There is often nothing more comforting to me than a good old cup o’ joe. Whatever the truth is about how good or bad coffee really is for us, I relish my daily caffeine hit. How I receive that hit can vary from day to day, and depends on my whereabouts, how much money I’m willing to part with and how late I’m running for work (what? I’m never late for work!).
Some mornings, it’ll be a quick and easy soya cappuccino from veg-friendly Pret. Other days, I’ll take a mid-morning stroll down to Nude, to have a slightly more refined soya flat white, made with beans I can only presume are of a little higher calibre than the average high street chain’s. On weekends, when I tend to have more time to dedicate to the experience, coffee comes into its own.
A few months ago, we bought a bean grinder quite cheaply, and have since been buying Fair Trade coffee beans to grind at home. I can’t really tell the difference between this method and just buying the coffee already ground, but it is of course fresher and just adds something to the all-round ceremony. If you drink instant coffee, well, I’m glad you’re living your truth, but I highly recommend spending a little extra time and money investing in a cafetiere (or any coffee making device, really) and some fresh coffee.
If you take milk with your coffee, then a handheld frother is a worthwhile purchase. My plant based milk of choice for coffee is oat milk, but there are so many options out there – why limit yourself to hormone-filled milk intended for baby cows when you could lighten your beverage with sweet almond, coconut, hazelnut, vanilla soya, etc.? While I wait for the coffee to brew, I froth an inch of oat milk in my mug, before adding half a spoonful of brown sugar into the mix.
Coffee at the weekend is a luxury, but 5 out of 7 days of the week it’s a necessity; a hurried order at an establishment chosen out of convenience, its main pull being its proximity to the office. Without any home comforts to hand – specifically, my favourite mug – I instead grab for the takeaway cup they give me, with its waterproof body, plastic lid and hot contents inside. Once I’ve reduced the drink to its dregs, that takeaway cup goes straight into the bin, one of 2.5 billion thrown away each year in the UK alone.
Not everyone knows that takeaway coffee cups are not recyclable. Being that they seem to be made of paper, you’d be forgiven for presuming they could be. But in order for them to be waterproof, they’re lined with polyethylene, a material which cannot be separated from the paper exterior. It’s become such an issue that a political party in Britain has even suggested placing a charge on each cup; much like the 5p payment for plastic bags, which has led to a massive reduction in the amount of carrier bags people use for their shopping.
It’s a complicated issue with no clear solution. Coffee companies don’t seem to want to educate their clientele, and consumers begrudge having to give up a part of their culture; indeed, there is something cool, something aspirational, about an item as simple but destructive as a takeaway coffee cup. But, in my opinion, there is nothing we should strive for more when it comes to our consumption than being more eco-friendly and ethically conscious in our choices.
So what can we do individually to make a difference? It’s simple – invest a small amount of money in a reusable coffee cup, which can be filled with your favourite beverage morning after morning, whatever day of the week it is. There are several options available, from bamboo to plastic, but my reusable cup of choice is KeepCup’s Press in small. Made from tempered glass, it’s comfortable to hold when full and has a very stylish recycled cork band around it. It’s the perfect size for a flat white, and so easy to carry here and there. A piece that is as functional and aesthetically appealing as this is bound to be a conversation starter, and I’m happy to report that several people have complimented the KeepCup, mentioning that they too have one or would like to get one. I even scored a free coffee at Pret accompanied by a congratulatory comment on my KeepCup.
We need to start taking action to minimise the impact we are having on the planet. We simply can’t keep consuming at the rate that we are, producing this amount of waste. Taking small steps and making smarter decisions as consumers is a step in the right direction, so why not start by picking up a KeepCup?
Have you tried a KeepCup, or similar reusable cup? What other small steps do you think we can take to minimise our ill-effects on the environment? Let me know in the comments below!