Water. It’s a too-often overlooked aspect of the environment. Many everyday items, from the smartphone in your pocket to the t-shirt on your back, carry a water footprint. Your morning coffee has a water footprint, too.
It takes a lot of work to produce a delicious cup of coffee. As a mission-led, ethics-first business, it’s our job to prioritise sustainability from bean to cup.
One of the effects of climate change is extreme water shortages. This, combined with other climate factors, directly affects the livelihoods of coffee farmers. At Pact, we know we have to play our part in protecting both coffee and the planet.
Is coffee a water intensive crop?
A water footprint measures the water required to produce coffee. The UN estimates it takes 140 litres of water to grow, process, and transport enough coffee beans per average cup. Although the water requirements of coffee are fairly large, a lot of common household consumables have a large water footprint. It’s up to us to not take this for granted and do whatever we can to not only neutralise our overall footprint but also have a positive impact on the planet.
Water in coffee processing
Several coffee processing methods use water to sort the coffee beans. This happens before processing. The coffee cherries are put in a floatation tank and any cherries that float are unripe and therefore removed.
If you really want to get into the nitty gritty of coffee processing, coffee beans can either be wet-processed or dry-processed. Both methods produce great coffee with a variety of characteristics. Although most of coffee’s water requirements come pre-processing from the water required to grow the plant, wet-processing the coffee cherries uses slightly more water.
Many of our farmers reuse the water from this process by treating the water and then putting it through the milling process again, minimising water waste.
Water in the roastery
Small actions matter too. At our Haslemere roastery, we’ve fitted water saving toilets to minimise our water use.
The UN said in their Vision Statement for this year’s water conference:
“If we understand the complex relations and interlinkages, value water holistically, and manage water inclusively at all levels and across all interests, then water can be the dealmaker, the leverage point for a green economy, climate resilience and a more sustainable and inclusive world.”
Being mindful of our water consumption is part of a bigger environmental picture. Last year, we were proud to become a B Corp. Becoming a certified B Corporation means we have joined a community of businesses that meet high standards of social and environmental impact.
And it’s not a one-and-done thing - every three years, an assessment is redone to check we still meet the criteria.
We’ve always been an ethics-first business, but this certification solidifies our carbon neutrality goals.