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Latte Chalets: low-cost housing built from… coffee?

Latte Chalets: low-cost housing built from… coffee?
Source: WoodpeckerWPC

A Colombian startup combines coffee husks with recycled plastic to manufacture low-cost, lightweight, prefabricated buildings for home and classroom use.

Normally discarded Coffee husks are being turned into building materials

Woodpecker, a startup in Bogota, Colombia, uses coffee husks to manufacture lightweight, prefabricated buildings for home and classroom use. They combine the coffee husk with recycled plastic to create a durable and more environmentally-conscious building material. This not only reduces waste from coffee farms that would inevitably end up in the landfills but helps to execute a swift, simple construction that anyone can do. The DIY structure of the Woodpecker buildings was integral to their mission of providing low-income housing for Colombia’s impoverished areas. —EcoWatch 

According to research by the national statistic center DANE, 35% of the population in Columbia lives in monetary poverty, compared to an estimated 11% in the U.S., according to census data. This has led to a housing insecurity issue throughout the country, one which construction company Woodpecker is working hard to solve.
Colombia is one of the world’s largest producers of coffee, and yet also one of the most economically disadvantaged. According to research by the national statistic center DANE, 35% of the population in Columbia lives in monetary poverty, compared to an estimated 11% in the U.S., according to census data. This has led to a housing insecurity issue throughout the country, one which construction company Woodpecker is working hard to solve. Source: WoodpeckerWPC

Woodpecker tiny homes are sold for as little as $4,700 each

The idea for these pre-fabricated tiny homes began with entrepreneur Alejandro Franco, now CEO of Woodpecker. He said in an interview with Fast Company, "We saw that there was a huge necessity for a lightweight construction system for housing and classrooms in rural and isolated places where traditional construction systems cannot go — like bricks, cement, and concrete. Coffee husk was selected because it’s stronger and drier than the other fibres," explained Franco in the interview. 

This special wood plastic composite (WPC) material is also self-extinguishing, pest-resistant, and is built to withstand moisture, making it a safe alternative for low-income housing. The standardised plastic parts clip together on a steel frame for simplistic installation. Their large-scale production and use of recycled and waste materials allow Woodpecker tiny homes to be sold for as little as $4,700 each.

The standardised plastic parts clip together on a steel frame for simplistic installation. Their large-scale production and use of recycled and waste materials allow Woodpecker tiny homes to be sold for as little as $4,700 each.
This special wood plastic composite (WPC) material is self-extinguishing, pest-resistant, and built to withstand moisture, making it a safe alternative for low-income housing. The standardised plastic parts clip together on a steel frame for simplistic installation. Their large-scale production and use of recycled and waste materials allow Woodpecker tiny homes to be sold for as little as $4,700 each. Source: WoodpeckerWPC

Woodpecker plan to reduce housing insecurity in Colombia

"The system worked perfectly considering that there was no energy supply, the soil was muddy, the airport damaged, no food, etc. — all the problems that you can imagine," Franco told Fast Company. Without this solution, many Columbian locals would have been without shelter. On the Colombian island of Providencia, an estimated 98% of the infrastructure was damaged.

Woodpecker’s plan to reduce the strain of housing insecurity in Colombia is proving successful thus far. They have already sold 2,600 homes, and are planning to expand in the near future. To see Woodpecker’s impact firsthand you can visit their online gallery.

The government used Woodpecker housing to swiftly provide shelter for displaced citizens when they could not be transported elsewhere.
Due to the low price point and simple installation, the Colombian government reached out to Woodpecker to help locals recover after Hurricane Iota in November of 2020. The government used Woodpecker housing to swiftly provide shelter for displaced citizens when they could not be transported elsewhere. Source: WoodpeckerWPC
Woodpecker tested combining different natural fibers, from sawdust and rice to grass and palm fiber, with different types of recycled plastic
Coffee husks and pellets of recycled plastic. Woodpecker tested combining different natural fibers, from sawdust and rice to grass and palm fiber, with different types of recycled plastic Source: WoodpeckerWPC
On the Colombian island of Providencia, an estimated 98% of the infrastructure was damaged.
Without Woodpecker’s solution, many Columbian locals would have been without shelter. On the Colombian island of Providencia, an estimated 98% of the infrastructure was damaged. Source: WoodpeckerWPC
It’s also widely available in Colombia, one of the largest coffee-producing countries in the world.
Coffee husk was selected because it’s stronger and drier than the other fibres. It’s also widely available in Colombia, one of the largest coffee-producing countries in the world. Source: WoodpeckerWPC

bringing high-quality housing within reach of millions more throughout the Colombia

Woodpecker WPC, the Bogotá-based social housing manufacturer is combining the fibrous strength qualities of coffee husks ground together with the durable qualities of 100% recycled plastic polymer in their new range of modular building systems that is equal parts strong, eco-friendly, long-lasting, rapidly-deployable, and affordable (a two-story chalet starts at $5,800) – bringing millions more within reach of high-quality housing throughout the country. The advantages are:


  • WPC (wood plastic composite) interlocking construction system connects WPC profiles without using steel frames
  • WPC profiles are stacked one on top of another and overlapped at the corners
  • NO special tooling required. 
  • Woodpecker developed interlocking corners by notching the WPC profiles at the ends, resulting in strong structures that are easier to build. 
  • The main advantages of this material are: Eco-friendly, splinter free, high resistance and durability, resistant to termites and insects, lightweight, easy installation tools, easy maintenance, resistant to the environment, NO combustion (fire-proof), no painting needed (colour included).

The company makes Lego-like kits that can easily be assembled on-site, with a steel frame and coffee husk boards that click together easily with minimal tools.
Click-together tongue-and-groove boards for easy construction. The company makes Lego-like kits that can easily be assembled on-site, with a steel frame and coffee husk boards that click together easily with minimal tools. Source: WoodpeckerWPC
The Latte Chalet // Live Home Tour - Rapid Shelter Innovation Showcase The very first house made from coffee - The Latte Chalet is located in Bogota, Colombia. Made from previously thrown-away coffee husk material, the social housing manufacturer, Woodpecker WPC, is brewing a different cup of coffee. Source: Facebook/HousingInnovatonCo
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Coffee is a popular beverage consumed all over the world. People usually discard the grounds left behind after it’s brewed, but after reading this article, you may reconsider throwing them out. Coffee grounds have many practical uses around the home and garden and can even help spruce up your beauty routine. If you don’t make a lot of coffee at home, most coffee shops have an abundance of coffee grounds that they are willing to give away. Here are 16 creative uses for used coffee grounds.