Crude oil is the most traded commodity globally, coffee is second. Over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed globally on a daily bases. The coffee industry is worth over $100 billion.
This is the estimated average coffee consumption per capita. It's interesting to see four European countries leading the list.
Coffee is addictive, the upward trend is visible throughout the years, so there's no risk of coffee disappearing from out life anytime soon.
Used coffee grounds is considered a waste product and has no use at the moment, if we don't count those household and gardening use that people are trying with more or less success. Coffee grounds are sometimes used as fertilizer, skin scrub, odor neutralizer, or compost. I've seen some start-ups trying to use coffee coffee grounds to make single use, decomposing cups and plates in Germany if I'm not mistaken and there are probably other projects going on, but worldwide there's nothing planned yet, that could save used ground coffee from going to waste.
Scientists are conducting experiments to make alcoholic beverage from spent coffee grounds. Results show that spent coffee grounds contain enough sugar and aroma to contribute to creating a new alcoholic beverage. Obviously spent coffee ground alone is not enough to create a new drink, but it's the base raw material.
The process is made of three steps. The first is the hydrothermal extraction of the grounds, followed by the fermentation and distillation. The spirit resulted from this process contained 17 volatile compounds and the coffee aroma was the most prominent.
Another study shows spent coffee grounds has high caloric value that makes it possible to produce a commercially competitive greener biofuel, as the method used reduces the costs and the time needed to extract the oil.
According to researchers from the Lancaster University the process has the potential to enable more than 700,000 tonnes of biodiesel from spent coffee grounds annually.
A team from the Swinburne University of Technology are experimenting with adding spent coffee grounds to asphalt.
“On average the cafés we collect from dispose of about 330 pounds (150 kilograms) of coffee grounds per week," says Arulrajah. “We estimate that the coffee grounds from Melbourne’s cafés could be used to build three miles (five kilometers) of road per year. This would reduce landfill and the demand for virgin quarry materials." source
At the moment spent coffee grounds has no commercial value as it has no real use yet. Coffee is liked worldwide and the use of it has an uprising trend, so you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see there will be more waste created, when it could be used for something else.
How nice it would be to get free raw material to create alcoholic beverages, biofuel or asphalt, isn't it? Who wouldn't want to create something valuable out of something they got for free, right?
The world however doesn't work like that. Once there's demand for something, there will be a price rise as well. The minute coffee shops find out their waste can be turned into something else and there's a profit to be gained out of it, they will set a price and spent coffee grounds won't be categorized as waste anymore. But even so, it's preferable to reuse it instead of dumping it to the garbage. There will probably be a secondary market for coffee soon.
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