Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Composting coffee grounds

We knew something serious was up when our lovely receptionist/hostess/looker-afterer/office mum sent a moany email a while ago.
"Brace yourselves everyone, I'm going to moan ...

Could you please make sure you rinse your coffee cups before you put them in the dishwasher? Coffee grounds are attaching to clean cups. I am having to wash things twice ..."
Ouch! Now, I know that email is pretty tame by many (most?) comms standards but they're harsh words from our office mum. She looks after us well and in return we worship the ground she walks on and do what she says. How could someone let the side down and upset Mum?? The "not me" emails immediately flooded in. ("I drink tea" – from the CEO. "I buy coffee downstairs" – others.) A few were suspiciously quiet. Enough said.

And then I piped up. As a daily coffee buyer, I am amazed to see colleagues empty coffee plungers full of grounds down the sink and try to wash them down. I'm not a plumber but I can’t imagine that's good for the plumbing or our waterways as they move through the system. How about we look at alternative uses for the coffee grounds, perhaps preparing them for compost instead? Apparently coffee makes for great compost so long as you don't exceed 25% of the soil's composition. The same goes for worm farms.

"It's not an issue; we've been doing it for years," I was assured. Ok, back to my corner.

Until last week. The sink was blocked. A quick check in the cupboard underneath revealed coffee grounds trying to escape from the S-bend. Some had already succeeded. The plumber was called. "You can't put coffee grounds down the sink," he said.

No-one likes to hear "I told you so", but ... I TOLD YOU SO!

And so now we are looking at how to dispose of or, even better, reuse the coffee grounds that build up each day. There are sites with some great suggestions. But I'm wondering how they prepare and store the grounds while still in the office before people take them home?

We have begun with a makeshift solution: a kitchen sieve filtered with a paper towel and placed over a large bowl, but it's not pretty and a long term solution would be better. Do these even exist? How do other offices drain their used coffee grounds and prepare them for composting?


Ness said...

We have a Nespresso and recycle the pods. I like to let them build up so I don't have to drop them off that often. I have taken to storing them in the freezer. You guys could try that and maybe freeze them in bags? :)

Kate Miller said...

What about Robert Harris Plunger Coffee Bags?


Or a coffee catcher attachment?


Caffeinated Weka said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I like the idea of the coffee catcher filter and will see if we can find something like this for the office. I hadn't thought of freezing the grounds, either. I suppose they would still need to be filtered first? Time for some investigating! :-)