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Air Assist Helps Millcreek Coffee Roasters Reduce Emissions with Every Cup

By Bailey Toolson, Guest Blogger

DEQ invites guest bloggers to share their thoughts on issues that impact our environment. We appreciate their insights and the opportunity to broaden the conversation with others in the community.

Coffee tasting at Millcreek Coffee Roasters
Coffee tasting at Millcreek Coffee Roasters

Millcreek Coffee Roasters, owned and operated by the Brewster family, has been a staple in the Salt Lake City coffee scene since 1993. Since they opened their doors, the Brewsters have been committed to sustainable business practices and environmentally friendly production, both at home and abroad. Millcreek Coffee is a Visionary Member of Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky Renewable Energy Program, which enables it to meet its energy needs using only renewable wind power. The company has changed all the lighting in its facility to LED and is constantly looking for new ways to lead by example and be green.

Millcreek Coffee Roasters is also committed to clearing Utah’s air. The company approached the Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) for funding for equipment that would help it reduce its emissions and improve Salt Lake’s air quality.

Coffee roaster with afterburner
Coffee roaster with afterburner

In November 2016, Millcreek was awarded an Air Assist grant to add an afterburner to its largest coffee roaster. An afterburner is a device attached to the coffee-roasting equipment that eliminates the fumes and particulates emitted during roasting. The afterburner achieves this by heating up and effectively burning off the odors and smoke. The afterburner is vented through the ceiling, and all the emissions are odorless and colorless. According to scientists at the Division of Air Quality, afterburner use during coffee roasting results in a significant reduction of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions — up to 90 percent in most cases. Currently, there is no rule in place requiring coffee roasters to take this step to protect our air. Millcreek Coffee Roasters voluntarily undertook this project to do their part to protect our environment and lead by example.

Millcreek Coffee Roasters has consistently made sustainability and environmental responsibility a central part of its operations. For example, Millcreek purchases its beans directly from the growers when possible and gives its business to growers who use sustainable production practices. What are these sustainable practices? Well, coffee production is a water-intensive enterprise. However, it is possible to reduce the amount of water needed to process coffee by altering drying, pulp removal, and disposal methods. Installing wastewater treatment systems in coffee processing plants enable companies to convert the wastewater into biogas that can be used to generate electricity. Wastewater isn’t the only byproduct of coffee production that can be repurposed. The coffee pulp and other organic left overs are used as natural fertilizer on coffee plantations and the growers can sell this fertilizer to other local farms.

While its suppliers are giving back to their communities, Millcreek Coffee Roasters supports local Utah farmers and gardens by donating used burlap sacks, coffee grounds, and chaff. Instead of sending these items to the landfill, they are repurposed and have a second life at farms and gardens in our state. The burlap sacks, which hold green coffee beans, are used for starts for new plants. Coffee grounds are used for composting and fertilizer. Chaff, a byproduct produced when the husk of the coffee bean is separated during roasting, is used by farmers to oxygenate soil.

Coffee beans. I don't see that guy with the donkey

Millcreek Coffee Roasters’ decision to seek funding from Air Assist for an afterburner comes as no surprise. After all, the company is conscious of its impact on the environment and is continuously making improvements to reduce its carbon footprint. Air Assist is pleased to partner with Millcreek Coffee in its effort to improve our air quality while roasting every coffee bean to perfection.

The Air Assist Program offers funding to small businesses (those with fewer than 100 employees) in Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Duchesne, Tooele, Salt Lake, Uintah, Utah, Washington, and Weber counties. A variety of companies have received funding from the Air Assist Program, including auto body shops, landscaping companies, coffee roasters, and even cabinet makers. The request form is simple, funding is non-competitive and there is no deadline to apply. The Program has received funding through June 2017, so there is still time to complete a project. The staff is happy to talk with you about the program, answer your questions, and even help you complete the form.   
Bailey Toolson
I have been the Air Assist Program Manager since I joined the UCAIR team about a year ago. Prior to joining UCAIR, I worked for nearly four years with the Division of Air Quality. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking and camping, travel, and all things Italian.

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