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Plants that like Coffee

David Kirschtel kirschte at msu.edu
Mon Oct 30 08:55:16 EST 2000

David Olson wrote:
> This may sound like a strange request but we have a break room at work that
> has a coffee machine (uses bottled water) but has no sink.  There is no
> where to pour out unused coffee.  People are using the break room trash can
> (plastic bag lined) and sometimes pouring the remaining coffee into office
> plants.  The outside company that maintains the plants doesn't like this
> action.  Does someone know of a plant the would thrive on coffee.  Don't
> know chemically what we are talking about but could like to purchase a plant
> that is "coffee friendly".  Any suggestions?

Presumably there is a restroom in or near your breakroom, why not just
pour your coffee in the sink or toilet. Or if that's too much trouble
use a small bucket and rotate responsibility for emptying out the bucket
in the toilet at the end of breaks. 

That said, probably the best bet would be to use bog plants. Coffee is
loaded with organic acids which in addition to lowering the pH also bind
metal ions. The only natural environement with conditions similar to
those produced by coffee are acid bogs. Plants found there would include
sphagnum, tamarak/larch, labrador tea, spruce and several "carnivorous"
plants: sundews, pitcherplants, venus flytraps. Mind you though that
these are not the typical foliage/house plant carried by indoor
landscrapers and they are probably not going to be very interested in
purchasing and caring for these specialty plants.

Alternately, if there are several of you that are mechanically and
scientifically inclined you may want to think about building a small
Living Machine system. See:


If they can handle toxic waste they can certainly handle your leftover coffee.

However, in the end the bucket solution may be the best bet.

Hope that this is of some help

  David Kirschtel, Ph.D. * kirschte at pilot.msu.edu * 517.432.0898
    112 N Kedzie Lab * Mich State Univ * E Lansing, MI * 48824

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