How to Choose An Eco-friendly Coffee Maker

by TobyOct 22, 2021

Selecting a new coffee maker for your home, office or apartment can be a tricky business. After all, a fresh cup o’ joe is how most of us start every morning!

Not only do you want delicious, piping hot coffee without any fuss, you also want it to fit your style and budget parameters too, right? So, where should you start looking?

The whole situation becomes even more complex if you’re also looking to have a minimal impact on the earth and buy a more environmentally friendly coffee maker to enjoy your daily java fix.

We’ll walk you through all the questions you may have about eco-friendly coffee making in general – as well as review the key features to look for in your new machine.

The Ultimate Eco-friendly Coffee Maker Guide

Below, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you with your next coffee maker purchase.

Let’s begin by learning a bit more about what “eco-friendly” looks like while buying and consuming coffee products before getting into some recommendation from users.

What are eco-friendly coffee makers?

Buying “eco-friendly” means considering all the things we purchase and use in order to enjoy coffee at home – and weighing their effects on the environment. It’s taking into consideration what we’re using and trying to buy products and support methods that tread lightly on Mother Earth.

Unfortunately, the carbon footprint of bringing a cup of fresh coffee directly into your kitchen will never be zero. Coffee beans grow in tropical and sub-tropical climate, require extensive harvesting and drying processes, and must travel a long way before they end up in our stores.

Luckily, if we stay informed and shop smart, we can reduce and minimize our environmental impact one dollar at a time.

Start by thinking about some of the following questions:

  • What materials are used to make this machine? Are they sustainable on the earth? Are they harmful or benign?
  • Where did this machine (or coffee bean for that matter!) come from/how far did it have to travel so that I could buy it?
  • What are the waste products with this coffee maker/coffee brewing method?

Even just giving these matters some thought puts you on the right track! Keep reading, keep learning, and keep trying to make informed purchases.

Read Our Best Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machines Guide

How much do eco-friendly coffee makers cost?

A new coffee maker doesn’t have to break the bank no matter how you choose to brew it.

Yes, of course if you purchase a state-of-the-art industrial cappuccino machine, it will come with a hefty price tag, but that type of equipment isn’t necessary for our home coffee consumption.

If you’re looking to go minimal and economical, a simple pour-over filter can be had for as little as $10. However, many people like having the ability to brew a few cups or an entire pot at a time.

For these folks, a French press or a pour over filter with carafe/pot is a stellar option. Models like this can run from $15 to as much as $50 depending on the size of your finished pot.

When you move to automated coffee makers, remember that “electric” doesn’t always mean “expensive”. There are countless inexpensive drip machines – think under $50 – that will totally do the job!

You get what you pay for, though, so check out the online reviews and return policies. Sometimes it’s better to invest a little more up front on a coffee maker that will stand the test of time.

There are always deals to be had when shopping for a new coffee maker! Look out for online and in-store specials during Memorial Day and Labor Day sales – and of course, Black Friday is always a guarantee for major bargains.

Another clever way to save money on a new coffee maker is to sign up for the mailing lists of companies that send out coupons and deals via email blasts – this could mean big savings for you.

What to Consider When Buying an Eco-friendly Coffee Machine

Let’s dig a little deeper into some of the details that could be helpful when making eco-friendly coffee decisions.

This is not an all-or-nothing deal here! Implement some of the tips that are useful for your household and just take the others into consideration for now.

Overall Energy Consumption

Although sometimes it might feel like electricity will always be easy and abundant, there are already plenty of reasons to economize our energy usage.

Whether it’s a fossil fuel or a renewable resource, there’s is something at the other end that is enabling us to plug in all our machines and devices.

Choosing sustainable energy as much as we can across the board will take a lighter toll on Mother Nature – and make our cup of coffee a little more enjoyable.

Materials Used

Think about the journey of your coffee bean and coffee maker…. There could potentially be a lot of materials to trace and source depending on your preferred method of brewing!

The idea is not to get bogged down in every detail but to work toward a more sustainable mindset overall. Some specifics might be: the plastic in your machine or other coffee “tools,” the metals in your machine or accessories, and any other packaging elements that undoubtedly came along for the ride.

The Coffee Itself

Not all growing methods or coffee bean farms are the same. When possible, try to choose beans from farms that use sustainable farming practices such as no/minimal pesticide usage, better crop management and water usage, and using ecologically sound fertilizers.

It’s also far better to support businesses that pay living wages to their workers and abide by fair trade practices.

What You Throw Away

Look for filters that are reusable or made from recycled materials in order to take a minimum toll.

Pods, however, may not be a great option for eco-conscious consumers. If they contain plastic and non-recyclable materials, that’s a lot of waste for each cup of coffee.

While manufacturers have got better at encouraging recycling, for example, Nespresso now make their pods from 100% recyclable aluminum, if you must have a pod machine, check the manufacturer’s green credentials.

Composting your coffee grounds is a great way to be even kinder to the environment.

The Best Eco-friendly Coffee Makers Available Now

When determining which coffee makers we would review, we picked one contender from each of the three main “categories” of machines: pour over models, electronic models and French presses.

Some folks are quite set in their ways when it comes to the daily tradition of coffee, and we aren’t about to ask you to reinvent the wheel before you’ve had your caffeine!

Even with all the general environmental advice we’ve been doling out here, it’s always nice to have a specific model in mind while shopping.

Consider the following machines to replace your older, broken model, and know that you are getting a well-reviewed, solid option no matter which machine you select.

1. Bodum Pour Over Coffee Maker

Bodum Pour Over Coffee MakerThe Bodum Pour Over Coffee Maker ticks a number of the eco-friendly boxes we’ve been reviewing here while still providing an exceptional cup of coffee – or an entire carafe of coffee if you’d prefer.

The reusable pour-over filter is made out of stainless steel mesh, and the coffee finishes into simple glass bowl carafe vessel that is both functional and easy on the eyes.

This model is versatile and ideal for single cups or group scenarios since you are able to customize both its overall size and the amount of coffee you add to the filter. Super slick!

2. Cuisinart 12-cup Coffee Maker

Cuisinart 12-cup Coffee MakerWhen people think of your basic, trustworthy home coffee brewer, a model like this Cuisinart 12-cup often comes to mind. This machine, however, is a modern take with stylish brushed metal details and ergonomic, BPA-free plastic.

This coffee maker comes with a ton of bells and whistles that make it super convenient — think programmable start times, a heated warming plate, and a “pause” button so you can grab a cup mid-cycle without dripping.

Other great eco-friendly features are a charcoal filter to improve overall taste and reduce impurity levels, and a gold tone filter that ensures fresh flavors throughout the brewing process.

3. Secura French Press Coffee Maker

Secura French Press Coffee MakerUsing a simple French press for coffee brewing can be both an elegant and convenient way to get your morning jolt of caffeine.

The Secura model is durable and has a tight-fitting filter designed to catch any remaining coffee particles during your final plunge.

It comes in a number of hues including basic stainless steel, so you can customize based on personal preference or you kitchen decor!

This French press will keep your coffee nice and steamy with its heat preservation technology, so you don’t have to worry about a lukewarm second cup anymore.

FAQs

1. What is BPA-free and why does it matter?

BPA stands for Bisphenol A and is a synthetic compound found in many different varieties of plastic.

BPA exposure has negative side effects for our brains and prostate glands, especially in children and developing fetuses, and has been linked with numerous cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.

Just because plastic in general (and along with it, BPA) is ubiquitous and not going anywhere any time soon doesn’t mean that we should ignore its dangers. Stay mindful of your plastics exposure, and purchase only BPA-free products.

2. Are pod machines bad for the environment?

Yes and no – it really depends on which ones you choose. When pod machines first arrived on the coffee scene, they generated quite a bit of waste for every cup they made, with not much of it recyclable.

There have, however, been improvements, with Nespresso having gone from zero to hero in terms of the strides it’s making to improve their machine’s green credentials.

In 2020 they launched a new range of coffee capsules made from 80% aluminum – the first such pods on the market. They even used nearly 10% less aluminum in these capsules and made sure the boxes they come in are made from 95% recycled material, so they’re definitely trying.

Other coffee pod makers are coming out with compostable coffee pods, while some manufacturers still have some way to go in the eco-friendly stakes, so if you have your heart set on a pod machine, it pays to do a bit of research to make sure you’re minimizing your impact on the environment.

3. What eco-friendly options are there for my coffee waste?

The simplest answer here is quite clear: Compost! Coffee grounds can easily be added to most compost bins and piles without worrying about upsetting the delicate pH balance.

Grounds are organic materials that can break down and become a rich fertile additive for our gardens, so don’t just toss it in the trash if you can help it.

Plants of all shapes and sizes love the nutrient-rich coffee grounds long after we’ve sipped our last sip. Often times you can add grinds directly to garden beds and vegetable pots by applying it straight to the dirt itself and combing it into the soil with your fingertips.

The Last Drop

Now that we’ve reviewed all the ecological concerns one might have while brewing a cup of coffee, it’s time to make your decisions.

If you’re in the market for a new machine and are looking to make an eco-friendly choice, simply click on one of the products here and look into buying. They have all been thoroughly vetted, so you won’t be disappointed!

However, if you don’t need a new coffee maker today, there are still a number of smart environmental decisions you can make while remaining an avid java junkie.

Consider, for example, what type of beans and filters you buy, how much energy you consume, and how you dispose of the grounds and packaging.

Remember, every choice we make could be a little kinder to planet earth, so let’s all do our part!