I haven’t been first hand.
I also do some basic herbal teas from items I’ve grown in my garden. Harvesting and drying out mint, lemon balm, ginger, etc. is a great way to create your own herbal mixes. I haven’t quite built up the nerve to try a real tea plant!
TO BREW: Once I’ve got my bulk tea goodies, I use a simple tea infuser* I got off of Amazon. (I searched for months in vain in second hand stores for a functioning tea infuser!) Simply toss in whatever tea you want and let it brew as directed. So easy!
I usually add a bit of honey to my tea which I buy local in bulk from Fresh Thyme.
What team are you: coffee or tea? Do you have any tips for reducing waste while still enjoying the hot beverage of your choice? Share how to brew zero waste coffee or tea in the comments below!