Near the end of their time at UC Berkley, just 2 months away from graduating in 2009, Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora were inspired by a classroom lecture to tinker with the concept of growing mushrooms from used coffee grounds. So, they got to work in their fraternity kitchen with a bucket of soggy grounds and before they knew it, beautiful delicious oyster mushrooms appeared. They were thrilled with the results and decided to pursue mushroom farming instead of plan A which was to dive into corporate America.
Today, they successfully run Back to the Roots growing gourmet mushrooms in California using recycled coffee grounds from Peet’s Coffee and Tea. Their mission statement is, “To make food personal again through the passionate development of tools that educate and inspire, one family at a time.” In leu of that, they have made an easy kit accessible for anyone to experience the grounds to mushroom miracle. With a simply designed cardboard container, mushrooms grow right out the side yielding up to 1.5 pounds of pearl oysters. Brilliantly simple, totally renewable the process takes on this circle: coffee grown from the dirt, roasted in the USA, delicious cup of warm coffee enjoyed, they gather the coffee ground waste, grounds and seed are mixed and packaged in a box kit, mist twice a day with water, mushrooms grow and are eaten, soil from the mushroom kit is put back in the ground.
That’s not all, with prototypes out there of a self cleaning fish tank that also grows plants, they have really mastered multitasking. With the smarts involved utilizing aquaponics where aquaculture and hydroponics come together in a symbiotic environment to create a sustainable food source, they venture out on a smaller scale for the average joe. These guys are sharp, a team to be recognized full of surprises and innovative solutions. We are proud of their success and are excited to watch their continued journey. Wonder what else they have up their sleeve? Check them out here