Coffee grounds sprout new life across Texas

Coffee composting at the University is part of a trend for waste minimization and sustainability that is growing across Texas.

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, with over 400 million cups consumed every year in the U.S. alone, according to The Huffington Post. Last year, Austin-based Ground to Ground, a non-profit volunteer program established by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service of Travis County and Compost Coalition, was initiated to reduce waste and recycle leftovers as compost for gardens. Coffee grounds are filled with nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and other key nutrients for fertile soil, said Daphne Richards of AgriLife of Travis Country.

“Composting is an important but under-utilized part of gardening, and coffee grounds make particularly good compost for plants in the south-central Texas area due to their slight acidity,” Richards said.

The Sustainability Task Force at UH uses coffee grinds from the dining halls to contribute to the compost program and thus fertilize the community garden. Along with this program, the University offers fair trade coffee in all establishments across campus, further adding to the “green” initiative.

Denise Harrelson, a community captain for the Ground to Ground program, said participating businesses also see benefits from the program.

“Offering grounds for composting provides a way for businesses to interact with local community members on a more personal level,” Harrelson said. “In addition, businesses can also reduce their garbage collection costs by diverting the coffee grounds out of the waste stream.”

For AgriLife Extension horticulture assistant Lindsay Razzaz, coffee grounds are a great sustainable source for any garden that is in concordance with the mission of AgriLife Extension.

“I began researching existing community-driven composting models and found one in Melbourne, Australia, called Ground to Ground,” Razzaz said. “It seemed like a great fit — coffee grounds are an incredible, easy-to-use soil amendment and the program would require minimal inputs to sustain. It was simply a matter of re-aligning existing resources and doing educational outreach, which is what AgriLife Extension is all about. We asked that program’s founder if we could extend the Ground to Ground banner, and he said yes.”

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