Some like it hot, and lately, our joy in our too-often-tepid takeout latte has cooled. Modest comforts, like really fresh coffee, and small economies, like not always queuing up and shelling out for a takeout cup, can pay appreciable dividends in uncertain times. As it is, even pre-market plunge, we'd been put off our latte by wondering whether our coffee bar frothing wand was cleaned enough, and the milk hot enough, to kill bacteria. We're risk averse, yes, which is why we continue to e-leverage our coffee choices: Organic, fairly traded, shade-grown and bird-friendly profit the environment and our pleasure, while saving money, if we brew it ourselvses. Replacing one regular 'tall' latte a day with a green home-brewed cup will save you over $1,200 a year, according to the bean counters at Good Earth Coffee.
To further leverage the earthly benefits of organic coffee, take Good Earth's "Brew at Home" pledge, with a simple click (and no cost). For each pledge, Good Earth donates $1 to the Trust for Public Land, which conserves open space and creates community gardens and parks throughout the U.S. Retiring paper takeout cups for your favorite mug at home, or non-leaching stainless bottles with insulating sleeves, commuter mugs and thermoses on the road, will make a dent in the 28 billion jettisoned paper coffee cups that overtax our landfills. And, because most paper coffee cups are treated with waterproofing plastic, they do not decompose. In a pinch, fill up your reusable cup at your coffee bar, and they'll probably give you a discount.
Better yet, brew your own without using paper filters, and save the expense of purchasing them as well as the ravages to trees. Use a glass French press. Add coarse-ground coffee to the pot, fill with hot water, cap with cover and filter plunger, wait a few minutes, then gently press plunger down. The Bodum Chambord won the American Culinary Institute's award for best French coffee press in 2004. Sounds sexy, non? Not only that, you can brew your own coffee in your own mug with Bodum's handy little stainless insert. Drip afficianados can use Braun metal mesh reusable filter baskets. If you work at home and drink a lot, this big stainless Mr. Coffee has a built-in Braun metal filter, removes chlorine for better taste, and a simple energy-saving feature; it stops warming shuts off after 2 hours.
We like a weekend latte treat, but the lines at our local French hot spot are discouragingly long, so we're tempted to try making our own espresso and steamed milk concoctions with this affordable little machine. In any case, please never drink coffee in styrene foam cups, which can leach the toxic chemical polystyrene, which causes breast cancers in animal studies, warns the Breast Cancer Fund.
This article originally appeared in Plenty in October 2008. The story was moved to MNN.com.