Footwear is a major source of post-consumer waste. With around 7.8 billion people in the world, many of whom own multiple pairs of shoes, landfills are full of discarded, petroleum-based footwear. Another daily-use product, coffee, also contributes to environmental waste to the tune of around 25 billion kilograms annually. Scientists recognize that while coffee grounds seem harmless, when in the landfill they actually release methane gas, which has a greenhouse effect 28 times higher than carbon dioxide. With this in mind, sustainable shoe brand Ccilu has developed a line of waterproof boots, called XpreSole Panto, made with recycled coffee grounds and other eco-friendly materials.

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person wearing jeans and brown vegan rain boots

Called XpreSole Panto, the boots are available in high-top or low-top options made with upcycled coffee grounds collected from local coffee shops in Taiwan. The technology developed by the company results in a patented, high-tech footwear material that is used to make the certified vegan boots. The process minimizes coffee waste by diverting it from the waste stream, and it reduces carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

Related: Repurposed coffee grounds provide sustainable clothing pigment alternative

white rain boots near ground coffee

XpreSole materials

On a broader scale, the innovation carries the potential to make a substantial impact, considering each pair recycles 15 cups’ worth of spent coffee, which is dehumidified and ground, then pelletized using the patented XpreSole technology. The material is then turned into fabric used in the lining and insole of the boots. Using injection molding technology, the pelletized coffee is also used in the shell and outsole. In all, around one-third of each shoe is made up of discarded coffee grounds.

To round out the environmentally friendly theme, the company carefully selects the additional materials. For example, the insole incorporates Ortholite foam made from recycled rubber, and the laces are made from recycled plastic bottles.

person wearing brown waterproof boots

Stylish versatility

The boots are produced with sustainability, durability and versatility in mind. The styles meet the needs of many uses, from camping to nights out on the town or days in the office. They are rain boots, so they are waterproof and highly dirt- and mud-resistant. The XpreSole Panto boots keep feet dry from the outside in, but the liner is also moisture-wicking and odor-resistant. These boots are also machine-washable, and the company reports they can “sustain in excess of 100 wash cycles.” 

“Our business has been creating sustainable footwear for a decade, and in creating the XpreSole® Panto, we wanted to address a type of waste that’s frequently overlooked, but one that has a significant environmental impact,” said Wilson Hsu, president and CEO of Ccilu. “At the same time, we wanted to create a piece of footwear that’s eminently wearable, and suitable for any number of occasions — whether commuting across town, hitting a hiking trail, or as part of a smart-casual outfit for a night out. The XpreSole® Panto isn’t just a boot — it’s a commitment to reimagining how the industry produces footwear.”

one white boot, two black boots, and one brown boot on white background

An award-winning rain boot

Ccilu’s XpreSole Panto recently wrapped up a successful Kickstarter campaign and has already attracted attention for the innovative design. It was awarded Red Dot’s ‘Best of the Best’, iF Design’s Gold Award and A’Design’s Silver Award. The product also received an honor from the Taipei International Design Awards at the end of 2020. These accolades add to the total of 12 awards for the company’s products since 2017.

With the Kickstarter complete, the XpreSole Panto will be available in four neutral color options for both high- and low-top models. They can be found online, in select retail stores or in Ccilu stores worldwide.

black rain boots on table with trees in distance

Review of XpreSole Panto Boots

The company offered to send a sample pair of boots for review. Sometimes, it’s unnerving to agree to write a review when I’m not sure how the product will work out. Especially when it comes to something personal like shoes. There was no reason to worry here.

My order arrived in reasonable time, packaged in 100% recyclable materials. I had selected one of the two black high-top options. After opening the box, my first impression was that the shoes looked stylish. I can see wearing them with leggings, jeans or hiking pants. I instantly had visions of trudging through the mud to select a holiday tree or running the dogs when the wet days return. Equally though, I can see wearing them out for dinner in town or next to the campfire.

The next test was in the fit. I have narrow feet with a high arch. When I slid my feet in, I was concerned. One foot felt too restrictive, and there didn’t seem to be enough support up the center. So I wore them around the house for a few minutes and quickly noticed a change. A friend stopped by, and I wore them outside to help load her car. We walked around the property quite a bit, and it wasn’t until after she left that I realized I still had the boots on. They honestly felt like that reliable favorite pair of shoes you don’t have to debate whether you can tolerate for the day.

That’s the long way of saying the XpreSole Panto boots exceeded every expectation. They are form-fitting, yet breathable (it was a warm summer day). With a tall inner liner in addition to the rubber outer, they offer exceptional protection without compromising softness and flexibility. They also do their job as a rubber boot, completely repelling liquid even when standing directly in a bucket of water. Even after wearing them several times, they still look brand new with zero dirt or scuffs to mark my adventures thus far. I’ll sip my coffee to that!

+ XpreSole

Images via Ccilu and Dawn Hammon/Inhabitat

Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Ccilu. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.