RIPPL #23: Gruten – turning coffee waste into soap… and how bikes are involved…

Launched in 2014, Gruten is a small business which collects coffee waste from cafes in Oslo on an e-cargo bike. The bike has a name – Hurtigruten, after a Norwegian cruise ship operator. The coffee waste is used to produce hand made natural scrub soap and as compost for growing mushrooms.

Photo credit: Gruten

The e-cargo bike is integral to Gruten’s business model; founder Siri Mittet intended to use the bike for logistics from the very beginning. Indeed the company has a focus on sustainability in general; all profits go back into the running of the business and to social causes. For a business such as Gruten, an e-cargo bike is first and foremost a convenient form of transport. However using a bike can also make a statement about the ethos and aims of the organisation.

Hurtigruten. Photo credit: GrowLab Oslo

Gruten and the cafes enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship; the cafe has their coffee waste taken away and Gruten gets the main ingredient for the soap. The soap is sold in shops in and around Oslo; delivered by bike as much as possible. The finished soap is often sold in the same cafes the coffee grounds were sourced from; in these cases, a sticker is placed on the product saying so. The product is effective at getting rid of grease from hands, so is popular with people and businesses involved in bike maintenance.

Innovations: waste, recycling

Organisation: Gruten
Sector: Private
City: Oslo
Country: Norway
Bike Manufacturer: Bullitt
Basis: Permanent
Contact: Siri Mattet /
Journalen TV: “Oslos sorte gull” (Norwegian)
TV2: “Slik dyrker du sopp i kaffegrut!” (Video) (Norwegian)
Infinitum Movement: “Gruten gjør søppel om til sort gull” (Norwegian)
BUS 446: “Anyone’s up for a coffee break?”