Are you wondering what coffee logs are actually like to use? Are they any good?
This coffee log review will take a look at the pros and cons, as well as answer a few frequently asked questions.
The long and short of it is this.
I’ve used coffee logs many times and all in all they are a good log alternative. They burn well, last for around an hour and produce effective heat.
They’re also made from a waste product, which is great from a sustainability point of view. The downside is that they do produce smoke.
- What are coffee logs?
- Where did coffee logs come from?
- How to make coffee logs?
- Coffee Logs Pros and Cons
- Can you use coffee logs in a wood burner?
- Can you burn coffee logs on an open fire?
- How long do coffee logs burn for?
- Are coffee logs smokeless?
- Do coffee logs smell like coffee?
- Coffee logs review wrap up
What are coffee logs?
Coffee logs are a source of fire fuel made from recycled coffee grounds that can be burned in stoves to provide heat. They are sometimes classed as a type of eco heat log.
They are usually cylindrical in shape, compact and a bit smaller than your typical wood log. As well as coffee logs, used coffee grounds have also been made into biomass pellets.
You can now find coffee logs in supermarkets, DIY stores, garden centres and online.
The creators of coffee logs are bio-bean, a company founded in 2013 and based in Cambridgeshire. The first coffee log was launched in 2016.
Bio-bean are now the world’s largest recycler of coffee and are now a Certified B Corporation, showing without doubt that they are committed to sustainability.
Where did coffee logs come from?
With 98 million cups of coffee sipped every day in the UK, there’s a lot of used coffee grounds to deal with.
As the coffee culture continues to surge, this number of cups and the spent grounds left are only going to increase.
What to do with all this used coffee?
One answer is make coffee logs.
Reusing coffee grounds to make coffee logs offers another way of utilising what a lot of people consider a waste product – but where one sees waste, another sees value.
Why not recycle all of our americanos, espressos, flat whites and cappuccinos into something useful?
How to make coffee logs?
To make coffee logs you’ll need two main materials:
- Used coffee grounds
All the coffee required to make coffee logs comes from used coffee grounds – hopefully it’s an ethical coffee source.
These spent grounds are collected from various places across the UK, such as cafés, offices, airports, train stations and universities, and taken to a processing factory in the UK where they are dried.
It’s estimated that it takes the used grounds from around 20 cups of coffee to create one coffee log.
The used coffee grounds are mixed with Forest Stewardship Council sourced sawdust at a ratio of roughly 70:30 in favour of used coffee.
The resulting biofuel coffee log is low in moisture (around 10%), which is perfect for burning in a stove.
Coffee Logs Pros and Cons
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons, plus FAQs when it comes to coffee logs.
Are coffee logs eco friendly?
Over the course of a year, the UK produces 500,000 tonnes of wet, used coffee grounds. At best, these grounds go into compost heaps, at worst they get dumped in landfill.
Coffee logs offer an alternative destination for used coffee grounds.
This recycling and reusing of an existing resource is already ticking off two of the three R’s of sustainability. You might want to check out this blog on coffee bag recycling too.
Coffee logs are also fully made in the UK.
All the used coffee collected comes from UK coffee shops and businesses and is then manufactured in a UK factory. With no importing or exporting, the carbon footprint of coffee logs is kept low.
Seeing value in waste to create a new product also means that other more carbon-intensive methods of creating fuel sources can be reduced – the third R of sustainability.
The packaging that coffee logs come in is eco friendly. This paper-based packaging is fully recyclable or it can be used as a fire starter in your stove.
When all is taken into account, coffee logs have to be considered a sustainable eco-friendly product.
Do coffee logs release emissions?
If the used coffee grounds weren’t collected from a variety of coffee-making places, it’s likely that a large amount end up in landfill. In landfill, the coffee grounds would eventually degrade and release methane into the atmosphere, a potent greenhouse gas.
The manufacturer of coffee logs, bio-bean, estimate that creating a coffee log reduces greenhouse gas emissions associated with landfill by around 80%.
Are coffee logs any good?
Whether coffee logs are any good or not comes down to the individual and personal preference.
I’ve personally used coffee logs on numerous occasions and they have been good – produced good heat and burned efficiently.
They can form an excellent replacement for traditional wooden logs.
Although they are a substitute for wood logs, they are different, and like anything new, may take a little while to get used to.
According to bio-bean, who are reliably informed from independent testing, coffee logs burn for 20% longer and at 20% hotter than dry wood. This is because used coffee grounds still have a lot of energy stored up inside them.
As mentioned, the structure and texture of coffee logs is different to wood. Even though coffee logs are a solid fuel source, they may crumble when in the fire, which means it’s best not to stoke it up too much.
A negative aspect to coffee logs is that they produce a fair amount of smoke when burned. This is why they are not recommended for open fires and barbecues.
Can you use coffee logs in a wood burner?
In fact, coffee logs are ideal for any type of burning stove that can be closed off.
They’re also an acceptable fuel for the 2022 Ecodesign ready regulations.
So, how can you use coffee logs?
Coffee logs can be burned on their own or used alongside wood logs in your stove.
Because of there high energy value, coffee ground logs catch alight rapidly, making them great for getting your fire roaring.
Can you burn coffee logs on an open fire?
No, you can’t burn coffee logs on an open fire.
Coffee logs are different in structure and the way the burn when compared to wooden logs and coal.
How long do coffee logs burn for?
If you plan to use this fuel source regularly, you’ll want know how long do coffee logs burn for?
Coffee logs will burn for around 45 minutes to an hour in a multi-fuel stove or wood burner.
According to the manufacturer, pound for pound a coffee log will burn for 20% longer than dry wood, although some users have disputed this.
Optimising the burn time may also come down to individual appliances and how well the air flow is managed.
Because coffee logs pump out a lot of heat, it’s recommended not to use more than three logs or briquettes at a time.
Are coffee logs smokeless?
No, coffee logs are not a smokeless fuel source.
Coffee log users have said that the logs produce more smoke than a standard kiln dried wood log but not as much smoke as a log that has too much moisture in.
This also means that you’ll have to clean the glass more often. To help you out, here’s 3 best ways to clean your stove glass naturally.
Coffee logs and smoke controlled areas
The smoke can cause a couple of issues, particularly if you live in a smoke control area.
Coffee logs are not on Defra’s approved list of smokeless fuels. In turn this means that coffee logs cannot legally be burned if you live in a smoke control area.
A smoke control area is one where you cannot emit smoke from a chimney unless you are burning an authorised fuel, of which coffee logs are not. There is a contradiction here from an environmental point of view as many smokeless fuels are actually very carbon heavy sources, such as coal and paraffin-derived fuels.
However, wood is not an authorised fuel either because it too produces smoke. This means that in smoke control areas, wood can only be burned on a Defra-approved log burner (also called exempt appliance).
For example, my local authority is in a smoke control area, so I can’t burn coffee logs and can only burn wood on a Defra-approved stove.
The difference with coffee logs is that they’re not yet on Defra’s radar to test on appliances as part of their standard fuels.
This means that bio-bean would have to apply to have their coffee logs tested on every single individual make and model for it to be allowed to be burned on exempt appliances. According to bio-bean they are currently in talks with Defra to get non-wood based biomass set up for testing.
All that said, if you don’t live in a smoke control area you don’t need to worry and you can use coffee logs on your stoves and wood burners.
Smoke control areas is all to do with the Clean Air Act. If you’re not sure what area you live in, contact your local council or take a look at this list.
Do coffee logs smell like coffee?
If you love coffee like me, I bet you want to know do coffee logs smell of coffee?
Sad to say for all of you coffee lovers, but no, coffee logs do not smell of coffee.
It’s possible to get a faint aroma of coffee from the logs when in their packaging and before they are burned, but this is nothing substantial. This may be welcomed for those of you who aren’t coffee fans!
When coffee logs are put onto the fire, the burn smell is similar to that of dry wood.
Of course, you’ll need a place to put your coffee logs. How about a lovely natural wicker log basket from Warwickshire-based Wovenhill.
Wovenhill.co.uk provide a range of rattan wicker storage solutions, including log baskets, trunks, hampers and more. It’s well worth checking them out.
Coffee logs review wrap up
Aside from going into compost piles or heading to an industrial compost facility, coffee grounds are a vastly underused resource. This is especially true considering just how much ground coffee is now used (and drank) in the UK – a phenomenal amount!
Creating coffee logs from used coffee grounds is highly sustainable and environmentally friendly as you’re creating value from waste. It also helps reduce the carbon footprint associated with other carbon intensive fuel products that are traditional burned.
Coffee logs are made in the UK from UK-sourced waste coffee. As many fire burning logs are imported en masse to the UK, this also helps reduce the carbon footprint. You can buy yours from good online places such as Ebay.
There may be a little work to be done in regards to getting coffee logs all fine from a smoke perspective, but all in all coffee logs are environmentally friendly, sustainable and a good way forward for the future eco-friendly living.
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Ben is the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about more sustainable, environmentally friendly living in and around the home.
Alongside this website, I love spending time in the natural world, living a simple life and spending time with my young family (Murphy the dog!) I round up my thoughts and recent blogs on the Eco Life Newsletter.