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Like Virtual Water for Coffee

Virtual water (or ‘water footprint’) is the quantity of water used over the life cycle of a product. For a cup of coffee, this includes the water needed to grow the coffee plants (sometimes rain, sometimes irrigation water), as well as water used to pulp the cherry or fruit, to soak and wash the beans, and of course, to brew the coffee itself.

There is also water used indirectly. For example, any part of the process that uses electricity has virtual water associated with steam and cooling water used in power plants. Roasting using natural gas a fuel pulls in virtual water associated with natural gas production. All in all, 140 liters of virtual water goes into a single cup of coffee.[1] This requires a very large (virtual) cup!

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[1] Chapagain, A.K. and A.Y. Hoekstra. 2007. The water footprint of coffee and tea consumption in the Netherlands. Ecological Economics, 64(1): 109-118.

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