Monday, August 9, 2010

Coffee and Compost, I

As you may have noticed, I've had a "take bucket to Starbucks" on my to-do list for some time now. Well, I actually took my bucket to Starbucks quite a while ago, but I discovered to my dismay that someone else had tapped my coffee grounds source and drained it dry! Apparently there is a man who visits that Starbucks twice a day and takes all the grounds they have. Big, big bags of grounds every time! What is he trying to grow?

I've been sort of floundering for a new solution since then, though now I don't know why. One day, a light bulb came on in my brain and I realized, I work in a building with a cafeteria that serves coffee every morning! So, voila! I have all the coffee grounds I need and then some!

This has prompted me to re-evaluate how much compost I can produce in a year. The great thing about coffee grounds is they have a high enough nitrogen content that they can keep a compost pile nice and warm. Normally I can only do about 1/3 cubic yard per year (final volume) because it takes me that long to gather enough nitrogen-rich materials to break down the appropriate amount of fall-gathered leaves, my main carbon-rich ingredient. With this much coffee grounds, though, I may be able to do twice that much, depending on how I manage it and how much carbon-rich material I can find. (Hmmm, maybe Starbucks will give me their newspapers...)

If you would like to learn more about composting, I really like the Washington State University's website on backyard composting, both the layout and the content.


  1. Hey! I was going to ask if you wanted the coffee from IREAP - I could collect it for you. I guess you have enough coffee already. Will newspapers help? I don't have many of those, but I have some.

  2. I have been thinking about newspapers. From what I have read online it seems like it is fine to use newspapers printed with soy ink in compost piles - in other words, large daily newspapers are probably fine, but not free circulars or glossy magazine pages. depends on what you have, I guess. :)