#015: Don't you dare throw those coffee grounds away
Coffee waste is for life, not just for your morning coffee
Monday a couple of weeks ago, the first day back after annual leave.
The week started badly. The desk got stained and I’m worried about how much ground coffee is still lurking under my keyboard.
Coffee grounds can be exceptionally annoying. Not just when you have a cafetiere explosion on a Monday morning, but also as soon as they have served their purpose and they need to be disposed of. Getting coffee grounds on your skin is, to me, a similar irritant to having sand in my shoes. It’s a horrible, gritty texture that clings and I want it out of my life as soon as possible in all cases. Once upon a time, I was a monster that would exclusively throw my coffee grounds in the landfill bin or even *whispers* down the plughole. Shocking behaviour, really. Nowadays though, I’m much more wholesome and can channel my coffee ground rage into activities like improving the garden. In fact, coffee grounds have plenty of great uses after they’ve served their primary purpose of caffeinating humans.
As it turns out, using coffee waste for good instead of disposing of it like any other waste is a big thing in various settings. I did some googling about it and would now like to report back to you all. Firstly, some garden-related info:
Using coffee grounds on your garden this Spring
My parents have cats and they also have a flower bed in their garden. Now spring is here, attention has turned back to stopping our cats and those of the neighbourhood from using the flower bed as a litter tray and digging in it. After using coffee grounds in a cafetiere or AeroPress, just fill it back up with cold water and pour it over the flower bed like you’re watering them. Cats smell the coffee and decide to look elsewhere to do their business.
By the looks of this Gardeners World forum, coffee grounds as a cat repellent is nothing new and also a bit disputed. But it seemed to work for us, so I guess it depends on whether your cats are coffee lovers or not. Also, some people said their plants didn’t react very well to coffee being thrown on them. While ours were fine, Three-Quarters accepts no responsibility for any plant fatalities on your side.
There are several other ways you can use your old coffee grounds in the garden that don’t involve cat faeces, including as mulch and fertiliser.
Coffee waste for good in Costa Rica
There are more scientifically sound uses for coffee waste, though. Various ‘waste’ products are produced during coffee cultivation, production and consumption. Beyond the coffee grounds we all throw out each day, examples include coffee cut-stems, coffee silverskin, coffee husk and coffee pulp. Each of these byproducts has been shown to have successful second uses as livestock feed, flour substitute and bioethanol production. But the most eye-catching of the recent studies was one that is nursing a forest back to life in Costa Rica.
Researchers at the University of Hawaii and ETH-Zurich studied the use of coffee pulp as a fertiliser. They spread 30 dump truck loads of coffee pulp on degraded land in Coto Brus county in the south of the country and found that over two years, tree coverage on the treated land has increased to 80% compared to 20% in an untreated control area. Soil nutrients in the treated soil were also elevated.
Read more in this summary from the British Ecological Society.
Big up Forest Green Rovers and their coffee waste jerseys
In a climate where billionaires from far-flung places such as Boston and Abu Dhabi are hell-bent on ruining European football, we can take solace in football clubs further down the football pyramid that are helping fans to resist throwing the towel in on the sport altogether. Forest Green Rovers, based near Cheltenham, U.K., are one of those clubs. They are a self-proclaimed eco-team, a status underlined by their solar-powered facilities, all-vegan food outlets and soon-to-be-built timber stadium designed by Zaha Hadid Architects.
Forest Green have also experimented with using coffee waste. Earlier this year, they released a prototype jersey made of 30% used coffee grounds mixed with recycled mixed plastic to create a breathable and durable shirt. This is probably an improvement on throwing the coffee grounds on the flower bed. The club had also previously experimented with a shirt made of bamboo. More this please, football clubs.
What I’m drinking this week
Northampton’s Yellow Bourbon Coffee Roasters had been on my list for way too long before I finally put an order in. I plumped for a Brazilian…
Mantiquiera De Minas is not an unusual coffee, with its milk chocolate and almond notes, it has a house roast vibe. It’s an all-rounder, one you might serve to visitors. It’s produced by the Cocarive co-operative, a group of 661 coffee farmers from the Brazilian city of Carmo de Minas and the surrounding areas.
That’s all for Three-Quarters this week. I’m trying to be more consistent, I promise. See you again soon. In the meantime, do feel free to share with coffee-loving pals.