Sustainability: 10 tips for your cafe or restaurant

Making our businesses more sustainable and greener is a challenge that we all should be taking on, right? However, it isn’t easy to know where to start and how to implement greener practices, especially when you’re faced with the daily grind (coffee-related pun intended) of running a gastronomy business, like a cafe or restaurant. We hear ya’. 

We’ve been reflecting on how we can help our HoReCa partners – and the wider gastronomy crowd – around the world help the planet by setting up their businesses in an eco-friendly way. We thought putting together a collection of simple and practical tips on how to make your cafe or restaurant more sustainable would be a good place to start.


Plus, these tips won’t only have you doing right by the planet and future generations, but also doing good things for your business.


1. Start composting waste

We don’t need to tell you – restaurants and cafes face a lot of food waste on a daily basis. It’s one inescapable reality of the business we’re in.


By investing some effort into setting up what you need to compost all of this food waste, you’ll get a whole bunch of karma back for your business (and we’re talking concrete-visible-results kind of karma).


Composting turns food waste into nutrient-rich humus that you can use in a fruit and veggie garden where you can grow your own fresh produce for the restaurant.


If you don’t have space for composting, or a fruit and veg’ garden, there’s no doubt a service run by the city, or a private organisation that will gladly help you out.


How does this benefit your business?

You can use the nutrient-rich soil that is produced by the composting yourself, or you can consider starting a composting collective with other restaurants and cafes in your area and set up a composting site together. This will also lead to you networking with like-minded people in your industry, which can only be good for business.


2. Work with a coffee and tea supplier that practices sustainability

And this is when we tell you all about our sustainable practices, right? Well, we could, but we'd rather just invite you to read up about them yourself, and we’ll carry on spreading the good sustainability word.


Working with a hot drinks supplier that is not only practicing eco sustainability, yet is also nurturing a sustainable coffee and tea industry, is one of the best things you can do to help your cafe go greener.


How does this benefit your business?

Customers are increasingly deciding on the businesses they spend their money with based on how sustainable and eco-friendly they are.


Being able to claim that you’re only using certified coffee and tea from a sustainable supplier will only act to attract business, and even perhaps distinguish you from your competition.


📷: © Cemera Photography


3. Biodegradable or reusable coffee-to-go cups are the only way to go

You know your clientele best, so you would know best if they’d be prepared to start bringing their own reusable cup for their daily Cappuccino.


It’s already common practice amongst cafes in some parts of the world to offer an incentive for customers to do so by offering them a small discount, or something similar.


If you don’t think this will stick with your clientele, switch to biodegradable take-away coffee cups as a solid alternative solution.


How does this benefit your business?

The obvious benefit of your customers bringing their own reusable coffee cups is that it will dramatically reduce your costs in take-away coffee cups.



4. Cut water waste

Water is one resource we often take for granted, however, it’s also one of the most valuable resources (on planet earth... and for making coffee).


Introducing water-saving methods, and educating your employees on how to take the practices on board in their daily work is a great way to reduce water waste.


How does this benefit your business?

Using less water means money saved on the water bill, which is an important thing to keep in mind as the price of water rises in most parts of the world.


5. Ease up on the energy usage

What we’ve suggested above regarding water waste, also applies to the energy usage at your cafe, or restaurant.


Most businesses are able to save a whole lot of electricity by introducing measures as simple as putting a sign by the exit that instructs the last person to leave to turn off the lights. One great starting point when getting such an initiative started is by brainstorming as a team the different ways you can save electricity.


You can also make a huge impact on this front by opting for energy efficient equipment, appliances and lighting.


How does this benefit your business?

You can drive down the costs of your electricity bills by making some very simple changes.


6. Adopt paperless e-receipts

There are numerous reasons why switching to e-receipts is a good idea and the obvious one being – how many of your customers hold onto their paper receipts, anyway?


Meanwhile, moving your transaction data to a completely digital world means that you’ll be keeping a more accurate and organised record of your daily takings. This will save you both time and brainpower.


How does this benefit your business?

You’ll save costs on receipt rolls, and save time when keeping track of your takings.



7. Get in contact with sustainability or climate initiatives and get educated

The tips above are things that can be pretty much universally applied, however, to know what things you can do on a local level, we highly recommend you spend a couple of hours researching and networking with organisations in your region that know their stuff when it comes to sustainability.


They may even be able to advise on how you can design a more sustainable business model that works for the local market.


Meanwhile, there are a number of things you can do to the architecture and interior design of your cafe or restaurant that will transform it into a place that prioritizes the planet.


How does this benefit your business?

Such networking will only feed your business new customers, and also may lead to new business opportunities. Plus, have you seen how slick, modern and sexy some of the new eco-friendly architecture and design looks out there? That could be you.


8. Integrate plant-based options in your menu

Beginning with plant-based milk alternatives, make your menu more planet-friendly. This will cater to the guests that are looking for vegan options, and even perhaps attract a new crowd as new tasty plant-based options appear in your menu.

9. Use eco-friendly cleaning products

From switching out using endless rolls of paper towels for microfibre cloths and opting for a biodegradable surface spray, eliminating nasty chemicals and waste from your location's cleaning product collection does a world of good for the world and future generations.

10. And be sure to be loud and proud about your sustainable ways


Going to such lengths to contribute to a better, more sustainable world is a community-minded thing to do, therefore, we have no doubt this will endear you as a business, and as a place to eat and drink, amongst your community.


Also, by letting people know how you’re making your cafe or restaurant greener, you’ll be advocating and spreading the word for others in our industry to do the same. We think our teachers in school used to call it ‘leading by example.’


You enjoy the coffee, we'll do the rest!

We’re dedicating World Coffee Day 2022 to our commitment to make coffee better for you, and future generations.

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