How much is a liter of water?

Monday, March 2, 2009 at 20:14 | Posted in Environment | 2 Comments

I happened to see Beer Activist’s post yesterday about the amount of water needed to produce one liter of beer resp. one liter of coffee. What I read and also tweeted about was that the amount of water needed for a liter of beer would be 30 liters. As I just learned, thanks to a comment at Beer Activist’s blog, is that there was a minor typo: the correct amount is 300 liters.

However, that is not the point here. As it turns out, producing one liter of coffee requires the amazing amount of 1120 liters of water. The numbers come from an article in the Economist.

I do not mind having a cup of coffee or two in the morning but the amount of water wasted on coffee gives me a perfect excuse to substitute some of my coffee with beer. So there is no point in telling me in the afternoon that I might be on a bit too jolly mood. I only drank the afternoon beer(s) in order to protect Mother Earth. Drinking beer is good for the environment.

As if it was not hard to get the figures right with beer and coffee, Sanczny was kind enough to put me a guestion in Twitter:

@unclelarko How much water does it take to produce a liter of water?

I had no idea at that moment. I was also busy with live blogging about #spectrial. Which is why I made the next best thing and promised to come back to the subject later. Which is what I am trying to do now.

To be quite honest, I still do not have an idea. If I tapped a liter of water from a natural well, I suppose it would require about one liter of water to produce one liter of water. But since the 300 resp 1120 liters required for beer and coffee also include upstream input and I happen to live in an urban suburb where the last natural well was polluted and subsequently destroyed for 40 years ago (yes, I do remember fetching water from it) there must be quite a bit of upstream input to get the water run to my kitchen tap.

But how much could it be? As I said, I have no competence to figure it out. Any suggestions?


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  1. Hey Larko, I’ve got some stats for the water question. Actually, the group I run produced an entire publication about it. It’s free to download right here:

    One simple stat is this it takes an average of 3 liters of water to “bottle” one liter of water.

    Chris O’Brien, Beer Activist

  2. Thanks, Chris, I’ll sure have a look at it.

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