the missing link

In 2016 I started to test the cultivation of mushrooms on used coffee grounds, based on a documentation I saw about a start-up business in Berlin, which was doing this in a big commercial scale.

stages of oyster mushrooms in bottle-culture (Foto: J.Rivera)

During this testing and searching for the right parameters and components for a successfull mushroom cultivation, I read a lot about the biology of mushrooms, the ecology of the fungi kingdom and their key-role in ecosystems.

It became clear, that the greater goal in cultivating mushrooms should be the recycling of waste materials. Refining the waste and by-products of agriculture and our wasteful food-infrastructure, by cultivating gourmet mushrooms on, would improve productivity and help to reach the aim of a sustainable food production. As the famous mushroom pioneer and cultivator Paul Stamets says, mushrooms are „the missing link in the permaculture model“.

pink oyster mushroom (Foto: J. Rivera)

For the start-up business in Berlin, coffee grounds were perfect as a substrate to grow mushrooms on. Its a by-product which is not suitable for composting (because of the caffeine), but still rich in nutritions. And you can basically find it at every corner. But back in 2016 I was not living in a big city, where used coffee grounds were easy to find and gather. I had to drive 20 minutes to the next city where I convinced a bio-cafe to gather and store their used coffee grounds for me, so I could take them with me twice a week. To gain experience in cultivating mushrooms and to statisfy my curiosity about how the idea of growing them on coffee would work out, I spent a lot of time and money on it. But it was neither sustainable nor affordable so I had to stop.


primordial stage of oyster mushrooms in bag culture (Foto: J. Rivera)
(Foto: J.Rivera)

Beeing in this little village now, Cervera del maestre, sourrounded by farmers and having a very close look on their work and the infrastructure they are using, the idea of ‘the missing link’ flashed up in my thoughts again. Could almond-nutshells, carobtree-fruits, and olive leaves be a growing substrate for gourmet mushrooms? Would it be possible to gain a delicous food source while accelerating decomposting of these materials and creating rich soil at the same time?

In the next month I will blog about the process and provide interested readers and visitors of with informations and fotos of the milestones of this project.