Photography Jeremy Moa
Whether it’s a morning ritual, or a way to catch up with friends, a cup of coffee can certainly boost our mood – especially when “your cup of joe” is doing good for the environment and community at the same time.
A regular cappuccino; a flat white with oat milk; a latte with a splash of almond milk. No matter your coffee order, research shows that coffee (in moderation!) has many health benefits including the ability to increase energy levels, support brain health, lower the risk of depression, and potentially lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
With the latest statistics showing that New Zealanders consume 0.94 cups of coffee per day and the local coffee market projected to grow by 5.14 per cent from now until 2025, plenty of us are reaping the health and wellbeing benefits of our daily cup – and plenty of cafés are doing their part to keep us coffee-fuelled.
For the New Plymouth community, one of these cafés is Proof & Stock. Found along a suburban street a few blocks back from the water, Tane Morgan and Adrianna Greenhill opened this popular café and roastery back in 2018 and have been giving back to the community in any way they can.
A second life for coffee cups and grounds
“The number of cups we go through each day is incredible,” says Morgan.
“So we’ve developed a little box at the end of the property where all of the compostable cups get shredded. We also add the coffee grinds, and on top of that we’ve got all of the husk that comes off the coffee roasting itself.”
All high in nitrogen, this combination gets mixed with green waste – and within two months or so it is a healthy compost that is delivered to the community gardens in the area.
As for the milk cartons, these are collected and converted into building material.
“Taranaki doesn’t have a production plant to recycle packaging from Tetra Pak, and we are a province of hundreds of cafés and restaurants and all of this was going to landfill,” explains Greenhill.
After reaching out to New-Zealand-based company SaveBoard, the café is now a pickup point for New Plymouth for all Tetra Paks.
“They get washed, split in half, and Paul – one of the SaveBoard co-owners – picks them up from us, takes them to the plant and they get shredded and heat compacted to create a certified GIB,” says Greenhill. “We actually have that on our back wall at the café. It’s really cool to see that waste put to use!”
Fostering the next generation
Inspired by friends who operate Shining Peak Brewing and their ‘5% Project’ – where that percentage of beer sales is donated to Taranaki-based non-profits each month – Proof & Stock created the ‘A cup for change’ project, and for a month last year 50 cents from each cup of coffee sold helped a local group of youth head off with their surfboards to El Salvador for the world championships.
“We wanted to have a social obligation, and we’d love to do it again down the track – it’s just about finding the right cause that we can support,” says Morgan.
Another way the duo give back to the community is via their barista school for secondary school students. Prior to opening their own café, Morgan spent five years teaching at the local Polytechnic in the hospitality space, and he was eager to continue educating others.
Funded by the Toi Foundation, an organisation “committed to reducing economic and social disparities by funding where there is the greatest need”, six students will be going through the programme this year – one of those students already now working at Proof & Stock.
“We place our students out in the community within our stockists. It means all of our wholesale customers have a trained barista that has been with us and understands Proof & Stock.
“It’s super rewarding to be able to get back into teaching what I know,” says Morgan. “Seeing that flow through to the next generation is pretty special.”
How to sustainably enjoy your coffee
Take a reusable cup: If you’re planning to stop by your favourite café for a takeaway coffee, pack your reusable cup or opt for a café that has compostable takeaway cups.
Purchase coffee that is sustainably sourced: Look for coffee that is certified as organic or fair trade. If you’re unsure when ordering, don’t be afraid to ask.
Compost your coffee grounds: At home, add coffee grounds to the compost bin. Your garden will love you for it!