Did you know that only 0,2% of the coffee bean ends up in your cup of coffee and that the rest is considered waste and thrown away? What if you could reduce this waste and turn it into a valuable product like food? Annelies Goedbloed decided to do so. She learned how to grow oyster mushrooms on coffee grounds and founded HaagseZwam, a company in Rijswijk that she runs with Patty Kluytmans.
Waste Does Not Exist
‘We need to change the world. We have to cooperate more and find ways to become a more sustainable society. That’s why I founded HaagseZwam!’ Annelies says passionately. Last year Annelies met the founders of Rotterzwam, Siemen Cox and Mark Slegers. Rotterzwam is a Rotterdam based company that grows oyster mushrooms on coffee grounds. Annelies followed training at RotterZwam. Inspired by Gunther Pauli’s Blue Economy where waste does not exist and any by-product is the source for a new product, Annelies started to grow mushrooms from coffee grounds. ‘I started to grow the mushrooms on the kitchen table in bags and little buckets and I was amazed by the outcome,’ she says. She decided to start her own oyster mushroom company HaagseZwam in The Hague, less than a year ago.
Currently Annelies collects around 100 kg coffee grounds from different shops in The Hague. She collects it three times a week because the coffee grounds need to be fresh and cannot be contaminated with mold. ‘I mix the fresh coffee grounds with the spores of the mushroom, water and some chalk. We then mix it with coffee chaff (the husk leftover after the bean has been roasted), ’ Annelies explains. ‘The mixture is then placed into a bag with some air holes and the bag is closed.’ After 5-6 weeks the mushrooms are ready to be harvested. From one bag you can harvest three times! Annelies sells the mushrooms to restaurants and to Lebkov, which is one of the shops she gets her coffee grounds from.
The challenges that this small company faces are many, like finding finances to hire people and looking for a new place to grow the mushrooms, but their dreams are big. ‘What if we can collect all the coffee grounds in The Hague and turn them into oyster mushrooms?’ Patty says. ‘Mushrooms offer a tasty and healthy alternative to meat. What do you think of an oyster mushroom ‘bitterbal’? To make one oyster mushroom ‘bitterbal’ 50 to 90 liters less drinking water is needed than to make a beef bitterbal! We could save so much water. A quick and dirty calculation tells us that the production process of a beef bitterbal produces 65 to 100 times more CO2!’ Yet, HaagseZwam’s ambition is much bigger than growing mushrooms.
The idea is to build an interconnected system around it by using its waste streams. Ideally HaagseZwam cooperates with other entrepreneurs from The Hague area.
‘The mushrooms produce some CO2 and you can use this CO2 by growing algae that absorb the CO2,’ Annelies explains. ‘Or after harvesting the mushrooms the substrate can be used for packaging or compost… The opportunities are unlimited!’