The market for recycled products has really grown over the past decade. And in the solid fuel world, one noticeable entrant has been Coffee Logs.
Introduced in 2016 by Bio-Bean Ltd, the logs are made from spent ground coffee beans.
Each log contains the grounds from around 25 cups of coffee – and the manufacturers claim they burn 20% hotter and longer than kiln-dried wood. According to Bio-Bean’s website the coffee’s high calorific value provides a sustainable alternative to conventional solid fuels.
As a sweep, I often get asked about them as some customers use them, while some are curious about whether they are worth a try.
There is very little information on the packaging about their ‘status’ as a fuel. So for an accurate answer, I got in contact with Bio-Bean.
And the information was fascinating.
They confirmed that, as with natural wood logs, Coffee Logs are not by default deemed to be a smokeless fuel.
The difference is that unlike with natural wood logs, which you can burn on a DEFRA-exempt stove in a Smoke Control Area, you can’t do this with Coffee Logs.
Therefore burning Coffee Logs in a Smoke Control Area, regardless of whether it’s a stove or open fire, is not permitted by law. Outside a Smoke Control Area, it’s permitted – just not inside one.
To be fair, the reason for this may have much to do with the current testing set up in the UK.
Bio-Bean explained that stoves come pretested for compliance with a specific fuel, either generic wood or mineral fuel, such as smokeless ovals etc.
But such a category doesn’t exist for non-wood biomass, so it would have to be done on an individual basis.
Bio-Bean say would be impossible and commercially unviable to have Coffee Logs tested in every make and model of appliance already installed or on the market.
However, they say they are working with DEFRA and HETAS in coming up with a new category of non-wood biomass which they hope will allow Coffee Logs to be an authorised fuel in an exempt appliance.
I did suggest to Bio-Bean that they really ought to make it clear on their packaging that Coffee Logs are not currently approved for use in Smoke Control Areas. The overarching ‘environmentally friendly’ messaging does perhaps inadvertently lead to some believing they are therefore staying on the right side of the law when using them in a Smoke Control Area.
They said they’ll take my point onboard when doing a redesign of their packaging.
Finally, I put to Bio-Bean the claim from some in the solid fuel industry that Coffee Logs aren’t great for stainless steel liners due to the chlorine content.
They responded by saying they have third party UKAS-accredited lab testing, stating the chlorine content of a Coffee Log (10% moisture) is 0.01%. They say the same testing shows a wood log (13.2% moisture) as having 0.02% chlorine.
I’d like to thank Bio-Bean for this information, which I can then pass onto my customers. Admittedly, it is a bit odd that something which, on the one hand, is obviously eco friendly in its design and intention, isn’t, on paper at least, deemed so at the moment when it comes to reusing them as fuel in a Smoke a Control Area.
Maybe that will change in the future with a new testing category. Indeed you could argue that the system, as it stands, is impeding the growth and reach of new fuels such as Coffee Logs, which could play an important part in the whole ‘green’ revolution.
In the meantime, this shows why it’s important you check your fuel carefully and ensure it’s appropriate for your appliance and your area, whether they’re new products or long-standing ones…
Mr Soot Chimney Sweep is a HETAS Approved Sweep, and member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, offering a professional and friendly chimney sweep and stove service. Book Mr Soot online or call 0800 0541154.