You can’t make a great cup of coffee without water. It is an essential ingredient in our favorite beverage in more ways than one, which is why we are committed to sustainable farming practices that steward and conserve this precious resource. Here are a few ways we are saving water and a few things you can do at home to be a water-conscious coffee consumer.
Kauai Coffee is the largest drip-irrigated coffee estate in the world, with more than 2,500 miles of drip tubing running through our orchard. Drip irrigation is an efficient watering system that delivers water and nutrients directly to plant roots. According to a Washington State University study, drip irrigation systems can reduce water usage by up to 50% over traditional sprinklers and overhead watering solutions. This water savings is largely because much less water is lost to wind and evaporation when applied directly to tree roots.
Drip irrigation has many other positive environmental benefits, including eliminating the need to spray or dust fertilizer and reducing runoff and soil erosion. Kauai is a tropical island in the Pacific Ocean, and protecting our streams and coastlines from the effects of climate change is essential for the health of our environment and community. Additionally, drip irrigation systems help mitigate weeds because water is applied directly to the coffee trees and starves weeds, decreasing their ability to germinate and spread.
Hedgerows and Windbreaks
If you have ever had the opportunity to visit Kauai Coffee, you may have noticed tall rows of pine trees stretched out across the coffee fields. Those trees are Norfolk Pines, and they serve an essential conservation purpose on the farm. We plant hedgerows and diversions to mitigate runoff, soil erosion and to protect the coffee trees from wind. This helps us keep our natural water resources clean and protect the native forests in the valleys and ravines throughout the farm and across the South Shore of Kauai.
Reduction and Reuse
Reducing water usage across the farm is just one side of the water conservation coin. At Kauai Coffee, we also reuse our water as much as possible. During the harvest period in the fall, we divert water from the drip irrigation system to the wet plant, where it is used for processing to remove the coffee cherry fruit from the seed.
Because we only use our water in processing, it can easily be cleaned using a filter system and then reapplied to the coffee fields. After processing, leftover cherry pulp and the mulch from pruning the coffee trees are put back into the land as soil nutrients. By composting and adding organic matter to our soil, we hope to reduce water requirements by up to 20%.
How to be a water conscious coffee consumer
Saving water and being kind to the environment is something we can all take part in. Here are a few ways you can save water in your at-home coffee routine.
- Buy coffee that is certified by sustainability advocates. Kauai Coffee complies with all EPA regulations, including the Clean Water & Clean Air laws, and has the unique distinction of being triple certified. 100% Kauai Coffee is Non GMO Project verified, Rainforest Alliance certified, and Fair Trade certified.
- Scoop don’t rinse. Washing your coffee maker and equipment can use a lot of water. If you make coffee with a French Press, try scooping the used coffee grounds into your garden or compost pile instead of rinsing them down the drain or into the trash. You’ll save water and add nutrients to your soil; it’s a win-win!
- Try a new brewing method. If you love the ease and convenience of single-serve coffee, try another water-conscious brewing method to make a single cup. Pour overs and AeroPress brewers make a single cup of coffee without dirtying extra equipment and clean up requires very little water.
- Refrigerate leftovers. Did you make a whole pot but only get through a few cups? No problem! Instead of dumping your leftover coffee, pop it into the refrigerator and enjoy a delicious and refreshing iced coffee tomorrow.
- Feed your indoor plants. Does your brewer or espresso machine have a drip tray? If so, empty it into your household plants. They will love the water, and any coffee grounds that end up in the tray will add healthy organic matter to their soil.
In the Hawaiian culture, we have a word, kuleana, which means responsibility and stewardship. At Kauai Coffee Company, we feel it is our kuleana to look after our land and natural resources. Learn more about our sustainability efforts and triple certifications. 100% Kauai Coffee is available for purchase online, at our Visitor Center and most grocery stores in Hawaii. Subscription services are also available, so you never have to be low on aloha or sustainable Hawaiian coffee.