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Coffee Grounds, Avocados, Egg Shells, and Rubber Gloves

 
Posts: 64
Location: Central NJ, Zone 6b
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I often see it recommended that one ask local coffee shops for grounds.  Have any of you done this?  How has it worked out?

I’m a couple of weeks onto getting coffee grounds and other scraps from a shop around the corner. Lovely place. My son works there part time.  I drop off empty buckets and pick up full ones every couple of days.

The owner warned me there would be “a learning curve” in terms of getting the staff to understand what is compostable and what is not, and even then, someone might accidentally throw in something they shouldn’t because they were dealing with a rush. Fair enough. No problem.

The results have been...interesting.

Here are some of the things I have gotten other than coffee grounds and filters:
- avocado rinds and pits. Sooo many avocado rinds and pits. The customers seem generally normal, but they must all be closet hipsters or something.  Who the heck eats that many avocados?
- metric tons of eggshells
- several banana peels and lemon rinds
- a single perfect blueberry
- a bouquet of flowers.  I was rather touched by the gesture until I realized they were wilted and covered in coffee grounds.  They were still rather pretty.
- 3 squishy blobs of unknown origin that I probably should have trashed.
- rubber gloves.  From 1 to 6 pairs in every bucket.
- waxed paper sheets used to grab baked goods
- those ring tab thingies from opening bottles of milk. Too bad I don’t have a cat to play with them.
- plastic containers
- coated paper coffee bags with wire closures
- a shopping list, tea bag wrappers, and other assorted small detritus

A few days ago I asked for coffee grounds and filters only.  It takes far too long to pick through every bucket sorting out the trash.  I expected a greater variety of fruit and vegetable scraps, and I wasn’t expecting the eggshells at all. Both eggshells and avocado rinds are welcome in my compost, but not in those quantities. The coffee grounds are what I really want, and  from a training perspective, limiting the ask to one thing seems like it might be more successful. Well, two things if you count the filters, but you know what I mean.  So far the message has only partially gotten through. Time will tell.

The good news is that of today’s “harvest” of about 13 gallons of stuff, I ended up with about 8 gallons of pure, gorgeous coffee grounds. I wish I could give more back, but I’m just getting things established at my new house. So far, it’s just been thyme.

So what have the rest of you found in your buckets?


 
pollinator
Posts: 1565
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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As long as it's biodegradable, I'll take everything that shows up in those buckets. And quite honestly, I don't mind picking out the bits of trash, mostly gloves and plastic stir sticks. Often I'll find lots of lemon and lime rinds, assorted discarded parts of various veggies, moldy bits of bread, and avocado rinds and pits. It all goes into the compost bins or the garbage trenches beside the garden rows. Great stuff!!!
 
pollinator
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I get coffee grounds from work (filter coffee complete with filters, not espresso grounds like most coffee shops would give you). The coffee machines are on their own (not in the restaurant) so I don't get anything other than coffee and filters in my buckets!

I don't dare ask for compostables from the restaurant- I couldn't deal with the quantity!
 
Posts: 531
Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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Interesting how different countries make coffee.

One of the cafes, in the city where I work, is amenable to the idea but I haven’t pursued it simply because of time constraints.

Here, in restaurants and cafes, there are virtually zero filter type coffee makers. There’s a ‘coffee culture’ where people expect a designated Barista and espresso machine to churn out coffee orders on demand. Many people have domestic versions at home too, with their coffee beans obtained from specific roaster – yes, ‘slightly’ over the top admittedly, but, expect a great coffee when visiting friends.

(Filter machines are usually reserved for business meetings where caffeine intake volume is more important than quality.)

So, obtaining uncontaminated coffee grounds is pretty easy because Barista’s are constantly hammering portafilters and emptying them into the spent ground tube before reloading with fresh coffee. They literally make hundreds or thousands of coffees a day, so there are LOTS of grounds.

In your instance, since your son works there and it seems the owner is positive, tolerating a few mishaps is probably the way to go. Egg shells would be a bonus = calcium for the garden. Anything from the café that is compostable would also be tolerable.

Depending on how you’re using the grounds, maybe have two compost bins: one for contaminated coffee grounds, one for uncontaminated grounds. A quick inspection will determine which bin it finds.

Once composted, any plastic/metal in the ‘contaminated’ bin can simply be discarded … er … recycled, before use.

Alternatively, if your town has a number of cafes, it may be worth shopping around to find one that doesn’t contaminate the grounds.

Here’s another way to use coffee grounds and spin an income from others waste:

MUSHROOMS FROM COFFEE GROUND 'WASTE"

 
steward
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I've gotten grounds from two different coffee shops.  My current one generates 1/2 a 5 gallon bucket a day of little pucks of coffee grounds.  No filters   The other shop did a mix of the little pucks and normal coffee grounds.  With those I'd see a filter or two every week.

They seem happy to collect them for me so it's a win win.
 
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I’ve been growing avocado pits. They can become small trees but also make lovely houseplants.
 
gardener
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I get buckets of veggie prep scraps from a local Thai restaurant and so far they've been pretty good at keeping the contamination down - the odd candy wrapper, rarely plastic wrap, and some rubber bands. These sort of scraps have a high water content, which my composts really benefit from in our dry summers. I wish I could get coffee grounds, as I'd love to try the coffee-ground mushroom trick F Agricola mentioned as I read about it some time ago but most of the local coffee ground producers have already got people collecting their grounds. That is actually a positive sign in my opinion!

 
Elizabeth Geller
Posts: 64
Location: Central NJ, Zone 6b
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I stopped by this morning and the owner was there.  I told him directly that I wanted the coffee grounds/filters only.  Fortunately, he knows enough about composting to understand why the over-avocado thing could become an issue, and agreed that trying to keep it to just coffee grounds would probably reduce the amount of other stuff that gets chucked in there. Then he gave me a delicious strawberry fig scone.  I think he's happy I'm doing this, being that he's a socially/environmentally conscious and community-oriented type of person.

Sorting out the buckets isn't really that onerous at this point, but it will become worse as winter approaches.  I work full time and my commute is over an hour each way. I barely have daylight when I get home now.  Picking out rubber gloves will be a lot less fun when it's cold and dark out.  

I loooove the little pressed pucks of espresso grounds that come out of that machine. They smell so good and have a lovely texture.

F Agricola wrote:
In your instance, since your son works there and it seems the owner is positive, tolerating a few mishaps is probably the way to go. Egg shells would be a bonus = calcium for the garden. Anything from the café that is compostable would also be tolerable.
....
Alternatively, if your town has a number of cafes, it may be worth shopping around to find one that doesn’t contaminate the grounds.


I don't mind tolerating some mishaps, but an overall system improvement seems the better way to go.  Various items will still get in.  That's okay.  The coffee grounds are the goal, however, and while I'd like to take some smaller portion of the other stuff, but I'd rather be a little suboptimal in one direction than the other.

There are other cafes around, but none are so convenient, and I don't have existing relationships with any of them.  I think sticking with this one is the best bet.  Besides, I just like going there. It doesn't hurt that they share a building with the best damn Dairy Queen in the world!  It's a family-run local institution, and you can't believe how beautiful the plantings that surround the parking lot are.  How often does one get to enjoy taking a garden tour while eating a Dilly Bar?
 
Elizabeth Geller
Posts: 64
Location: Central NJ, Zone 6b
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Sorry for the double post here:

I LOVE the idea of growing mushrooms on them. I'll have to look into more details on how to do that. That would be so cool if the shop could make mushroom dishes from shrooms grown on their coffee grounds - very full-circle.

Julie Kimberlin wrote:I’ve been growing avocado pits. They can become small trees but also make lovely houseplants.


I'm going to try that.  Thanks for the idea.  It's not like I'm hurting for 'cado pits at the moment.  Hey, maybe I can try to sprout a number of them and give them away to people.  Or the shop.
 
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