Category Archives: coffee and ecology

Coffee Helps Us to Go Green

Written by Lori Thiessen

Have you ever looked at the used coffee grounds from you coffee maker as you throw them out and lament the waste? I mean, coffee costs quite a bit of money and to just throw out the grounds hurts frugal folks like me. And think about all the used grounds from all the used coffee shops everywhere. Ouch.

Let the hurting stop.

There are two new uses for used coffee grounds, printer ink and biofuel.

CNet’s gadget blog, CRAVE reports that RITI print box uses old coffee grounds or tea leaves and a little water to create ink. The drawback is you likely won’t have a lovely black print experience plus you have to swish the ink cartridge along and pull the paper through the printer at the same time; not very efficient.

However, this might be the start of something amazing!

According to Renewable Energy, coffee has come under the microscope as a possible biofuel. More stable than other biofuel sources like used grease from restaurants and with an equal amount of oil from pre-processed biofuel sources like soybeans, used coffee grounds might be the substance the biofuel industry has been looking for.

Using used coffee grounds as a biofuel has other added benefits like your car exhaust could smell like a fresh cup of coffee plus coffee is quite high in antioxidants so using coffee as a biofuel could be an added health benefit instead of being gassed by carbon monoxide.

Coffee may play an even bigger part of our lives in the future aside from the quick pick-me-up liquid we’ve counted on for years!

Q: In what ways do you recycle your coffee grounds?

Until Next Time,

May your coffee always be freshly brewed!



Growing More Than Coffee

Written by Lori Thiessen

The coffee bean we value so highly and pay so much for generally comes from some of the most economically depressed and sometimes politically unstable regions of the world.

Now that consumer compassion is a considerable force in the marketplace, most of the major coffee companies are building in not only environmental sustainability projects into their bottom line but community development projects in these poverty stricken countries, too.

Look at what three of these major coffee companies are doing to support positive, local social change.

Tim Hortons takes a keen interest in their coffee suppliers with a view to improving the coffee farmers and their families lives. By teaching and nurturing the small coffee growers to become better business people, it strengthens the local community and also creates a better product.  Tim Hortons now has improvement projects established in Guatemala, Brazil and Colombia.

Seattle’s Best Coffee also supports Fair Trade certified coffee and claims to invest in social and education projects that help to nurture the communities from which they buy their coffee.

By 2015, Starbucks has declared on its website that 100% of its coffee will be “responsibly grown and ethically traded”.  Through its Shared Planet Program, Starbucks invests in improving the health of coffee growing communities where it buys coffee. Starbucks also participates in foundations that loan money to local farmers at a better rate than they would normally get. These loans help farmers to weather the bad times and make their start-up experience easier and more profitable.

Coffee growing and buying is far more than just the land it grows on.  Without the small scale coffee farmer and his community, we coffee consumers wouldn’t have as much of that black gold to sip.

Q: Do you buy your coffee based on the company’s involvement in ethical sourcing?

Until Next Time,

May your coffee always be freshly brewed!



Cuban Coffee Industry

written by Lori Thiessen

In Cuba’s rich history, the coffee bean as a crop plays a part. Like most Latin American countries, Cuba does grow coffee but not in quantities of say, Brazil which harvested over 27,000,000 (60 lb) bags in 1999. Most of Cuba’s coffee is grown for the domestic market and for some limited export markets.

Coffee as a crop has a grim history as most of us are aware thanks to the initiatives like Fair Trade Coffee.  These initiatives take into account the economic well-being of the small coffee producer, and the environmental impact that the coffee crop has on the surrounding ecosystem.

Cuba’s mountains are wonderful for growing Arabica beans known for their rich flavour and low caffeine.  But mountains aren’t exactly easy to farm yet 2,000 coffee plantations were established by 1827.

The current ‘failure’ of the Cuban coffee industry is due to a lack of experienced, adequately compensated coffee farmers to properly cultivate the crop since many of them fled Cuba at the time of the Revolution, the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990’s, heavy competition from other stronger Latin American countries, and the US Embargo.

But Cuban coffee retains its enthusiasts among ex-pat Cubans, especially Cuban-Americans. The ex-pat Cuban communities try to retain their cultural identity by making ‘Cuban’ coffee with beans produced in other Latin American countries.

But it just isn’t the same as real Cuban coffee made from beans grown in the Sierra Maestra mountains. In an ever-growing niche-developing coffee market, the Cuban coffee industry may be able to flourish again by capturing the imaginations of aficionados of rare and specialty coffees.

Q: Do you buy Fair Trade Coffee? If so, why?

Until Next Time,

May Your Coffee Always Be Freshly Brewed!

Grounds to Garbage? No Way!

Written by Lori Thiessen

I always get a perverse kick out of folks who “discover” new ways of recycling all kinds of stuff. My mom and grandmothers knew a lot of different ways to get more than one use out of something – it was called thrift and it wasn’t a lifestyle choice, it was a necessity. But enough about me.

Coffee grounds don’t have to be tossed in the garbage after that one cup of coffee that’s been growing ever colder since you poured it at 8:00 am. After taking a quick tour of a variety of websites providing info on using used coffee grounds, here’s a few things to do with ’em:

● Dig used grounds into the soil around rose bushes to make them healthier
● Dyeing natural fibre cloth, paper, even hardboiled eggs
● Treat your hair with grounds between shampooing and conditioning, best for black or brown hair
● Make a homemade facial mask out of them
● Use coffee grounds as a non-toxic scrubber for the stubborn stains in your pots and pans

As with any of these homemade remedies, caution is a must, especially if it’s going on skin. Always spot treat at first to see if there is a negative reaction.

There is a commercial use of used coffee grounds and it is called Java Log. It’s a firelog made of used coffee grounds and vegetable wax. Save those trees!

Until next time,

May your coffee always be freshly brewed!