Back, back in the day, when we roasted and sold our coffee out of a small coffee shop in Waitsfield, VT, we began composting. Back in 1983, this was not a large amount of composting, but it started a tradition that would continue to this day.
I remember growing up that my great-grandmother (an avid gardener) would have us save our coffee grinds for her garden. So, when I started working at Green Mountain Coffee, it was not a big surprise to hear that we composted much of the materials associated with coffee.
In our facilities, we compost the burlap bags that green coffee (not roasted) is transported in, the chaff (which is the thin skin surround the bean – similar to the skin of a peanut) and coffee grinds themselves. Year to date we’ve composted almost 450 tons of these items. That’s 450 tons of waste not going to landfill contributing to the creation of nutrient-rich soil.
So what makes coffee such a good player in the compost team? In addition to most of us having a daily (sometimes constant) supply of the grounds, it is also high in nitrogen. For compost to develop properly there must be the right carbon to nitrogen ration. Coffee provides that boost of nitrogen, especially in the winter time when materials high in nitrogen (also known as the “greens”) are scarce.
You can find out more about composting with coffee, along with other composting and gardening tips from our friends at Gardener’s Supply here. You can learn about more ways we're working to reduce our environmental impact by visiting our Brewing a Better World website here.