Technological watch

Potential Uses of Spent Coffee Grounds in the Food Industry

Current estimates place the amount of spent coffee grounds annually generated worldwide in the 6 million ton figure, with the sources of spent coffee grounds being classified as domestic (i.e., household), commercial (i.e., coffee houses, cafeterias and restaurants), and industrial (i.e., soluble and instant coffee industries). The majority of the produced spent coffee grounds are currently being inappropriately destined for landfills or to a form of energy recovery (e.g., incineration) as a refuse-derived fuel. The disposal of spent coffee in landfills allows for its anaerobic degradation with consequent generation and emission of aggressive greenhouse gases such as methane and CO2, and energy recovery processes must be considered an end-of-life stage in the lifecycle of spent coffee grounds, as a way of delaying CO2 emissions and of avoiding emissions of toxic organic volatile compounds generated during combustion of this type of waste. Aside from these environmental issues, an aspect that should be considered is the inappropriate disposal of a product (SCG) that presents unique thermo-mechanical properties and textural characteristics and that is rich in a diversity of classes of compounds, such as polysaccharides, proteins, phenolics, lipids and alkaloids, which could be recovered and used in a diversity of applications, including food-related ones. Therefore, researchers worldwide are invested in studying a variety of possible applications for spent coffee grounds and products thereof, including (but not limited to) biofuels, catalysts, cosmetics, composite materials, feed and food ingredients. Hence, the aim of this essay was to present a comprehensive review of the recent literature on the proposals for utilization of spent coffee grounds in food-related applications, with focus on chemical composition of spent coffee, recovery of bioactive compounds, use as food ingredients and as components in the manufacture of composite materials that can be used in food applications, such as packaging.

Publication date: 12/07/2022

Author: Adriana S. Franca

Reference: doi: 10.3390/foods11142064

MDPI (foods)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.