Coffee Carbon Footprint Calculator With 9 Coffee & Tea Types

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Carbon Offsets Credits | July 10, 2023

Man drinking coffee looks back at a coffee carbon footprint emitted from piles of cups and wonders if there is a coffee carbon footprint calculator that can measure the carbon footprint of disposable coffee cup.

From seed to cup, every stage of the coffee supply chain has a coffee carbon footprint.

But have you ever asked yourself if the emissions from the coffee you’re drinking everyday could be erased?

Because it’s not just the coffee and the dairy that has a footprint, the disposable cups can add up, and without using a plastic convenience carbon offset, those emissions contribute to the emissions problems the planet is experiencing.

You may not know it, but you can use a coffee carbon footprint calculator to measure the emissions from the coffee you drink, whether you make it at home or get your daily Starbucks fix.

This complete guide shows you how to measure your coffee carbon footprint, and explores some of the food carbon footprints so that you can make decisions that benefit the planet now.

Carbon Footprint: Coffee vs Tea Carbon Footprint

Tea is more sustainable than coffee.

Tea requires 34 liters of water for one cup of tea, while coffee requires 140 liters of water. When it comes to carbon footprint, black coffee and black tea produce 21g of CO2e per cup.

So how can you measure it with ‘extras?’

Bar graph of carbon footprint of cofee, tea, milk, and sugar showing the weight in grams on the x-axis and products on the y-axis.

Easy, use a milk carbon footprint calculator to help.

When adding cow’s milk to a large latte, it produces 340g of CO2e —16x more!

The following table shows the common carbon footprints in grams of coffee, tea, milk, and sugar:

BeverageCarbon Footprint (Grams)
Black Coffee (Beans)21g
Loose Leaf Black Tea21g
Tea & Coffee with Milk (Boiling only the Water You Need)53g
Tea & Coffee with Milk (Boiling Double the Water You Need)71g
Large Latte with 100ml of Milk340g
Teabag210g
A Splash of Milk (5ml)5g
A Cup of Milk225g
1 Teaspoon of Sugar0.43g

Apart from adding sugar and milk to coffee, land use is another factor that drives up the coffee carbon footprint.

Generally, tea is grown and harvested throughout the year and requires less processing time than coffee.

On the other hand, coffee is harvested once a year. As such, more land is required to produce the same amount of coffee as tea.

Moreover, more weight of coffee is required to produce a cup of coffee than tea.

Bar graph of water use per one cup of coffee showing the liters of water on the x-axis and coffee processing steps on the y-axis.

The environmental impact of tea is lower than that of coffee.

However, adding milk has an impact on tea as well.

Coffee Carbon Footprint: Calculator Method

When measuring the carbon footprint of coffee, there are a few things to consider.

Are you making the cup at home, or buying a cup from a vendor?

If you’re making the cup of coffee at home, you can estimate that one cup of black coffee (using a percolator) is approximately 21 grams of emissions (including the energy required to brew it).

If you’re getting one shot of espresso, the energy increases, making the footprint about 32 grams.

If you’re buying the coffee, the cup and operations contribute to slightly more emissions, and when dairy is added, the measurements go up.

To calculate your coffee carbon footprint, you need to input your coffee consumption and select how often you consume coffee, i.e., per day, week, month, or year.

For example, just 2 cups of black coffee every day equals roughly 150kg of carbon emissions.

That’s the amount of emissions about 1 tree can sequester.

Coffee Carbon Footprint: Carbon Footprint of Disposable Coffee Cup

When the paper, paper sleeve, production, and shipping are included, a single disposable coffee cup emits 0.11kgs of e.6

The production of disposable coffee cups results in the loss of trees. The loss of trees reduces the earth’s carbon absorption capacity and causes ecosystem degradation.

As forests continue to shrink (15 billion trees are chopped down each year) and landfills continue to grow, the use of disposable coffee cups is problematic.

It’s far better to employ reusable cups, and many coffee chains offer discounts on your favorite beverage when you utilize an approved refillable cup.

Disposable Coffee Cups: Environmental Impact of Disposable Coffee Cups

Disposable coffee cups are an environmental menace.  For starters, disposable coffee cups are one of the main contributors to deforestation since more trees must be chopped down daily to meet the growing consumer demand for takeaway coffee.5

More than 20 million trees are chopped down yearly to produce disposable coffee cups. The loss of such a huge number of trees means less CO2 is absorbed from the atmosphere.

In turn, the environment becomes more polluted, and the damage to the ecosystem worsens.

Secondly, disposable coffee cups contribute to CO2 emissions.

Since most disposable coffee cups end up in landfills, they subsequently produce methane, which is 25x more potent than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.

Disposable Coffee Cup: Facts About Disposable Coffee Cups

Disposable coffee cups can be a necessity at times, but they’re having a negative impact on the planet.

The following facts about disposable coffee cups show the need to carry an insulated reusable cup for that coffee, tea, and other beverages.

  • Disposable coffee cups pollute the planet at an alarming rate: According to coffee cup waste statistics (US), Americans throw away over 50 billion coffee cups every year, most of which end up in landfills or the environment.
  • Disposable Coffee Cups are not Recyclable: Disposable coffee cups cannot be recycled because the exterior is made from paper, while the interior is made from plastic.
  • Disposable Coffee Cups Break Down in the Environment: Disposable coffee cups made of paper, polythene, or Styrofoam end up in a landfill, where they break down as the years go by, polluting the land and waterways.
  • Disposable Coffee Cups Will Cost You: In efforts to reduce single-use food ware, the Berkeley, CA City Council passed a Single-Use Food ware and Litter Reduction Ordinance that requires customers to pay an extra 25 cents if they want to use disposable cups.

Coffee Roasting: Carbon Footprint of the Coffee Roasting Process

Coffee roasting using solar energy produces 0.318kgs of CO2e per kg of coffee, while coffee roasting using a local electricity grid produces 0.744kgs of CO2e.

Within factory activities, coffee roasting has the highest carbon monoxide emission rates since this process uses the most sophisticated machines and generates the most GHG emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Why Does Coffee Have Such a High Carbon Footprint?

Coffee has a high carbon footprint due to the waste generated and energy used during the journey from being a seed at a farm to a cup of coffee in your hand.

Before being brewed, coffee beans go through several stages that involve:

  • Growing
  • Harvesting
  • Processing
  • Transporting
  • Roasting
  • Grounding

Each of these stages dump CO2 into the atmosphere, and when sugar, cream, and milk are added to coffee, the overall carbon footprint increases.

One shot of espresso produces 0.38kgs of CO2e.

For those that include cream or milk, such as cappuccinos or lattes, the carbon footprint is between 0.41kgs and 0.55kgs of CO2e.

Low Carbon Footprint Coffee: Nestlé Low Carbon Coffee

To minimize the coffee carbon footprint, Nestlé’s plant scientists have developed new Robusta varieties that are low carbon, drought-resistant, and deliver 50 percent more yields per tree.

Thanks to their expertise in classical non-GMO breeding, Nestlé’s plant scientists can produce more coffee on the same size of land, using the same amount of fertilizer and energy.

This results in a 30 percent reduction of the carbon footprint of green coffee beans and enables farmers in countries experiencing severe climate change to continue producing high-quality coffee beans.

Reducing the Amount of CO2 Coffee Emits With Every Sip

Nestlé’s plant scientists state that since green coffee beans are responsible for 40 to 80 percent of CO2 emissions of a single coffee cup, the new Robusta varieties will drastically reduce the carbon footprint of coffee consumption.

Nestlé’s drought-resistance Robusta varieties currently being trialed in fields across Central Africa have been found to deliver higher yields (up to 50 percent higher) per plant under moderate to severe water stress.

This will prevent coffee cultivation from ceasing in countries affected by climate change. Moreover, the new Robusta varieties will help farmers earn more money by sustainably growing higher-quality coffee on the same size of land with a lower carbon footprint.

Cultivating Next-Gen Coffee

Nestlé’s efforts to reduce the coffee carbon footprint do not end at developing low-carbon Robusta varieties.

Nestlé is developing new, higher-yielding Arabica varieties that are resistant to coffee leaf rust and produce more yields using the same size of land and amount of fertilizer.

Carbon Footprint of Paper vs Plastic

Paper can have a greater environmental impact than plastic. Here is how:

  • The production of paper results in continued deforestation as it removes approximately 42 million trees from the planet each day, meaning more CO2 goes into the atmosphere.In addition, paper manufacturing releases 50 times more water pollutants and 80 percent more GHGs than plastic.
  • Plastic bags do not require as much water as paper bags during production.2 It takes 265 liters of water to produce 1,000 paper bags and 15 liters of water to produce 1,500 plastic bags.
  • Plastic bags use 14.9kgs of fossil fuels during manufacturing, while paper bags use 23.2kgs of fossil fuels.
  • Paper products weigh more than plastic products. As such, they have a greater carbon footprint than plastic products.
  • Plastic bags produce 39 percent less GHG emissions than uncomposted paper bags and 68 percent less GHG emissions than composted paper bags.
  • Forty percent of paper waste ends up in landfills, while 18.5 percent of plastic waste ends up in landfills.

However, plastic production does require dangerous chemicals and plastic can take thousands of years to decompose (some never does).

You can measure your plastic cup carbon footprint here.

A reusable plastic cup can be a better option than using 50-100 paper cups a year, but the best solution is something that is recyclable, such as a steel insulated cup.

Case Study: Ceramic Cup vs. Paper Cup

A case study comparing ceramic cups vs. paper cups found that overall, the conventional ceramic cup is better for the environment than the paper cup.7

Based on the results of the case study, if coffee consumption is part of your daily life, it is better to consume coffee in ceramic mugs, provided that you use these cups at least 140 times and wash them with a modern dishwasher or by hand with cold water.

If you occasionally order your coffee to-go, the best solution is a reusable steel cup.

However, if you consume coffee every day using paper cups, you contribute to the production of CO2 and the environmental impacts resulting from paper cup use.

Coffee Carbon Footprint: Life Cycle Assessment of Coffee

The tables below summarize the life cycle assessment of coffee.

Table 1 summarizes the energy use, Table 2 summarizes water use, and Table 3 summarizes the carbon emissions of coffee.

Bar graph of carbon emissions of coffee processing showing the grams of co2e per 100 ml on the x-axis and coffee processing steps on the y-axis.

It is important to note that “processing” in the tables includes: coffee bean handling, cleaning, roasting, grinding, packing, and filling.

Table 1: Energy Use for Each Process

ProcessMega Joule Per 100ml
Cultivation0.2
Irrigation0.24
Treatment0.11
Delivery0.04
Packaging0.04
Processing0.05
Distribution0.03
Coffee and Cup Manufacture0.05
Washing0.39
Brewing0.86
End of Life Wastes-0.07
Total1.94

Table 2: Water Use per One Cup of Coffee

ProcessWater Use
Cultivation0.37 liters
Irrigation25 liters
Treatment0.13 liters
Delivery
Packaging0.1 liters
Processing
Distribution0.05 liters
Coffee and Cup Manufacture0.07 liters
Washing1.22 liters
Brewing1.97 liters
End of Life Wastes-0.7 liters
Total28.83

Table 3: Carbon Emissions

Graph showing energy use for coffee processing creating coffee carbon footprint.

ProcessGrams of CO2e Per 100ml
Cultivation24.32
Irrigation6.08
Treatment8.38
Delivery2.63
Packaging2.79
Processing2.63
Distribution2.79
Coffee and Cup Manufacture3.29
Washing20.87
Brewing44.03
End of Life Wastes-3.78
Total114.03

Carbon Footprint of Food

The table below shows the carbon footprint of food.

It includes estimated GHGs produced during farming, in the factory, during transportation, in the shop, and your home.

Food TypeGHG Emissions Per 1kg Produced
Beef (Beef Herd)60kgs of CO2e
Beef (Dairy Herd)21kgs of CO2e
Prawns (Farmed)12kgs of CO2e
Lamb & Mutton24kgs of CO2e
Poultry Meat6kgs of CO2e
Palm Oil8kgs of CO2e
Pig Meat7kgs of CO2e
Chocolate19kgs of CO2e
Coffee17kgs of CO2e
Cheese21kgs of CO2e
Olive Oil6kgs of CO2e
Fish (Farmed)5kgs of CO2e
Fish (Wild Catch)3kgs of CO2e
Eggs4.5kgs of CO2e
Rice4kgs of CO2e
Cane Sugar3kgs of CO2e
Milk3kgs of CO2e
Groundnuts2.5kgs of CO2e
Tomatoes1.4kgs of CO2e
Wheat & Rye1.4kgs of CO2e
Cassava1kg of CO2e
Maize (Corn)1kg of CO2e
Peas900g of CO2e
Soy Milk900g of CO2e
Bananas700g of CO2e
Apples400g of CO2e
Root Vegetables400g of CO2e
Nuts300g of CO2e
Citrus Fruits300g of CO2e

Low Carbon Footprint Foods

As seen in the table above, most foods have a high carbon footprint.

However, for eco-conscious individuals who want to tackle the climate change issue by changing their food choices, low-carbon footprint foods are a terrific start.

According to the carbon footprint food database, foods with the lowest carbon footprint include:

FoodTotal GHG Emissions Per Kg of Food
Soy Milk0.91kgs of CO2e
Peas0.90kgs of CO2e
Bananas0.68kgs of CO2e
Brassicas0.44kg of CO2e
Onions and Leeks0.40kgs of CO2e
Potatoes0.37kgs of CO2e
Root Vegetables0.37kgs of CO2e
Apples0.36kgs of CO2e
Citrus Fruit0.32kgs of CO2e
Nuts0.28kgs of CO2e

How To Reduce Food Carbon Footprint

You can reduce your food carbon footprint in simple and effective ways, such as:

  • Reduce your food portions, as this will help eliminate leftovers3
  • Ensure that your fridge is organized, as this will prevent hidden food from going bad.
  • Ensure that you seal and refrigerate your food, as this keeps food safer and prevents spoilage.
  • Always store leftovers in the fridge — either to eat the next day or as ingredients in new meals.
  • Store older vegetables and fruits in the freezer until you find a way to incorporate them into new meals.
  • Do not throw away your vegetable and fruit stems, peels, and ends. Instead, use them to make stock or smoothies.
  • Instead of buying food in bulk, buy smaller amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables that you will eat within a few days or, at most, a week.
  • Use a carbon footprint ecological calculator, as this will show you how much CO2 emissions are coming from your food and how to reduce the impact your food has on the environment.

As you can see, reducing the carbon footprint of food is not rocket science. If you start thinking about food as valuable and not disposable, you will significantly lower CO2 emissions, reduce waste, and make better use of your limited natural resources.

You can also use the food carbon footprint calculator to find out how the food you are eating is impacting GHGs and what type of diet can help the environment.

Carbon Footprint of Everyday Items

The tables below show the carbon footprint of everyday items, including:

Consumption: General

ItemAmount of CO2 Produced
1 Plastic Bag33g of CO2e
1 Plastic Water Bottle83g of CO2e
1 Roll, 2 Ply Toilet Paper1.3kgs of CO2e
Flowers (Local)2.5kgs of CO2e
Flowers (Imported)32kgs of CO2e
1 Google Search0.2g of CO2e
1 Hour of Mobile Phone Use172g of CO2e

Transportation

Daily Commute
Mode of TransportationCO2 Emissions
Walking/Cycling (15 – 30 Minutes)0g
Public Transport (20 Minutes)244g of CO2e
Car (10 Minutes)560g of CO2e
Short Distances
Car (4 Hours)15kgs of CO2e
Train (3.5 Hours)94kgs of CO2e
Flight (1 Hour 15 Minutes)121kgs of CO2e
Flights: One-Way, Economy
New York to Boston (1 Hour 15 Minutes121kgs of CO2e
New York to London (7 Hours)900kgs of CO2e
New York to Tokyo (14 Hours)1.8 tons of CO2e

Home

ApplianceAmount of Electricity UsedAmount of CO2 Emissions
Microwave0.945kWh400g of CO2e
Washing Machine0.63kWh275g of CO2e
Tumble Dryer2.50kWh1kg of CO2e
Water Kettle0.11kWh50g of CO2e
Standard Light Bulb100W172g of CO2e
Eco-Friendly Light Bulb18W30g of CO2e
Hot Shower10 Minutes2kgs of CO2e
Electric Oven1.56kWh675g of CO2e
Gas Oven1.52kWh280g of CO2e
Electric Hob1.56kWh675g of CO2e
Gas Hob0.9kWh167g of CO2e

Carbon Footprint of Different Drinks

Apart from coffee and tea, Americans enjoy different drinks, all of which have a carbon footprint. The carbon footprints of some of these drinks include:

DrinkAmount of CO2 Produced
Coca-Cola0.17kgs of CO2e
Milk (1 Glass)0.8kgs of CO2e
Beer (1 Bottle)0.25kgs of CO2e
Orange Juice (1 Liter)1.44kgs of CO2e
Apple Juice (1 Liter)0.130Kg of CO2e
Pina Colada (1 Glass)0.690Kg of CO2e
Long Island Iced Tea (1 Glass)0.319Kg of CO2e

Why Are Reusable Coffee Cups Good for the Environment?

Reusable coffee cups are good for the environment. Here are the reasons why:

  • They Reduce Plastic Waste

Nothing is as easy as grabbing a coffee on the go, drinking it in 10 to 20 minutes, and throwing your disposable cup away without realizing it will decompose in the next 20 to 30 years and will likely be in the environment for the next 1000 years.

The paper that forms the outer body of the coffee cup will decompose faster; however, the plastic lining inside the cup will hang around the planet for centuries. Even worse, although paper cups seem recyclable, they are not.

Using reusable coffee cups instead of disposable coffee cups will help reduce your waste. Using reusable coffee cups means you are not a part of the wasteful cycle and are not contributing to the environmental impact disposable will have in years to come.

  • You Will Not Produce Single-Use Waste by Drinking Coffee

If grabbing coffee on the go is part of your daily routine, you have likely come across garbage cans filled to the brim with empty coffee cups tossed away, never to be used again.

This is a daily occurrence, and the only way to ensure you are not part of the problem is to switch to reusable coffee cups.

  • You Will Not Expose Yourself or Others to Harmful Toxins

An average person drinking three cups of coffee daily in a paper cup ends up ingesting 75,000 tiny microplastic particles. Chemicals from the plastic lining, such as Bisphenol-A, can seep into food-grade plastic cups within minutes, potentially impacting public health significantly.4

By using reusable coffee cups, there is no chance of exposing yourself, others, or the environment to harmful toxins.

Coffee Carbon Footprint Stats

According to coffee cup statistics (US), 64 percent of American adults drink coffee every day, approximately 400 million cups of coffee.

Most of these individuals state that coffee helps reduce fatigue, improves performance on vigilant tasks, and improves alertness.1

However, new research shows that coffee can be a contributor to environmental issues.

Coffee produces as much CO2 as the worst offenders (beef and cheese), and that is before adding milk and sugar, which carry their own environmental baggage.

Moreover, the increase in coffee demand raises pressure on forests as more trees have to be chopped down to produce coffee cups and clear land for farmers to till.

Fortunately, changing how coffee is grown, transported, and consumed can reduce the amount of coffee CO2 emissions by 77 percent.

Also, using reusable cups instead of paper cups to consume coffee can reduce the coffee carbon footprint, reversing the impact of climate change.

Frequently Asked Questions About Coffee Carbon Footprint

What Is Coffee Carbon Footprint?

Coffee carbon footprint is the amount of CO2 emitted from seed to cup, i.e., planting, harvesting, processing, drying, milling, exporting, roasting, grinding, and brewing coffee.

What Is the Carbon Footprint of Coffee?

About 0.45kgs (or 1 pound) of roasted coffee emits 5kgs (or 11 pounds) of CO2e. By having 1 cup of coffee daily, you contribute to 155kgs of GHG emissions.

What Is the Carbon Footprint of Caribou Coffee?

Caribou coffee emits 193g of CO2e per serving.

What Is the Carbon Footprint of Tea vs Coffee?

Tea has a lower carbon footprint than coffee, i.e., 86 percent lower than a cup of coffee.

What Is the Carbon Footprint across the Coffee Supply Chain?

The carbon footprint across the entire coffee supply chain is 4.82kgs of CO2e.

What Is the Carbon Footprint of Meat?

1kg of beef emits 60kgs of CO2e during production. On the other hand, 1kg of beef and lamb emit 24 kg of CO2e during production, while pork and chicken emit 12 and 6kgs, respectively.

What Is the Carbon Footprint of Milk?

A gallon of cow’s milk produced in the United States emits 8kgs of CO2e.

What Is the Carbon Footprint of Wine?

One glass of wine emits 0.13kgs of CO2e. In contrast, a bottle of wine emits 1.28kgs of CO2e.

What Is the Banana Carbon Footprint?

1 banana emits 121g of CO2e, while 1kg of bananas emits 480g of CO2e.

What Is Rice Carbon Footprint?

100g of rice (one serving) emits 0.16kgs of CO2e. Globally, rice is responsible for 10% of methane emissions.

What Is the Carbon Footprint of Coffee Cups?

One coffee cup (made from paper and with sleeves) emits 0.11kgs of CO2e.

What Is the Carbon Footprint of Ceramic Mug?

A ceramic mug has almost no carbon footprint, however, it emits a small amount of carbon when it was created in a kiln and each time it’s washed.

What Percentage of Coffee Cups Are Recycled?

In the United States, only 14% of coffee cups are recycled and 86% of coffee cups are thrown away, most of which end up in landfills, while others end up in oceans or the environment.

Is the Vitamin Water Good for You?

Vitamin water is not good for you. It is loaded with sugars, most of which come from crystalline fructose, and too many vitamins, usually 120% more than a person’s recommended daily value.

Why Is Almond Milk Bad for the Environment?

Many people are asking why is almond milk bad for the environment. Almond milk is bad for the environment since almonds require more water than other dairy alternative, and is almost exclusively made in California, so the shipping can add to the footprint.


References

1Ágoston, C., Urbán, R., Király, O., Griffiths, M., Griffiths, P., & Demetrovics, Z. (2017, October 31). Why Do You Drink Caffeine? The Development of the Motives for Caffeine Consumption Questionnaire (MCCQ) and Its Relationship with Gender, Age and the Types of Caffeinated Beverages. PubMed Central. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6096549/>

2Cho, R. (2020, April 30). Plastic, Paper or Cotton: Which Shopping Bag is Best? Columbia Climate School. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from <https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2020/04/30/plastic-paper-cotton-bags/>

3Cho, R. (2018, December 27). The 35 Easiest Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint. Columbia Climate School. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from <https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2018/12/27/35-ways-reduce-carbon-footprint/>

4Hananeh, W., Rukibat, R., Jaradat, S., & Al-Zghoul, M. (2021). Exposure assessment of bisphenol A by drinking coffee from plastic cups. PubMed Central. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33882786/>

5Nicolau, J. L., Stadlthanner, K. A., Andreu, L., & Font, X. (2022). Explaining the willingness of consumers to bring their own reusable coffee. Vtech Works. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from <https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/110828/1-s2.0-S0969698922000017-main.pdf>

6Raghavan, R., & Notaras, M. (2009, March 3). Sad Demise of the Paper Coffee Cup. Our World. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from <https://ourworld.unu.edu/en/storm-in-a-paper-cup>

7Martin, S., Bunsen, J., & Ciroth, A. (2018, December 13). Case Study: Ceramic Cup vs. Paper Cup. openLCA. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from <https://nexus.openlca.org/ws/files/6229>