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A murky business

Denmark is one of the world’s largest consumers of coffee, generating tons of coffee grounds, which usually end up as waste. In Aarhus, though, recycling coffee grounds is the new black and is providing the basis for successful new businesses and sustainable products.

Photo: Fra Grums til Gourmet

Fra Grums til Gourmet

The people of Fra Grums til Gourmet travel around the cafés of Aarhus collecting coffee grounds on a cargo bike. They take these grounds, which would otherwise have been thrown away, to two containers at Pier2 at Aarhus Harbor, where they provide a breeding ground for the production of gourmet oyster mushrooms. The fungi grow in hanging bags of coffee grounds and are so good they’re served at local Michelin-starred restaurant Domestic and have been awarded Denmark’s top food prize, the Salling Food Award. The people behind it all work on a voluntary basis and are developing other sustainable uses for the fungi. It not only tastes good, it can clean contaminated water and soil, be used as animal feed and even as insulation. If you fancy growing mushrooms in coffee grounds yourself, you can buy a growkit at the mushroom farm for DKr150.

Fra Grums til Gourmet

Pier 2, Aarhus Havn

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Open every Tuesday

Photo: Grums

Coffee cosmetics

Recycled coffee grounds from places such as the NorthSide Festival are being turned into fabulous skin care products at natural cosmetics brand Grums. It turns out that coffee grounds are rich in nourishing oils and antioxidants and their fine grains have the same exfoliating effect that would otherwise be created in the cosmetics industry using microplastics. Grums, which launched last year, is the brainchild of three young entrepreneurs from Aarhus and the range so far includes a body scrub based on filter coffee grounds and a face scrub made using espresso coffee grounds. The products are already available in 100 stores in 15 different countries and more are on the way. “We want to create a natural and sustainable alternative to the skin care products we know today,” says Rasmus Nørgård, one of the men behind the initiative, when we meet him at NorthSide. Sustainability is also incorporated in the packaging, of course, which is made primarily from sugar cane plastic. Grums won the Go Green With Aarhus Spirepris in 2018.


Photo: Stillers Coffee

Stillers Coffee

Søren Stiller Marcussen is something of a coffee legend in Aarhus. He’s won countless awards and the coffee at his roastery on Klostergade is sublime. Stiller is also experimenting with reusing coffee to make new products. “I’ve always admired chefs because they’re insanely good at getting the most out of the raw ingredients,” Stiller says. Which is why he’s begun collaborating with local Michelin-starred restaurant Domestic. “We’ve made a kombucha coffee, for example, which will be a good autumn drink, as well as a condensed “coffee power” of coffee grounds that can be used as a kind of balsamic vinegar or in sauces to give extra flavor,” Stiller says. “I want to show that you shouldn’t throw a product away until you’ve used all of its resources.”

Stillers Coffee

Klostergade 32, E, Aarhus

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