Meet the coffee-powered city of the future

By Oliver Smith 18 April 2016

Since 2014 Bio-Bean has come a long way in turning espressos into energy.

When you first hear Arthur Kay’s vision of the future, it honestly sounds less than appealing.

“Cities of the future will be powered by a new resource, waste,” he explains.

But this vision hides the elegance and simplicity in what his business, Bio-Bean, is building.

Put plainly, Bio-Bean is turning waste coffee grounds from the 70 million lattes, flat whites and espressos that Brits drink every year, into biofuels used to power buildings.

And they’re doing this on an industrial scale.

Coffee-powered Britain

Collectively our caffeine addiction in the UK creates an incredible half a million tonnes of waste coffee grounds every year.

And, according to Kay, that’s a huge opportunity because coffee has a higher calorific value than wood, so it releases more energy than many other forms of heating.

Today Bio-Bean collects and processes 50,000 tonnes of this waste and turns it into biomass pellets and briquettes which are used to replace fossil fuels and power buildings.

That means the equivalent of 1 in every 10 cups of coffee in the uk are now part of Bio-Bean’s supply chain, with thousands of coffee shops recycling their waste via Bio-Bean and supermarkets, offices, homes, airports and factories using its biofuel.

As well as researching the possibility of turning coffee waste into biodiesel to power vehicles, this summer Kay will be launching Bio-Bean’s first products to sell on the high street.

Coffee ‘coal’ which can be used on a BBQ, and a coffee ‘lot’ which can be used as “a winter fuel, heating your home in an open fire. Or outside in a chimney or something like that” Kay told The Huffington Post.

What’s perhaps most amazing is that Kay has managed to achieve all this – powering the equivalent of 15,000 homes by his carbon-neutral coffee biofuel this year – all in just three years after launching Bio-Bean.

So the next time you get the cafetiere out or order a flat white, don’t feel too bad, you might just be one part of a chain in turning that espresso into energy.

bio-bean - Powered By Coffee from bio-bean Ltd. on Vimeo.