These guys think coffee can do a green roof good

We know that coffee can be both good and bad for our bodies, depending on who you ask. I know that ants are repelled by my used Turkish coffee grounds, and that the stuff makes a great fertilizer for mushrooms. But could used coffee grounds be good for your plants? University of Haifa scientists are planning to answer that question.

Researchers at the Kadas Green Roofs Ecology Research Center are using the waste from coffee machines to fertilize an experimental plot in which different species of vegetation have been planted. The purpose of the research is to determine not just if coffee can be part of a substrate suitable for growing plants, but whether it might be even better than a normal substrate and will enhance the plants’ growth.

Related: see 15 surprising ways to put coffee grounds to use.

“At our research center we have a number of studies going that are examining what quality of the substrate and types of plants would be most suited for use on green roofs even with little or no maintenance. Using coffee waste is liable to improve the mix of minerals in the soil, and as a result, also improve plant growth on the roof,” said Shay Levy, the center’s manager.

coffee on the green roof in Haifa

The use of organic waste as a platform for ecological farming is already known, but despite the prevalence of used coffee (which can be taken from any coffeemaker or espresso machine), to date no one has examined its effectiveness as a green roof fertilizer.

The idea was the brainchild of Shai Linn, the dean of the Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences and a member of the University’s Green Campus council. Linn saw the combination of coffee waste and the Green Roofs Research Center, which is headed by Prof. Leon Blaustein and seeks to benefit the environment by growing things on the roofs of buildings, as a natural one.

To conduct this study the Student Union “donated” 17 kilograms of coffee waste from the café it runs, which was mixed with the substrate that until now has been used on the experimental plots. The plots were sown with Maltese Cross Ricotia, hare’s tail, scilla, daffodils, and even herbs like hyssop, sage, and druce. Given that rain has already fallen it will soon be clear whether coffee does roof plants any good.

“This is a great way to turn waste into a resource,” said Dr. Levy. “There’s no lack of coffee waste; on the contrary, we have more than enough of it. If we can prove that the coffee improves plant growth, it could be an amazingly ecological and economical solution for us and for the environment.”

About Karin Kloosterman

Karin Kloosterman is an award-winning journalist and publisher that founded Green Prophet to change the world. She does not wear rose-colored glasses, but has shown through her work that positive, inspiring dialogue creates action that impacts people, business and planet.She has published in thought-leading newspapers and magazines globally, and has also founded flux (, a technology company to help people everywhere grow hyper-local, sustainable food. Through flux, she is the managing director of Mars Farm Odyssey (, a global impact network to grow food in space and on earth.Reach out directly to [email protected]

39 thoughts on “These guys think coffee can do a green roof good

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