Everyone knows that coffee beans are used to produce the well-known hot beverage, but what other products contain coffee, and does it have any other, less-famous uses?
Well, some readers may already be aware that coffee has been used since the mid-2000s as a nutritional supplement in the form of green coffee extract. The supplements are usually pitched as being weight-loss products due to the fact that coffee has an appetite suppression activity and supposedly increases metabolism. The combination of these two actions can aid lipolysis, which is the break down of fats in the body which could aid with weight loss when combined with a sensible diet and exercise plan. These products are also consumed for their chlorogenic acid content, which is purported to have both anti-hypertensive (blood pressure reducing) and anti-inflammatory effects within the body. Currently, green coffee bean extract is the world’s most popular weight loss supplement.
As many people will already be aware, coffee extract, which is usually concentrated, is widely used as a food additive. Primarily it is used as a flavouring for cakes and biscuits but is also used in the manufacture of confectionery products. In the US, coffee extracts are sometimes used to enhance the flavour of chilli con carne and create glazes for barbecue products.
Coffee can also be found in some cosmetic products. These make use of ground coffee’s exfoliating effects to improve the results from a facial scrub or hair conditioner. A German shampoo invented in 2007 was formulated to include caffeine and is marketed as an aid to promote hair growth, and actual coffee shampoo is already available from some manufacturers.
Used coffee grounds themselves are also used in the manufacture of several products.
It was discovered that coffee grounds have the ability to absorb odours, so an innovative company based in Taiwan has discovered a method of turning used coffee grounds into yarn. This special yarn is then processed into sportswear which enables it to keep unpleasant odours at bay. Before manufacturing the yarn, the company uses a special technique to remove the volatile oils and flavour compounds from the grounds so that the clothes do not smell strongly of coffee. The coffee ground yarn also has been discovered to be fast-drying and to provide protection from harmful UV rays.
Re-worked is a British non-profit design company which specialises in producing eco-friendly furniture. They have discovered a method of using coffee grounds mixed with recycled plastics to produce a very strong, waterproof and easy to machine composite which can then be used to produce all types of home furnishings. They have named the composite material Çurface (pronounced “surface”). There is potentially an endless array of items which can be produced from this recycled coffee composite, but currently, they are producing chairs and tables. Some coffee shops in London have already commissioned the company to produce furniture for use in their stores, so customers can sit down and drink their coffee on a chair made from coffee grounds.
Coffee grounds can also be used to produce inks, which isn’t surprising considering that coffee can produce such stubborn stains. These inks can then be used to produce paintings, such as the ones produced by 25-year-old Indonesian artist Ghidaq al-Nizar. There has even been a printer developed for home use which uses recycled coffee grounds as it’s ink.
The German designer Julian Lechner has even developed a way of turning used coffee grounds into cups and mugs which he has called Kaffeeform. It took him more than five years to perfect the production of the material required, which includes coffee grounds, wood and glue to produce the cups and saucers.
In South Korea, used coffee grounds are used to produce products which are able to trap carbon present in the atmosphere. The coffee grounds undergo a chemical process and then baked in an argon-atmospheric furnace to produce a “sponge”type product which can then be used by companies to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
So in the not too distant future, people could be waking up in the morning, using their coffee shampoo in the shower, putting on their coffee clothes, and sitting at their coffee table to drink a cup of, you guessed it, coffee. As the peculiar properties of coffee and coffee grounds become more well known, we can expect to see more of these coffee products in the future