Even though plastic pollutes our environment to an alarming extent, the production and use of single-use plastic do not seem to slow down.
Yet, a boy from Germany decided to save the planet and solve the issue with the single-use coffee cups.
The start-up company of Julian Lechner from Berlin, Kaffeeform, is a place where coffee grounds are used to make reusable coffee cups. Namely, he studied at a design school in the northern Italian city of Bolzano in 2009 and noticed that he and his peers consumed a lot of coffee daily.
He says that they were always drinking coffee, before classes, after classes, meeting friends, hanging out at espresso bars, so he started to wonder- what happens to all that coffee? He then realized that is was all just getting thrown away.
Every year, the average person in Germany consumes 14 pounds of coffee beans, and almost 99% of all coffee cups are turned to the trash, which is quite horrible, because even paper cups may take over 20 years to properly decompose.
This gave him the idea to reuse the disposed of coffee grounds to produce eco-friendly coffee cups.
He spoke to his teachers about the best materials that could be mixed with the grounds to get a solid material. Yet, his research took years, and he eventually partnered with a German research institute and developed a substance that could be blended with the grounds.
Finally, in 2014, he found the perfect formula, which is a combination of grounds with wood grains and a biopolymer of cellulose, lignin, and natural resins.
Also, another startup, Crow Cycle Courier Collective, joined these planet-saving efforts, and it gathers nearly 110 pounds of coffee grounds daily, which is then cleaned in Kaffeeform workshops.
At this point, they are sent to a different facility, where it is dried and blended with things like plant fibers, natural resins, and beechwood grains.
Once the new coffee-ground granulate has been mixed together, it gets shaped under heat and pressure. Six cups of coffee grounds make one cup and a saucer, and the final product is 100% biodegradable and 40% coffee grounds.
The vessels are similar to stoneware, but they are light and easy to pick up. Moreover, they are made of a smooth-textured, durable, unbreakable material that is also dishwasher- friendly.
These products are now used in 20 of Berlin’s coffee shops and 150 vendors throughout Europe.
This success stimulates Lechner’ vision to produce not just cups but furniture pieces and lifestyle products in the same way as well- from the remains of our coffee!