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Innovation Watch: Coffee Cups Made From Coffee Win Design Award

A German designer creates the eco-friendly mugs and cups from used coffee grounds, natural glues and wood particles.

Now you can drink your coffee from a cup made of coffee.

An ingenious German product designer has developed a process by which used coffee grounds are transformed into reusable coffee cups. No, seriously. It’s pretty cool. Julian Lechner spent three years researching and experimenting. He eventually developed a process that involves combining the coffee grounds with natural glues and particles of wood to create a liquid that can be injection molded to make cups. Lechner notes the wood comes from sustainable sources, while he gets the coffee grounds from the leftovers at Berlin cafes. The offerings from Lechner’s company, Kaffeeform, include espresso cups and cappuccino cups.

“As the global coffee consumption is steadily growing, the coffee grounds that are basically waste will be available en masse,” Lechner says on his website. “Kaffeeform uses this wasted (resource) to (create) a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to products based on mineral oils.”

For his sustainability-focused innovation, Lechner recently won a “Red Dot: Best of the Best” Award. The Red Dot Award is an international design competition. For the product design category Lechner competed in, there were more than 6,300 entries from 59 countries. Only 69 entries, including Lechner’s, won “Red Dot: Best of the Best” honors.

For promotional products companies, Kaffeeform’s cups are another sign of the interesting eco-driven innovations happening in the broader marketplace. Eventually, more of these green products are going to make their way into the promosphere. And that could be a good thing. With younger Millennials and Gen Z hyper-focused on societal and environmental issues, such items have the potential to really resonate.