Upcycling Coffee: From Ground Coffee to Arable Ground

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Heine Brothers' Coffee


Upcycling food waste / Composting Coffee


Waste Reduction


60 ton landfill reduction; New jobs

Heine Brothers’ Coffee is significantly reducing its contribution to area landfills by repurposing its coffee waste. Gary Heine and Mike Mays established Heine Brothers’ Coffee in 1996. By 2006 their franchises were contributing over sixty tons of nitrogen-rich coffee grounds to local landfills. It was in this year that Heine and Mays conceived of Breaking New Grounds, a non-profit organization that upcycles spent coffee grounds to “turn waste into wealth”.

Since its inception, Breaking New Grounds has grown from an all-volunteer staff to employ two urban farmers and a full-time Executive Director. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sales of their composted coffee grounds, purchased at area Heine Brothers’ Coffee shops, helps support the organization’s general operating expenses and its goal of providing green jobs for residents of Louisville’s economically challenged West End neighborhood. Its efforts have also earned it the distinction of being a regional outreach training center for Growing Power Inc., the national model for sustainable urban agriculture.

Heine Brothers’ Coffee and Breaking New Grounds exhibit how a creative vision and diverse community partners may lead to the transformation of waste and the development of local food economies. 

-Posted by Willie Wright, 2012 Green Plus Summer Fellow 

Willie Wright is a first year PhD student in the Department of Geography at the University of North Carolina. Prior to his admittance he worked as a Research Assistant on the Research on Food and Farming for All (ROFFA) project, a National Science Foundation sponsored initiative, which assessed the...
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