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Kaffeeform Julian Lechner c Luke Marshall Johnson 5

Kaffeeform: Combining the science of sustainability with the aesthetic longevity of good design

We had the chance to learn more about the innovative team behind sustainable start-up, Kaffeeform, and how we can all look toward a greener future.

It goes without say­ing that the res­taur­ants and cafés that we fre­quently vis­it are respons­ible for a large amount of food waste. Des­pite there being an effort with­in the industry to change this, it seems to have come down to those who are not dir­ectly involved in gast­ro­nomy to lead the way with a design-first approach.

Based in Ber­lin, sus­tain­ab­il­ity start-up Kaf­fee­form used the prob­lem of envir­on­ment­ally harm­ful takeaway cof­fee cups as a spring­board for their reusable cof­fee mug that is ingeni­ously made from cof­fee grounds.

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Meet the design­er, Juli­an Lech­ner, who asked the simple but import­ant ques­tion; what hap­pens to used cof­fee grounds? 

It turns out that we actu­ally waste over 80 mil­lion kilos per day. Lech­ner eval­u­ated and exper­i­mented with this nat­ur­al, raw mater­i­al and learned that when com­bined with oth­er bio­de­grad­able mater­i­als, it can be an envir­on­ment­ally friendly mater­i­al altern­at­ive for fossil-based raw materials.

We got the chance to chat with the man behind the team, Juli­an, and ask the ques­tions we’ve long been pondering.

Kaffeeform Julian Lechner c Luke Marshall Johnson 2

You’re a prime example of how design­ers can play an immense role in our indus­tries’ eco­lo­gic­al evol­u­tion. How can design truly change the world? How can envir­on­ment­ally con­scious product design shape our future rela­tion­ship to consumption? 


We believe that sus­tain­ab­il­ity and design go hand in hand, and in these times there really isn’t room for a product or design in gen­er­al that does not con­sider any envir­on­ment­al or sus­tain­able aspects. Design can pave the way for sus­tain­ab­il­ity into people’s daily life. We want to show that a sus­tain­able product can be well designed, aes­thet­ic­ally and prac­tic­ally, and then inspire people to rethink the way we con­sume and the way we use our resources. We use a resource that would oth­er­wise go to waste, and we’ve found a way to cre­ate some­thing new out of it – the cir­cu­lar idea of reuse and repur­pose is at the core of our busi­ness. Our mater­i­al is based on renew­able and recycled mater­i­als only, yet still very dur­able, and will last for a long time — basic­ally, it keeps the cus­tom­er happy!

As we are all, in one way or anoth­er, part of the cycle of con­sump­tion — from food to cloth­ing and enter­tain­ment, how do you feel your per­spect­ive on what being a con­sumer means has altered since launch­ing this project?

Since launch­ing Kaf­fee­form, I’ve star­ted to watch and crit­ic­ally review my con­sumer beha­vi­or with more intens­ity and now I have this altered per­spect­ive on resources. It had an impact on how I shop, eat, travel and live in gen­er­al. I embrace reusing and recyc­ling and am crit­ic­al about what I really need, where I buy and try to live as close to nature as pos­sible. Nat­ur­ally, this sounds very ideal­ist­ic, and no one is per­fect and it is neces­sary and ok to com­prom­ise, but it’s a nat­ur­al pro­cess and jour­ney I find myself on. 

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When did you first start to learn about sus­tain­ab­il­ity or become aware of the issue?

There was no wake-up call moment or situ­ation, but an increas­ing dis­sat­is­fac­tion with how we treat our plan­et – which I had long before the cli­mate crisis and before the aware­ness of it spread out into the pub­lic domain.
I had begun reflect­ing on the lav­ish life­style of oth­ers and the num­ber of resources used to uphold it. I real­ized, so much goes to waste that could still be eaten, used or repur­posed. And the increas­ing glob­al cof­fee con­sump­tion leaves so much cof­fee grounds that go to waste, real­iz­ing that, the ini­tial idea to repur­pose that alleged waste soon was born. 

Do you think that it will be the trend of sus­tain­ab­il­ity rather than the fact of the cur­rent glob­al-envir­on­ment­al crisis that will end up enfor­cing tan­gible and long-last­ing eco­nom­ic, polit­ic­al and cul­tur­al change? 


Sus­tain­ab­il­ity has become quite a trend, but we need to dif­fer­en­ti­ate as trends come and go. There are com­pan­ies, people and ini­ti­at­ives that really want change, want to make a dif­fer­ence based on the real­iz­a­tion that we have to act as time is run­ning out. We see an increas­ing num­ber of great innov­a­tions, solu­tions, and ini­ti­at­ives com­ing from product design that really do make an impact and the demand is grow­ing.
Unfor­tu­nately, this leads to many com­pan­ies only using the name or concept of sus­tain­ab­il­ity as a pure mar­ket­ing tac­tic to increase short-term sales. But we believe in the crit­ic­al con­sumer out there who is able to dif­fer­en­ti­ate. Both the trend and the grow­ing pub­lic aware­ness and pres­sure, espe­cially from young people not will­ing to accept the leth­argy and unwill­ing­ness of those in polit­ics and our eco­nomy, will hope­fully increase and res­ult with tac­tic­ally effect­ive, long-last­ing change. 

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And so, what is the future of Kaf­fee­form? What are your goals and how much fur­ther would you like to take this product?


We want to con­tin­ue our mis­sion to cre­ate long-last­ing products that replace dis­pos­able cups and single-use products and be an inspir­a­tion for more sus­tain­ab­il­ity in every­day lives. As Kaf­fee­form is not only the cof­fee cups but the innov­at­ive mater­i­al, we are ever explor­ing new pos­sib­il­it­ies to cre­ate long-last­ing, beau­ti­ful products out of it. We are think­ing in the dir­ec­tion of fur­niture, accessor­ies and much more. Excit­ing times are ahead, that’s for sure! 

11 Aug 2019 · neubau eyewear