How a company in Berlin is turning coffee grounds into recycled reusable cups
- Kaffeeform is a Berlin-based start-up that uses coffee grounds to create reusable coffee cups.
- The 100% biodegradable, reusable cups are used in coffee shops and restaurants around the city.
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Kaffeeform, a Berlin-based start-up, has been creating coffee cups from recycled coffee grounds for the past three years. With the help of courier services, the company picks up used coffee grounds from cafés all across Berlin to create these eco-friendly mugs. We learn how the founder, Julian Lechner, got started and how he makes his products.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: Ah, coffee. It might be the very first thing you think about in the morning. But what you don’t think about: all the waste that comes along with that kick of caffeine. In the US alone, 120 billion disposable coffee cups are used every year.
But it’s more than just the cups and the lids that are creating waste. What about all those used-up coffee grounds? These reusable mugs are made from recycled coffee grounds.
They’re produced by Kaffeeform, a Berlin-based start-up. The idea for these ecofriendly mugs first came about in 2009 when Julian was studying product design.
Julian Lechner: We had a lot of coffee all the time. At some point, I was wondering what happens with all these spent coffee grounds.
Narrator: Germany is one of the largest coffee-consuming countries in Europe, with the average person going through about 14 pounds of beans each year. About 99% of paper, plastic, and foam coffee cups end up in the trash, and once they’re in the trash, even paper cups can take over 20 years to decompose.
So by recycling one waste stream, Kaffeeform helps tackle a bigger one. Every day, a team of cyclists travel to coffee shops throughout Berlin to collect used coffee grounds.
Sam: Our exposition team wrote to Kaffeeform in March 2018 that we would be interested to work with them, and the same day, Julian had a meeting where they decided to work only with bike logistics, and when he got home, he found the email of us and was super excited about it, and it was such a good coincidence that it had to be.
Narrator: Crow Cycle Courier Collective typically gathers about 110 pounds of grounds in just one day.
Sam: When we pick up the coffee ground, we go to three different locations, mostly, and that takes about 90 minutes until it’s dropped off at the workshop. For a courier company, this is not a usual task. It is something that is pretty unique.
Narrator: The collected grounds are then sorted and then cleaned at Kaffeeform’s workshop. Then, they’re transported to another facility where they’re dried and blended with plant fibers, beechwood grains, and natural resins.
Once the new coffee-ground granulate has been mixed together, it gets shaped under heat and pressure. It takes about 6 cups of grounds to produce one espresso cup and saucer, resulting in a final product that’s 40% coffee grounds and 100% biodegradable.
Julian: The ultimate goal is just to highlight the value of recycling and waste streams back to society.
Narrator: Kaffeeform’s cups and mugs are used in 20 coffee shops in Berlin and 150 vendors across Europe. But the company isn’t stopping at coffee mugs. Julian hopes to one day shape coffee grounds into lifestyle products and even furniture pieces.