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?
In January, we wrote about the University of Washington Burke Museum of Natural History’s exhibition called Coffee: The World in Your Cup. The accompanying lecture series begins next week, kicked off by Mark Pendergrast on Tuesday, April 7th. Mark wrote one of our favorite books on the history of coffee and its impact on the world as we know it, Uncommon Grounds, and we’re really looking forward to his lecture — as well as several others in the series.
We’re hoping to make it to all of the lectures and will be writing up a synopsis of each of them here, so folks outside of the Seattle area, or those that can’t give up a Tuesday night easily, can also benefit from an excitingly holistic discussion of coffee and its place in the world.
Here’s a brief run down of the series — if you’re interested in learning more, you can read full details and sign up for the series here. If you plan on attending one, let us know — we’d love to meet you!
April 7: Mark Pendergrast
Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World
April 14: David Robinson
Direct Trade: Bringing the World Community Together Through Coffee
April 21: Eugene Anderson
Why We Love Coffee
April 28: David Browning
A High Quality Cup – Securing Futures by Increasing Coffee Quality
May 5: Paul Rice
Fair Trade – Using Markets to Empower the Poor
May 12: Stacy Philpott
Brewing Biodiversity: Looking at Coffee as an Ecosystem
May 19: Reps from Espresso Vivace, Grounds for Change, Pura Vida & Stumptown
Coffee, Sustainability and Seattle
May 26: Ben Packard & Peter Torrebiarte
Local to Global – Conservation and C.A.F.E. Practices at the World’s Largest Coffee Company