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I've heard such a statement made off-hand, and don't have any source for it, or any precision on type of coffee, preparation, what type of pollution is taken into account, etc.

I'd like to know if there is any truth to it, but google mostly gives me low-on-content pages.

Thanks!

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  • 6
    Welcome to Skeptics.SE! I'm afraid that if you can't provide a source for the claim, then this question will most likely be closed as off-topic.
    – F1Krazy
    Jan 1 at 19:16
  • Too bad. Thanks for the heads-up!
    – user76575
    Jan 1 at 19:19
14

If by "pollution" you mean carbon dioxide release:

The Eco Guide discusses the amount of CO2 generated by coffee from growth through shipping to processing and the machines in the cafe where you drink it.

In Examining the Carbon Footprint of Coffee it says

This comes out to approximately .275, or about a quarter a pound of CO2 is produced for every cup we drink.

This is 125 gm per cup.


The UK Goverment website gives the average CO2 emissions for new cars in 2015.

In New car carbon dioxide emissions it says

The average carbon dioxide emissions of cars registered for the first time in the second quarter of 2015 (April to June) was 122.1 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre.

This is 1221 gm per 10 km.


The amount from the 10 km drive is ten times greater than from the coffee, yet

  • the assessment for coffee included every accountable source of CO2 from bean to cup

  • the assessment for a car journey is only the actual fuel burnt, not its extraction, refinement and distribution, and not the manufacturing emissions of the car itself

Even without those overheads, the car is far more polluting.
So based on that, the answer is no.

3
  • Would be interesting to compare PAH and other pollutants. Plus 1
    – Alchimista
    Jan 18 at 13:49
  • @Alchimista aren't they produced by inefficient combustion? If so, some might be emitted by producing coffee, but wouldn't considering them make the claim even less true? Jan 18 at 13:54
  • I don't think coffe pollutes more (note that all activities to make the car and that move it shall be considered, too) but roasting coffee produces quite a lot of stuff. It is more a curiosity, anyway.
    – Alchimista
    Jan 18 at 13:57

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