Let's be honest. Like most things we love, coffee has a dark side.
There a several well documented problems: underpaid farmers, ecological issues, incredible amounts of waste with non recyclable styrofoam and waxed paper cups and more.
Yet for all these problems, there's a solution just around the corner. Groundit, a new startup in Montreal, is one of these solutions.
Briefly, what is Groundit?
Groundit's mission is to decrease the carbon footprint of the coffee market. To do so, we transform the organic waste of coffee shop into a high-quality, all-natural fertilizer that we then distribute to local gardeners.
Where did you guys find the inspiration for Groundit?
Audrey came up with the idea behind Groundit while she was sipping her daily latte. At that time, she was a McGill student studying Entrepreneurship and Managing for Sustainability.
Soon after getting the idea, Audrey met Mitalie, who is currently a PhD candidate at McGill who broke down the science to make the idea possible. They are now business soulmates and she is Groundit's CTO.
How did you guys go about finding your first client?
Two words: cold calls. Nadine, our sales director, and Audrey, the CEO, knocked on the door of nearly every coffee shop on the Island of Montreal. Every time, we proposed to them the innovative idea and practically all of them said yes!
What is the easiest way to not waste grounded coffee at home?
The best way to reuse coffee grounds at home is definitely to transform them into a scrub! Mix equal part of coffee grounds and coconut oil and had a bit of essential oil of your choice and voilà.
Apply it in the shower, rinse of and your skin will be left feeling softer than a baby’s butt.
Can someone use grounded coffee beans in their garden without mixing it with other products?
Yes! However, for better results, it's better to compost it with other organic waste. You will get a richer release of nutrients for your plants.
What are some of the advantages of coffee grounds versus other fertilizers?
The idea behind our fertilizer is that coffee grounds brings the perfect nitrogen to carbon ratio.
Traditionally, industries use animal manure or chemical pellets to achieve this ratio, and both alternative have a significantly heavier carbon footprint and bring potential health concerns.
What are some other uses for used coffee grounds?
You can make paint (see instructions on our website), you can make biofuel, you can grow mushrooms… That's just naming a few.
What happens to the coffee grounds once Groundit picks them up?
We do not only pick-up coffee grounds, we also pick up all the organic waste of coffee shops such as fruit peels, tea bags, coffee filters, etc.
We then transport it to our composting facility in Vaudreuil and using an aerated static pile system, we transform the waste into our fertilizer.
What is the potential impact of eliminating waste related to coffee grounds?
For people familiar with supply-chain terms, Groundit aims to have a craddle-to-craddle approach by eliminating waste from the landfill and repurposing it into a greener alternative to chemical fertilizers.
The landfilling of food waste emits a large amount of methane which is an extremely potent green house gas and it can also contaminate the soil and nearby water sources.
On the other hand, chemical fertilizers require a lot of energy to produce and are often imported from overseas, which means that they also have a significant carbon footprint.
Thus, by transforming and reusing coffee grounds, one can kill two birds with one stone and significantly reduce his/her carbon footprint!
Who are your current coffee grounds buyers?
As the composting process take several months, we have not yet had the chance to produce our first finished batch of fertilizer. However, once it is ready, we plan on selling it to gardeners and urban plant-lovers over the Island of Montreal.
Who do you guys look up to?
We had amazing mentors, Jon-Erik Dillon from Realterm Energy and Richard Groome form Urban Barns, who both gave us incredible insight into launching our venture and marketing it to our beachhead market.
One year from now, where do you see Groundit?
In one year, our goal is to have doubled our production in Montreal and to be operating a second facility in Toronto.
How do you drink your coffee?
Audrey’s favorite for the summer would be an iced-latte made with soymilk, Miam!
Thank you so much for doing this. Where can people learn more about your guys?
Here's a quick list of the participating shops in Montreal. We weren't kidding when we said a lot of Montreal's shop were on board!
Café Bloom, Café Code Noir, Café des Chats, Café Hublot, Lola Rosa, Café l'Artist Affamé, De farine et d'eau fraîche, La Petite Cuillère, Le Brûloir, l'Anti Café, M.A.D. Catering, Café Venosa, Mélina's Phyllo Bar, Blanc de Blanc, Café Replika, Hinnawi Bros, Pourquoi Espresso Bar and Café Névé.
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