I just saw this Youtube clip that claims it takes 200L of water to make a latte. Is that true?

  • 32
    "Using water" is one of those weird claims. Water is a molecule that is very strong and likes to be what it is. Very rarely in systems that we think of was "using water" does water actually become anything other than water. Usually it just moves around or becomes more or less polluted. But for instance, "low flow toilets" just increase the waste/water ratio in sewage. Most of the water in coffee growth goes back to the air. I'm commenting instead of answering because the entire premise is so misleading that it's hard to even know where to start. – Russell Steen Mar 8 '11 at 21:51
  • I agree with Russell... Unless one of the steps to make latte involves hydrolysis, no water is being "used"; it just goes somewhere else and eventually finds its way back into the rivers/oceans. – Jason Plank Mar 8 '11 at 22:27
  • While voting Russells comment up, there might be problems in the kind water is used. If you need to transport it for far ways, and if it evaporates easily, causing soil erosion in an area, where other plants would use less water, and the water would stay there for a longer time ... - In economical models, the money should force the resources to be used in a reasonable way, but ecological costs are often paid by the society and afterwards, and not put into the prices. I don't think it's an easy question in either way. – user unknown Mar 9 '11 at 2:40
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    @Russel: Using water is just as weird as producing carbon pollution. Just because no new carbon gets created doesn't mean that carbon pollution isn't an issue. The world fresh water supply is decreasing. – Christian Mar 9 '11 at 12:20
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    Sheesh folks...I think you can assume for purposes of this question that the word "take" refers to ordinary consumption mechanisms like irrigation, evaporation, or water going down the drain or into the latte. – Robert Harvey Mar 31 '11 at 2:19

http://www.marcgunther.com/2009/02/25/the-anatomy-of-a-latte/ Provides a writeup on the number. In this case of the water seems to come from tropical rainstorms that rain on coffee fields and the issue isn't that big.

Here’s the breakdown, by liters, of the water needed to make that latte:

0.1 for the water itself
2.5 to make the plastic lid
5.5 to make the paper cup and sleeve
7.5 to grow the sugar
49.5 to feed the cows that make the milk
143 to grow the coffee

That adds up to more than 200 liters of water to make a latte.

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    Fails to take into account the 100 gallons used to wash the cows' udders, the 500 gallons used to cool the factory that makes the lids and cups, etc. – Daniel R Hicks Feb 12 '18 at 0:31

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