Arthur Kay, an entrepreneur from London, is every bit as obsessed with coffee as the rest of the capital. But unlike fellow caffeine hounds, the 26-year-old is specifically interest in waste coffee grounds. He set up Bio-bean in 2013 in order to industrialise the process of recycling waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels and biochemicals. The company states that half a million tonnes of coffee grounds every year, most of which is disposed of via landfill, where it emits methane (a gas 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide). The government’s landfill tax ensures that this is not only damaging to the environment, but expensive for businesses too.
Bio-bean is harnessing the fact that used coffee grounds are highly calorific and contain valuable compounds, making them an ideal feedstock to use in producing advanced biofuels. The Bio-bean team collects these grounds from cafes, offices, stations and factories, recycling them into sustainable fuels.
The Coffee-Powered Bus
According to the BBC, Bio-bean is due to unveil a coffee-fuelled bus in London in the next few weeks. There’s no saying whether TfL will be gutting their bus engines for caffeinated alternatives in the near future, but Kay has good reason to be optimistic about the future of coffee power. He’s worked out that the half a million tonnes of coffee waste produced each year would be enough to power a city such as Manchester.
Bio-bean’s clever Coffee Logs are an efficient way to keep you warm through winter, or for chiminea use through the summer months. Each log, made from the waste of 25 cups of ground coffee, burns hotter and longer than standard firewood and is 100% carbon neutral.
The big question: does a log give off the smell of coffee as it burns? Kay told the Huffington Post that “Happily, or sadly, it doesn’t. It doesn’t have a particularly strong aroma. I kind of think if you know it’s coffee, you can tell, but it’s just got a kind of interesting smoky aroma.”
To get your hands on a bag of logs or biomass pellets, or to contact Bio-bean as a prospective waste coffee supplier, head here.