Coffee. I love coffee. Without around three cups of coffee a day, I doubt I’d ever be able to get the dadding done. This article is all about my zero waste living, V60 coffee setup.
Over the years, my coffee setup has changed many times. I’m very happy with how my setup is at the moment, for taste, convenience and for being zero waste.
For brewing, I’ve tried many different methods. I found that plungers (french presses) always made my coffees taste gritty and watery. The electronic machines that I’ve tried always seem junky and have taken up a heap of bench space in the kitchen. I quite liked my moka pot but I eventually burnt the rubber handle off mine. I used an Aeropress for a year or two and whilst I could get a smooth cup of coffee at times, I found the process very clumsy and messy.
The Winner Is … Hario’s V60 Dripper
A couple of Christmases back, my brother and my sister-in-law gave me a Hario V60 Dripper. I have the white porcelain model, and from the very first time I used I’ve been amazed and how well it works. I really love it. The V60 makes the smoothest coffee I’ve ever made at home from any method. It’s also about the quickest, easiest and least messy.
Although I need to buy V60 filters, I’ll explain later how it is still a zero waste coffee setup. You can buy filters in plastic or in cardboard packaging. I get mine in cardboard from Essential Coffee Services. The people who run the shop are very friendly and I’ve noticed that their filter prices are cheaper than those of cafés in Sydney.
I’ve always ground my own beans and think that having freshly ground beans could be the single biggest factor in making a good cup of coffee. The closer to brew time that they’re ground, the better – I’ll usually grind my beans as the kettle is boiling.
For years, I used an electronic grinder with a broken button taped on with electrical tape. I was never really happy with its inconsistent grind. Having to be attached to a power socket would often make it difficult for me to access of a morning, with a busy family in a small kitchen. Waiting for coffee is not my favourite thing in life.
Last year I finally replaced my electric grinder with a hand grinder – my wife likes to refer to my it as my “Altes Kaffeemühle”. The grind is more consistent now, which makes my brew taste better. I can grind up beans in the lounge room if my kitchen is crowded and it’s good exercise too!
A hand grinder saves on electricity – maybe not much, but if you can save a buck, why not? Plus, I find that electrical things are always more like to break down than non-electrical.
The model I got was one of the more affordable ones – the Rhinowares Hand Grinder. For the cost, I’m pretty happy with it, but there is one big annoyance with it. The bottom canister (that catches the ground up coffee beans) slips and falls right off! This makes it awkward to use as I need to focus on holding the device together whilst trying to maintain a decent grip on the top half as well.
I get my beans locally and in bulk, usually 1KG at a time. Wherever possible, I get them in paper packaging and transfer them to a large glass jar when I get home.
Here are some of the suppliers in Berlin and Sydney whose beans I’ve enjoyed.
The Wood Roaster – good value. Brown paper bag, but unfortunately plasticky on the inside.
(You can pick it up from Essential Coffee Services around the corner. They also have a ‘cyclists’ brand from the South Coast which is great value).
Coffee Alchemy – great reputation, mostly about $50/kg for beans. I haven’t tried all their blends yet, but am looking forward to them. Some days, I can smell their shop’s coffee beans roasting from my home. Very enticing.
Alfalfa House – they have no packaging which is fantastic. They have three varieties to choose from, the cheapest one was quite nice, but even the cheapest is up there with Coffee Alchemy in price.
Bonanza – I loved their coffee, but even though Angie calls me a coffee snob, I rarely ever buy the high-end stuff. Sure, I’d love to get the best beans around, but that’s not the greatest idea when we are four people living off one income. Every dollar (or euro) I don’t spend on coffee, is another dollar saved for my family, so normally I’d only get Bonanza on birthday week.
The Barn – my brother always swore by their beans, whilst they are great, I again found them a little more expensive than I’d normally like to spend.
Pakolat – a very cozy café with decent and affordable beans.
Friedl – also good, I often got their Brazilian blend, I found it really nice.
Zero Waste Coffee
The used up coffee grinds finally go on our vertical garden and raised garden bed, this is to deter insects. Slugs had started to munch on our kale plants when my eight year old son told me that he’d learned at school how coffee grinds can help keep insects away from crops. Sure enough, his tip has worked wonders in our backyard!
As I mentioned earlier, I try to get both my beans and filters in paper packaging. When it comes to the V60 coffee filters themselves, I feed them to our worms. Worms aren’t the biggest fan of coffee generally, but the knowledgable person at Newtown’s Green Living Centre told me that they’d be cool having a little bit each day. They definitely don’t seem bothered by the little bit left on the sides of my filters and happily munch threw them in no time.
Coffee To Go
In case I ever need a coffee on the run, I always bring my reusable cup with me. Some people use a thermos, but I’ve never found that the contents stay hot enough for long, so I’m not really a fan.
The ABC program, War on Waste, which I have recently recommended, demonstrates that whilst a disposable coffee cup is mostly recyclable – they are not being recycled due to a small amount of plastic lining on the inside. The program also showed how many cafés are now giving a discount of up to 50¢ per coffee for people who bring in their own cups.
I picked up my first reusable cup from Bio Company. It had a Berlin S-Bahn design which I really liked, being a nerd who is slightly fanatical about Berlin’s public transport system.
Unfortunately, my cup dropped and was cracked. I was pretty sad about that, but instead of throwing the entire cup out, I now use it is a pencil caddy.
I recently got a replacement cup for free from Naked Foods – they had a promotion running in which you received a free Keep Cup with a spend of over $30.
That’s it for now, perhaps one day I’ll crate a post about my favourite cafés to sit down and enjoy a coffee in. Lately, my daughter and I have found ourselves in various cafés in Sydney’s Inner West, with young Batgirl becoming quite the Kinder Kaffee (babycino) connoisseur.