When less is more: Creating a more sustainable coffee business

sustainable coffee business

André Eiermann on how Victoria Arduino’s new Eagle One machine will help café owners create a more sustainable business – environmentally and economically. 

Like many people in lockdown, André Eiermann has had a lot of time to reflect. Living in a cabin high  in the Swiss Alps, waiting for his Visa to permit him into Australia, the 2017 Swiss Barista Champion and Victoria Arduino brand ambassador sees more mountain goats and cows on his daily runs than he does humans. The grass is green and the air is crisp. But what if it wasn’t? What if in 10, 50, or even 100 years, the generations to come faced a world devastated by pollution, extreme climate change, and never-ending drought?

André is passionate about leaving a legacy of sustainable choices, and it starts with the coffee industry and our impact within it. 

“When we look at the carbon footprint of coffee, we automatically think of origin and the environmental impact of production, from high usage of fertiliser, pesticides, water, and fuel. That equates to 55 per cent of carbon emissions, according to a Product Carbon Footprint Analysis conducted by an international coffee roaster on the entire coffee value chain,” André says. 

But what is interesting, André adds, is that the second largest contributor, at 36 per cent is the impact of consumption, driven by the volume of water and energy required to brew coffee at home or in a coffee shop. Seven per cent of carbon dioxide emissions are a result of the production line, and 2 per cent are from the transport of coffee. 

“I remember Professor Chahan Yeretzian [of the Coffee Competence Centre in Zurich] once saying to me: ‘if you want to improve something, you first have to measure the status quo.’ Therefore, once you understand how a machine contributes to emissions, then you can start working out how to fix it. Everyone in our value chain is responsible for doing their part, and that includes us at Victoria Arduino as a machine manufacturer. We had a job to do too.”

sustainable coffee business
André Eiermann says sustainable choices are everyone’s responsibility.

Breaking down the environmental impact of coffee machine technology further, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which quantifies the potential environment and human health impact associated with a product, found that 98 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions come from using a coffee machine or having it in idle mode. Just 2 per cent is a result of manufacturing an espresso machine. 

André says understanding the carbon footprint of a coffee machine is the starting point to reducing environmental impact. As such, when developing the Eagle One, Victoria Arduino engineers carefully looked at the choice of new materials and how easily they could be transformed and assembled into a machine part, thereby producing the least amount of carbon emissions. Before the machine entered the market, engineers even considered ways to recycle the materials once the machine’s life came to an end.

“The team were tasked with the challenge of creating a machine that had super high precision, was powerful, and maintained temperature stability while still being sustainable. This is what people in the specialty coffee world want. They don’t want to sacrifice much,” André says. 

Victoria Arduino was able to establish new levels of energy efficiency with its NEO (New Engine Optimisation) engine, an instant water heating technology that operates only during in the extraction phase. NEO technology heats only the required amount of water needed for extraction to the exact temperature. This reduces energy-related costs and overall energy consumption of the machine.

André says a new compact constructive design with less internal systems also minimises environmental impact. This includes a smaller boiler made from stainless steel with new insulation that ensures less heat dispersion.

“Traditional espresso machines have quite sizeable boilers that require a large volume of water be heated to a certain temperature. Even standby mode uses a large amount of energy to maintain the water at the desired temperature, despite the machine not being physically in use,” André says. 

The other contributing factor to the sustainability of the Eagle One is Victoria Arduino’s patented TERS (Thermal Energy Recovery System), which uses discharged water to pre-heat incoming water through a recycling method.

“TERS is very similar to what Formula One racing cars use, as they have a kinetic energy recovery system. When you see a car breaking, it stores the kinetic energy from breaking that can later be used to accelerate again,” André says. 

“In the Eagle One, when you purge the group head after extraction, the water is not wasted as it goes down into the drip tray. The TERS system uses the thermal energy of discharged water to pre-heat only the incoming water.”

The TERS system results in an 8 per cent saving on total machine energy consumption.

sustainable coffee business
The Eagle One’s TERS system and NEO engine have resulted in 23 per less environmental impact.

Additionally, the Eagle One comes with an auto-purge function which not only makes the workflow faster, but again, uses only the right volume of hot water to clean the group head. Nothing is wasted.

Thanks to a post-production LCA on the Eagle One, it was found to have 23 per cent less environmental impact than other devices in the same category. 

When Victoria Arduino launched Eagle One at HostMilano 2019, fans adored the machine’s stylish design. But now more than ever, it’s what’s underneath the exterior that matters most. 

Since March, Australian café owners and roasters have had their resources, finances, and patience stretched to the maximum. Every cost has been measured and every financial decision considered. André says those operating in this new ‘COVID normal’ will need to make sustainable decisions going forward.

“The coffee shop business is extremely competitive. Making money is hard, especially in today’s climate,” he says. “So when you have more money in your pocket at the end of the day, as a result of using a machine that costs less to operate, and contributes a significantly less amount of harmful emissions to the environment, then it can only be a good thing. It’s beneficial for the café owner who is saving money on a daily basis, and it’s good for the planet.”

André says beyond the espresso machine, café operators should consider the impact of the circular economy and take a zero-waste approach to their operations. This includes questioning the carbon footprint of all shop equipment, from ice makers to air conditioning, and seeing if there’s a less impactful option. 

Beyond the sustainable attraction of the Eagle One, André says the machine embraces all the qualities Aussie baristas desire in a high-end machine: a lower profile for better barista-consumer interaction – at a distance – and a new electronic steam arm with Victoria Arduino’s signature Cool Touch feature to steam at high pressure for a creamy foam.

“I know the Aussies love their milk-based coffees, so they should be excited about the Eagle One’s ability to perfect their flat whites and lattes,” André says. 

He hopes to enjoy them in person soon when he heads up Victoria Arduino’s Experience Lab in Melbourne, set to open late-2020. 

Until then, he hopes Australian customers can appreciate the Eagle One as a machine built with a strong environmental conscience, and sense of purpose.  

“The resources we use today shouldn’t impact how people live in the future. We want our kids to enjoy the environment we share without global warming. It’s our job to take care of the planet,” André says.

“I’m proud that Victoria Arduino is playing its role, because every time you push a button on the Eagle One, you’re helping to save the planet.” 

The Victoria Arduino Eagle One is available in Australia through Espresso Mechanics. For more information, visit www.espressomechanics.com.au

This article appears in the October 2020 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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