This Entry has been submitted.


Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Cophenol wants to make the coffee production more sustainable while increasing coffee farmers revenue. Thanks to a fast pyrolysis, the coffee waste will be converted into biochar (a catalyser of fertilizers) and bio-oil that can be refine into biodiesel, both useful products for the coffee farmers.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

the coffee waste issue was a solution for the coffee farmers daily life and the preservation of the environment ?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The annual coffee production is about 9 million tons and generates the same amount of coffee waste that is mostly use as default by the farmers as a low value compost. This waste can pollute the soil, disturb river's ecosystems and release greenhouse gases during its degradation. Furthermore, most of the coffee farmers have to import their fertilizers abroad because the major production is done in developed countries.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our goal is to preserve the earth for the next generation and reduce inequality between countries. We want to reduce CO2 emission and soil destruction due to agriculture, increase the revenue of developing countries population. To do so, we want to use fast pyrolysis system that converts biomass into biochar (fertilizer enhancer) and biodiesel while taking CO2 from the atmosphere. We want to implement it in the coffee production chain in Brazil first : we will buy coffee waste from coffee producers, bring it to a local fast pyrolysis plant near the coffee cooperative, convert it into biochar and biodiesel that we both sell to the coffee cooperative where it's sold to the coffee producers.


Pre-incubation greenhouse program of the Climate-Kic, providing us 5000 euros and coach session. The final french GSVC. The french government student competition "I-LAB tremplin", for a prize of 5000 euros.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Ronaldo is a Brazilian medium coffee farmer who spends 64 USD to produce a 60 kg bag of coffee. Cophenol will increase his revenue in different ways : - Ronaldo spends about 8 USD on fertilizer. Thanks to the biochar use, they could reduce by 25-45% their expenses in fertilizers according to their soil types. - by selling us their coffee waste at 25 USD/ton - by reducing their expenses on fuel Using the biochar, the farmer will preserve his soil and reduce its acidity. His production will gain in sustainability and thanks to his improvement of his coffee waste management, he can have easier access to certification programs like the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ and sell to Nespresso his coffee up to 30% higher.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Cophenol uses a carbon negative fast pyrolysis.Compared to more affordable slow pyrolysis, fast pyrolysis produce a better biochar and has a less important carbon footprint. According to an estimation adapted from the study Techno-economic analysis of biomass fast pyrolysis to transportation fuels. Fuel 2010, each ton of coffee waste transforms into biochar with fast pyrolysis sequestres in the soil the equivalent of 300 kg of CO2.The first beneficiaries of our project will be the Federaçao dos Cafeicultores do Cerrado and the Coopérative Cooxupé which represents 27.5% of the 2,7 millions of tons of the Brazilian annual coffee waste production.Cophenol could reduce 213 000 tons of CO2 a year and could benefit about 16200 producers.In the whole Brazil, the project could reach 70% of the Brazilian coffee waste production, reducing 718 000 tons de CO2 a year, benefiting 200 900 producers.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

A study of the Nature Communications (Sustainable biochar to mitigate global climate change, 2010) journal estimates that we could reduce by 12% the CO2 released by the human activities by year if we use pyrolysis process on all the type of waste biomass in a way to convert into biochar. Once Brazil coffee waste production is managed, Cophenol aims to implemant the project in other coffee producing countries, before implemant it in every country to use every waste biomass to make the estimation of the previous quoted study a reality.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our financial sustainability is made possible thanks to the selling of all of our products and our integration into the heart of the coffee production chain : the cooperative. Cophenol will use the already existant logistic to transport coffee from the farmers to the cooperative to deal with coffee waste transportation. All the stakeholders benefit from this circular economy, guaranteeing a sustainable partnership.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Some start up projects want to valorize this coffee waste : Pectcof. This start up project aims to extract from coffee waste pectin to sell to agronomes industries. They will import coffee waste into Netherlands where there will be pectof’s plants. Coffee flour. This american start-up aims to transform this coffee waste into flour. The weakness of these competitors is they are not integrated locally in the coffee production chain, they do not offer useful products for the producer to improve their soil quality and they do not reduce their impact on the environment as much as Cophenol

Founding Story

The founders met in the Summer School of Climate KIC, in August of 2014, which aims to train students to be entrepreneurs and to create business for fighting against climate change. The cophenol project started during a meeting between friend around a cup of coffee. We drink coffee every day but we realized that most of us didn’t know how it’s produced. After some researches, we discovered that in addition of not being used, the coffee waste is polluting the environment. We love coffee, but we don’t want to feel guilty about it. As the group has the skills to find a solution (one person is doing a PhD in biomass valorization, another is brazilian etc.) we decided to work on it.


Mariana Bittencourt is a Brazilian architect and a PhD student in Science Economics and Eco-innovations. She is responsible for the communication with the coffee stakeholders (coffee producers, cooperatives and federations) and Brazilian laboratories (working on biochar or coffee waste valorisation) Emmanuel Thiéry is a French student in entrepreneurship and studied physics and chemistry. He is working our business, marketing and financial strategy. Anna Suchy is a PhD student in Aberystwyth university in biomass valorisation and can use his laboratory. Moussa Dicko is a french researcher and engineer with a chemical and physical background. He is working on the pyrolysis process since several years and his laboratory located in Paris 13 university, possesses a lab scale pyrolysis and some equipments we need to analyse our products. During his career, he developed a strong networking in research, industrial and public organization groups related to the pyrolysis research. He joins the project in the beginning of september