Green Coffee Shop Scheme

We’re excited to share news that we’ve launched our ‘Green Coffee Shop Scheme’! Before I go into more detail on the scheme, a bit about the thinking behind it…

Something we’ve struggled with ever since we began the Food Hub project is to accurately convey the full vision of the Food Hub. If we say we’re a distributor of local produce, people think we’re a trader, or a wholesaler. If we describe the idea of the Food Hub building, with its space for food storage, kitchens and retail, people assume we’re trying to create a glorified farm shop (with kitchens).

The most important part of the Food Hub is what we describe as the Food Hub ‘ecosystem’. This is the network of businesses, charities, organisations, individuals, etc., whose livelihood is food, or who are involved in the provision or distribution of food in some way. Essentially, anyone who is part of the local food system: whether they’re a farmer growing fresh produce, a small business manufacturing goods, a retailer, caterer, charity that cooks or provides food for the community – even the businesses that remove food waste and make use of it. All of these people would be part of the Food Hub ‘ecosystem’. Just like a natural ecosystem, all of these groups interact with each other.

The Food Hub’s aim is to coordinate the ecosystem to bring social and environmental benefit, by providing services and making use of our physical and technological infrastructure. The most obvious service we can offer, and the one we have started with, is facilitating the trade between local producers and local independent retailers and caterers. However, the Food Hub aspires to be more than a local supplier, and the Green Coffee Shop Scheme is our first example of what I mean by ‘coordinat[ing] the ecosystem to bring social and environmental benefit’.

The idea is simple: we’ll deliver a case of locally-produced oat milk to Cambridgeshire coffee shops and cafes and at the same time we’ll collect their used coffee grounds for recycling.

The barista-style oat milk is produced by Glebe Farm, a farm situated near Huntington that specialises in gluten-free oats. By the end of the summer, the oat milk will also be manufactured on the farm, massively reducing the food miles associated with the product. The neutral taste of oat milk, combined with its creaminess and ability to foam, make it perfect for coffees. But don’t just take our word for it – give it a go next time you’re in a cafe or coffee shop!

We’re big fans of oat milk, not just because it tastes great, but also because it has a significantly lower environmental impact compared to dairy milk. For an equivalent quantity, oat milk produces ⅓ of the emissions and requires 1/12 of the land and 1/13 of the water of dairy milk.

At the same time as our vans deliver the oat milk, we’ll also remove caddies of spent coffee grounds from the cafes. These will be taken to the bio-bean recycling plant in Alconbury (also near Huntington), where they’re transformed into biomass pellets and heating briquettes. Finally, it’s just a 20 minute drive to Glebe Farm to collect a new pallet of oat milk for the deliveries. In this way, the van is full on the drive to and from Alconbury/Huntington, making more efficient use of resources than if separate businesses were providing these services.

Why not see if your favourite coffee shop or cafe is participating in the scheme? If not, tell them to get in touch with us at info@cambridgefoodhub.org.

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