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A Morning Cup of Coffee Not Only Charges You Up, But the Leftovers Have Reinvigorated Forests


A shake of coffee in the morning makes the world’s workers feel good, but a new study shows that for trees, a little caffeine is just as good.

Rainforests can grow back much faster when they are powered by caffeine from coffee pulp, a waste product of coffee production.

This was found in a direct case-control study of degraded tropical lands in Costa Rica, where scientists from the University of Hawai’i and ETH-Zurich spread 30 dump trucks of coffee pulp over a 35 x 40 plot of land. meters.

Pulp applied to the forest of Costa Rica / Dr. Rebecca Cole

They designated an equal-sized plot of the same land right next to it as a control plot.

People who drink coffee that you also start composting at home often find that coffee grounds make up the majority of their weekly biomass. But coffee grounds are naturally acidic, with a pH of less than 5, and therefore not always nutritious for some houseplants or decorative flowers.

On the other hand, tropical soil, which traditionally contains very poor nutrient profiles, can tolerate the acidity of coffee. being acidic in itself, and contains a variety of plants and microorganisms that thrive in low pH environments.

“Our results show that soil carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus were substantially elevated in the coffee pulp compared to the control treatment after 2 years.” to write the authors in their study led by Dr. Rebecca Cole. “The addition of coffee pulp significantly altered the characteristics of the soil cover, eliminating grasses, facilitating the establishment of herbaceous plants and increasing the percentage of area covered by litter.”

PLUS: This brilliant low-income home in Colombia is made from coffee waste

In fact, a report from the British Ecological Society stated that the pulp-treated area became a small forest, with 60% more canopy cover reaching 4 times higher than the untreated area, which mostly remained full of invasive grasses and weeds. .

3 years after coffee pulp was applied to a forest area in Costa Rica / Dr. Rebecca Cole

It is a significant finding, as coffee is grown primarily in tropical climates, tropical soil tolerates coffee acidity, tropical forests are cut down at a faster rate than any other, and tropical forests sequester more carbon and contain greater biodiversity. than the arboreal ones.

Typically stacked in storage batches and left to decompose, the coffee pulp, which consists of the husk, skin, and pulpy interior, is rich in nutrients and also accounts for more than half the weight of the coffee crop. . The authors cite a study that estimated that there are 218,000 tonnes of pulp that must be handled for every million bags of coffee shipped to market.

RELATED: Coffee could be used to fight obesity, says new ‘groundbreaking’ study

It’s a brilliant solution: enriching tropical lands as countries grow cash crops. It’s cheap, it’s local, the nutrients match, it gives animals more habitat and extracts more carbon from the atmosphere, and best of all, we can keep drinking that delicious cup of coffee.

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