Kaffeeform, a German startup, has had the brilliant idea of reusing coffee grounds from local coffee shops to create coffee cups.
Research has shown that climate change could limit the areas where Arabica coffee plants can be grown in the future. At the same time, coffee consumption is at an all-time high, which has resulted in a significant increase in coffee waste.
Coffee grounds, which have been shown to help plants grow, are also used to create biomass pellets that can be used as a clean form of energy, as well as to power homes given their ability to store methane. The multiple uses of leftover coffee grounds inspired Kaffeeform to design cups and saucers with the remains of brewed coffee.
Julian Lechner, an industrial design graduate, began experimenting with coffee grounds he sourced bars while studying in Bolzano, Italy. After four years, he found the formula for Kaffeeform. By recycling resources like coffee, a cup and saucer can be made from the remains of six cups of espresso.
In order for the cups to be durable and dishwasher-friendly, Lechner researched the right balance of plant fibers, coffee grounds, wood grains, and biopolymers. The result is a recyclable cup and saucer made from renewable resources. Forty percent of the product is made from used coffee grounds, which are dried before the material is produced. Then, fibers, wood grains, and biopolymers are added to create a material that is strong enough to withstand heat and repeated use.
Currently, the company manufactures espresso and cappuccino cups, as well as a reusable takeaway cup with a lid. The design was introduced at the Amsterdam Coffee Festival, and is now featured in design shops and museums all over Europe, including the Hallesches Haus and Foundry in Berlin, the Astrup Fearnley Museum Shop and Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Pokahornid in Reykjavík, Sampa Coffee in London, Artéfact in Paris, Superflu in Liège, and Matter of Material in Amsterdam.
“Because of its lightweight design and isolation qualities, it could be a great option for caterers in the future as well,” says Lechner.