Let’s Make a Coffee Bar!

If you’re like about 50% of the HSCG Staff, you need at least one cup of coffee per day to function!  Did you know that not only can you get a little energy boost from this miraculous bean water, but you can also use it in your soapmaking endeavors? It’s true! Let’s talk about taking you and your customer’s love for coffee to the next level with a coffee bar.

Coffee in the Shower 

There are a few ways you can go about using coffee in your soap; your vision for your final product will be the deciding factor that determines how you’ll use it.

Coffee Grounds 

Who doesn’t love a good exfoliant? Sugar is great, salt is well…salty, but coffee grounds are an unexpected winner too! Coffee grounds are larger than their sugary or salty comrades and provide a more aggressive exfoliant. This kind of exfoliant is great for people with rough heels or those who need a step above your typical exfoliant.

The most frequent question we receive about using coffee is, do I just use raw coffee?  The answer is both yes and no-again, it depends on your final product. If you decide to use raw grounds, beware that there is a moderate to high chance that the color of the grounds will bleed, and this will affect your final color. If you use used grounds instead, you will not have as noticeable of a bleeding color issue. Just be sure to dry the grounds before putting them in your soap to avoid clumping.

If you decide to use coffee grounds in your soap, when to add the exfoliant will depend on your process. If you are making cold or hot process soap, you can add the grounds at about .5-1.5 tsp per pound at trace-adjust this rate according to how exfoliating you’d like your finished product to be.

If you are making melt and pour soap, you’ll want to add the grounds while your soap is melted and at about 130 degrees. Make sure to stir well so that the grounds are suspended properly in the soap.

Liquid Coffee 

Many soapers don’t realize that you can actually substitute up to 100% of the water in your recipe with coffee! Using coffee for your lye water instead of water will lend a subtle scent and naturally brown coloring. It will also raise quite a stench in your workplace when mixed with your lye, so make sure you are in a well ventilated area that can be easily aired out. You’ll want to take the time to chill your coffee to at least room temperature; if you have the time, put it in the fridge overnight instead for the best results.

Although it might smell really badly when mixed, it is likely not because it is scorching-if you are using regular, unflavored coffee you will not need to worry about sugars being scorched by the lye. Keep in mind that if you do use a flavored coffee, it may contain sugars and you will need to account for this when it is time to mix your lye and coffee together.

A Few Notes About Brewing Your Soap 

As we mentioned, brewed coffee will discolor your soap – the color depends on how strong the coffee is. A weaker coffee will produce a less vibrant brown, while a stronger coffee will produce a much deeper color. If you want to lessen the impact of the color, you can choose to add titanium dioxide to your formulation, or forgo colorants altogether; the color of the coffee is desirable on it’s own.

When brewing your coffee, you may also want to brew using distilled water. Tap water can contain minerals and metals that are not favorable for soapmaking; using distilled water will help you to avoid that unpleasantness.

Let’s Brew Some Soap! 

For those of you who have been making soap and have an established recipe, feel free to substitute coffee as up to 100% of your water in your tried and true favorite. For those of you who are just starting out or don’t want to reuse an old recipe, we’ve got one just for you!

Please note: this recipe is provided under the assumption that you have familiarized yourself with the safety procedures and methods of soapmaking. If you have not yet done this, we recommend the following links: 

The Beginner’s Guide to Making Cold Process Soap

Hot Process for Beginners

Glossary of Soap-Related Terms

Coffee Bar Recipe 

This recipe will make 2 lbs of soap, and is super fatted at 5%. It can be used for either CP or HP methods. 

6.4 oz Coconut Oil

6.4 oz Palm Oil

15.36 oz Olive Oil

3.2 oz Shea Butter

.64 oz Stearic Acid

12.16 oz Water or Coffee

4.43 oz Lye

1 oz Fragrance (optional)

1.5 tsp Coffee Grounds (optional)

Final Thoughts

Making a coffee bar is a great way to expand your product line using a common ingredient that people already love. Do you make a coffee bar?

How to (Politely) Speak to Mislabeling Handcrafters

Making handcrafted soap and cosmetics is a great way to let your creativity shine, but let’s face it-it’s a very time consuming, labor intensive process!

One of the most crucial and sometimes difficult parts of selling your finished product to the public is labeling it accurately. Making sure to include all of the proper information, but before that, putting in the time to find out what the proper information is can take a lot of dedication. Double-checking your product labels for illegal claims and accuracy one of the most important steps in your handcrafting process.

We know you’ve put in the legwork and are familiar with labeling guidelines, but we hear you: what happens when you come across a handcrafter who is mislabeling their products and in clear violation of the law? Mislabeling can mean many things, including technical errors like missing weights which are very common. It can also mean misrepresenting a product by making erroneous claims like curing a skin ailment or treating a condition.

Let’s discuss a few ways to handle this possibly awkward situation, including some things we really don’t recommend.

Don’t be accusatory. It is simply human nature to become defensive if you feel someone is attacking you or something you’ve worked so diligently on. It is because of this instinct for self-preservation that you should approach your fellow handcrafter respectfully and professionally. Don’t saunter over to their booth, pointer finger ready and immediately start off with “YOU! You’re mislabeling your products!” Not only will you embarrass the handcrafter in question, but you’ll embarrass yourself-calling someone out in public view is never a good way to get your point across, and especially not professionally.

Be helpful and express concern-but don’t dive right into that either. Take a few moments and learn about your fellow handcrafter. Find out if they are a seasoned pro or a new to the industry. After you’ve chatted for a few minutes, ask if they’ve heard about the federal labeling regulation. If they haven’t heard of them or were not aware that they exist…

Offer resources such as the FDA website and the HSCG. Of course, we dream of a world where every handcrafter is well-versed in regulations and guidelines and creates spotless labels to match, but we are also realists. Handcrafters often start businesses without guidance from fellow entrepreneurs in the industry, and because of this, have no idea that there are rules in place that govern labeling. If the handcrafter you’re confronting is unaware of the guidelines, refer them to us here at the HSCG. We are happy to act as a resource or provide contact suggestions for anyone with regulatory questions and provide other forms of education, too!

But…what if the handcrafter is familiar with the guidelines, but refuses to comply or becomes defensive?

Walk away. If the handcrafter you are trying to help becomes defensive or claims that they do not need to label their products properly for whatever reason, this is the time to step off of your soap box and back away. Unfortunately, there are those who are too focused on making money and disregard the guidelines in place to keep consumers safe.

Rest assured that if someone is marketing their products as some sort of miracle cure or saying that the final product contains something it doesn’t or weighs more than it really does, their consumers will not stay loyal for long. Not only that, but once their consumers become unhappy, they will be reported to the FDA and will likely be investigated.

Final Thoughts 

Labeling accuracy is very important. Dedicating time to creating a compliant label not only protects you as a small business, but also helps to protect the industry as a whole. The reputation of the industry as a group depends on everyone’s efforts to sell trustworthy products that are honest and fair. Help others to understand the guidelines, and remember that we here at the HSCG have access to resources to help you if you have questions!