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?
JUST BREW 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.
A UNIQUE PROPERTY OF THE S.CAFÉ FABRIC IS ITS ABILITY TO MOVE MOISTURE AWAY FROM THE SKIN TO THE OUTER SURFACE OF THE 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 PERFECT BLEND
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.
FROM WASTE TO WAIST
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!
S.CAFÉ’S PHILOSOPHY IS TO CREATE ECO-FRIENDLY, SUSTAINABLE TEXTILES.