The Cirrus Fine Coffee Difference
If we time travel to 2025, what would the modern age café look like? Would there be robotic baristas, self-serving espresso machines, and even more hipster extraction methods? It’s inevitable that cafes will continue to evolve their product, their service and their environment, but given our global climate emergency, what about focusing on environmental best practice and sustainability?
The future we envisage would see cafés operating with 100 per cent renewable energy generated at source or purchased over the grid. Chefs would be cooking on induction cooktops rather than gas, and coffee grounds and food waste would be cycled into cafés’ own pop-up farms. Single-use coffee cups would also (finally) be eliminated or at the very least, made of only 100 per cent compostable and sustainable materials.
It may seem like a long way into the future, but it’s not. We think the market is hungry for sustainable options and there are many immediate steps we can help our cafe partners take to improve their sustainability credentials. Our vision is to help specialty coffee destinations to become models of sustainable practices.
For the past 12 years, Cirrus Fine Coffee (the Port Melbourne roaster, formally known as Red Star Coffee), has served the Australian café community with its trademark small-batch roasted and specialty-grade coffee. Despite our success we felt it was time to revitalise our business with a new name and logo, and encourage customers to reconsider our quality coffee offering and passion for sustainability.
First and foremost, we produce great-tasting specialty coffee, backed with excellent customer service, but we do that a commitment to innovation, sustainability and partnerships with our customers to help them improve their environmental performance.
Cirrus Fine Coffee uses sustainably sourced beans from the world’s most famous coffee growing regions. About half of our coffee is sourced directly from a small coffee cooperative in Giraldo in Colombia, where we purchase a significant percentage of its entire crop each year. In addition, Cirrus pays the farmers a social dividend to invest in social and community initiatives.
Our transition to the Cirrus brand represents the patterned feathery clouds that surround the world’s high-altitude mountains. It’s at this high altitude where the best coffee is grown, and rainfall and cooler temperatures sustain and grow the coffee crops. Cirrus’ range of blends have also had a name overhaul to represent wind patterns, such as Tradewind featuring Brazilian, Colombian and Costa Rican beans.
Single Origin Coffee
Three single origin coffees will also be available at any one time, including an Ethiopian Gedeb, Kenyan Kirinyaga and Colombian Finca Alto Bonito at time of print.
Sustainability has always been in our DNA. We’ve been committed to sustainability, environmental best practice, and ethical sourcing, but we feel the market is only now starting to appreciate these things as defining points of difference in selecting a coffee roaster.
Those points of difference include Cirrus’ commitment to compostable packaging. Our coffee is now packed into convex compostable bags with biodegradable labels. We use compostable takeaway cups through TreeFree and Biopak, and we support zero waste reusable cups with stock of Frank Green, Keep Cup, and Huskee coffee cups.
Local Relationships: Reground
We’re also passionate about our relationship with Reground, a local initiative that collects coffee grounds from Cirrus cafés and repurposes them as compost into community gardens. Cirrus supports its clients in joining the Reground program and funds ongoing costs. To date, Reground has saved more than 154 tonnes of ground coffee from landfill.
More than 60,000 tonnes of coffee grounds are produced annually in Australia, most of which currently ends up in landfill, creating greenhouse gases as it breaks down. By diverting it through composting, it is a wonderful soil conditioner for growing food.
Local Relationships: Specht Design and Boiling Point
Cirrus also encourages the upcycling and reconditioning of espresso machines to avoid unnecessary wastage. We work with Specht design and Boiling Point technicians to refurbish coffee machines and give them a new lease of life.
At our headquarters in Port Melbourne, we reuse all our own coffee grounds as compost in our pop-up urban farm. Thanks to the extra caffeine hit, an abundant supply of herbs and vegetables are thriving. Coffee husks are also repurposed into bricks to fuel our wood fire pizza oven on Fridays.
100% Green Energy
Our office operates on 100 per cent accredited green energy sourced from Victorian wind and solar farms. Thanks to Cirrus’s three sister companies – Australian Ecosystems, Biofilta, and The Cape – Cirrus customers have direct assess to services that can provide the environmental solutions for cafés.
We are very happy to transfer our knowledge, expertise, and sustainable practices to the café market, and move to a more environmentally friendly footing.
We’re optimistic that it’s just a matter of time before we see zero emission cafés, and through The Cape housing development at Cape Paterson near Phillip Island, it’s already happening.
The Cape uses local builders and sustainability experts to create zero-emission, energy-efficient homes with low environmental impact. The residential community is making news headlines for its ability to eliminate energy bills.
To build sustainable landscapes, Australian Ecosystems collects seeds from wetlands and forests and grows up to several million plants at its Carrum Downs nursery in Victoria for land restoration and wetlands projects.
To drought-proof our cities, Cirrus’ other sister company Biofilta is building large-scale stormwater harvesting systems to capture and filter hundreds of millions of litres of rainwater runoff each year, diverting the water into local parks and community gardens.
It also produces modular, low-maintenance pop-up farms made from wicking garden beds that store water and reduce weeds. This is a perfect garden solution for cafés with limited space to grow vegetables. In the next few years, we look forward to helping Cirrus café clients design and install small-scale pop-up farms and edible landscapes at their sites.
We know that cafés are time poor. We know that in order for more businesses to uptake sustainable solutions, we have to make it efficient for them. It has to be easy to get involved, easy to maintain, and cost effective.
We can provide access to award-winning landscape designers, consultation and advice on energy efficient, zero emission fit-out, businesses can embrace the definition of sustainability not just through the coffee they drink, but in their daily operations in a revenue neutral or positive way.
With a global population increasing rapidly and climate change making agricultural production harder, there’s no time to wait.
If we don’t get a handle on these mega problems of climate change and food and plastic waste, it will become the largest challenge to the viability of our whole industry. Consumers, the public and coffee growers are pushing for solutions.
Ten years ago sustainable options were considered “too complex and costly”. But now, the cost of energy has doubled, solar panels have dropped in price by 90 per cent, and the gap between sustainable practices versus the old way of doing things has disappeared.
We want to be an example to the coffee community that coffee doesn’t just have to be sustainable, our actions can be too. We are on the verge of a really exciting uplift to low footprint, closed loop, circular economy living – all the solutions are at our fingertips.