Latest Coffee Upcycling Methods to Explore in 2024

According to sustainability researcher Gunter Pauli, coffee production generates more than 23 million tonnes of waste annually. However, these byproducts can have valuable applications that create new products!

Companies and researchers are upcycling coffee byproducts into cosmetics, feedstock, and other food products to engage in the circular economy. One specific company, Kawa Project, found a way to create cocoa powder from coffee waste.

In past years, numerous studies have focused on using spent coffee grounds as a coadjuvant for plant fertilizers, recycling them into products that have additional value to reduce the impact of the entire coffee chain on the environment.

This article identifies such trends and emerging solutions for upcycling coffee grounds. Fill out the form below to download the PDF report:

Preparation of cellulose nanofibers using coffee grounds

Coffeefrom SRL is an Italy-based start-up that uses spent coffee grounds to produce eco-friendly products. Recycling coffee waste creates items like sunglasses, cups, and other objects. 

FoundersLaura Gallo
TechnologyHigh-quality Cellulose Nanofibers from Recycled Coffee Grounds

They recently filed a patent for preparing cellulose nanofibers from coffee grounds in collaboration with the Giardinone Social Cooperative Society. Their process includes selectively oxidizing the cellulose regionally and removing the aromatic, lignin, and hemicellulose components. It limits the breakdown of the glucopyranose ring and provides structural integrity. Furthermore, it helps develop cellulose of greater quality. The cellulose exhibits stable characteristics over time and is used in thermoplastic compounding.


Biomass Coffee Starch logs

The Australian company Beango Pty Ltd produced biomass coffee starch logs using coffee grounds and filed a patent for this technology.

FoundersPaulo and Juliana
TechnologySustainable Biomass Fuel Logs from Coffee Grounds

The log is produced by combining coffee grounds simply with starch and water. It can serve as an alternative to traditional fuels. The invention is helpful as it produces a sustainable biomass biofuel and contributes to a circular economy. It can also be an alternative to traditional heating products and have industrial applications in boilers.

Coffee oil from coffee-based feedstocks

Revive Eco is a Scotland-based company that recycles used coffee grounds into valuable materials like extraction oils. These can be ingredients for cosmetics and food products.

FoundersFergus Moore,  Scott Kennedy
Funding£993.8K (Equity Crowdfunding round)
TechnologyCoffee Oil Extraction from Coffee Grounds

The company innovates with coffee grounds and recently filed a patent on extracting coffee oil from coffee-based feedstocks. In this process, coffee-based feedstock and the extraction solvent (ester) are subjected to magnetic agitation, followed by the removal of the extraction solvent to obtain the coffee oil. 

This oil refining process is cost-effective and scalable. It also solves drawbacks like explosive hazards and implications for human health associated with extraction using supercritical fluids.

Cocoa powder substitutes from spent coffee grounds

Kawa Project is a US-based company that develops cocoa powder from coffee waste. It is funded by the “Grow Agrifoodtech accelerator.” 

FoundersAaron Feigelman
Funding$100K (Preseed round)
TechnologyCocoa Substitute Production from Coffee Waste

The company uses a proprietary process for manufacturing cocoa substitutes from coffee grounds. The process includes drying coffee grounds to remove oil content and fermenting them to develop flavor. This is followed by roasting and milling for a finely powdered cocoa substitute.



Nanoparticles and nanofibers comprising coffee melanoidins

Kaffe Bueno is a Denmark-based company that works on upcycling coffee by-products to produce functional ingredients that have applications in personal care, human nutrition, animal nutrition, and the agrochemical industry.

FoundersCamilo Fernandez, Alejandro Franco, and Juan Medina
Funding€3.6M (Grant round)
TechnologyProduction of  Coffee Melanoidin from Upcycled Coffee Grounds

The company recently filed a patent for developing coffee melanoidin nanofibers using coffee grounds. The process comprises treating coffee grounds with an extraction agent, followed by separation to remove the fluid phase, precipitation using acid, and organic phase separation, which results in precipitates containing coffee grounds. 

Melanoidin nanoparticles and nanofibers obtained from coffee grounds have good solubility in water and a broad light absorption range. They also provide antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Additionally, they have a high thermal conversion efficiency and superior electrical conductivity compared to existing melanoidin products. Melanoidin products can have applications in the medical and cosmetic industries.


This company is funded by a Finland-based F&B company called Paulig.

Future scope

There are many opportunities for partnerships with companies working on upcycling coffee and its byproducts. The collaboration opportunities could be diverse, ranging from biopolymers to bioactive compounds with industrial applications. Furthermore, coffee producers and retailers can adopt and promote these upcycling techniques to reduce waste and promote a circular economy.

The innovation in coffee upcycling faces many challenges:

  • Keeping up with rapidly evolving technologies and processes,
  • Identifying commercially viable applications for coffee byproducts,
  • Navigating stringent regulations and sustainability concerns.

GreyB’s experts can assist you in these tasks. Use the form below to schedule a consultation today.

Authored by: Preeti Lata, Patent Analytics
Edited by: Hemanth Shenoy, Market Research

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