Mushrooms from coffee grounds


Imagine a town in which the concept of waste simply does not exist?  A town that turns every bit of waste it produces into a resource – through up-cycling, recycling and re-using.  A town that ultimately sends no waste for dumping…simply because there is none to send. That is BioWise’s challenge to Knysna….a zero-waste generating town. Let’s get creative, let’s start viewing waste completely differently, let’s start understanding it is NOT rubbish and let’s generate countless entrepreneurial and job generation opportunities as a result.

 This is part of BioWise’s vision for a town that emulates the highly efficient and effective functioning of a natural ecosystem…a town that functions as resiliently and prosperously as a forest.  It is this vision and these principles that have been taken up by Knysna Tourism in the branding of the town as “Naturally Knysna” – a town that emulates nature.

 To give a practical demonstration of this, BioWise and Knysna Tourism partnered together during the Oyster Festival to kickstart the “waste to resource” side of things.  Being true to our ethos of “learning from nature”, we turned to nature’s most famous recyclers in the outdoors…mushrooms. They breakdown “waste” organisms and matter, turning these back into nutrients for other organisms to use.  The question was asked, “what waste do we produce that mushrooms could use as food?”.  The answer was… all the used coffee granules from our coffee shops and restaurants.

 When a cup of coffee is made, less than 1% of the coffee beans ends up in the cup, and yet the spent grounds are still packed full of nitrogen, sugars and other nutrients which the mushrooms can thrive on.

Biowise 1And so was born the “coffee granule to gourmet mushroom” project.  Approaching a number of coffee shops and restaurants to help with the research is the first step.  Twelve participating coffee shops have come on board, collecting and measuring their spent coffee grounds so that we can determine exactly how much coffee granule waste we produce in Knysna.   From there, a viable business opportunity for a local entrepreneur will hopefully emerge…much like happened in the case of the Espresso Mushroom Company based in Brighton.

Sue Swain