The Circular Life of Coffee: 10 Use Cases

The global coffee market, worth an estimated USD465.9 billion, has about 125 million people reliant on the market for their livelihoods. In addition to being the world’s sixth-largest producer of coffee, India’s demand for coffee has been consistently growing at 5% annually for the last 20 years, placing it among the world’s most vibrant coffee marketplaces. India is a high-potential setting for deploying a scalable circular solution to aggregate waste coffee grounds and other by-products to identify alternative uses and create sustainable, circular material flows that generate income and support livelihoods.

Coffee is one drink that most of us can’t imagine not having in our lives. One of the most traded commodities in the world, this commodity needs us now more than ever. While climate change deeply affects the chance for this crop to offer consistent and good quality yields, poverty also continues to threaten livelihoods. This is the chance for producers to make use of the byproducts from the coffee to create products that could improve their income. Producers, roasters, local cafe owners could make use of this opportunity to partner with companies to prototype products that could be made out of coffee waste.


These coffee byproducts solutions tested around the world could be a start towards building a more circular value chain which could also be adapted to specific context if required.

We have collated a list of ten organizations from around the World that are incorporating Circular Economy solutions in the Coffee Sector!


1. CaffeInk Sector: Printing Partners: Local coffee shops and coffee producing factories

Country: Netherlands Caffeink collects coffee grounds to produce inks of dark colour, paints and dyes by extracting the pigments and oil out of the coffee waste. The most important process is that of converting the coffee waste into pigments which are essentially sold to paint/ink/dye producers. It is a smart way of making use of coffee grounds produced locally and converting it into another useful commodity. Since the consumption of coffee is an everyday affair, it's difficult to run out of sources.


2. Singtex Sector: Fabrics Partners: Local coffee shops and coffee producing factories Country: Taiwan Singtex has patented the technology to produce yarns from coffee waste. The characteristics of coffee grounds are preserved and transferred to the textile. The desired outcome being the textile would have anti-odour properties, dry faster and give better UV ray protection. The capacity to cool down the temperature of the skin, the textile feels so fresh and also saves energy during production.


3. Kaffee Beuno Sector: Beauty and Wellness Country: Denmark Kaffee Beuno unlocks the potential of coffee by using by-products to produce ingredients for personal care, Nutraceuticals and Functional foods and beverages. Coffee grounds have a high organic load and desirable particle size which have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Kaffoil is an upcycled raw material and can be used against sun, ageing treatments, skin barrier enhancement and anti-cellulite formulations. Kaffoil can be used in Food and Beverages, it allows manufacturers to extend shelf life, delay microbial spoilage and improve the texture. 4. RITI Coffee Printer Sector: Printing Country: South Korea In addition to powering you, your morning coffee also powers your printers, RITI uses the coffee grounds as a source for ink. The grounds from the coffee can be plugged into an ink cartridge to create an ink that is both responsible and environmentally friendly.


5. Veolia Sector: Biofuel Partners : Douwe Egberts Master Blenders Country: Netherlands In order to reduce the consumption of Natural Gas by Douwe Egberts, Veolia created a process to produce steam using the coffee grounds. Using the vast quantities of steam from two energy sources, Natural gas and the used coffee grounds, Douwe produces instant coffee and liquid concentrated coffee.


6. NAM Sector: Cultivation Country : Portugal Coffee grounds are rich in nutrients and sterilized through using boiling water, NAM used this to their advantage to grow oyster mushrooms on the ground. The coffee grounds improve the freshness of the mushroom and is an excellent medium for its growth. The remaining coffee grounds are donated to local farmers for fertilizer. NAM aspires to become the biggest circular urban farm in Portugal. 7. Ford Motors Sector: Biofuel Partners: McDonald's Country: United States of America With more than 62 million pounds of coffee chaff being produced by McDonald's in the united state of America, Ford Motors has decided to put this chaff to good use. Ford Motors will use this chaff in producing headlight housing and other automobile parts. The headlight housing would be the first automobile part to be produced by making use of chaff from 300,000 beans. The advantage of using chaff is that its composite can withstand the heat better and its purpose is beyond just landing in the landfills! 8. Raul Lauri Pla Sector : Furniture/ Furnishing Country: Spain, Germany Coffee grounds offer the potential to become table lamps, floor lamps and bowls. Designers like Raul Lauri Pla from Spain and Fermin Benedi Bayer from Germany made a series of lamps using a natural binder. The good news is that these lamps are 100% natural, biodegradable, renewable and more importantly keep the smell of coffee intact. What more do we need ?! 9. Biobean Sector: Biofuel Country: United Kingdom Being the largest recycler of coffee grounds in the World, Bio-bean works with different companies to create useful products out of coffee grounds. Several innovations using coffee grounds have become possible, thanks to Biobean. Some interesting ones being converting coffee grounds into dried grounds to reduce the cost of disposal in comparison to the wet grounds. Dried grounds increase sustainability credentials and reduce emissions. Coffee grounds are also converted into heating briquettes which could be used as a solid source for home use. It burns longer, 20% hotter than Kiln dried wood. It generates 80% fewer emissions than if it were to end up in a landfill. Lastly, they also make coffee pellets which are high in calorific value and greater than 15% of regular timber. Other features that make it an interesting alternative include low moisture content, high bulk density, a high ash melting point and good durability.


10. Kaffe Form Sector: Decor Country: Germany Coffee grounds are being converted into slick and good looking cups/mugs by this company in an effort to reuse the grounds. Kaffee form is a robust material developed using grounds and renewable raw materials by product designer Julian Lechner. The source material is hardened with biopolymers and it makes them light, durable and a friend to the environment. It can also retain the coffee aroma and is a cruelty-free product for consumers to use. Kaffee form works with coffee shops in Berlin to source the spent coffee grounds which are later converted into cups and shipped across the world.


About the Coffee Miners Project

While there are exciting innovations that have been identified and with India being the sixth largest producer of coffee globally, we believe that building greater awareness on the value of coffee waste and by-products among the public and business groups is vital towards our efforts in making the coffee value chain more circular and sustainable. Through the Coffee Miners Project in India, we want to create an online immersive platform where every coffee drinker in the world appreciates how and where his or her cup of coffee comes from



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