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Coffee vs. Water footprint: What is your habit costing?

By January 11, 2012May 10th, 2021No Comments


“It can take up to 140 litres of water to produce each cup of coffee” 

Ruth Matthews, Executive director of the Water Footprint Network [source]

The fact that KUBE architecture is run on a constant supply of good strong coffee coupled with an increased passion for sustainable development means that we found this statement rather alarming. Adding to our discomfort was the indication that the upcoming dry months will place severe strain on the City’s water resources. Luckily Cape Town is famous for the amount of coffee consumed rather than produced but the coffee scenario did highlight an uncomfortable truth.

City of Cape Town Mayoral committee member for utility services Shehaam Sims said that due to rains arriving later than usual there was a significant increase in evaporation which has left Western Cape Dams at 86% capacity compared to last year’s 93%, [Source].Measures aimed at increasing usable water includes desalination, pumping from the Table Mountain Aquifer and damming the Lourens River at Somerset West, all of which are unacceptable according to Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor (Founder of Water Rhapsody Conservation Systems and winner of a WWF Green Trust Award). Capetonians can expect water tariffs to rise and restrictions imposed in an effort to get consumers to use less water.You can read more about that here.

In 2002 Arjen Hoekstra, a professor of water management at the University of Twente in the Netherlands formed the concept “water-footprint”. He applied the water content that went into the making of various products to people’s consumption patterns to get a rough water footprint for average individuals and nations as a whole, [source]. Your water footprint reflects how much water you are using through the food you eat, the clothes you wear and the consumer goods you buy. Changing to less water-intensive products and choosing to buy goods from water-rich areas or catchments that are sustain-ably managed can assist in achieving a sustainable water footprint, [source]. The accuracy and usefulness of the concept is doubted by a number of experts but the reality is still that water is a precious resource which should be used wisely. Should you be interested you can calculate your water footprint here.

A couple of links to other useful websites:
Saving Water :
Water Footprint Network:
Water Lovers: