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Coffee Chaff Houses: A New & Sustainable Construction Type

coffee roasting chaff

Many of us are happy with our simple cups of brewed coffee. Maybe we experiment with new filters, upgrade our brewers, or learn how to compost the used grounds. But some innovative people are taking their coffee game a whole lot further!

A Colombian company called Woodpecker is building prefab houses out of a brand-new material: coffee chaff.1 It turns out that chaff, a coffee roasting byproduct, is a very effective house-building material! Scroll down to see what this fascinating new development is all about:

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Making Sustainable & Affordable Houses Out of Coffee

Woodpecker, a company based in Bogota, Colombia, is now selling kits that can come together into a house in just a week! The walls connect like LEGO bricks around a simple metal frame. The kits cost as little as $4,500 and can be easily transported to rural areas.

The company mixes coffee chaff (the papery skin that comes off the coffee bean during the roasting process) with recycling plastics to make this innovative wall material. Woodpecker first tried other natural materials like grass, rice, and sawdust, but found that coffee chaff was the strongest and driest option. The resulting material is insect-resistant, inexpensive, fireproof, and lightweight, making it perfect for remote places that struggle to build traditional houses.

Where does the chaff come from?

Coffee chaff is typically a byproduct of the coffee roasting process. Chaff is the thin skin that surrounds green coffee beans. When you roast coffee beans, the chaff detaches. If you have ever roasted coffee at home, you’ve seen this golden, papery material — and probably discarded it. Making use of this waste product is pretty cool, especially in a country like Colombia which produces a huge amount of coffee every year.

Coffee bean chaff
Image Credit: The Vine Studios, Shutterstock

Much like using coffee grounds in place of sand on icy sidewalks, using coffee chaff to build simple houses is eco-friendly and budget-friendly. A very cool invention, don’t you think?

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The Bottom Line

Coffee chaff may not seem like much, but it’s enough to build a house out of! We hope you enjoyed learning about this very cool coffee innovation as much as we did. Maybe it will inspire you to invent a new use for coffee, too?


Featured Image Credit: Unsplash


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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