Back to the Roots: Putting coffee grounds to work

What do you do with your coffee grounds?  Compost them, toss them in the garbage, leave them in your knock box and forget about them until you get yelled at by your house mate? Don’t do the latter, mold is a serious health concern, people. ;)

Co-founders Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora put recycled coffee grounds to work every day at their company Back to the Roots. The pair met at UC Berkley, and were inspired by a lecture that discussed the potential to grow gourmet mushrooms entirely on recycled coffee grounds. Sparked by this fun fact and a little entrepreneurial spirit, they started growing mushrooms in a bucket of used grounds, and eventually developed mushroom growing kits that you can use in the comfort of your home.

The kit comes with a cardboard carrier, bag of recycled coffee grounds, mushroom spores and a water mister.  With a little TLC (mist the bag twice a day) and in as few as 10 days, you can harvest your first batch of oyster mushrooms and most kits yield at least two crops.

Check out my first batch after 14 days. These mushrooms ended up on my plate sautéed with garlic, olive oil, chili flakes and tossed with angel hair pasta. Delicious!

Back to the Roots is on track to recycle 3.6 million pounds of coffee grounds from Peet’s Coffee and Tea in 2012, and help families grow over 135,000 pounds of fresh food in their own homes. Sustainability + yummy mushrooms = many happy tummies. I bet you’re going to think twice before tossing out your coffee grounds now – am I right?

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