Coffee Chaff Chicken Coop Litter


My friend David Ruggiero is working on a new project called “Upcycling Northwest.”  Upcycling, of course, is the in-word for smarter/better recycling, making use of the energy in the initial production of something, rather than using more energy to break it down into raw materials–or, as David puts it, finding “the highest and best re-use for the material rather than the easiest or most obvious.”  David is sure that there is more to upcycling than making arty handbags out of gum wrappers. With Upcycling Northwest, he’s trying to hook folks up with useful industrial castoffs.  And in Seattle, what better place to start than with the coffee industry?

A few weeks ago, David sent an email around to his many intrepid gardener friends, inviting us to try out coffee bean chaff–the light, airy husks blown off the beans during roasting–as mulch and compost.  I said “sure,” and it wasn’t long before David darkened my doorstep with a big bag of the fluffy stuff.

Coffee Chaff Litter

I admit I wasn’t feeling super-hopeful about the mulch idea–the chaff is so soft and light, and the winter garden is so wet and mucky–I thought I might wait until spring.  But David mentioned he’d been using it in place of wood chips in the chicken coop, and that captured my imagination.  Next time I cleaned out the coop, I replaced the white wood shavings with a few inches of coffee chaff.

Coffee Chaff Chicken

The chickens were hilarious.  Like cats, they can be unnerved by novelty, and I wasn’t sure what they would think of their new chaffy home.  But they all immediately ran into the coop, and started “playing” in the chaff, tossing it up with their bills.  SO funny.  There are pros and cons to coffee chaff in the chicken coop, but on balance, I’ve decided to keep using it.  Here’s my report:

Mishi Robinson
1/24/2013 10:08:45 PM

I am completely enamored with the idea of using coffee chaff in the garden and chicken coops. I just learned about it yesterday and have already found a local roasting company that is willing to work out a way for me to obtain their chaff. Sooooo excited to try it out! Thank you for the great idea. :-)

Chris Rosenquest
5/10/2012 12:47:13 AM still has chaff for both coop and garden use. This is a fantastic article which explains both the pros and cons for its use. And using a reclaimed product like chaff or reclaimed burlap is a great way to contribute positively to the environment.

Jesso Espresso
6/28/2011 5:00:53 PM

How cool, after reading this, I found a local coffee roasting company in Salt Lake City about 20 minutes away from home, and they are willing to give me their coffee chaff for my coop! I plan on composting it too and using it in the garden. I'm new to chicken keeping. How often should a coop be cleaned out then? I have 5 chicks.

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