Coffee in the morning is a great way to start your day, however drinking coffee results in a lot of waste materials, not just from the cups and lids, but also from the ground coffee. About 99% of paper, plastic and foam cups land in the junkyard. Even though paper cups are usually used for coffee, they also take about 20 years to decompose. In Germany, the average person consumes about 14 pounds of beans each year, putting Germany on the list as one of the largest coffee-consuming countries in Europe.
In 2009, Julian Lechner wondered about what happens with the spent ground coffee. Three years later, his company Kaffeeform has been recycling ground coffee into a useful, reusable and 100% biodegradable coffee cups. To produce these recycled coffee cups, ground coffee from cafes in Berlin are collected by Crow Cycle Courier Collective, a team of cyclist couriers.
Each day, they gather about 110 pounds of ground coffee from three different locations. At Kaffeeform’s workshop, these collected grounds are sorted and cleaned before being transported to another facility for refinement. Plant fibers, beech wood grains, and natural resins are blended with dried up ground coffee. Once everything is mixed together, they will undergo heat and pressure for moulding. The product is 40% ground coffee and 100% biodegradable material; one cup and saucer are made from six cups of ground coffee.
Today, around 20 coffee shops use the company’s reusable cups and mugs for their operations. The products are also available in 150 vendors across Berlin. The founder is hoping that one day, this project will expand from coffee mugs to useful lifestyle products like furniture.