Did you know that coffee grounds can be used to make bio fuel? I had heard of coffee grounds being used by a company who use it as compost to grow mushrooms, but I had no idea that it could be used to either heat your home or run your barbecue. It’s amazing how creative people can be.
Every time you make a cup of real coffee, whether you use a cafetiere, an espresso machine or a filter coffee maker, once the hot water has extracted the coffee flavour and the caffeine from the ground up coffee beans, the remains are usually either put in the dustbin, or if you remember, put into the food recycling bin. Coffee shops produce large quantities of used coffee grounds, and it was while working in a coffee shop that Arthur Kay, the highly resourceful inventor of coffee bio fuel, had the idea of putting these grounds to good use.
Bio-diesel & Biomass Pellets
Apparently, coffee grounds have a high oil content – roughly 20% of the weight is oil, and if this oil is extracted, it can be turned into bio-diesel for running cars and lorries. Mr Kay has established a company called Bio-bean, which has a manufacturing plant in Cambridgeshire, and it’s here that Mr Kay works his magic on the coffee grounds – in the UK we apparently produce 500,000 tonnes of the stuff each year thanks to our taste for coffee in all its forms. The coffee grounds are dried and processed to remove the oil, and the solid remains are pressed into pellets and briquettes for use in biomass boilers. A single tonne of biomass pellets can heat an average UK home for a year.
Bio-bean have now announced that they are starting to produce barbecue fuel too, which they have named ‘Hot Coffees’, and this will be going on sale at homeware stores and garage forecourts later this year. So, next summer, you could be cooking your sausages and burgers on fuel that was produced from coffee waste products – Mr Kay promises that they won’t smell too strongly of coffee, they will get hot enough to cook on faster than charcoal and will be cheaper to buy.
It’s got to be good news that a so far largely ignored waste product will be put to good use, and will prevent us from having to import so many biomass pellets to heat our homes, factories and shops. At the moment, we only make 50,000 tonnes in the UK and import 4.5 million tonnes, mainly from America. Using the coffee grounds will not only save millions of ‘fuel miles’, it will also make good use of material that either goes into landfill where it can ferment and add to the problem of methane production, or needs to be sent through the food waste process and digested, with all the associated handling and transport costs.