Victory Plaza coffee spot Cafe Victoria has initiated a cool and unique program for recycling its coffee grounds into compost to grow and provide food for the local community.
Cafe Victoria owner Luciana Gómez says she wanted to take the positive experience of drinking coffee and add another layer. "I wanted to find a way to extend the benefits of coffee beyond the immediate satisfaction and do something sustainable for the community," she says.
Most coffee shops throw their grounds away, but Gómez became determined to change that after learning that coffee grounds make an excellent addition to a compost pile. Used coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen — about 2 percent nitrogen by volume — which gives bacteria the energy needed to turn organic matter into compost.
Coffee grounds have a lot of potential value beyond making us a cup of Joe. Suggestions have included using them for everything from baking to deodorizing your stale refrigerator. And recycling is becoming a more important initiative for many municipalities.
With help from the city of Dallas, Gómez connected with Divinekinship, an organization that creates social change through urban farming, to execute the program.
Divinekinship CEO Jesse Ferguson says that the partnership with Cafe Victoria has benefits beyond the obvious one of recycling.
"Community involvement is key to our mission to eliminate food deserts in the southern sectors of Dallas County," Ferguson says. "This partnership with Cafe Victoria allows Divinekinship to increase our composting efforts. But it also serves as a great example for our students in our upcoming social entrepreneur classes on how to incorporate local free resources into their agricultural projects."
Gómez's community spirit can be seen in the helpfulness of the shop's Facebook page, with posts such as the one announcing that car keys were found in the shop. Gestures like that, along with warm service, a friendly atmosphere, and a pleasing pastel aqua color palette, have infused Cafe Victoria with a sense of community that the area has previously lacked.
Neighbors have risen in support of Gómez's recycling project. Simply Elegant, the floral design and event management center next door, is donating flower waste. And Victory Park and the W Dallas-Victory Hotel are helping with logistics.
"We added the coffee waste donation to our routine operational procedures with the support of Victory Park and the W Dallas-Victory Hotel, who are kindly providing a space for us to collect the grounds," Gómez says.
"This partnership means a lot to us," she says. "We're a neighborhood coffee shop that cares about our local community, and we know that every little thing we do can make a difference."