You probably know that coffee belongs to the most popular drinks in the world. In fact, the global consumption translates into an average of 42.6 litres of the dark drink being consumed on an annual basis by an average person. In fact, coffee occupies 4% of the worldwide sales of any beverage, taking the 9th spot on the list. A big chunk of that takes place at workplaces, because - let’s be honest - who doesn’t like to start the day with a cup of coffee?
Consumption of coffee reaches such a massive scale worldwide, and the by-product of the brewing process is used coffee grounds. Even a small office generates a few kilos of coffee grounds residue on a monthly basis, all of which - in most cases - is not repurposed in any way. In this article, we’ll share some of the brilliant ideas on how to use methods of upcycling in order to turn the brown coffee pulp into actual products that can fit your home or an office. Ready for a tour then?
Before we look at some of the most creative ways to use coffee grounds, let’s consider the homemade, DIY ways of upcycling first. If consumed on a small, household-level scale, grounds can be used to fertilize plants. They are rich in phosphorus and nitrogen, and help support good soil health and growth of plants. And here’s the best part - caffeine, the substance responsible for pumping up blood pressure, works the same way for plants, stunting their growth.
Coffee can also be used to create your own soap or air-dried in a muslin bag that can be used as odour remover. Adding a bit of glycerine is enough to produce healthy cosmetics that work miracles for your skin.
Repurposing used coffee grounds is also a common practice in various industries. Some textile producers use the brown pigments to dye clothing, while the recent trend of researching green alternatives to traditional fuel has led to the creation of biomass made from used coffee beans. Finally, a Danish brand Kaffe Bueno revealed its innovative approach towards upcycling coffee beans in the form of flour, in a process free of residue.
As you can see, coffee as a natural produce can have very uncanny uses and second lives. One material inspired numerous companies to explore its sustainable potential, and - as seen in the example of Kaffe Bueno - coffee grounds can be successfully blended to form new materials and products. Would you expect that the very grounds you would throw away could be turned into a stylish mug? Let’s take a look at some of the unprecedented products that rework coffee grounds through the innovative technology of upcycling.
First stop on the upcycling ride is utilizing coffee beans to form all kinds of houseware products, such as pots for plants, mugs or even lamps. These coffee-made products embrace their distinct, coarse look and minimalist design, without any expanse on the solidness of the material.
How does the processing of coffee grounds look like then?
We’ve mentioned that the freshly used grounds are nutritious for the soil, however, they can also be hardened. Grounds are firstly mixed with water, epoxy resin and pigments and then are formed, like cement, into a desired shape or product. Adding the resin to the blend actually guarantees the solid form of the material, since it serves as the natural glue that toughens the structure. Heating it all up leaves the material very stable and visually pleasing too. Products for plants, or mugs made from coffee grounds are just as handy as ceramics, and - on top of that - have a high degree of personalisation since the method of production isn’t as automated as plastic pots sold on a bigger scale.
If you’re looking for a new set of lights in your interior, upcycling of coffee grounds comes to aid too. One of the designers, who works closely with DekoEko.com, creates marvelous lamps that embrace the unparalleled combination of wooden and dark coffee hues, thus creating a very organic atmosphere. Similar technology has been also used in the automotive industry, where coffee chaffs have been the basis for some car parts by Ford. According to the company, the process of molding coffee chaff has been tied with 20% of weight reduction and 25% less energy use in comparison with non-sustainable materials.
Given the easily moldable nature of the coffee grounds mass, our designers also create beautiful coasters. Grounds are blended with epoxy resin and pigments that come together in unique colors. Such products are handmade, and will definitely be an eye-popping detail in any office or home decor.
Żabka is one of the most popular retail chains in Poland, with its franchise amounting to over 7,000 stores in the whole country. Offering services from food products to postage and basic gastronomy, Żabkas are common spots to grab a coffee on-the-go. According to the company, over 100 kg of coffee waste is generated per month, which creates perfect opportunities to collaborate with DekoEko.
Żabka got in touch with our experts to come up with a creative solution to deal with the coffee waste, grounds in particular. There was also the aspect of franchisees - Żabka saw potential in educating them about upcycling too.
Together with a German partner who specializes in manufacturing items from used coffee grounds, DekoEko analyzed the waste materials and then designed a line of stylish coffee cups. You can read more about this project here.
You’ve seen how many awesome uses of coffee grounds can be achieved by incorporating the innovative upcycling technologies. Deko Eko is a group of dedicated experts who specialize in improving waste management in companies through the ways of upcycling. So, if you have some of the most ardent coffee drinkers in your company, get in touch and let’s chat!