Coffee grounds good compost for the ground, Starbucks says

Wednesday, June 16, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:20 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Nine years ago, Starbucks Coffee Co. began a program that encourages people to recycle waste from coffee grounds.

“Grounds for Your Garden” invites people to pick up spent grounds from Starbucks to use as a compost ingredient.

Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen and, when added to compost, can improve soil quality. The used grounds are acidic, however, and should be no more than 25 percent of compost content, according to Starbucks representative Megan Behrbaum. The acidity can be balanced by “liming” — adding one teaspoon of lime or wood chips for every five pounds of grounds.

“Adding any organic material to the soil for plant production helps to retain water, add nutrients and increase soil biological activity,” said Peter Motavalli, assistant professor of soil nutrient management at MU. “It’s important, though, that you don’t add things with toxic materials like heavy metals or pesticides. Be careful of what organic materials you use because you don’t want to add any sort of pollutant to the soil.”

At the new Columbia Starbucks location inside Hy-Vee on West Broadway, employees were prepared to hand out used coffee grounds for the program but had little response from the community, employee Rebecca Gonzales said. She said those who are interested in receiving free grounds can call the store for more information. The number is 447-0133.

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