Published on October 21st, 2015 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

Charcoal Briquettes Made From Coffee Grounds? Yep, That’s A Thing… [Video]

Used coffee grounds should never go to a landfill: they’re way too useful! From fertilizing your roses to running the engine in your car, spent coffee can be turned into all sorts of useful materials. Former Purdue University associate campus minister Rich Bruins discovered yet another on a trip with students to Guatemala to work with coffee farmers: waste from coffee processing can be pressed into briquettes that function just as well as typical charcoal as a fuel source.

That discovery got Bruins thinking and tinkering, and, two years later, he’s got a product on the market: Coffee Coals. Grillers know that briquettes are much more reliable for cooking than lump wood charcoal because of their regular size. Briquettes, however, are a pressed-together amalgamation of “… charcoal, coal, starch (as a binder), sawdust, and sodium nitrate (to make it burn better).” Bon Appétit compares them to SPAM… Bruins, in the video above, notes that his product hits the best of both worlds: a briquette that’s pure, clean, organic biomass.

Sound like a product you’d like to try? Same here… but getting your hands on a bag of Coffee Coals might prove challenging. According to takepart, they’re for sale in health food stores in West Lafayette, Indiana (where they’re based), and in a butcher’s shop in Sacramento, California. They do have a sales page on Amazon, but it’s listed as “currently unavailable.”

This is such a good idea… plus, it’s a social enterprise that will help send student engineers to coffee farms to “implement more biomass presses.” I’m wondering if Bruins and company might want to consider a different business model: maybe licensing the concept to coffee shops, or creating and selling presses that allow everyone from Starbucks to your average heavy coffee drinker to make their own briquettes?

Got thoughts on this? Had the opportunity to use Coffee Coals? Tell us what you’re thinking in the comments…

Featured photo credit: Screen capture from “Coffee Coals – Our Story” video


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About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at



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