How many of you start your morning with a cup or more of coffee? The trend for a morning fix of caffeine is what made companies like Starbucks so successful.
If you brew your coffee at home, what do you do with the grounds once they’ve been used? What do places like Starbucks do with their grounds once they’ve been used?
When I used to drink coffee, I used the grounds on my gardens as they are a rich source of some minerals and make a great fertilizer for many plants, especially roses, and especially in areas where the soil is alkaline or has lots of clay. The acid in the coffee helps counter the alkalinity and helps break down the clay. I remember as a kid in Illinois, my parents put their coffee grounds around the base of mom’s climbing roses that were trellised in the front of the house. When they began to bloom, it was a solid wall of red all the way up to the roof. A couple of years, the local newspapers featured her roses. Mom and dad swore it was all due to the coffee grounds.
But what about companies like Starbucks? What do they do with the hundreds of pounds of coffee grounds after they’ve been used? In most cases, those hundreds of pounds of used coffee grounds are tossed into the garbage on a daily basis. A report from the United Kingdom says that up to 500,000 tons of used coffee grounds end up in the garbage dumps. My first thought of how those used coffee grounds could be used to help areas with poor soil conditions to make them more productive for agricultural purposes.
A company in the United Kingdom, called Bio Bean is rescuing tons of used coffee grounds and converting it into a new biofuel, called B20. They are collecting the coffee grounds from many coffee chains, restaurants and even factories.
The fuel they are producing is composed of about 20% coffee bean products and the rest is a mineral component. They say that many diesel engines need no modifications to burn the new coffee bean biofuel. Bio Bean says currently, they are able to produce enough B20 to fuel about 360 of London’s famous red double-decker busses.
In case you’re curious what it is in the coffee grounds that is being used to make B20 biofuel, just brew a cup of coffee and leave it black with no cream, creamer or sugar. Let it set of a few minutes and then take a look. You’ll see a film of oil reflecting back at you. It’s that oil that caused me to give up drinking coffee.
About 30-years ago, I developed irritable bowl syndrome. I had to learn what foods affected me and it didn’t take long for me to discover that just half a cup of coffee sent me into abdominal agony. When I asked the doctor about the coffee and he told me it was the oil that I was reacting too. He said that some people use strong coffee as a laxative because of the oil.
Not only are coffee beans a plentiful source of caffeine, but they also contain natural oils that can be extracted and converted into biofuel. Others are now looking into converting used coffee grounds into biofuel and it may come to a time where your used coffee grounds may help fuel busses, trucks and even cars here in the US.