The best part of waking up…

Recycla recently suffered a painful loss: The death of her coffee maker.

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?

Disclaimer: The Eco Women are not employees of any of the companies mentioned, nor were they asked to review any products. Photo credits: Amazon.

14 thoughts on “The best part of waking up…

  1. I am glad you made the decision! I like my French Press, and haven’t broken it yet, even though I, like you, tend to break coffee carafes. I think the difference is that with the coffee maker, when you extract the carafe from the machine, you have to pull it out from under the filter and avoid clonking it on anything. I am sleepy in the morning, and always end up clonking it! Nowadays, with some serious carpal tunnel issues, my grip isn’t very good, and I am SURE I’d knock the thing out of my hand quite easily. The French press at least sits on the counter most of the time. I agree, that it is vulnerable when being washed or pouring, though.
    My husband uses a percolator on the stove. He, too, has great childhood memories of his Greek Nanies and Papus drinking endless rounds of coffee from the bottomless pot on the stove. And it’s still the best way to waft the aroma of coffee all over the house. Just be aware that there are aluminum pots out there, and they could have some health issues, especially used every day. Stainless is best.

  2. A percolator! Imagine such a thing!
    My MIL and grandma adore their K-cups–but I kind of understand, they live alone and the convenience is unparalleled.
    Yeah, French presses are the bomb, but both of mine shattered, too, which was a total bummer.

  3. Aweaome choice!! That’s what I have, after going through all the options you’ve mentioned. I love my hard working stove top percolator that smells up my house every morning! French press just didn’t make strong enough coffee and it got cold too quickly.

    But for a quick coffee, I have a single French press travel mug that I bought from, not surprisingly, Starbucks. It’s made of stainless steel with silicone parts. It works great for mornings when I have to run out of the house.

  4. Another, more eco-friendly option would be to check the local thrift stores for a replacement glass pot. Our local store has lots of them.

  5. I have a Clever Coffee Dripper ( and love it. It’s simple and straightforward, and brews an even better tasting cup than the French Press.
    If you care about the quality of coffee, supposedly french press and the clever dripper are the best, because they don’t agitate the grounds at all. The lack of agitation provides a smoother cup.

    It does require a paper filter, but I love it because only takes hot water to make the coffee. I even travel with it for good coffee on business trips. Although now I’m looking and it turns out I may be able to get a reusable filter, which rocks. In a pinch I’ve used my reusable produce bags (cotton) in place of a filter.

    Keurig K-cups are eco-unfriendly, and also taste gross. My opinion.

  6. I love me my Senseo machine – it uses little compostible pods which I do always put in the scraps bin and then the big green bin. No mess at all, unlike cafetieres and no left over bits like Nespresso.

  7. One note on the Keurig – you can buy a “My-K” cup (I think that’s it’s name…I bought mine over a year ago). It’s a reusable insert with it’s own metal filter and you just fill it with your coffee/tea/hot chocolate of choice. Makes those machines much more eco-friendly. And you can use whatever organic/fair trade/bird friendly/shade grown/local roasted bean you choose. (This is my current favorite small appliance. As one half of the adults in our house drink a single cup of coffee every other day and the other half needs her tea like most people need coffee. So I eliminated the kettle for my tea and a standard coffee maker for one that will deliver exactly how much we need, when we need it.)

  8. We got an electric percolator as a wedding present almost 40 years ago, everyone did. We progressed through drip coffee, pressed coffee, and now we’re back to percolators! The circle of life!
    This is all for my husband, I’m a tea drinker myself.

  9. Beware of “certified” coffee beans. I work for a coffee roaster who is very passionate about his coffee ethics, if you will. He visited (yes, I know, not an option for the majority) all of the plantations and farms that he purchases his beans from, and knows the farmers personally now. Because a majority of beans come from 3rd world countries and the 1st world certifications are very expensive to receive, only wealthy farmers are able to claim the certification- for both fair trade AND organic. In other words, you’re only supporting those in a poor country that are on the higher end of the monetary spectrum! Also, if you are thinking about the green factor, it’s always great if you can find a decent tasting bean that is grown as close as possible to where you are from, thus reducing transport carbon! Personally, I have a hard time letting go of my African beans, so I’m guilty of not following my own advice… (Oh! And keep an eye out for stainless steel plungers/french presses. That’s what I have at home, and is great for camping. Indestructible!)

  10. Nespresso and other machines that needs pads are very popular around here (Norway), but me not. But I read in the german magazine, Stern, that “If you took wasted Nespresso-pads from last year alone, it would pile up into a mountain of 6,000 tons of aliminium, enough to build 33 jumbojets, according to Stern magazine (42/2011).” Percolator seems like a good idea, but I have never seen one.. 😉

  11. I love my french press. The carafe did break once, but the current carafe is going strong. I love that it contains little plastic and can be neatly tucked away instead of cluttering up my countertop.

  12. Coffee makers always seem to break in the mornings, at least in my experience! It seems like my household has to replace one every 9 months or so. My last time this happened I got a Bunn coffee maker and it is holding up well, but I might try that metal percolator option when this one breaks. How much coffee can you make with it? Enough for 2 people?

  13. Pingback: Coffee, coffee, coffee | Eco Women: Protectors of the Planet!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s