Coffee waste reduction techniques

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
MeTheGreat

#1: Post by MeTheGreat »

Perhaps I am the only person that is consistently irritated by the amount of coffee waste that happens during the course of pulling shots, but boy does it irritate me. As a person who has to travel 90 miles to the nearest roastery and has an income of $00.00 it sure would be nice to get some input from others who have been saving waste for longer than I.

Several areas of concern are worthy of mention here. Namely grinder buildup, grinder dribble (a term I am shamelessly stealing from Dan Kehn because I love it so very much in reference to the Rocky DL where the grinder blasts coffee out of the filter basket), and distribution overflow.

There is obviously a lot of bean that gets left in the grinder during the course of use, especially when using particularly oily beans. But is there some way to appease your grinder's appetite for the beans you had shipped 1000 miles? Also, and perhaps I am foolish and inexperienced, but I have developed the habit of flushing a bit of coffee through the grinder at the new grind setting to make sure that I am getting all the grounds at the new setting and fresh. Is this necessary, and if so, what do you do with all this excess of perfectly good bean?

The grinder dribble is less of an issue but nonetheless wastes coffee that could have otherwise ended up flavoring the next shot. Any suggestions on containment?

Most important to me is the mess created from distributing the grounds in the basket. Much of this is because I am still clumsy and awkward at it, but the overflow still ends up on the counter and not in the cup.

I have considered and experimented with simply collecting the excess cleaned up from these areas and storing them to pull shots that will be stored in the refrigerator to make blended coffee drinks but boy are those shots Bad (even though after milk, ice, flavoring, and a ton of sugar the shot quality goes down the tube anyway) and it just plain bothers me to pull bad shots knowingly and it still doesn't actually reduce the waste created.

I would be interested to know if anyone else has had success with reducing their wastes or has found something besides fertilizer to use it for.

Ken Fox

#2: Post by Ken Fox »

I can't speak for anyone else but I collect the grinds in ice cube trays, then when full subject them to liquid nitrogen and put them in a very cold freezer at approximately -40 celsius.

After a period of weeks, months, or years, I scatter them around the house foundation to repel termites.

Hope this helps.

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

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HB
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#3: Post by HB »

Ken's ribbing aside, if minimizing coffee waste is your goal, then I recommend an accurate scale to measure your coffee for grinding until empty and dosing baskets outside the portafilter. You can further minimize spillage using a WDT modified yogurt cup:

Image

That said, espresso preparation demands more coffee than other brewing methods and there's unavoidably a higher amount of waste. If it's less than a couple grams per espresso, you're doing great. Over the course of a month, the waste would amount to less than one extra espresso a week. It's worth wasting a little coffee if the end result is better. If the extra cost really irritates you, why not try French press during the week and reserve espresso for the weekend as a special treat?
Dan Kehn

Ken Fox

#4: Post by Ken Fox » replying to HB »

Let's see if I got this right; approximately 2g waste per double shot espresso is "ok." Accepting this as gospel because of course it came out of the keyboard of one Dan Kehn, if one prepares 5 double shots per day (probably at the high end for most home baristas) we have 10g of "waste." A year has 365 days in it and assuming one never leaves home on vacation and is there 365 days a year, one has 3650g of coffee waste per anum. 3650g is equivalent to 8lbs of coffee per year. A home roaster (and anyone who is thrifty would obviously be a home roaster) pays *maybe* $5.50 per roasted pound of coffee. This equals a potential savings of $44.17 assuming zero waste, which is obviously not possible. So let's assume one was incredibly careful and cut the "waste" in half, well, then, they've saved $22.09 through Herculean efforts during the year.

Don't spend it all in one place.

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

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HB
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#5: Post by HB »

Ken Fox wrote:Don't spend it all in one place.
Thanks for the calculations. But what actually motivated my miserly approach to coffee consumption wasn't the money savings, it was avoiding the delay of ordering more should I run out. Then I discovered that a coffee roaster was only three miles from my office. Prior to this revelation, there were a couple desperate moments when I bought coffee at a (*shudder*) supermarket. Homeroasting? Yes, I know... it's still on my to-do list.
Dan Kehn

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Compass Coffee
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#6: Post by Compass Coffee »

Ken Fox wrote:(and anyone who is thrifty would obviously be a home roaster)
That seem to say anyone who home roasts does so for cost savings and that home roasting coffee costs less. Two assumptions I don't believe are necessarily true. Some people start home roasting strictly for reasons other than cost: control of degree of roast, control of freshness of roast, choice of huge huge variety were my reasons for starting home roasting 5+ years ago. And IMO home roasting does not necessarily cost less when factoring in all costs, including especially value of one's time.

As far as waste per shot goes 2gm per shot would be huge in my book, mine far less than a gram. Of course it takes more than "normal" grinder operation. First of course only grinding per shot and measuring for each shot (not by weight, by volume) When pulling a series measuring out for the series. Final shot flux brush and blower to force the chute hang grinds out. Grinding into small SS canister rather than directly into PF virtually eliminates flying grounds and helps eliminate clumping, no WDT pe se' required 'cuz basically been doing similar for almost 5 years.
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)
http://www.CompassCoffeeRoasting.com

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HB
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#7: Post by HB »

Compass Coffee wrote:As far as waste per shot goes 2gm per shot would be huge in my book, mine far less than a gram.
I was referring to the overall waste, including purging the grinder of old coffee, end of session cleanup, and spillage. FWIW, I answered "in the low twenties" for the poll How many double espressos do you get per pound of roasted beans?
Dan Kehn

Dogshot

#8: Post by Dogshot »

For many of us home roasters, who are limited to roasting in batches of approx. 150 grams, attempts to reduce waste are not economically based, but time and convenience based.

As Ken's mathematical wizardry shows, 2-3 grams wasted per shot on a 4-shot per day basis is the better part of an extra shot per day. For the economizing home roaster, who gets 7-8 doubles from 150 grams of green (assuming that roasted weighs less than green by about 12%-17%), that is the difference between going 1.5 days and going 2 days between roasts. If the home roaster is trying to dial in a blend, the amount saved can be the difference between achieving success from one roast batch and having to use two.

So, until I get my SC/CO up and running, I will continue to be among the bean counters.

Mark

k7qz

#9: Post by k7qz »

Ken Fox wrote:I can't speak for anyone else but I collect the grinds in ice cube trays, then when full subject them to liquid nitrogen and put them in a very cold freezer at approximately -40 celsius.

After a period of weeks, months, or years, I scatter them around the house foundation to repel termites.

Hope this helps.

ken
Oh man, I just wasted a good 5 minutes after reading Ken's post then stopping at that point to ponder "OK, Ken is one of the smartest guys I read here on good 'ol HB and for the life of me, I can't think of any logical/etymological reason why frozen coffee grounds would repel termites...? It finally hit me after I gave up and read Dan's follow up post "Ohhh I get it, Ken's making a joke!" :roll: :oops: Sorry to be a little slow here this morning guys!

If you really want to save that $22.09 Ken calculated for you- do the WDT yogurt cup deal. Your only other option would be to buy a DL grinder which is even more neat than your Rocky. Problem is, this will set you back $700 dollars for the Mini E, even more for the darn-near-perfect Versalab grinder... Yogurt cups are your answer.

I'm not giving you a hard time here and not making light of your economics, it's just that many HB'ers have small fortunes invested in their coffee gadgets so the thought of saving a few bucks on the inevitable stray grounds...

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mrgnomer

#10: Post by mrgnomer »

I dislike waste too. I've just recently upgraded to a Vetrano and an M4 but the waste reduction habits I had with a Rocky and a Silvia still work.

Grinding for dose is one way to keep from over grinding. On the M4 I removed the guard over the chute and after grinding I roughly clean it out with a chopstick then sweep it out with a brush. When dosing I try to clear the doser of grinds. Under the chute I've got a litlle square Japanese sushi plate to catch stray grinds and after dosing I distribute over it to catch stray grinds. Usually, if the bean dose was good, there's very little excess left over after distributing. What is left over gets added to the next shot.

Brushing out the doser of stray grinds onto the small plate keeps the doser clean.