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Recycling coffee chaff as a garden compost

Recycling coffee chaff as a garden compost

Coffee chaff is a great byproduct of roasting coffee beans that can create nutrient-rich soil for your garden. As well as recycling a waste product that would otherwise be thrown away, it’s a cheap alternative to soil supplements.

Recycling coffee chaff as a garden compost

Recycling coffee chaff is just one of many sustainability initiatives we employ at Extract Coffee Roasters. Several members of the team have allotments and many of us are keen gardeners. Production Manager, Sean, regularly visits Hotwells and District allotments in Bristol to drop off bags of coffee chaff from the roastery in Bristol. He labels the bags of coffee chaff, encouraging people to help themselves – The bags are normally gone within a few days of him putting them out.

It’s great to have a renewable use for our coffee bean waste, as well as the opportunity to help out the Hotwells and District allotments in their commitment to making their green spaces as environmentally friendly as possible. 

There are already compost loos on each site and every structure with a roof has to have a water butt attached to it. They encourage people to use water from these rather than from a tap; as well as being better for the environment, it saves money.

What is coffee chaff and why is it so great for the garden?

When coffee is roasted, it sheds a husk, similar to a dried skin. This is chaff, and despite having no purpose in the coffee roasting process, it has incredible properties as a byproduct. When added to your compost heap, it introduces a healthy amount of nitrogen and enriches the soil.

Coffee chaff works particularly well as a mulching agent. I it’s best to add a layer of chaff onto your food waste, then more compost on top of the chaff. You could add it straight onto the soil but it’s better not to; it’s light weight means it blows away easily and it absorbs water very quickly, which makes it incredibly slimy. It does however make great bedding in chicken coops, particularly as an alternative to sawdust.

Coffee grounds are also a useful addition to your soil. All the acidity in the coffee is removed after brewing, so as they decompose and provide food for microorganisms, the grounds help the pH of the soil towards neutral. They also act as a great pest repellent; snails and slugs have a strong aversion to a good brew. Like chaff, coffee grounds also help raise the nitrogen levels in the soil.

Get coffee chaff for free from the roastery

Although there is a tentative plan to supply other allotments, our chaff isn’t reserved. If you fancy some for your plot of earth or veg patch, email the roastery team to organise this.

More ideas for recycling your coffee waste.

Looking for more ideas on how you can recycle waste coffee? Head over to our coffee recycling blog post for more suggestions on how you can put your waste coffee grounds to good use.