11 May 2023

Eat your coffee grounds at 7-Eleven

If sustainability is to really make a difference, great ideas must become big business. Like when Denmark’s largest convenience-bakery, the world’s largest chain of convenience stores, an international coffee company and a bioscience company work together to make coffee a circular resource. Thanks to this collaboration, customers at 7-Eleven’s Danish stores can now eat the waste from the coffee they might have had earlier.

1 percent. At most! That’s how much, or rather how little, we get out of the nutritional value of coffee beans when we brew a cup of coffee. Considering that traditionally that’s all we we’ve done with the beans, massive resources are wasted every single day. In the future, this will be different.

“You can choose to see it as a problem that we only utilize 1 percent of the nutritional value in coffee. Or you can choose to see the potential in having 99 percent to work with. We choose the latter,” says Lars Aaen Thoegersen.

He is the Chief Innovation Officer at the Danish coffee company Peter Larsen Kaffe which, together with its Swedish co-owner, Löfbergs, have founded Circular Coffee Community. A community in which companies, organizations, and researchers work together to eliminate all waste related to the coffee value chain.

Coffee grounds turned into oil and flour

Kaffe Bueno is one company that has seen the untapped potential of the coffee beans. The company utilizes used coffee grounds by extracting oil from the grounds, refining it, and selling it as an ingredient to the cosmetics and skin care industry, among other things. Afterwards, the dried coffee grounds remain. These can be ground into flour containing lots of fibers and proteins that add both flavor, texture, and color to bread and other foods. 

“Coffee is an underestimated superfood with lots of fibers and nutrition that make bread healthier and extends its shelf life. It makes sense to use – both for those who produce it, sell it, and consume it,” says Alejandro Franco, who is the founder of Kaffe Bueno, along with two partners.

Denmark’s largest bakery breaks new ground

Flemming Paasch is the CEO of Denmark’s largest bakery in convenience products, Easyfood, which has started using Kaffe Bueno’s coffee flour in its bread. 

“We have had a development collaboration with Kaffe Bueno since 2018 to find the optimal way of using the coffee flour and get it approved as a food ingredient. The philosophy of utilizing the valuable resources in coffee grounds and the collaboration with Kaffe Bueno, Peter Larsen Kaffe and others in Circular Coffee Community fits very well with our approach to innovation and sustainability,” he says. 

Now the first products made with coffee flour are on the shelves at the world’s largest chain of convenience stores. In 7-Eleven’s Danish stores, customers are greeted with posters saying: “Bun for your coffee & coffee in the bun.” The buns are baked by Easyfood with coffee flour from Kaffe Bueno and sold to 7-Eleven by Peter Larsen Kaffe.

Sustainability becomes easy and normal

The coffee buns fit perfectly with the convenience store chain’s ambitions to reduce food waste and offer healthier and more sustainable food, says Category Manager for bakery products at 7-Eleven, Emilie Skouboe Madsen.

“When we can talk sustainability, food waste, and better utilization of resources in something as common and Danish as a bun for your coffee, it becomes tangible and understandable. It becomes easy to make a difference for us as a company and our customers. We want to contribute to bringing the food production in a more sustainable direction. The coffee bun is baked with upcycled coffee grounds and suits perfectly into our assortment. We have recently also switched to organic sourdough bread with upcycled leftovers from carrot juice and cheese production. Caring for the planet’s limited resources should become natural instead of extraordinary and difficult,” she says.