University team explores use of coffee waste in building products

An RMIT University engineering lecturer and two honours students are investigating the use of coffee grounds in concrete.


Senior lecturer Dr Srikanth Venkatesan and Bachelor of Engineering (Civil and Infrastructure) honours students Senura Kohombange and Anthony Abiad have developed and are testing “coffee bricks,” replacing up to 10 per cent of the sand used in a concrete.

Currently, up to 80 per cent of concrete mixes are sand, and – in Melbourne alone – an estimated 2,600 cafes produce 156,000 kilograms of coffee ground waste per month.


“The biggest challenge is ensuring the addition of spent coffee grinds does not lead to a reduction in strength of concrete, and this is the focus of further testing and development to make this product viable for use in real-world applications,” said Venkatesan, whose team will demonstrate their work at the RMIT EnGenius expo this Wednesday, October 23.


“It seems fitting than we’re working on this project in Melbourne, a city known for its great coffee culture,” added Senura Kohombange, one of the honours students on the project.


“We are very excited to present the project, share the idea with others and showcase how some innovative thinking can turn a waste product into an everyday construction material.”


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