A single cup of coffee uses 140 litres of water. . . Butterworth & Son’s Lauren Small tells us how
From farming to brewing, water plays an instrumental role in the coffee world. Without water, we would have no coffee, and I don’t know about you, but without coffee the world just isn’t as bright.
Everyone knows that water is an important factor in coffee, but I don’t think people realise just how much water is used. It is estimated that a single cup of coffee uses an average of 140 litres of water (from farm to cup). So imagine how much water gets used in total at your favourite coffee shop during a busy day.
Most coffee farms rely on rainfall to water the plants and dictate the growing season, but those who cannot, pump it in from nearby bodies of water. This ensures the cherries on the coffee plant are at the highest standard they can be. Water travels around the inside of the plant and carries nutrients and enzymes that nurture the cherries. This also helps define the taste and flavours of the coffee once roasted.
Once the cherries have been picked, they then need to be fermented in. . . you guessed it. . . water! The beans are usually processed through a wet mill which sorts the higher quality beans from the lower. They are then pushed into large water tanks for fermenting. This fermentation process makes it easier to remove the pulp and reveal the bean inside. Most coffee farms recycle this water and use it on the next batch of beans.
Once the beans have been fermented, they are washed and dried, which removes any musilige and flesh from the cherries. This leaves us with the green coffee bean we know. Please note that there are other methods of processing the coffee cherries, but washing them is one of the most common.
Once shipped over and roasted, coffee is then brewed at home or at coffee shops. Every single brew method requires water. How much is up to the consumer, but water is the key element in extracting the flavours and aromas from ground coffee.
As you can see, water plays a role in the production of coffee from the very start, to the very end. If this isn’t a reason to preserve water, I don’t know what is.
Butterworth & Son coffee roasters and teasmiths, based on Moreton Hall, Bury St Edmunds
Owner Rob Butterworth’s job takes him around the world visiting coffee farms to source great coffees