It’s hard to not admire the versatility of coffee, not just in the variety of flavors it presents but in its near-endless uses outside the cup. It is to the point where, after five years as News Editor here at Sprudge, every time I learn of a new use for coffee I have to search to the site to see if it is something I’ve already written about; the uses of coffee are simply too numerous to keep track of.
And after another of such searches confirming this is in fact a new-to-me topic, I’d like to relay to you that coffee chaff is now being used as a building material. As reported by Fast Company, a Colombian company is combining coffee husks with recycled plastics to create inexpensive, lightweight building materials for pre-fab houses.
A decade in the works, Woodpecker—the Bogota-based company that came up with the concept—tested a variety of materials to find one best suited to their building needs. With their pre-fab designs intended to be used in rural areas “where traditional construction systems cannot go,” the company was looking for a material that was lightweight and could be more easily transported via “small boat, helicopter, or on the back of a burro.” This eliminated traditional heavier building materials like bricks, concrete, and cement.
After trying sawdust, grass, rice, and palm fiber, Woodpecker ultimately landed on coffee chaff, the strongest and driest raw material tested, and one in no short supply in Colombia, one of the global leaders in coffee production. After being mixed with recycled plastics, the coffee chaff is then formed into boards that click together in “Lego-like kits” around a steel frame requiring minimal tools.
Each home cost as little as $4,500 and can be assembled in a week’s time. Along with being affordable and easy to construct housing, the coffee chaff building material has the added benefits of being durable, fireproof, and insect-resistant.
Seems like it’s maybe time to update the story of the Three Little Pigs, no?