Coffee Farmers Use Coffee Wastewater to Generate Energy

Coffee farmers in Central America have found a way to turn environmentally unfriendly coffee wastewater into an energy source that is much kinder on the climate
Left to right: Pedro Ochoa, Field Supervisor of ACERES, provides a training on the use of biogas lamps./: The process of drying coffee on the Danilo Gonzalez Cooperative in San Ramón, Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

Coffee farmers in Central America have come up with an innovative way to use the discharges from coffee mills to generate energy in a manner which both preserves precious water resources and deals positively with climate change.

Just today, UTZ Certified has published the results of a four-year study exploring the usefulness of the Energy from Coffee Wastewater project, in which coffee-wastewater treatment systems were specially developed and installed in coffee farms across Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.

In Latin America, where approximately 70 percent of the global coffee supply is produced, coffee farming produces wastewater that can be deeply problematic if left untreated.

Farming “generates a great amount of wastewater that is regularly released untreated into rivers, affecting aquatic fauna and flora as well as downstream communities,” according to a press release from UTZ Certified. “Additionally, coffee wastewater comes along with tons of organic waste and high toxicity which affects the soil and generates considerable amounts of greenhouse-gas emissions, particularly methane, heavily contributing to climate change.”

Methane generated during the decomposition process captured in the reactor and used as clean and safe fuel to run pulping machines, kitchen stoves, lamps, and other machines.

The project has allowed for the generation of “a significant amount of bio-gas used to power households and coffee mills” as well as the “prevention of the release of greenhouse-gas emissions into the atmosphere.”

UTZ Certified is currently introducing the technology in Peru and Brazil. UTZ hopes to acquire further funds and industries’ support in order to replicate the initiative in Africa and Asia.

For the latest food and drink updates, visit our Food News page.

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.

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