Julian Lechner turns old coffee grounds into reusable cups


German designer Julian Lechner combined used coffee grounds with natural glues to create a new material, and has designed a set of cups to demonstrate its potential (+ slideshow).

On show for the first time at the Amsterdam Coffee Festival this week, the Kaffeeform coffee cups are made from the material of the same name.

Kaffeeform by Julian Lechner

Lechner collects leftover coffee grounds from his local cafes in Berlin. He combines these with natural glues and particles of wood from sustainable sources to produce a liquid that can be injection moulded to create usable objects.

Once set into the required shape, the material is hard and waterproof enough to withstand cleaning in a dishwasher, according to the designer.

Kaffeeform by Julian Lechner

"The amount of daily coffee consumption worldwide is growing, thus the potential of reusing its waste for further uses is enormous," said Lechner.

"Kaffeeform is a sustainable material that aims to take advantage of these readily available waste materials to become an alternative to petrochemical-based structural plastics."

Kaffeeform by Julian Lechner
An early attempt at casting the material with plaster moulds

He first developed the idea in 2009 while working in Italy, where he studied design at the Free University of Bozen.

"I started to recycle coffee grounds in Italy and worked out an injection-moulding process to fabricate the old coffee into new cups by combing them with other renewable materials like wood grains and natural glues," he told Dezeen.

Kaffeeform by Julian Lechner
An iteration of the material during development

"After five years of experimentation and investigation, a unique formula was created to transform old coffee into new products," said Lechner.

Each of the small cups features a handle on the side and comes with a matching curved saucer with an indent in the centre to make sure the cups don't slip. They were field-tested at one of Lechner's local coffee shops in Berlin.

Kaffeeform by Julian Lechner
Sifting the collected coffee grounds to create the material

They are designed specifically for drinking espresso coffee and are the first commercial product made from the material, which retains the smell of coffee in its final form.

"The surface of Kaffeeform has the appearance of dark marblewood and is unique to each piece," explained the designer.

Kaffeeform by Julian Lechner

The cups are available to buy from the Kaffeeform website, and can be purchased as individual units, in pairs or as a set of four. Larger orders can be also be requested.

  • Javi Lan

    Love it!

  • Mrorix

    Nice job! Julian for president!

  • kate

    Sorry, but this is old news. Good on him for doing it but not in any way the first.

  • Peter

    Considering that coffee grounds are a very good fertiliser and vanish completely (and positively) on a compost heap, creating hardware with glue etc. appears to make not much sense in regard of environmental ambitions. Big fan of the experimentation and research for a new material, though.

  • Galicer

    Although it’s a great idea and design the coffee grounds is organic and highly biodegradable, so it doesn’t need to be recycled.

  • gpa

    Hope the polymer doesn’t contain plastizers. Cause you’ll be drinking them. If the polymer is waterproof, it’s not biodegradable. So you just took a useful, compostable resource and stuck it in a polymer coffin. What’s better about this verses traditional ceramics? To another point, resin fillers are not a new idea. A big problem that design has is rushing in to ‘just make something vaguely eco-friendly’ instead of thinking about the whole picture.

    • Wilson Kessel

      This is better than traditional ceramics because it recycles a material that would otherwise be wasted. Never in the article does it mention that the resin fillers are a new idea, rather just for this application. Another big problem with design is to rush to criticize something that is still an improvement, rather than wasting the material’s potential entirely.

  • a_f_a

    Compliments for his effort to research on a new material but by no means is it “eco”. Coffee grounds are a natural material so this is not a waste.

    Waste is the transportation to collect the “ingredients” (unless they are transported by bicycle), the manufacturing process (although porcelain is not better as it requires lots of energy), the packaging and the transportation of the products. So the supply chain is identical to “non-eco-friendly” products.

    It appears to be another hype “eco-story” for blogs and media that need to find material for their daily clicks and reason to exist. Lifestyle foreva.