the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 17 – Small Batch Coffee club subscription…

Whether you like it or not, many of us have become avid coffee lovers in the UK. Where we are based, in Brighton, you can barely walk 100m without stumbling upon another coffee shop that has only just opened. Of course, many of these are the faceless, homogeneous chains that dominate many a high street, but many of them are independent – coffee lovers turned coffee experts and baristas extraordinaire. We are lucky in Brighton too, as we have a really really nice little chain of the Small Batch Coffee Company, who do very nice coffee indeed, sourcing it directly, roasting it in Hove and preparing it with love. But what if you live outside of Brighton? Why should we get all the nice coffee? It’s day 17 on our Eco Gift Guide and we have the coffee subscription club from Small Batch Coffee…

small batch coffee club

The premise is simple. Choose how you would like the coffee to be delivered, from whole bean to espresso grind, then choose how long you would like the subscription to run – 3 or 6 months. Small Batch Coffee will then choose a different blend every fortnight for the period you have selected, grind and package it with care and send it off to an address of your choice with a little message from you.

Plus, the coffee itself is really special. Working directly with farmers to ensure coffee cherries of the highest quality, Small Batch Coffee comes in a variety of single origin and blended varieties – each with the guarantee that fair prices have been paid and there is no exploitation.

So – if you have someone further afield that you need a gift for, send them a little bit of coffee love from Brighton – they will thank you with every cup for the next three or six months…

(images via Small Batch Coffee)

Take away coffee cups – should they be taxed like plastic bags?

Morning in any large town or city. The streets, buses and trains are full of people winding their way sleepily to work. Needing a perk, many are carrying a take away cup of coffee from their preferred shop. The white and green of Starbucks, the maroon of Costa, the blue of Cafe Nero. Slurping down the last of the buzzy caffeine and soothing froth, the plastic lidded cups are deposited in street bins, office bins and recycling bins alike. The day begins. A typical day which sees over 2.5 billion take away coffee cups discarded in the UK each year…

Coffee to go

2.5 billion. That is a lot of paper cups and plastic lids. ‘But!’ I hear you cry, ‘they are recycled?’. Unfortunately, it is reported by Simply Cups, the UK’s only cup recycling service, that only 1 in 400 cups are actually recycled. And because the paper cups are actually coated on the inside by a very thin layer of polyethylene to enhance their coffeeproof qualities, they are not able to be recycled through normal means. If anything, they can contaminate otherwise recyclable batches of material – in circular economy terms – a monstrous hybrid of fused materials.

Design Your Own KeepCup
the KeepCup we designed using the online customisation and order tool…

One alternative is to ditch the take away cups altogether and use your own take away cups which can be reused again and again, like the Keep Cup. We are avid users of our Keep Cups, and are now in the habit of taking them pretty much everywhere with us. It is not a hassle as the sizes are barista standard, and many places offer a discount if you use your own cup. Quite often this is not advertised, but is automatic. But this week, Starbucks publicly announced such an initiative, which from April, will mean a 50p discount on your bill if you use your own take away cup. If this is ‘successful’ (and we are not sure exactly how this is being measured), it will be rolled out in more stores as a permanent feature.


Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who has been running Hugh’s War On Waste, has been quoted as saying this is a ‘seismic leap’ from Starbucks, which could begin a real behaviour change.

Sea Shepherd

Of course, this is certainly great news, but do we need to take this further to create real behaviour change? Should the take away coffee cup be taxed in the same way as the plastic bag – and would this actively encourage people to take their own cups for refilling? What if we had to pay an extra 50p to get a disposable take away cup as well as getting a discount if we used our own?

Because the actual material in the 2.5 billion take away coffee cups that are landfilled each year is huge. And it needs to be redirected back into the system as we move to a more circular economy, and of course, reduced.

(images by Keep Cup)