It’s time to change your coffee habit for the better.
If you happily pick up your daily coffee each morning without considering the effect that you, and your caffeine hit, is having on the environment, then you are not alone.
However, the statistics on what this seemingly small guilty pleasure is doing to the planet are sobering, to say the least.
The UK produces around 30,000 tonnes of coffee cup waste every year, with half a million cups littering the country every day.
Although many consumers assume their takeaway cup can be recycled, the reality of how many of them can actually be re-used is shockingly low.
Current recycling systems struggle to recycle the cups due to the mix of materials they’re made from. Even though most are made from cardboard, the tight polyethylene liner restricts recycling.
But although it’s easy to forget about your carbon footprint in your habitual day to day actions, going green is (thankfully) on the rise.
Encouragingly, according to a recent report, the ethical sector has grown by 3.2% in the last year, bringing sales in the UK up to a record £81.3 billion. In addition, sales of ethical clothing have grown by 22.4% in the last year, while a massive 42% of us are now shopping locally, prompting a welcome revival of a community-focused economy.
And when it comes to specifically targeting the effects of coffee on our environment, the government has taken steps to cut down the amount of waste from coffee cups.
MPs are calling for a 25p ‘latte levy’ to be added to the current price of takeaway cups, to help combat the billions of cups that go unrecycled every year.
However, there are a whole host of delightful, sustainably-minded coffee shops in London that are already doing their bit to reduce waste.
From giving away reusable cups, to using 100% recyclable packaging, we’ve made a list of all the best places to buy your coffee in the capital to ease your eco-conscious mind.
If these stats have made you realise that you could be doing a bit more for the environment, seek out one of these lovely cafes, so you can have your cake and eat it too.
Caravan Coffee Roasters
When it comes to coffee sustainability, Caravan really takes the biscuit. This London chain of restaurants (which create their own branded coffee) are gorgeously designed and decorated, serve an experimental and delicious menu and also take extra measures to make the selling of their hot beverages as eco-friendly as possible.
Not only are Caravan’s takeout coffee cups 100% compostable, but the chain also encourages its customers to use reusable receptacles in a number of ways to cut down on wastage. Once a customer has a fully stamped loyalty card, they can exchange it for an Uppercup takeout coffee mug, with their choice of coffee inside – for free.
If you already have a re-useable coffee mug you’ll get 50p off your drink and if you want one, and you want one now, you can buy one from any Caravan restaurant for just £5.
But it’s not just some serious cup-game that these purveyors of coffee boast: they’re also strict on straws. Caravan does not use straws unless a customer specifically requests one, at which point they’ll be given a bio-degradable one.
Caravan currently has branches in King’s Cross, Exmouth Market, Borough and Bank. See more here.
Fink’s Salt and Sweet
This North London deli and eatery is nothing if not generous. As well as enjoying a chilled vibe and pared back but effortlessly cool decor, you can bag yourself four free coffees, just by purchasing a reusable cup.
And as these guys are so committed to the sustainability cause, they have even created their own branded reusable cup, sold in store.
Fink’s Salt and Sweet is located in Finsbury, see more here.
The Pear Tree Kitchen
This Australian-inspired restaurant and deli has it all. From 7.30am you can get your fill of delicacies from breakfast baps to indulgent dinners, and of course, some of the best coffee around.
Speaking of which, customers who bring a re-usable cup will receive an extra stamp on their loyalty card.
The Pear Tree Kitchen is located near Canary Wharf, see more here.
This Italian coffee-house giant may be one of the biggest players on the high-street, but that doesn’t mean it’s without heart. Cafe Nero fully supports its customers using re-usable cups and not only sells its own version for £10 (which can be bought in any store) but baristas will award those who use one with an extra stamp on their loyalty card.
Cafe Nero has branches all over London and the country, see more here.
This tea and lifestyle concept shop is possibly the coolest place you’ll ever find yourself sipping a brew in. Peruse some prints and stack up on stationery while you get your caffeine hit, and receive an extra 20p off your coffee if you bring a reusable cup with you.
If you haven’t got yourself a reusable cup yet (no judgement here) then head to T&Shop to make a purchase, and receive a helping of free coffee with it.
T&Shop is located in Stoke Newington, see more here.
Pret a Manger
We’re going to go out on a limb here and assume that you’re already pretty familiar with Pret. We’ll admit, we’ve been known to spend a rather large portion of our salary in here - so we couldn’t be happier that this chain is taking steps to be more eco-friendly.
Every customer who asks for their coffee in a reusable cup can enjoy 50p off the price of their drink and, later this year, Pret is planning on creating its own reusable cup.
Pret have branches all over London and the country, see more here.
Costa, the self-proclaimed ‘favourite coffee shop of the nation’, is actually one of the most budget-friendly places to purchase a reusable cup.
You can get yourself a multiple use mug for just £3 at any Costa branch, and once you own one you can continue to get 25p off your hot and cold drinks, which sounds like a pretty good deal to us.
Costa has branches all over London and the country, see more here.
Coffee Republic is a huge champion of the KeepCup, selling them at various stores around the UK for the reasonable sum of £12.99, which also gets you a free beverage.
The coffee chain also encourages you to keep up the good work by offering a 15p discount every time you swerve a disposable cup for a sustainable one.
Coffee Republic has branches all over London and the UK, see more here.
Le Pain Quotidien
These adorable French eateries certainly have that je n’ais se quoi. And not only do we love their pastries and experimental beverages, we love their commitment to sustainability even more.
All of Le Pain’s cups are 100% compostable and 100% recyclable, with inner linings made from biodegradable plant starch, rather than plastic. Considering how many disposable cups are unable to tick these boxes, we must say, we’re impressed.
Le Pain have branches all over London and the UK, see more.
Wild Food Café
Vegans, here’s one for you. Wild Food Cafe not only has a prime location in Covent Garden’s Neal’s Yard, but it also offers a delicious, plant-based menu which has been created on the basis of making customers “feel great”.
Most importantly, the colourful cafe uses biodegradable cups, sourced from London Bio Packaging.
Wild Food Cafe is located in Covent Garden, see more here.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, this popular French bakery is the place for you. And while you’re there devouring a croissant you’ll probably want to sample some of the chain’s coffee, too.
Well, customers who bring a reusable cup with them can save 25p as a reward for their eco-efforts, which is something we’ll say tres bien to!
PAUL has branches all over London and the rest of the country, see more here.
These cool kids of the coffee world claim to “respect the beans”, have an admirable passion for their craft, and a plethora of achingly chic sites that they sell from.
Plus, anyone who brings a reusable cup with them will get a 20p discount on their takeaway coffee.
Origin Coffee has branches in Shoreditch, Hammersmith and a site in the British Library, see more here.
Now go fourth and save the world, one cappuccino at a time.
Images: Courtesy of brands / Kira Auf Der Heide