The Zero Waste Coffee Project


The Zero Waste Coffee Project
From By-Products to Products

We want to go far!

For that reason we encourage everyone in the coffee chain to join us, and to make their contribution to zero waste coffee production.

Across the entire journey of coffee production, from growing & processing to roasting, brewing & consumption. We want to motivate everyone to share their experience and knowledge, as well as learn from each other. Therefore, if you have an interesting product, project or idea (or if you know someone who does) that helps to create zero waste coffees from growing to consumption, please let us know!

Call or write to:
Hans at
+1 613 262 7127

We will post all submissions and suggestions, and will try to connect you with partners who can help out or can give you support and advice. Or you connect yourself directly via the links and contacts in our blog posts…

The Zero Waste Coffee Project was initiated by Dr. Hans-J. Langenbahn, head roaster of Happy Goat Coffee Company, Ottawa, Canada.

In 2.5 years from now, by Summer 2023, we want to drink our first Zero Waste Coffee! A coffee where all the by-products, from growing to consuming, are upscaled to new, waste free products!

What do we mean by “Zero Waste Coffee”?

For us, a Zero Waste Coffee is a coffee where all the by-products in the three main phases of the coffee production chain are upscaled to waste free new products:
• In the production of the green coffee (cultivation, processing, milling)
• In the roastery (chaff and other waste)
• In brewing & consumption (spent coffee grounds and other waste)
• The waste-free nature of all upscaled products must be guaranteed.

This is all easier said than done:
• Difficult logistics
• Scare financial resources
• Limited know-how
• Lack of cooperation between science and the coffee industry
• And above all, TIME

The Potential

In the coffee industry, as is not uncommon in agribusiness, all the attention is focused on just one element of a plant or fruit. In most cases, that focus is always the end product. In our case (the coffee bean), everything that is essential for the production of the beans, such as the coffee tree and the coffee cherry, is declared waste or by-product and is largely treated as such. Although there have been serious considerations about the use of by-products since the 1970s, e.g. “Utilization Of Coffee By-Products In Agriculture, Industry And Animal Feeding", CATIE, Turrialba, Costa Rica, 1974; "Subproductos del café", CENICAFE, Manizales, Colombia, 1977; "Coffee Pulp - Composition Technology and Utilization", IDRC (International Development Research Centre), Ottawa, Canada, 1979); it is only in recent years that the first marketable products and respective methods of better utilization have been developed from all by-products groups. Some of these products are e.g. Cascara and mucilage concentrate from the fruit, parts for cars, coffee pods and fertilizer from the silverskin, pellets, cups and flour from the spent coffee grounds; and the list gets longer and longer each day. If one considers that the entirety of the by-products make up about 96-97% of the freshly harvested coffee cherry, it becomes clear what enormous potential still awaits its value-adding utilization!

A Holistic Concept

We are now seeing positive developments in all areas, be it in coffee processing, roasting, brewing and consumption. What is still missing, however, is a concept that encompasses all those single activities: a holistic concept. This is another aspect of the Zero Waste Coffee Project we are working on.

Until The End...

Besides a holistic concept, something else is missing: consequent thinking, up to the end of a product’s life. Cascara brewed as tea, for example, which is thrown into the garbage bin after extraction and ends up in a landfill, is not a solution. It is the displacement of a problem! The much-cited "pulp mountain" in coffee processing does not disappear in the country of production as it is often claimed, it just rots elsewhere (at least partially)!

Last but not least: Nothing without marketing!

What is one of the biggest roadblocks for the development of new products, and processing methods using by-product?

The biggest roadblock is the fact that the development is often done without knowing or correctly assessing the intended market.

Unfortunately, it doesn't help if new products, as good as they may be, are too expensive, too inconvenient, not "sexy" enough, or if no target group has been defined. Marketing and sales must therefore be an integral part of every development from the very beginning, right where the product is intended to be sold!

As with any other new product, these factors apply in the same way to the upscaling of coffee by-products. The first person to be hired for a product development should always be the marketing guy!


"If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together!"

Reach Out!