These London cafés are leading the way in sustainable coffee culture…
Many of us grab our morning coffee without thinking about the effect our caffeine hit has on the environment. Yet when you hear the statistics, they’re hard to ignore. Every day in the UK we use around seven million disposable coffee cups, amounting to 2.5 billion a year. And according to the Environmental Audit Committee, only one in 400 cups can be recycled – less than 0.25 per cent. But there are some cafés trying to make a positive change. These London spots not only serve lovely coffee and food, they’re doing their bit to reduce waste, from changing to eco-friendly coffee roasting processes to using biodegradable cups…
Bean & Wheat
Located on trendy Old Street, Adam Handling’s café and beer shop Bean & Wheat uses by-products and offcuts from Adam’s neighbouring restaurant , creating a cycle of sustainability. Cutting food waste is a top priority here, for instance leftover duck livers from The Frog are used to create duck liver parfait, while a pork terrine is made from pork offcuts.
Kiss The Hippo
Opened a year ago in the heart of sunny Richmond, Kiss The Hippo is a pioneer in the farm to table coffee movement. Not only can guests enjoy premium coffee brewed on site, they can take part in home brewing workshops to make freshly roasted coffee which they can then use at home. It’s also a lovely brunch spot, with dishes like scrambled tofu on sourdough and almond butter toast on offer alongside tasty treats – all made using ethically sourced seasonal ingredients. To celebrate their one-year anniversary, they’ll be giving all proceeds from 15 June to , a British environmental charity dedicated to protecting the world’s threatened tropical rainforests. They recently announced they’ll be opening a second site in September in Fitzrovia.
Wild Food Café
Healthy eatery Wild Food Café are concerned not only with the health of their customers, but the health of the planet. Being a vegan, organic, raw-food pioneer, the ethos of being environmentally friendly is the heart and soul of the company. They serve organic products, use eco-friendly packaging and biodegradable cups, and with each bill 99p is added to enable the planting of a fruit tree in the developing world.
Caravan are market leaders in sustainability. Not only are their coffee cups 100 per cent compostable, customers with a reusable cup get a 50p discount. Plastic straws are also banned, and customers are only given a biodegradable alternative when requested. They’ve also got a dedicated Green Coffee team, who travel round the world visiting farmers to create long-term sustainable and personal relationships. Produce is sourced sustainably, and in-house where possible – they make their own charcuterie, Kombucha, shrubs and soda.
Eco-friendly coffee roasters Origin Coffee have a sustainability officer, responsible for ensuring all environmental policies are implemented. They recently switched to a natural carbonated water decaf process, which involves submerging the coffee in pressurised water and adding CO2 to draw the caffeine from the bean. The caffeine is then treated as a waste product, and resold for commercial use, which is much better for the environment than the alternative: a roasting process handled in Canada. Origin have cafes across London in Shoreditch, Hammersmith, Southwark and The British Library, so look out for one while you’re out and about in the city.
A new Modern Asian café on Fitzrovia’s Charlotte Street, Bambusa is solely based on sustainable packaging. Breakfast and lunch are served in sugarcane packaging, while bespoke Malabar house blend coffee is served in biodegradable cups.
With two cafes in Covent Garden and Canary Wharf, Farmstand cooks up a healthy, seasonal menu using local produce from UK-based suppliers. Though the menu is 80 per cent plant based, they also serve a small amount of sustainable fish and ethical meat dishes. They also use only compostable packaging, don’t sell single-use plastic water bottles, and are committed to equal pay – all staff are owners of the business, and the highest paid person is only paid 2.5 times the lowest paid person. “You can’t offer healthy sustainable food if your founder or your senior team are being paid substantially more than others,” says founder Steven Novick.
Rail House Café
House café founder Adam White is in the process of finding a sustainable charity partner for the group – but in the mean time, they’re taking a number of steps in the right direction. At Victoria’s Rail House Café, takeaway cups and lids are 100 per cent compostable, no plastic straws are used, and any excess produce goes into preparing staff meals to minimise wastage.
Daylesford Brompton Cross
A leader the eco-friendly food movement, Daylesford Brompton Cross celebrates a zero-waste policy, ensuring packaging is recyclable, reusable or compostable, and no food is thrown away. Any extra food is sent to The Felix Project, who go on to redistribute it to those in need around London, while straws are made from wheat stalks and customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable cups. Fitting, then, that the three-storey space is designed around a huge oak tree, which was saved by the Bamford family and transformed into a piece of natural art.
Plant-based Notting Hill eatery Farmacy use recyclable or compostable packaging, adopt a ‘root to fruit’ philosophy, and ensure food waste is kept to an absolute minimum.