Gallery: GREEN YOUR APPLIANCES! Coffee Makers

 

Overall, coffee machines and espresso makers are not the greatest energy drains on our monthly electric bill, so the green options are more subtle and complex than choosing a washer/dryer or refrigerator. For larger, energy-consuming devices, the EPA provides the Energy Star system and manufacturers themselves provide detailed specifications and product back-story to explain efficiency enhancements in design. Coffee makers are not evaluated by Energy Star, nor by Consumer Report’s Greener Options website. Additionally, there are few companies that promote the eco-impact of their coffee making machines.

Some conventional perspectives will help us better understand the effect of your coffee machine choice, let’s begin with lifecycle design: The coffee maker is often used as an example of how smart decisions in the design phase can dramatically reduce overall environmental footprint over the product’s lifecycle. The lifecycle software company Pre, based in the Netherlands, suggests that the two main drivers of negative environmental impact in coffee makers are wasted paper filters and energy consumption. Coffee makers that provide filter-less brewing, and lower energy use, are likely better options. You can get durable, reuseable unbleached cotton or gold plated, stainless steel filters to suit many brands of coffee maker and replace the disposable paper filters.

French presses are likely the most environmentally friendly option, at first glance they certainly look low impact – there is no electricity involved! — but you do burn gas or electric energy to heat water, and then again when you wash the press in a dishwasher or sink. So the efficiency of your cleaning method becomes a defining element. If you enjoy a persistently hot cup of coffee throughout the day, a thermos may be your best option to enjoy the whole pot without using up additional energy.

Recently single serve coffee makers have hit the market . Their increasing popularity is a cause for eco-concern. Some manufacturers argue that there is less overall coffee filter waste since you only brew one cup at a time. However the very design of these machines increases waste. This is easily seen when these systems are used in a family or group setting. Anyone who has these machines in their office can observe the increased energy use and discarded coffee “pods” packs, and cups overflowing the trash bins. This is by design. The business model of these machines intentionally ties you into a single form factor, brand, and high price per cup of coffee.

What about the more complex barista concoctions? Larger scale espresso makers do use more energy than the smaller drip coffee version. But European-designed machines tend to be built to last, whereas the still popular american drip coffee machines are designed for rapid obsolescence.

Regardless of the brew method, rather than running to the nearest ubiquitous coffee chain, choosing to brew your coffee at home, gives you much greater choice over other factors that effect both the environmental and social impact of your daily jolt. The many incremental decisions tied to your coffee ritual — where you get your fair trade, shade grown, organic beans, using your own mug, avoiding the paper waste of the cup, sugar, napkins and stirrers – are all choices that may have an even greater impact on your personal environmental footprint over time, and your ability to enjoy your morning cup of java.

About BOSCH “Bosch is committed to preserving the environment through innovative approaches to the products we manufacture, as well as the partnerships we form with key leaders in sustainable construction and design. Sustainability, responsibility and continuous improvement are the tenets of our company and are shared by our partners across the United States.

Bosch practices low-impact manufacturing processes while designing the most efficient machines on the market. In fact, we introduced a global integrated management system for environmental issues that makes certain we maintain our high standards for environmental responsibility wherever our operations take us.

Bosch regards innovation as something more than exceptional product quality, functionality and design. Not only our technical developments, but also our commitment to society has an effect on the world of tomorrow.” + Bosch Green Thinking Resource Center

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

JENNIFER VAN DER MEER Jennifer is a leader in brand and product innovation, and is a founding principal at research design house Risqué Consulting. A former Wall Street analyst and economist, Jennifer transitioned into the design industry upon graduating with an MBA from HEC in Paris. She has held strategy and executive management positions at Organic, Inc., Frog Design, and Fahrenheit 212. A leader in the green design community in NY, Jennifer serves as chapter chair of o2-NYC, and lectures on the topic of sustainable innovation. + o2-NYC

LEAVE A COMMENT

or your inhabitat account below

Let's make sure you're a real person:


12 Comments

  1. James@Cycling Watches October 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Not to switch the theme, but I have been asked this question a million times is a “sport watch” classified as a piece of jewelry or a fitness product.

  2. greeNNeck September 12, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    I found a great steel insulated french press at a boat show and use it every morning. It keeps the coffee hot for hours, is unbreakable, and most steel is recycled anywhere from 30-90%.

  3. tonitero July 30, 2009 at 9:43 am

    I prefer the Presso Coffee Maker. It is a manually operated coffee, espresso maker which creates gourmet coffee through a controlled blend of pressure and temperature. It uses no paper filter.

    http://pressoamerica.com

  4. tonitero July 30, 2009 at 9:42 am

    I prefer the Presso Coffee Maker. It is a manually operated coffee, espresso maker which creates gourmet coffee through a controlled blend of pressure and temperature.

    http://pressoamerica.com

  5. KJ Loo September 22, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Paper filters, minor electric consumption and washing are all minimal in comparison to the production of coffee pots. Cheap pots that have poor designs or expensive pots that have prone-to-fail electronic components may be less green due to their short lifecycle.

  6. Dan S. September 7, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    The correct URL for the Consumer Reports Greener Choices is http://www.greenerchoices.org/

  7. nony September 7, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    The Toddy system requires no heat to brew excellent coffee, has a reusable cotton filter, and the concentrate it creates keeps for weeks. Sure, it’s a big plastic thing, but I’m never throwing mine away, and I might even get it engraved and leave it to my grandchildren.

    http://www.toddycafe.com/

  8. jean harrington September 6, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    French Press coffee raises cholesterol levels.
    Putting coffee through a paper filter,
    removes the terpines in coffee.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6242467/
    http://www.bcm.edu/news/item.cfm?newsID=912

  9. John Bemb September 6, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Actually filter paper is a renewable resource, the precious metals used in the “permanent” filters are not.

  10. Daniel Lunsford September 5, 2007 at 10:11 am

    The French Press isn’t given it’s due credit in this article. There’s absolutely no waste, since it doesn’t use paper filters, and the excess coffee grounds can be composted or put in your potted plants. Excess coffee shouldn’t be poured down the drain–just dilute it and water your plants, garden, or compost heap. Since the coffee only stays in the press for a few minutes and doesn’t get a chance to get caked on, there’s no reason that an environmentally concious person should stick it in the dishwasher to be bombarded with soap and superheated water for 45 minutes!! Just give it a quick rinse and let it air dry. If you use it every day, it may be wise to wash it with a small amount of soap every week or so (but I don’t).

    Lastly, the arguement about using energy to heat water… that’s hardly a valid case… In order to make HOT coffee, every machine or contraption is going to use significant energy to bring the drink up to the right temperature. At least with the French Press you don’t have a burner that keeps the stuff hot for hours on end.

    I’d definitely say that the French Press is above and beyond the most efficient coffee maker (plus you can make some pretty intense tea in there too).

    – Daniel Lunsford

  11. urbanmike September 5, 2007 at 9:52 am

    I second the aeropress,

    http://www.aerobie.com/Products/aeropress.htm

    This has to be the most green of all the espresso makers. And it is designed by the maker of the Aerobie Frisbee!

  12. jak September 5, 2007 at 8:35 am

    i have been using the aeropress coffee maker for 10 months, almost finished the filters supplied with the machine. it can make a bad coffee with bad technique and brilliant coffee with good technique. i am left addicted to coffee because this manual coffee maker is a great example of good design – everything from great filters, easy to clean (less water), versatile hot water source (camping, elec kettle, gas stove -etc), can be used for loose tea, strong construction and i’m hoping it will last years – most importantly, different coffee beans really taste different to each other (sounds obvious but i’m sick of mocha pots at work making even the best coffee taste burnt and as bad as the worst)

    gizmag has an article (not sponsored by bosch) – http://www.gizmag.com/go/5051/

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
What are you looking for? (Solar, HVAC, etc.)
Where are you located?