It’s a record! The Coffee-powered ‘bean manchine’ zooms its way to land speed title

20 February 2013

The world’s only Coffee Car - a vehicle powered by the waste product from coffee production - has buzzed its way into the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest car of its kind.

Commissioned by The Co-operative Food to celebrate 10 years since it converted all its own-brand coffee to Fairtrade, the bean-powered car* reached speeds of 65.5 miles per hour and was presented with the accolade by an official from Guinness on Tuesday 19 February, at Woodford airfield, near Manchester.

Martin Bacon is the conservationist, inventor and “eco-boffin” behind the car. Speaking of the project, he said: “We’re thrilled to have taken the speed record for the fastest car of this kind.  This Coffee Car has been years in the making.

“Coffee chaff pellets, which are produced from the waste in coffee production, are heated in a charcoal fire, where they break down into carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The gas is then cooled and filtered before hydrogen is combusted to drive the engine.  Any car can run on gasification. In fact, during the Second World War, there were over 100,000 vehicles in the UK that ran on gasification, including cars, buses and delivery vehicles. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were over 900,000 vehicles running on gasifiers across the world.”

The Coffee Car is extremely eco-friendly. Emissions were tested on the first coffee car built by Martin, and it was as clean as the best eco engines on the market.

The record attempt comes just in time for Fairtrade Fortnight 2013 (25 February - 10 March inclusive), during which the Coffee Car, nicknamed the “Bean Machine” will embark on a journey around the UK. Stopping at 37 Co-operative food stores on route, Martin will be on hand to explain the workings of the car to school children and science fans nationwide.

The Co-operative Food Chief Executive, Steve Murrells, said: “The Bean Machine’s record and UK tour are a great way to get people talking about Fairtrade and how buying Fairtrade products can make a real difference to the lives of producers, their families and local communities in developing countries. 

“We are the UK’s leading seller of Fairtrade products, selling three times the amount expected for a business of our size.  We sell Fairtrade products in every one of our 2,800 stores nationwide, making these ethical products accessible and affordable for all.”

This year’s Fairtrade Fortnight - run by the Fairtrade Foundation - is themed around “going further for Fairtrade.” The Coffee Car’s journey around the UK will also make it into the Guinness Book of Record’s for the longest trip by a coffee-powered vehicle.

Eagle-eyed Brits can look out for the coffee-powered Bean Machine on its UK tour, and tweet sightings to @CooperativeFood with the hashtag #BeanMachine for a chance to win a posh coffee machine and some premium Truly Irresistible Fairtrade roast and ground coffee.

For details of The Co-operative’s Fairtrade products, and the Bean Machine’s journey around the UK for Fairtrade Fortnight, check out  or contact The Co-operative Customer Careline on (freephone) 0800 0686 727.

Additional Information:

* The coffee car runs on coffee chaff - the waste product derived from a mixture of Fairtrade and non-Fairtrade roasted coffee beans.

What is Fairtrade?

Fairtrade guarantees a fair price and a brighter future for growers in developing countries. As well as receiving a fair price for their crops, the growers also receive a Fairtrade premium that is ploughed back into their farms and communities for the benefit of themselves and their families.


Going further for Fairtrade is easy at The Co-operative:

Chocolate Bars

The Co-operative offers the only 100% Fairtrade own-brand range in the UK.  Since 2002, The Co-operative has been supporting Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana, and more recently Conacado co-operative in Dominican Republic and Acopagro in Peru, which all benefit from annual additional investment in projects funded by the retailer.


All The Co-operative’s tea is 100% Fairtrade, and the latest 99 Gold is an exclsive Kenyan blend with half the leaves from a co-operative of 15,000 farmers, which the retailer helped set up in a unique co-operative development project.


Along with partners at Traidcraft, The Co-operative invented the concept of fairly traded wines and has the widest range of Fairtrade wines of any supermarket.  This year has seen the completion of a technical school in Argentina, paid for by annual additional contributions invested by The Co-operative.


The Co-operative launched the UK’s very first Fairtrade bananas and last year switched to 100% Fairtrade in a move which committed to source 50% of these from smallholder farmers. The Co-operative has also commenced a project in Dominican Republic supporting the farmers to boost quality and productivity of bananas, and secure long-term sustainability of banana farming through training schools.


The Co-operative was the first supermarket to switch to 100% Fairtrade and have since provided sugar-growing communities in Malawi with additional benefits beyond Fairtrade through much needed water and sanitation provision.


The Co-operative’s latest demonstration of going further for Fairtrade is the unique shift to 100% Fairtrade sourcing on roses 


The Co-operative is celebrating 10 years since we became the first - and still only - supermarket to have a 100% Fairtrade range.



  • In 2000, The Co-operative introduced the UK's first Fairtrade bananas.
  • In 2000, Co-op Milk Chocolate 45g became the UK's first own-brand product to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark.
  • In 2001, The Co-operative introduced Fairtrade Chilean Carmenère, which was the UK's first fairly-traded supermarket own-brand wine.
  • In 2002, The Co-operative converted all of its own-brand block chocolate to Fairtrade.
  • In 2003, The Co-operative converted all its own-brand coffee to Fairtrade.
  • The Co-operative introduced the world's first Fairtrade mangoes and pineapples.
  • In 2004 The Co-operative was the first supermarket to launch Fairtrade sugar
  • In February 2008, The Co-operative became the first UK retailer to convert its entire own-brand hot beverage category - including its iconic 99 Tea - to Fairtrade.  In the same year, all its own-brand sugar was converted to Fairtrade.
  • In November 2010, The Co-operative launched the world’s first fresh Fairtrade blueberries.
  • In February 2012, The Co-operative switched all its bananas to Fairtrade and introduced a unique sourcing model, which commits to 50% of its fruit being sourced from small holder farmers.