This Salt Lake coffee roaster makes sustainability taste so good

If you’ve been to Publik Coffee, you know the atmosphere is hip, the coffee is delicious, and the menu is worth revisiting. However, you may be unaware that your cup of joe is brewed by people who believe in “planet over profit”—so much so that they’ve made it their mission to run one of the nation’s most eco-friendly coffee roasteries. Beyond compostable paper products, investing in serious technology and infrastructure that demonstrates sustainability is a significant investment for a coffee roaster with four locations and a growing wholesale and online business. As Publik’s website puts it ever-so-poetically, it’s because the company “genuinely cares.”

Publik’s 12,000-square-foot roastery in downtown Salt Lake City is topped with 65 solar panels totalling 15 kilowatts. “That covers the cost of our coffee roastery in full, plus a little bit more for the rest of the building’s operations,” says Missy Greis, founder and owner of Publik Coffee Roasters. “As a company, we are not net-zero in that location, but we are offset for roasting—and we were able to include the oxidizer.”

Publik’s catalytic oxidizer is integrated into its Diedrichs IR-12 roaster, a premium, made-in-the-USA machine that removes 96-98 percent of roasting particulates. “I believe that what motivated our sustainability efforts was the fact that we already live in a large valley with numerous air quality issues,” Greis says. “Because coffee roasting is not always the most environmentally friendly business, it necessitates the use of something like our catalytic oxidizer. It filters out the particulates, preventing them from entering the air. It is simply critical.”

Another eco-friendly feature of the Diedrichs roaster? “It is not fueled by natural gas,” Greis explains. “The drum is heated using an extremely precise rolling mechanism that utilises infrared heat. Again, it is more hygienic.”

Gries’ environmental consciousness was sown a few years before she opened Publik Coffee Roasters, when her daughter returned home from third grade filled with righteous indignation. “The school was educating them about Salt Lake City’s air quality, and she was informing me that I was driving the wrong car. I had an SUV and did not have five children to transport,” Greis explains. “Fast forwards another five years, and I knew I needed to do something when I decided to open a coffee roastery.

“When we opened in 2014, we were Utah’s only fully solar-powered coffee roaster with an oxidizer. Now, Caffe Ibis in Logan has oxidizers on both of their roasters, and another roastery in Salt Lake City, I believe, does as well. However, I am unaware of anyone else who is entirely solar-powered. It’s satisfying to know that we entered a business fraught with difficulties and contributed our fair share.”

Read more •


Suggested Reading