How much water does it take to make one latte?

The “CHANGE” slogan used during the American presidential election has find it’s way to the masses again, this time we need to change the way we think and it’s WWF who suggests it:

200 liters of water for a cup of latte! I thought it should be much more that actually the liquid it contains, but I never thought it needs that much water actually to produce a simple cup of coffee. I wonder who and how calculated it…

Indeed – we waste a lot of resources along the way, but I think it’s gonna change in the future, not so distant future…

UPDATE: I’ve investigated a bit the numbers and according to Marc Gunther’s blog that’s the breakdown:

  • 0.1 for the water itself
  • 2.5 to make the plastic lid
  • 5.5 to make the paper cup and sleeve
  • 7.5 to grow the sugar
  • 49.5 to feed the cows that make the milk
  • 143 to grow the coffee

So, the gross amount goes into the coffee growing actually and cows feeding. There’s also an article in The Economist about how much water is needed to produce everyday goods and beverages. This image and data from that article is a good illustration of how much water is actually needed:

Water needed for a cup of coffee

As you can see according to this chart it takes 1120 liters water to produce a single liter of coffee, pretty close to 200 liters of water for a cup of latte. And there’s also a very interesting resource for calculating the ‘water footprint’ and according to their study it takes 140 liters of water to produce a cup of coffee in Netherlands.


  1. Daniel

    nice observations Serge, the numbers seems to be right, but the question is what amount of that water used for growing coffee is actually rain water?

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