It is well known that climate change is threatening renewable resources on our planet and the livelihoods of future generations. Each stage of the coffee supply chain is responsible for part of these environmental impacts.
We have previously discussed how climate change is affecting coffee, what we are doing at our coffee shops and how we support coffee farmers to tackle these challenges. Coffee roasting is also held accountable for carbon emissions, but operational practices at a roastery level can help reduce the impact. Learn why this is a key issue in our industry and what we are doing to achieve sustainability.
Can coffee roasting be sustainable?
Although we all love the smell of roasted coffee and seeing the magic happen is an amusing experience, volatile compounds are created during the process and different by-products such as carbon monoxide and methane are released into the atmosphere. These can be detrimental for the environment and threaten the health of operators at the roastery.
Traditional drum roasters use air from their surrounding environment, which then goes through the burners, and the drum. This air is transferred to the coffee beans through convection. However, a significant amount of this air is lost through the exhaust system.
Energy consumption is another issue. Given the stable temperature required to transfer heat to the coffee beans, the burners use a significant amount of energy to compensate for the loss of the air that escaped through the exhaust.
To tackle this, we use a Loring Falcon S15 coffee roaster, which is 80% more fuel efficient. This helps us reduce emissions.
Our approach to sustainability in roasting
We receive our green coffees directly from Colombian producers. To ensure their quality, the green beans are shipped from origin inside hermetic storage bags. They prevent air, humidity, and contamination from damaging the coffee and altering its properties until it arrives into our roastery.
However, despite what they do to preserve our coffees, these bags are made of various layers of plastic. Instead of discarding them and to prevent them from ending up in the landfill, we use them for storage of supplies, and work tools in our roastery.
Storage plastic hermetic bags are a liner for the famous coffee jute sacks that contain coffee beans. We do not discard those either. We use them to decorate our cafés and display information about the origin of our coffees.
After our coffee is roasted and degassed, we pack our coffee bags to be ready for selling online and at our coffee shops. These bags are aluminum free and 100% recyclable. Our provider produces carbon-neutral packaging by investing in carbon offsetting initiatives and other development projects in coffee-producing communities in origin countries to balance out the emissions.
To reduce our environmental impact, we make sure our operations are as environmentally friendly as possible. We not only monitor our coffee roasting process, but also everything related to the daily work at our roastery beyond our equipment. This enables us to reduce waste to the minimum and proudly contribute to the Zero Carbon Oxford goal to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2040.