It was, as you can imagine, a difficult situation, made all the worse by the fact that this happened when she was sleepily making morning coffee and really looking forward to that first cup right then.
The entire coffee maker didn’t break, just the glass pot, which was both good and bad. (Okay, at that moment, it was all bad.) A quick online search to the coffee maker’s manufacturer showed that Recycla could easily order a replacement glass pot. Unfortunately, the cost of that pot + shipping was going to be more than just buying a whole new coffee maker.
Recycla dithered for hours. Should she spend more money and get just the glass pot or should she buy something new for less money? This normally would be an easy decision — she’d just get the replacement coffee pot and keep the set-up she already had — but Recycla has had a few experiences with appliance parts breaking and then she has been unable to order a replacement part because it has been discontinued. Should she buy something that could easily break again? And what if the next time she couldn’t get a replacement part?
At the same time, Recycla started wondering what the most environmentally friendly coffee maker option would be.These days, traditional coffee makers are mostly made of plastic with either glass or metal coffee pots. Recycla really didn’t want to buy another piece of plastic. And, not only are many coffee makers made with plastic, they also require paper filters. While it is possible to buy filters made from recycled paper and then compost the filter and grounds afterward, Recycla is guessing that most people do not. And even if everyone did, the fact is, making those paper filters takes resources and chemicals.
So let’s look at other options…
What about a French press? Most do not have much or any plastic pieces. They also do not require paper filters. All you do is boil water in a kettle or the microwave, then pour it into the French press.
Recycla has had a French press and it was a simple, low fuss way to make coffee. Unfortunately, there is the glass component and Recycla’s joined the pantheon of small appliances in her life that eventually shattered. So she decided not to get another French press.
Recycla also considered good old fashioned metal percolators. You pour water into the pot, scoop the coffee into the metal basket, and set the whole shebang on the stove top to heat up. From start to finish, you can have coffee in about 10 minutes and you don’t need paper filters, nor are there any glass parts.
She also has very happy memories associated with these from when she was growing up and would visit her grandparents for overnight visits. Every morning at 5:00, even after they retired, her grandparents would start the day off with coffee brewed in their percolator. In her mind, Recycla could still smell the coffee wafting through the house and hear the sound of the coffee percolating while her grandparents talked quietly.
That sealed the deal. Recycla got a new metal percolator and has been happily brewing coffee in the weeks since. She buys organic free-trade coffee, knowing that the extra expense means better working conditions for the coffee bean growers.
(Recycla packaged up the coffee maker and filters, stuck in a note about where to find the replacement pot, and donated it to a local thrift shop.)
There are a few gaps in Recycla’s coffee considerations. First of all, she did not consider instant coffee because that’s not her particular preference. However, she does keep some Starbucks Via single serving instant coffee packets for those occasions when she’s in a huge hurry and needs to brew up some coffee in 90 seconds or less. They are not a daily habit for her because: 1) the coffee packets are expensive and 2) they are wasteful. So this is not a good long-term coffee solution for Eco Warriors.
Recycla also knows quite a few people who absolutely love their Keurig coffee makers with the K-Cup flavored packs. She also does not consider this to be a reasonable eco option, for two reasons: 1) Again, those packets are served up in little plastic containers that add a lot of waste to landfills, and 2) while you can get organic coffee packets, many others are not only not organic, they contain other chemically-derived ingredients. If Recycla wants to add flavor to her coffee, she’ll add the real thing. (She can attest that a few chocolate chips stirred in add a delightful touch of cocoa to coffee.)
So that’s Recycla’s coffee report. What say you, fellow Eco Warriors? Are you coffee drinkers? If so, what’s your java of choice?