Energy Efficiency, Industrial, Sourcing Renewables - May 21, 2018
Vermont Coffee Company is cooking with biogas
Vermont Coffee Company announced it is has become the first U.S. coffee roaster to use 100% renewable biogas to roast its coffee, using both thermal and electric energy sourced from renewable methane.
In a statement, the company noted it has been trying to reach 100% RE for a very long time. "Renewable electricity was the easy part," said Paul Ralston, company founder and CEO. "The real challenge was getting a renewable thermal energy source to replace propane." The company explained that methane is the input for both forms of renewable energy. Anaerobic digesters operated by Addison County dairy farms extract methane gas from cow manure and convert it into electricity. Known as Cow Power, this renewable energy source is delivered by Green Mountain Power. The source for the company's renewable biogas is methane recovered from a Quebec-based engineered landfill operated by EBI Énergie Inc. and delivered by Vermont Gas Company.
Before making the conversion to 100% renewables, Vermont Coffee Company, which describes itself as a small-town roaster located in Middlebury, Vt., implemented a multi-year investment to make its roastery more energy efficient, which included adopting new roasting technology and modifying roasting processes. The result was a 70% reduction in the amount of fuel used to roast a pound of coffee.
"The capital investment to upgrade our roasters was significant," said Ralston, "but our first responsibility is efficiency, and increased efficiency makes the higher cost of renewable energy less of an issue. Renewable bio-energy costs more to produce, and we voluntarily pay a premium price to our suppliers for the renewables we consume. It's important that we invest in better technology so we're not passing our higher utility costs on to our customers."
Moving to renewable energy is very much in line with the company's philosophy. "Our mission is 'Coffee Roasted for Friends,'" said Ralston, "and our customers care that our coffee is 100% certified organic. We believe they'll be excited that our energy now comes from 100% renewable sources."
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