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.
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.
"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."
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.
"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.
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.
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.