Coffee Cup From Spent Grounds

Made by the German Startup Kaffeeform. Featured in Mashable and got a trending post in Facebook. There seem to be a great support for movement for environmental cause. It is great and I hope their willingness is not as short-live as one click or a short comment. I mean showing concern but still using disposables and throwing them irresponsibly.

If someone ask me what to do with spent coffee grounds, I will immediately say bring it back to coffee farms and use it as organic fertilizer. It gonna reduce farmer cost on commercial fertilizer and keep the soil healthier longer. We all know that it readily degrades. Placing them in trash bin for landfill destination is simply an irresponsible thing to do. Landfill  leaches out toxic substances going to river, sea and other water bodies.

Spent coffee ground means, the thing left after preparation of your favorite cup of joe. The solid rid of desired stimulant. The coffee giant Nestle and Starbucks sure could make a lot of this and produce lot of biodegradable cups if they want to. As of date, the popular are fragile ceramic and paper cups with a thin layer of non-biodegradable plastic. Else, the hot coffee will be absorbed and it is ruined before the coffee can be served. So what is claimed to be biodegradable and environment friendly cannot deliver what is promised. Hope this entry level coffee cup is not another piece of crap.

Made with spent ground and natural glue. I can only think of few things. Elmer’s Glue ( a wood and paper glue) is said to be natural and non-toxic. The cheaper elementary grade glue, called “paste or kola” is made of cornstarch or tapioca. If you are familiar with charcoal briquettes, they are made with this as binder. Mom used to made a lot for us when we were young. It was even cheaper than buying small packs with half contents. Another option are sticky plant sap. Some variants are processed to rubber, others as food additive. There were times we used Jackfruit and Antipolo tree sap for catching cicada and small birds.

I imagine it as simple briquette making. Needs wood chips/powdered charcoal and binder as material. Then a press machine to form the desired shape. It is more delicate though. Like the spent ground should be handled properly to prevent decay and contaminant. Not treating it as garbage but a valuable raw material. It is coffee but the cup should not taste like or never impart any taste for every coffee preparation or whatever hot beverage placed into it.

The cup has natural coffee color and can hold the hot beverage based on video shown. Other color shades are nice but may drive customer suspicions. Colorants are natural and synthetic. More explaining to do after the paint job. Leaving it as is may not be as attractive and elegant but it is natural.

The cup is supposed to last for two years. After, it can be thrown away guilt free. There is degradation of sorts while in use that eventually render it unfit after the claimed period. I am intrigued of what is really happening. I hope I can get my hands on it for observation.

Primitive kitchenware are made of coconut shells, bamboo, wood and banana leaves. They are truly environment friendly. They decompose with repeated use. Dump it and get new one, use and repeat. What is so hard with that?

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.