Monday, July 22, 2013

Zero Waste Home 2: Coffee (and tea!) - three ways!

Raise your hand if you love coffee!
Me too.
I wanted to continue the Zero Waste Home discussion from LAST WEEK and talk about coffee! If you're interested in trashing less and saving more read on...
First of all, buy your coffee in bulk! It isn't hard to find bulk coffee these days. You can get it from chains like Meijer, even. We buy ours from a local grocery store and have found that many grocery stores carry bulk coffee as well. The real perk here is that we grind our beans with their grinder and don't need to purchase our own.
In accordance with zero waste, we have kept the "coffee bag" that has the bar code on the bag already and use that to refill our coffee during each trip, which we then transfer to our jars at home. This eliminates all of those bags coming home each week right off the top. Now that you've got bulk coffee, here are three waste-free ways to use it!
This is John's favorite way to drink coffee. He loves his presses, and routinely uses both of them (both are Bodum brand). A French Press is so affordable and produces delicious coffee. Water is near-boiled and then transferred into the press along with course-ground coffee. After 4 minutes of steeping, you press it, separating the grounds from the liquids and drain. Completely filter free.
2. Keurig.
The disposable cups are both expensive and wasteful. Do yourself a favor and buy a reusable K-Cup filter! We recently gave our Keurig away because we weren't using it any longer between our other two methods, but we almost exclusively used bulk coffee in a reusable filter and felt it was worth every penny.
3. Pour Over.
My dear friend, Natalie, recently bought us a Euro Coffee Dripper from World Market for like $7! It was such a steal and is perfect. John was *so* excited. Natalie has told us that her brother is a connoisseur of pour over coffee and prefers his filter over this one, but we agree with Natalie that for our purposes, this affordable option from World Market takes the cake. Here's the catch: I didn't want to buy standard #4 filters to use with it, since you need one per drink. I saw some REUSABLE filters from Amazon.com for around $5, but they had plastic parts and I really dislike anything we're going to consume to come in contact with plastic- especially if it's hot, like boiling water for coffee!
I started experimenting with cheese cloth (too thin) and discovered that a simple, very thin, kitchen towel is the perfect substitute. I cut off a piece and placed it as seen in the photos and felt it worked extremely well! The cloth is permanently coffee stained, but that doesn't bother me at all. We wash it in the laundry and had enough kitchen towel left over to make three more, so we can have enough "filters" to make coffee for guests as well.
4. Tea.
I really like tea. It's so warm, soothing and varied- in fact, I feel like there's MUCH more variety in tea than coffee. However, tea bags are generally not the best solution. They're often bleached and can contain some strange ingredients (an article HERE and HERE). Because of this we buy bulk tea (Teavana is a super frustrating place to shop, but they do have great tea. You can also buy bulk tea from Amazon and many health food stores).  You can use your loose-leaf bulk tea in an infuser, but you can also use it in a French Press! I remember the shop girl at Teavana being SO frustrated with my suggestion to use a French Press instead of her super expensive infuser (no thanks) and swearing up and down that it wouldn't work. Um. It works. Steep the tea in the french press and then plunge after the appropriate amount of time. Just don't plunge as aggressively as you would with coffee, otherwise you'll break the delicate leaves and end up with pieces in your tea. I only plunge about 25% down.
So there you have it! You can also make your own ALMOND MILK instead of milk or cream and some Torani-inspired DARK CHOCOLATE SAUCE to continue the awesome zero-waste. Also, don't forget! You don't need to throw those used grounds in the trash. You can use them again for an anti-cellulite scrub or throw them into your garden to make happy plants.
And again- aside from being eco-friendly, these are all really budget friendly! I have some fun zero-waste fashion coming up! I hope your weekend was fantastic and Monday didn't leave you feeling drained. All the best, and as always, thanks for reading!

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