Brew-tiful Weaves

Apparel - - Contents -

A pro­file of the Tai­wanese S.Café, a sus­tain­able fab­ric made from re­cy­cled cof­fee beans

Your morn­ing cup of cof­fee can do more than just perk you up! An in­no­va­tive Tai­wanese com­pany has used the world’s most mag­i­cal beans to fash­ion the lat­est sus­tain­able fab­ric. Aletta D’cruz shines a spot­light on the threads of S. Café. The world is get­ting in­creas­ingly pol­luted and one of the big­gest causes of this phe­nom­e­non is the gar­ment in­dus­try. With cli­mate change, choking seas and rapid de­for­esta­tion, it is time we all woke up and smelled the cof­fee. A Tai­wanese cou­ple took this quite lit­er­ally! Com­bin­ing a love for cof­fee with a clever and wor­thy busi­ness idea, Ja­son and Amy Chen founded S.Café.

With S.Café, the Chens came up with the per­fect so­lu­tion to the ap­parel in­dus­try’s pol­lu­tion prob­lem. The com­pany per­fected the tech­nol­ogy to process and cre­ate fab­rics out of re­cy­cled cof­fee grounds. By us­ing ma­te­ri­als or­di­nar­ily wasted, the com­pany has iron­i­cally man­aged to re­duce waste! S.Café’s fab­rics are eco-friendly, in­no­va­tive and ex­tra­or­di­nary! So, how did they do it?


The idea of S.Café came about in 2005, when its cur­rent Pres­i­dent Ja­son Chen and his wife Amy were en­joy­ing a cup of cof­fee at a café. The idea be­gan as a joke, when Amy spot­ted a per­son at the cof­fee shop re­quest­ing the barista for used cof­fee grounds to take home. This ran­dom oc­cur­rence led Amy to make a quirky sug­ges­tion to her hus­band to start putting cof­fee grinds on his clothes, so that he would smell less. Ja­son’s love for sports and ac­tive life­style lead him – and his clothes – to sweat a lot.

How­ever, Ja­son took his wife’s sug­ges­tion quite se­ri­ously. Af­ter gath­er­ing a group of en­vi­ron­men­tal part­ners and in­no­va­tors, Ja­son be­gan re­search­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties of turn­ing cof­fee grounds into yarn. Four years later, S.Café was born, mak­ing it the world’s first com­pany to con­vert left­over cof­fee grounds into fab­ric.



The smell of freshly roasted cof­fee is loved by many peo­ple. While S.Café fab­rics don’t ac­tu­ally smell like cof­fee (un­for­tu­nately), the grounds give the ma­te­rial a unique abil­ity to ab­sorb the many odours that bod­ies pro­duce through­out the day. For those who love sports, warm weather or any sweaty ac­tiv­ity, this is could be the per­fect fab­ric. Ad­di­tion­ally, a fab­ric that smells less can be washed less reg­u­larly – in­creas­ing its life cy­cle and de­creas­ing the waste of re­sources.

An­other unique prop­erty of the S.Café fab­ric is its abil­ity to move mois­ture away from the skin to the outer sur­face of the fab­ric. This helps im­prove the dry­ing process of the fab­ric, giv­ing it an added ad­van­tage over fab­rics that tend to soak up sweat and get un­com­fort­able with pro­longed wear, es­pe­cially in sum­mer.

“S.Café tech­nol­ogy, with a low-tem­per­a­ture, high-pres­sure and en­ergy sav­ing process, com­bines cof­fee grounds into the yarn sur­face, chang­ing the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the fil­a­ment, and of­fers up to 200 per cent faster dry­ing time com­pared to cot­ton,” says the com­pany on its web­site.

Ad­di­tion­ally, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany, S.Café grounds also have a num­ber of mi­cro­scopic pores, which play a vi­tal role in cre­at­ing a nat­u­ral, long-last­ing and chem­i­cal free shield for the fab­ric. This shield helps re­flect UV rays, al­low­ing for a com­fort­able out­door ex­pe­ri­ence.


The process of us­ing cof­fee grounds to make fab­rics is sim­i­lar to that of turn­ing bam­boo into a vis­cose-like ma­te­rial. The re­sult of this process is a light, soft, breath­able and flex­i­ble fab­ric. Ac­cord­ing to S.Café, this cloth is, “Per­fect for mid and base lay­ers for adrenalin-pow­ered sports like rock climb­ing, as well as walk­ing, run­ning and also for yoga.”

The prop­er­ties of its fab­rics have helped S.Café part­ner with a num­ber of recog­nis­able brands, which have in­te­grated these unique prod­ucts into their own, mak­ing them eas­ily avail­able to the larger pub­lic. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, the com­pany to­day has over 110 clients, some of which in­clude The North Face, Patag­o­nia, REI, Tim­ber­land, Amer­i­can Ea­gle, Adi­das and Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret.


Ac­cord­ing to S.Café, a cup of cof­fee, when con­sumed, makes use of only 0.2 per cent of the cof­fee, leav­ing the re­main­ing 99.8 per cent as waste in the form of cof­fee grounds. Their patented S.Café sus­tain­able tech­nol­ogy en­sures com­plete use of the full 99.8 per cent of dis­posed cof­fee grounds, to cre­ate not only yarn and fab­rics, but also day to day cos­metic prod­ucts like soaps, sham­poos and mas­sage oils.

S.Café’s phi­los­o­phy is to cre­ate eco-friendly, sus­tain­able tex­tiles. In the global cof­fee cul­ture, there is no dearth of the dark brew and there­fore plenty of raw ma­te­rial from which the com­pany fash­ions its fab­rics. A lot of chem­i­cal waste is or­di­nar­ily gen­er­ated to make gar­ments. Cof­fee grounds pro­vide a greener al­ter­na­tive, since it makes a prod­uct out of a re­source that would oth­er­wise go to waste, and also saves the en­vi­ron­ment from pol­lu­tion which would be gen­er­ated from clothes pro­duced us­ing chem­i­cals. What’s more, S.Café’s fab­rics have in­no­va­tive fea­tures like the afore­men­tioned odour con­trol, UV pro­tec­tion, faster dry­ing, cool­ing, soft­ness, breatha­bil­ity and wa­ter re­sis­tance.

Be­sides cof­fee grounds, the com­pany also uses re­cy­cled Polyethy­lene Tereph­tha­late (PET) bot­tles to make yarn. PET is a ma­te­rial that can be bro­ken down into small flakes, which in turn, are used to make fi­bre. S.Café’s in­no­va­tions are a valu­able con­tri­bu­tion to the grow­ing in­ter­na­tional aware­ness to­wards the cause of sus­tain­abil­ity, es­pe­cially in the fash­ion and tex­tiles in­dus­try, which is one of the worst of­fend­ers. The com­pany has proven that there are no lim­its to imag­i­na­tion and in­no­va­tion, all it takes is a clever busi­ness acu­men and an abil­ity to pool to­gether proper re­sources. S.Café’s fab­rics are ac­claimed glob­ally, as is ev­i­dent by their seven patents, 14 awards and part­ner­ships with nu­mer­ous in­ter­na­tional fash­ion brands.

With their slo­gan of ‘ Drink it, Wear it™ ’ , the com­pany takes its cof­fee cul­ture very se­ri­ously in­deed and is proud to be iden­ti­fied as a sus­tain­able brand. While the rest of the world may dream about af­fect­ing change over a cup of cof­fee, the Chens went ahead and did it – also over a cup of cof­fee!


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