By Melissa Keogh
Adelaide Hills environmental entrepreneur Daryl Clarke is experiencing a flush of interest from his latest idea – turning wasted coffee grounds into gourmet mushrooms.
The Aldgate IT worker is helping combat wastage from Australia’s caffeine obsession by collecting old coffee grounds from local cafés to make mushroom growing kits.
The coffee grounds are boxed with mushroom spawn into biodegradable Fun Guy Fungi kits, providing the perfect environment and nutrient levels for oyster mushrooms.
Since their launch on World Environment Day in June, hundreds of the kits have sold out across Australia.
Daryl says old coffee grounds are a “throw away commodity” and says that our love for caffeine is having a detrimental impact on the environment.
According to environmental organisation Planet Ark, Aussies are sipping on six billion cups of coffee a day, with 93% of coffee grounds sent to landfill.
“Some cafés have contacted me saying they are really starting to take an interest in organic waste,” Daryl says.
“Others I’ve approached and they think it’s a really cool idea because they’ll be saving on waste costs and are keen to be seen as environmentally conscious.”
The Fun Guy Fungi kits are sold online and from selected cafés, restaurants and fodder stores in South Australia and Victoria.
Growers must keep the boxes regularly watered and place them out of direct sunlight.
After a few weeks the first mushrooms – which can retail for about $35/kg – will start to appear.
Each box is expected to produce between 500g–1kg of mushrooms over five harvests.
Daryl says he began experimenting with “different ways to use coffee” about three years ago.
He now collects about 100kg of old coffee grounds from local cafés every week, while the cardboard boxes are sourced from Custom Cartons.
“My intention is to expand and start collecting as much coffee as I can and get more products out there,” Daryl says.
“It’s about being smart with what you consume.”
So, do the mushrooms taste like a hint of a morning latté or do they deliver a caffeine hit?
“They don’t contain any coffee whatsoever,” Daryl says.
Mad about mushies? South Australians are heading for the Adelaide Hills to forage for forest fungi. Find out how!
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