The potential of coffee stems gasification to provide bioenergy for coffee farms: a case study in the Colombian coffee sector

Samira Garcia-Freites*, Andrew Welfle, Amanda Lea-Langton, Paul Gilbert, Patricia Thornley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The coffee industry constitutes an important part of the global economy. Developing countries produce over 90% of world coffee production, generating incomes for around 25 million smallholder farmers. The scale of this industry poses a challenge with the generation of residues along with the coffee cultivation and processing chain. Coffee stems, obtained after pruning of coffee trees, are one of those abundant and untapped resources in the coffee supply chain. Their high lignocellulosic content, the low calorific value ranging between 17.5 and 18 MJ kg−1 and the low ash content make them a suitable solid fuel for thermochemical conversion, such as gasification. This research evaluates the feasibility of using these residues in small-scale downdraft gasifiers coupled to internal combustion engines for power and low-grade heat generation, using process modelling and the Colombian coffee sector as a case study. The producer gas properties (5.6 MJ Nm−3) and the gasifier’s performance characteristics suggest that this gas could be utilized for power generation. A cogeneration system efficiency of 45.6% could be attainable when the system’s low-grade heat is recovered for external applications, like in the coffee drying stage. An analysis of the energy demand and coffee stems availability within the Colombian coffee sector shows that the biomass production level in medium- to large-scale coffee farms is well matched to their energy demands, offering particularly attractive opportunities to deploy this bioenergy system. This work assesses the feasibility of providing coffee stem–sourced low-carbon energy for global coffee production at relevant operating scales in rural areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1137-1152
Number of pages16
JournalBiomass Conversion and Biorefinery
Issue number4
Early online date3 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2019. Open Access - This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Funding: Doctoral scholarship funded by the “Fondo de CTeI del Sistema General de Regalías del Departamento del Atlántico” within the Doctoral scholarship call 673 of 2014 “Formación de Capital Humano de Alto Nivel para el Departamento del Atlántico” in Colombia.


  • Coffee residues
  • Coffee sector
  • Energy demand
  • Gasification
  • Power and heat generation
  • Process modelling


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