Becoming a mushroom farmer was “completely left field” for marketing and finance professional Leisha Mongan.
The Newcastle 33-year-old, in partnership with her older brother Steve Parkinson, has started a mushroom growing business out of Charlestown Square which saves coffee waste from landfill and gives back to the community.
Beancycling was inspired by a UK documentary which showed how coffee bean grounds could be used to grow mushrooms.
“The Hunter is such a coffee-loving region, I thought we could do something like that here,” Ms Mongan said.
Ms Mongan took six months off from her full-time job, researched the concept, did a few “test runs” at home and approached the GPT Group’s Charlestown Square about setting up on their premises and using the waste produced from their 17 coffee shops.
Now, with Beancycling’s first batch of mushrooms harvested, the brother-and-sister combination will market to local restaurants.
“It something that ticks a lot of boxes,” Ms Mongan said. “It’s local, it gives back to the community and it’s reusing coffee waste.
“In a Planet Ark report 12 months ago, they found in Australia 2.6kg of dry coffee is used per person per year. Only one per cent of it ends up in your cup and the rest goes to landfill.”
But what Ms Mongan found was that coffee bean grounds form the perfect bed for mushroom spawn to grow in.
“They call is ‘waste’, but actually it’s not,” she said.
Food has always been a love for Ms Mongan and her brother has always had a “green thumb”, so the combination was a perfect blend.
Mr Parkinson said the coffee brewing process pasteurises the coffee grounds, a process that is vital to remove contaminants from the material in which the mushrooms grow.
“Traditional mushroom growing uses a lot of energy to sterilise material which this process avoids so there is another environmental benefit,” he said.
At the end of the mushroom growing process, the used coffee grounds are being offered to community gardens and local schools to use.
Beancycling is not yet at capacity but Ms Mongan expects they will be able to grow up to 90 kilograms of oyster mushrooms per week from the coffee ground waste sourced from Charlestown Square coffee shops alone.
Future plans include the creation of home growing kits.
Find out more at: www.facebook.com/beancycled.