“It takes roughly the same amount of power to heat the water for brewing, no matter what type of brewer you use. It’s the energy use when you’re not brewing that you need to take care of,” explains Gordon Howell, product developer at coffee equipment maker TONE. “Most espresso machines — and definitely most brewers — have no insulation, so the loss of temperature per hour is huge.”
European Commision research backs this up, saying that the amount of energy an espresso machine uses to brew coffee is ‘of little relevance’ in calculating the overall energy efficiency of a machine. About three-quarters of the energy consumption of typical coffee machines goes to keeping them hot or on standby mode (Bush et al 2009).
“What does it cost to run that machine that’s doing nothing? Even if you turn it off, you’ve got litres of hot water sitting there doing nothing, never mind the effect of this stagnant water on the taste of the coffee the next day,” Gordon says. This applies to both espresso machines and batch brewers — especially those machines that use hot plates to keep coffee warm. Not only are these terrible for the flavour of the coffee, but they also use more energy than brewing the coffee in the first place (Kreitz et al 2011).
Cafe owners like Joe have not often prioritised energy-efficiency in the past, when deciding what equipment to buy. “I’ve always looked for the best equipment to produce the best coffee I can, and until recently the energy consumption was a distant thought,” Joe says. “I am, however, on the hunt for a second espresso machine. One thing I will certainly be asking is about energy consumption and efficiency when making my purchase decision.”
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