GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For some, making coffee is a part of their morning routine, but there is a long journey for the coffee grounds before they even enter a mug.
The coffee starts as a seed that is planted into the ground. Then, it is harvested, processed, dried and shipped to coffee roasters like Rowster Coffee in Grand Rapids. From there, the coffee cherries are then roasted, which turns green coffee into the brown beans that you buy at the store.
“There are so many people that actually go along that process,” Eric Deaton, the head of production for Roaster Coffee, said.
Deaton spends his hours roasting thousands of coffee cherries to the perfect temperature, which helps give them a specific flavor.
“The benefit of roasting our coffee is we get to control the quality a little better with the size of roaster that we have,” Deaton said.
This process does have a negative impact on the environment. Roasting produces about 1.2 pounds in carbon emissions, according to a study by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. That is around 15% of the overall carbon footprint of coffee.
“There is (carbon dioxide) everywhere in the coffee business,” Ren Tubergen, the chief scientist at VortX, said.
One of Tubergen’s tasks is to find a way to decrease the emissions the coffee roasting process creates. While also teaching classes at Calvin University, he spends a lot of time in a barn in his backyard called the doghouse.
He has created a device that takes around 85% of the smoke produced during the coffee roasting process and then puts that smoke into water instead of the air.
“Everything that we do can be improved and all these small improvements go a long way to making the world a better place,” Tubergen said.
Almost 200 of the filters created by the professor and VortX have been installed worldwide. They hope that number will continue to grow.