Category Archives: Energy from coffee wastewater

Voices from the Field

They say that seeing is believing, but most of us will never get to see for ourselves the difference we can make by choosing sustainable coffee, cocoa or tea. Press coverage can be the next best thing, giving farmers a voice and bringing their stories to life for people around the world. That’s why we invited some of the world’s leading media outlets to see for themselves how an innovative Coffee Wastewater Project in Nicaragua is changing farmers’ lives for the better.

The Energy from Coffee Wastewater Project in Central America is turning wastewater from coffee production into safe, renewable energy, reducing emissions and water use and benefiting the health of farmers and their families. On a recent press trip to Nicaragua, 11 journalists from Europe and the US got to see this innovative UTZ partnership for themselves and brought the message back to their readers.

“[Wastewater from our farm] used to cause a lot of pollution … and it smelled. A lot of families live by the river. They bathe there, wash their laundry. It gave them rashes and intestinal parasites when they drank it.” Francisco Blandon, coffee farmer, talking about the wastewater that his farm used to produce before he joined the Energy from Coffee Wastewater project.

“In the first year the system reduced the levels of [water] contamination by 81.3%. We used to use around 1,500 liters of water per 46 kilograms of pre-pulped coffee. Now we only use 250 liters.” Marvin Mairena, farmer and agronomist explaining the benefits of the project.


An anaerobic biodigester has helped reduce levels of contamination in wastewater at a coffee co-op by 81.3% Photograph: Oliver Balch/Writer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“The neighbours who visit say ‘Wow, you hit the jackpot!'” Fatima Valenzuela Altamiro, farmer’s wife talking about the benefits of the new biogas fuel generated by the project that she now uses for cooking.


You can read some of the great coverage the project received here:


Coffee farms turn wastewater into clean energy

An innovative UTZ project in Central America is turning wastewater from coffee production into safe, renewable energy, reducing emissions and water use and benefiting the health of farmers, their families and the local environment. With great results!

Woman_cooking_using_biogasThe project, which began in 2010, uses new technology to treat wastewater from the coffee production process. It extracts the waste organic matter and turns this into a biogas that can be used to power cooking stoves and farm machinery or for drying coffee beans.

The pilot has achieved some impressive results across 19 sites in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. Water consumption on the farms has been cut from 24 liters/kg of green coffee to just 10 liters/kg. Farmers and their families are saving time they would have spent gathering firewood, and because the biogas burns more cleanly with less smoke, it is better for their health too.

“Good water management is a prerequisite for sustainable coffee production,” said Han de Groot, Director of UTZ Certified. “This project prevents polluted water ending up in the ground or local water supplies and provides renewable energy for coffee farming households. It is good for people and the environment”.

The Energy from Coffee Wastewater project is now being rolled out to coffee farms in Peru and Brazil, and, if new funding can be obtained from interested industry partners, to farmers in Africa and Asia too.

If you are interested in getting involved or want to know more please contact Henk van Rikxoort.

You can read more about the project in our recent blog and in the UK’s Guardian newspaper.