More of us than ever are enjoying a “proper” coffee at home. 

But are you wondering can if you can make your coffee greener? What can we do to make our daily cup more eco friendly?

High Tech Coffee

When our favourite coffee shops were out of bounds during the pandemic, many people invested in a high tech coffee machine to treat themselves at home.

These machines certainly deliver a great coffee, but are they bad news for the environment?

There are more ingredients to a green cup of coffee than you might think. 

Many coffee machines use a single use coffee pod, made of plastic or aluminium, or a combination. These machines undoubtedly make it easy to get a great coffee at home. But, as they are only used once, they create waste, and that can be a problem.

Perhaps surprisingly, some studies have shown that pod coffee machines are more environmentally friendly than other methods of making coffee.  This is because they use exactly the right amount of coffee, water and energy for your cup. A big part of the environmental impact of a cup of coffee is in the growing of the coffee itself, so using too much increases the impact significantly. 

Pod Recycling

So, if you choose to use a pod machine, what should you do with your pods? Separating the coffee from the aluminium, plastic and other materials  for recycling at home is messy and difficult to do effectively. However, there are some great pod recycling options available. is a nationwide recycling service for plastic and aluminium pods. It’s a partnership of big coffee brands, local authorities and recycling companies to try to make it easy to make your coffee greener. You can use a drop-off or kerbside pickup service to deliver your pods to Podback. They separate out the coffee and use it to make compost and biogas. The aluminium and plastic are recycled to make drinks cans, car components, garden furniture and more. 

You can find out how to recycle using Podback here

Of course, both the process of making, and recycling coffee pods uses a lot of resources and energy. So it’s worth exploring some other options to make your coffee greener.

Pod Alternatives

There has been a big rise in compostable, plastic free coffee pods, many of which are compatible with popular pod machines such as Nespresso. When you’ve finished your coffee, you can pop these plant-based pods in your home composter or food waste bin and they will break down naturally. Some are available as a subscription and delivered through your letterbox, so you’ll never find the cupboard empty when you need a coffee in a hurry.

No-Pod Options

Bean to cup machines are a high tech alternative to the pod. They can include impressive functions such as multiple drink options, self-cleaning, milk frothing, and may include adjustable settings for soy, almond or oat milk.

Getting to know your machine can take a bit of time and patience – and might result in some wasted coffee too. Some models can also be a faff to clean, so it’s a great idea to read reviews before you invest. 

Of course, a high tech electronic machine will come with a significant carbon footprint before you even plug it in.  If you’re looking to make your coffee greener, the manufacturing process, repair options and likely lifespan of your machine are all things to consider. 

Going Back to Basics

So before you reach for the instant coffee jar, what other green options are there for making a great coffee? Before there were coffee machines, these were simple, manual coffee makers worked pretty well.

A mokka pot is a stovetop coffee maker that brews coffee by forcing hot water through ground coffee. It’s low tech, and easy to clean, and makes a great espresso style coffee. 

A cafetière or French press makes delicious coffee and is really simple to use (and inexpensive). Some models are insulated to keep your coffee hot for longer and reduce waste. When you’ve finished you can pop your coffee grinds in the compost bin or even directly onto your garden as a soil improver.

However you choose to make your daily cup, you can enjoy it with a clean conscience by considering a few options to make your coffee greener.