Coffee Grounds Yield Big Profits for Taiwan Company

Coffee grounds shown in a customer's coffee cup at a shop in Tel Aviv, Israel. (file photo)
Coffee grounds shown in a customer's coffee cup at a shop in Tel Aviv, Israel. (file photo)

Coffee grounds have helped turned a once struggling Taiwan firm into a thriving business - one that reports annual earnings of more than $6.6 million.

Since 2009, Singtex Industrial Company of New Taipei City has taken the waste from two major coffee store chains, for free, and used it to make shoes, jackets, pants and handbags.

The company says coffee grounds cut odors, help fabrics dry faster than normal and resist ultraviolet light. The came from the existing use of coffee grounds as odor eaters, says Singtex brand manager Chiang Po-wei.

People normally consider coffee grounds as garbage, he says, but they can actually be used effectively to cut odors in shoe cabinets, even refrigerators and smoking areas. Chiang says taking that idea to the next level, Singtex spent four years carrying out research to make it work in fabrics.

Singtex was founded in 1989 and ventured into China in the 1990s to cut manufacturing costs until the company found that its poorly trained workers were making low-quality fabrics. After pulling out of China, Chief Executive Officer Jason Chen decided to go up market, using his staff of 220 to make more expensive fabrics with a pro-environmental focus. He has done that since 1994.

One day when Chen and his wife, who is also his business partner, were drinking coffee, they began wondering whether the grounds could be used in fabrics to absorb odors. In 2006, the firm’s staff began to do research.

Today Singtex uses coffee grounds as 1.5 percent of its fabrics, with polyester as the main material. That calls for 500 kilograms of grounds per day at its Taiwan factory, which produced 10 million yards of fabric last year. That number is rising as the firm’s 100 clients want more coffee in their clothes. Clients include the shoemaker Asics, outdoor clothier Timberland and women’s underwear designer Wacoal.

Sasa Kung, the marketing manager for Timberland in Taipei, says stores around the world have raised curiosity by displaying clothing tags marked “S.Cafe,” the Singtex label. Timberland stores in Asia sell 2,000 coffee-enhanced items per year.

She says customers find it interesting to learn that coffee can be used in material for clothing or shoes, which increases their willingness to buy. She explains to customers that coffee grounds are already worked into the fabric and that the odor resistance and dilution capabilities are always inside.

The only catch is that no one can smell the coffee. It Is not even visible on the clothes. The ingredient also has little effect on prices, the Timberland manager says. But it has brought Singtex so much of a profit that the company will not state the amount in fear of stirring up jealous rivals.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Belle
May 07, 2012 7:17 AM
This is so cool. I think coffee is only useful for helping us stay up late.

by: Le Ngoc Quang
May 06, 2012 6:28 PM
Great! try to do research for reality to human as man-made fabrics usage

by: Cao
May 06, 2012 3:31 PM
Wonderful idea ! I hope my country will have more research to find many way to save the environment like this .
And this is also a good way to get benefit , good way to marketing for their products

by: Jack
May 05, 2012 4:50 PM
I like the story!! Everything on earth is useful actually. They just waiting us to find out how to use it. We should cherish all the resources around our life, even it was treated as a waste before It is good to see this environmental friendly product in Taiwan, it's brilliant :D

by: Shane
May 05, 2012 2:52 AM
This is a great story. I write a great deal about using coffee grounds and it is really good to see other trying to do something about the almost limitless quantities of the stuff available.
Best of luck with it -

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs