Gabriella Hernandez of Sustainable Workspaces explores two young companies looking at supporting sustainable coffee.

From its humble origins in the Horn of Africa and its centuries long journey across the globe, coffee is loved for its mental and physical health benefits.

Today, Brits consume over 95 million cups of coffee per day and the popularity of ground and capsule coffee giants like Nespresso has soared, particularly amongst fast paced millennials looking for a quick and convenient kick.

Yet the addiction is fed by a complex cycle of exploitation of natural and human resources which can leave a bitter taste in the mouth.

Whilst the reality may appear bleak, industry players are taking critical steps to promote equity, support healthy community development, and prevent environmental degradation.

The future of the coffee bean remains at risk due to continuing unsustainable practices and climate change

Gabriella Hernandez Gabriella Hernandez Communication Lead, Sustainable Workspace

Say Halo to composting

In the places it was traditionally grown, coffee played an important role in terms of maintaining a much needed balance for agro-forestry. However, as demand has soared across the globe with a need to maintain affordability and convenience for the public, the introduction of harmful cultivation practices has induced serious negative impacts.

Today, one section of the coffee industry that  is exhibiting rapid growth is the coffee pod business. Despite efforts to tackle waste and pollution, over 59 billion aluminium and plastic coffee pods have been dumped in our oceans and landfills.

To tackle this issue, there has been an increase in companies producing biodegradable and compostable options, such as London based startup, Halo Coffee.

The young company make coffee pods made from waste sugarcane and fibre pulp, packed with high quality, sustainably grown coffees from across the globe.

With the help of £1.5 million in investment, they were able to change their packaging to include a protective wrap comprised of a unique biopolymer laminate. The coffee pods and its packaging are home compostable in up to four weeks.

Sustainable coffee

Enjoy a rewarding coffee without costing the earth

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HALO to sustainable coffee GettyImages 814684194 2

Halo to recycling

Sustainable start up Halo, is offering compostable coffee pods

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Halo

Sustainable farming

Extract follow a quality pays ethos

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Extract Coffee Roasters Logo 1

Halo Coffee was started as a direct response to the issue of environmental pollution. Unsatisfied with what they see as greenwashing, they have endeavoured to provide quality without taking any short cuts.

"There is a lot of misinformation out there which makes it confusing for consumers to make the right decision," says Sarah Lim, the Head of Business Development for the young start up. 

"We want to shine a light on the issues that are being swept under the carpet and act as a source of knowledge. That is why transparency and openness is key to what we do - we cannot afford to compromise."

Sustainable farming

But the sustainability issues facing the coffee industry today are vast - the sustainability of coffee pods, is just one part of the problem.

Halo’s neighbours at Sustainable Bankside, speciality roaster, Extract Coffee Roasters approaches these in a holistic manner that includes social and economic considerations.

Extract’s coffee beans are sustainably sourced fresh from smallholders and cooperatives across Latin America and Africa where they work with farmers to support innovative, sustainable farming techniques.

The farms they source from are responsible for providing communities with clean drinking water, medical care, education and promoting sustainable agriculture to preserve indigenous biodiversity.

Extract follow a ‘quality pays ethos’ which ensures that these long term partners receive higher pay. By sharing their resources and expertise, farmers are able to share the benefits with their neighbours.

Here in the UK, the commitment to sustainable business continues through their work with grassroots organisations like Hotel School, to provide barista training and work experience for ex rough sleepers.

Whilst the future of the coffee bean remains at risk due to continuing unsustainable practices and climate change, by supporting equity and innovation within the industry, we may be able to hold onto that morning cuppa a while longer.

Many pieces to sustainability

Here in the UK, Extract is constantly on the lookout for ways to make the running of the business more sustainable.

The team rescues second hand roasters from scrap and restores these machines to run more efficiently than new - their largest roaster, named Bertha, runs on just 40% of the fuel which would have originally been required.

Here in the Sustainable Bankside site, Extract’s coffee bar and workspace was built entirely from waste materials which were foraged from scrap. From here, they work with grassroots organisations like Hotel School, to provide barista training and work experience for ex rough sleepers.

“There are many pieces to the sustainability puzzle, especially when dealing with products which are grown and imported from outside of Europe” says Extract’s Marketing Manager, Gemma Screen. “Our approach means we look at every part of our business, and how to make coffee more sustainable in every way. ”

Whilst the future of the coffee bean remains at risk due to continuing unsustainable practices and climate change, by supporting equity and innovation within the industry, we may be able to hold onto that morning cuppa a while longer.

Sustainable Workspaces has grown in only 3 years to become the largest cluster of sustainable startups in Europe.

With a 50+ strong community of innovators including some of the world’s leading sustainable corporates, high growth scale-ups and more nascent entrepreneurs, the core knowledge networks are centred in Energy, Buildings, Transport and Food.

Gabriella Hernandez- Communication Lead, Sustainable Workspaces