From coffee grounds to vegetarian oyster mushroom snack

Published: 04-01-2016, | Member: GRO Mushrooms

Mushrooms and coffee waste form the basis of a closed-circle partnership between GRO Mushrooms (Green Recycled Organics) and two food service chains: Deli XL and La Place. These food outlets collect their waste coffee grounds and supply them to GRO Mushrooms, which uses the grounds as a growing medium for oyster mushrooms. The mushrooms in turn go back to the restaurants and other food outlets both in the shape of vegetarian snacks and as fresh produce. In the future, parent company GRO Holland aims to make similar use of other side streams from the food industry.

A growing number of restaurants and caterers serve croquettes, hamburgers and other traditional snacks based on a ragout of oyster mushrooms grown in this way. The organic waste left over when coffee is made is efficiently used to produce a valuable food product.

“The idea was born five years ago,” says GRO Mushrooms’ manager Leonel van der Steen. “It started with entrepreneur Jan Willem Bosman Jansen, who saw girls at an orphanage in Africa who earned their income by growing mushrooms on the waste from a coffee plantation. He realized that the huge amount of coffee grounds thrown away in the Netherlands every day presented an opportunity. He contacted La Place, and the management there liked the idea.”

Closed circles
Bosman Jansen invested in a growing chamber and began small-scale mushroom cultivation. Van der Steen was responsible for growing the first oyster mushrooms. She called in a chef to help develop recipes for vegetarian snacks. The concept caught on quickly and the company needed to expand. Now, the cultivation of oyster mushrooms has been contracted out to a mushroom farm in Brabant and GRO Mushrooms is headquartered in Amsterdam.

“We can now grow 2,000 kilos of oyster mushrooms per week,” says Van der Steen. “We’ve closed the loop of the whole production chain, including a range of restaurants, care facilities and Deli XL caterers. The trucks that deliver our mushroom snacks come back with our next supply of coffee grounds. The circle is really closed.”

In the years ahead, parent company GRO Holland aims to roll out this concept throughout the Netherlands. The company has also several ideas on how to process other organic waste streams. “We’re considering using citrus waste too,” says Van der Steen. “And other side streams. But for now, we have our hands full with the cultivation of oyster mushrooms.”

GRO Holland maintains a special relationship with the Ten Foundation. This organization runs the orphanage in Zimbabwe that houses 74 children. The orphans are taught the method for growing their own food on organic waste materials which was the inspiration for GRO Mushrooms.

GRO Mushrooms