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How Much Energy Does It Take To Brew Your Office Coffee?

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It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that turning on the lights in your office and running the HVAC system uses quite a bit of energy. But do you actually know how much energy it takes to brew your office coffee each morning? 

Sure, it's a magic elixir that helps you and your team stay alert and motivated, especially during exhausting projects. At the same time, it also costs your business money. We're not suggesting giving up on what might be the most popular beverage in the United States. Instead, in honor of International Coffee Day, we can help you better understand the energy it takes to brew each pot of Joe and give you some ideas on how to save energy without compromising on your team's daily caffeine intake.

How Much Energy Does One Pot of Coffee Require?

First, a clarification: when talking about energy usage for brewing coffee, we will not discuss the energy it actually takes to get the grains into your office. While that process (from harvest to roasting and transportation) takes up approximately 60 percent of the total energy needed to get the beverage into your favorite mug, it won't affect your bottom line. Instead, we'll focus on what matters most: the kilowatt hours (kWh) needed to turn on the coffee pot and brew the coffee.

The exact energy needed, of course, depends on the exact coffee maker in your office kitchen. That said, regardless of machine, the goal is the same: heat up water from about 50 degrees Fahrenheit to 200 degrees, the recommended average to optimize coffee taste and also the standard temperature for most coffee machines. Accomplishing that rise in temperature typically takes about 1000 Watts and takes about 5 minutes. So on average:

energy cost per coffee pot = 0.083 kilowatt hours

That might not seem like a lot, but think about it further. How much does a pot of coffee typically last in your office? Especially early in the week or during long project, the answer is probably not long. With a single kilowatt hour, you can brew about 12 pots of coffee - but that might not even get you through Monday.

Breaking Down Different Brewing Types by Energy Efficiency

Of course, all of the above are only average. In reality, your energy cost can differ (and sometimes significantly) based on the type of coffee your business typically brews. To keep it simple, let's distinguish between three major types of coffee making: regular drip machines, single-serve alternatives like single serving pods or specialized espresso makers.

The Energy Cost of a Regular Drip Coffee Pot

The most common type of coffee maker uses a heat plate to both heat the water and keep the coffee in the pot warm for up to two hours. Most consumer-models (which also tend to be the most common in office kitchens) 750 and 1250 watts per pot of coffee, placing them right into the average mentioned above. 

That means brewing a pot of coffee will take about 0.083 kilowatt hours, and one kilowatt hour will get you about 12 pots. In addition, the automated warming plate (typically including an auto shut-off after two hours) adds some energy that might seem low, but will slightly increase your energy bills.

The Energy Cost of a Single-Serve Coffee Machine

Increasingly, offices use single serve machines to increase convenience for their teams. Why require all of your employees to drink the same coffee when you could customize it? The convenience of a pod or cup-based machine is undeniable.

Of course, that convenience also comes with increased costs. When turning it on, this type of machine heats all the water in the reservoir to increase convenience for everyone who needs a cup of java. Depending on the model, it takes about 200 to 400 watts for every cup, all things considered. Add the idle power consumption, and it's safe to estimate with an average of 300 kilowatt per cup.

Now, compare that with an automated drip coffee maker. Ten cups there use 1,000 watts, but 10 cups in a single-serve machine use about 3,000 watts. The cost per kilowatt hour, considering it takes about 30 seconds to make a single cup of coffee, is .024 kilowatt hours. A full kilowatt hour, in other words, gets you the equivalent of only about 4 pots of coffee.

The Energy Cost of an Espresso Machine

Do you like treating your employees to a feeling of exclusivity? If so, you might have an espresso machine in your office. The different brewing style, which adds pressure to the way in which the hot water is pushed through the grounds, comes with its own energy implications.

Coffee aficionados appreciate the taste of an espresso. Of course, similar to single-serve machines, the energy needed for most espresso machines needs to be considered by the cup. 

Espresso machines take between 1,000 and 1,500 watts to run. A single cup takes the average machine about 45 seconds, which means that (using an average of 1.25 kW) a cup of espresso would need about 0.0156 kWh in energy. Multiply by ten for the equivalent of a pot, and you get about 1.56 kWh to satisfy ten of your employees with a shot of espresso.

5 Tips to Save Energy While Brewing Office Coffee


All of the above may seem like minor numbers. But once you multiply them by just how many pots of coffee or espresso your office consumes every single week, and it actually becomes a relevant cost item. Do you want to minimize its effects? Consider these five energy-saving tips for brewing your coffee:

1) Turn the Machine off

Regardless of the brewing method you use, a large part of the energy consumed actually comes from its standby mode. Turn off the machine once the pot is empty of the water reservoir no longer needs to be heated, and you will save some energy. You can even unplug it to minimize latent energy.

2) Keep the Machine Clean

Over time, the water tank will build up mineral residue that impedes the heating function of your machine. By keeping it clean, you can make sure that it keeps heating efficiently and doesn't increase your energy costs. Cleaning your coffee maker at least once a month is recommended.

3) Buy an Energy-Efficient Machine

It's important to note that all of the above numbers are only averages. Within those ranges, you can make a difference simply through the type of machine you use. When shopping for your office, look for options that are especially energy efficient through automated shutoffs or lower watt usage.

4) Use Reusable Single Cup Filters

When it comes to energy usage, single-serve machines are especially common offenders. Not just because of the energy the brewing uses, but the waste produced by pots and plastic pods. Go green by using reusable filters, which also tend to minimize the cost to buy new coffee.

5) Experiment with Cold Brew

Especially during summer and in warmer climates, it might make sense to combine your team's coffee addiction and need for refreshments. Cold brewed coffee doesn't require heat, which means it actually uses less energy. 

International Coffee Day is an occasion to celebrate the beverage that gets us all through Mondays and busy work mornings. At the same time, it's also the perfect opportunity to optimize your office's energy usage. Once you know how much energy it takes to brew your office coffee, you can take the steps you need to minimize its impact on your bottom line without compromising your team's comfort.

Now that you know how many kilowatts it takes to power your coffee pot, find out what else a single kilowatt hour can do in your office.

Discover the Power of a kWh

Posted: September 29, 2017