We make biological solutions that come from nature, so it goes without saying that we love fungi. That may be an understatement… there’s a whole company department dedicated to Microbial Bioprospecting (think woodland foraging done by super science brains).

With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that we jumped at the chance to support Beyond Coffee, an enterprise local to our Copenhagen factory, which shares our values for sustainability.

Beyond Coffee is a great example of a circular economy, as it uses waste coffee grounds as substrate to grow oyster mushrooms, which are then sold to Michelin-starred restaurants in Copenhagen. We have dedicated a corner of our Fuglebakken site for its own production.

“Every year, Beyond Coffee collects two to three tons of organic coffee ground, which is transformed into 200-300 kilos of organic oyster mushrooms,” says Tobias Lau, founder and director at Beyond Coffee.

Magic of mycelium

“Come in and see where the production begins,” says Tobias stepping out from one of two containers, set up in the factory by Beyond Coffee. “This is where we mix the oyster mushroom mycelium with coffee grounds in a rebuilt cement mixer.”

The temperature inside the container is approximately 17 degrees Celsius. The cement mixer takes up most of the space in the first container, and there’s barely space for Beyond Coffee’s two employees, who are mixing the mycelium with coffee grounds.

The mycelium is grafted on millet seeds, and once the mycelium has been mixed with the coffee ground, it’s spread onto long black plastic bags.

From container to dinner

The transformation happens in the second container, where oyster mushrooms grow in all shapes and sizes out of hundreds of plastic bags, hanging from the ceiling. Beyond Coffee harvests the mushrooms after three to four weeks’ incubation.

“We collect the coffee grounds by bicycle, from all over Copenhagen and sell the mushrooms to Danish Michelin-starred restaurants,” says Tobias. “The restaurants like that our mushrooms are grown locally with coffee grounds from coffee machines in Copenhagen.”

Why coffee grounds?

Remember our Microbial Bioprospecting department? Mikako Sasa is a Science Manager and fungi specialist from the very same, who recently visited Beyond Coffee’s containers at Fuglebakken. “Coffee ground is a residual product, and it’s a great idea to use it as a substrate for fungi. As long as the mushrooms grow in it, it’s as good as hay and other organic substrates. The mushroom must have cellulose as a substrate, and coffee grounds have that,” Mikako explains.