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Back to the Roots

Mushroom Kit

DIY Fungi

What would you do with 8,000 pounds of coffee grounds? If you’re Nik Arora and Alex Velez, you recycle that amount every week to make soil for growing mushrooms. These two young entrepreneurs pick up coffee grounds from Peets Coffee and create Back to the Roots (BTTR) mushroom kits that allow you to get a little bit closer to the source of your food.

UC Berkeley grads Nik and Alex were inspired by their business ethics
professor, who mentioned that it’s possible to grow mushrooms in coffee grounds – probably never dreaming that these two would start experimenting in Alex’s fraternity house and eventually launch their own business. Now, they and their mushrooms have won all kinds of awards, including being named as one of Business Week’s Top 25 Social Entrepreneurs in 2010.

Put one of these kits in your kitchen, spritz it with water twice a day using the mister that comes with the kit, and voila! Just like that, you’ll have 2-4 crops of pearl oyster mushrooms to enjoy over the course of the next several weeks.

BTTR mushroom kits are a great way for kids to learn about gardening, but they’re not just fun. These mushrooms have gotten accolades from people including famed chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse. Pearl oysters have a woody flavor and a meaty texture, and they taste great in all kinds of dishes. Just twist a cluster off at the base once the largest caps are 1” to 1.5” in diameter, and start cooking!

— Julia E.
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Back to the Roots - Mushroom Kit

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Grommet Launch Conversation

  • Jasmine
    Jasmine

    Hi everyone! This is Jasmine Jackson, the Community Happynes Guru at Back to the Roots. Just over a year ago, our two founders, Alejandro and Nikhil graduated from UC Berkeley and during their last semester went from investment bankers to full-time urban mushroom farmers after becoming passionate about a newly learned fact: gourmet mushrooms can grow entirely on recycled coffee grounds! We're passionate about turning the whole idea of waste 'upside-down' through our easy and fun kits. I'm excited to answer any questions you may have about our kits or how we got started and hopefully have you growing your own 'shrooms with a brew soon! :)

  • Alejandro Velez
    Alejandro Velez
    2/18/2011 1:56 PM

    Thanks for an awesome post Daily Grommet!

  • Kate
    Kate
    2/18/2011 1:56 PM

    Love your story guys! I'm curious, do the coffee grounds lend themselves to the growth of a particular mushroom or did you choose which mushroom you were going to grow? If it was a choice, why did you choose this variety over a different variety?

  • Nik
    Nik
    2/18/2011 2:03 PM

    @Kate: Hey Kate! There are actually only a few mushrooms that grow well on 100% recycled coffee grounds, and out of those, oyster mushrooms have the best yield and fastest growth cycle. Also, if you look at oyster mushrooms in stores, they're often really beat-up looking because of how delicate they are, so we thought it had all the qualities to make a great kit! They grow the fastest, offer the most yield, and are delicious gourmet mushrooms, but hard to find fresh! Thanks for your interest in the kits!

  • Kelly Schermer
    Kelly Schermer
    2/18/2011 1:58 PM

    what a cool post... I'm growing mine right now & just plucked my first havest -- bought at my local WF two weeks ago!

  • Liz
    Liz
    2/18/2011 2:02 PM

    How long do these mushrooms continue to grow and how many pounds (on average) is harvested from one kit?

  • Nik
    Nik
    2/18/2011 2:14 PM

    @Liz: Hi Liz! You can get at least 2 harvests from the kit (though we've had some customers get more!). The first harvest will be around 1lb, and the second, as nutrients are used up, is often around .5-.75 lbs. Hope this helps!

  • Mary
    Mary
    2/18/2011 5:15 PM

    @Nik Arora: 2 pounds of mushrooms for $40? You have to be kidding. What's up with that? Am I missing something?

  • Julia
    Julia – Grommet Team
    2/18/2011 6:11 PM

    @Mary: Hi, Mary! There are two kits included in today's Grommet. So that's about 4 pounds of mushrooms - and, based on our experience, probably more. Some people get 3-4 crops out of each kit. You'll definitely get two crops out of each one. The best part about growing these yourself is that they mushrooms are very fresh. Mushrooms don't tend to store or travel very well. The ones I can buy in the grocery stores here in Boston come all the way from Oregon and don't look great when they get here. Personally, I love having access to fresh mushrooms that have just been harvested and thrown into my pots and pans. And being able to grow them myself is a priceless experience for any kid at heart!

  • Michelle Zastawny
    Michelle Zastawny
    2/18/2011 2:54 PM

    Have you tried grown MORELS, would be very interested in the process, please advise. Thank you MickeyZ

  • Nik
    Nik
    2/18/2011 5:57 PM

    @Michelle Zastawny: Hi Michelle! We have not tried to grow Morels (they don't grow well on coffee grounds), so unfortunately, I can't offer too much help here. However, if you look a book by Paul Stamets: Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms, it may have more information there. If you haven't tried oyster mushrooms though before, I'd highly recommend them. They have a chewy, almost meaty texture, with a woody flavor that makes them great in soups, pastas, sautes, or even just grilled!

  • Christy
    Christy
    2/18/2011 3:25 PM

    Just a quick question about the containers. Do you use recycled materials for the bags and box and are they recyclable?

  • Nik
    Nik
    2/18/2011 5:55 PM

    @Christy : Hi Christy! The container is made out of post-consumer recycled cardboard and printed on with soy ink. The bags are recyclable, though because of the special conditions we need for mushroom growing, are not made out of recycled material. We're always working to improve our zero-footprint mission though and open to suggestions / feedback! Thanks!

  • Laura
    Laura
    2/18/2011 4:27 PM

    Luv this concept ... can't wait to try! Quick Question, have you tried growing Shitake mushrooms this way??

  • Nik
    Nik
    2/18/2011 5:41 PM

    @Laura: We have tried shiitakes (and still working on them!) They have a much longer life-cycle to grow, months rather than days, and offer less yield on the coffee grounds. We're still working on it though, and hopefully will have something out by the holidays this year. Stay on the lookout in a few months though for a few new types of kit we'll be launching to compliment the Mushroom Garden - rosemary, thyme, and basil kits!

  • Libby
    Libby
    2/18/2011 4:44 PM

    My daughter tried one of these about 5 years ago (don't know if it was yours or not), but it was a total bomb. She got a tiny part of one mushroom. )<:

    Hope yours have better results. Libby

  • Nik
    Nik
    2/18/2011 5:23 PM

    @Libby: Hey Libby! Thanks for the comment. It definitely could not have been ours, as we just launched our kit last March! However, our number one priority, by far, is making sure all our customers are 100% satisfied with their experience, and we promise to take care of you! We guarantee all our products, and will offer you a replacement if your daughter isn't satisfied. Thanks for the interest and let me know if you have any more questions!

  • Kimmy
    Kimmy
    2/18/2011 9:55 PM

    Awesome! This kit looks really neat. I love mushrooms too!

  • Margery Welker
    Margery Welker
    2/22/2011 9:30 AM

    I bought two kits, the first one has yet to grow a single mushroom - the other kit has some sort of green scary looking liquid in the plastic and I'm afraid to even open it. I am in the process of contacting the company to return these and hopefully get a refund. I don't want to say this idea is bad or doesn't work but my first attempt is still sitting there w/ nothing growing and I'm not about to open the second kit w/ the green slimy stuff inside. I hope the company will get back to me on how to return these.

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    2/22/2011 1:15 PM

    @Margery Welker: Thanks for sharing your experience. We had a different experience with these kits but will be keeping our ears open for any issues. I have put you in contact with Nik directly to help you with your order as your purchase was through someone other than Daily Grommet. Thanks again for stopping by.

  • Nik
    Nik
    2/22/2011 11:53 PM

    @Margery Welker: Hi Margery! Thanks for your interest and purchase - we really appreciate it! We 100% guarantee all our kits and look forward to having you grow your own mushrooms soon. Please reach out to me at 415.968.9049 or nikhil AT bttrventures DOT com and I'll get back to you asap! If needed, we can send you a replacement bag asap as well. Our #1 goal is to make growing your own gourmet food easy & fun for everyone - and we'll work hard to make sure we do that for you too :)

  • Karen Johnson-Hassen
    Karen Johnson-Hassen
    3/24/2011 2:49 PM

    Just Got my 2 kits in the mail... Very excited to see how this will work. I live in the Caribbean and Mushrooms are very expensive here.. One Question... What Temp. should the room be where I am placing my kits into grow?

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    3/25/2011 11:32 AM

    @Karen Johnson-Hassen: I have sent a note to Nik and will let you know what he says. Thanks for stopping by today.

  • Nik
    Nik
    3/29/2011 11:39 PM

    @Karen Johnson-Hassen: Oyster mushrooms have a very wide range of growth temperatures - though somewhere around room temp is ideal (50-75 degrees F).

  • Rebekah
    Rebekah
    4/15/2011 3:14 PM

    I've had my kit for a month...followed the instructions...and nothing is growing at all. I tried contacting the company through their web site and have received no response at all, it has been more than a week.

    It's a great idea but I am disappointed with both the product & the company!

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    4/15/2011 3:30 PM

    @Rebekah: That is disappointing. I will reach out to you directly via email to see if we can help facilitate a resolution. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Nikhil Arora
    Nikhil Arora
    4/24/2011 11:00 PM

    @Rebekah: Hi Rebekah! First, thank you for your support and purchase...it really means a lot! I am sorry to hear about your experience both with the kit and our response - we pride ourselves on getting back to all our customers asap, so really not sure what happened! If you can reach out to me at nikhil@backtotheroots.com, I'd love to answer any questions and send you a brand new kit asap - we 100% guarantee our kits and want to make sure you enjoy your experience and mushrooms! Thanks again Rebekah and look forward to hearing from you! :)

    Best,

    Nikhil

  • Patricia
    Patricia
    4/28/2011 11:52 PM

    Any chance you could do this with chanterelle mushrooms? They used to grow wild in our side yard when I was growing up and they're so hard to find now -- and are NEVER available fresh in stores. Thanks!

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    4/29/2011 12:34 AM

    @Patricia McIntosh: Good question! I will forward it on to Nik.

  • Nikhil Arora
    Nikhil Arora
    5/1/2011 8:50 PM

    @Patricia McIntosh: Hi Patricia! Thanks for the interest. Unfortunately, we don't have a kit for chanterelles...those mushrooms are still almost always foraged wild and not cultivated! We do have a shiitake mushroom kit coming out soon and a DIY coffee-to-mushroom kit that lets you use your own coffee grounds from home! If you sign up for our newsletter on our website, we'll be sure to let you know as soon as they come out! Thanks! :)

  • Lynn Traber
    Lynn Traber
    5/6/2011 1:23 PM

    Don't know what I'm doing wrong. I followed the directions exactly, however, I'm extremely disappointed because after more than a month, NOTHING is coming up. I did get a small bump that had me all excited, but it hasn't gone anywhere from there. Any suggestions?????????

  • Nikhil Arora
    Nikhil Arora
    5/6/2011 1:46 PM

    @Lynn Traber: Hi Lynn! Thanks for reaching out and your interest & purchase! We totally guarantee all our kits and want to make sure we get your stubborn 'shrooms to grow! :) If you could email me at nikhil@backtotheroots.com we'll figure out what's going on and have you enjoying some delicious mushrooms asap! Thanks and look forward to hearing from you soon Lynn! Best, Nikhil

  • Robin Smith
    Robin Smith
    5/10/2011 11:57 AM

    We love our mushroom kit! It started growing right away and the mushrooms were a great addition to a pasta dish we made the other night. Thank you!

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    5/10/2011 12:11 PM

    @Robin Smith: Yum! Thank you for stopping back to let us know. May you have many more great meals with fresh mushrooms.

  • Sheri
    Sheri
    5/28/2011 3:57 PM

    Help! The only thing my mushroom kit grew was mold. What did I do wrong?

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    5/28/2011 5:39 PM

    @Sheri : I am forwarding your information to our customer service team who will help you get a new kit.

  • Shane
    Shane
    6/21/2011 4:09 PM

    Hello,

    My kit looks to be growing mold on the top (Black part in the bag where the grounds are exposed) and I have yet to see any mushrooms start on the white part (mycelium) but its only the 4Th day... Just worry the mold on top will take over.

    any advice on what to do?

    Thanks

    Shane

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    6/21/2011 4:49 PM

    @Shane: Good to check in with Nik! I have forwarded your note and will let you know what he says.

  • Nik
    Nik
    6/22/2011 10:58 AM

    @Shane: Hey Shane, Thanks for the purchase and support...excited for you to grow your own mushrooms soon! Sounds like you got a really healthy bag with all the white mycelium (roots)...you should start seeing mushrooms pop out really soon! Did you soak the bag in water overnight? Also, if you send me an email to Nikhil at backtotheroots.com with a picture of your the bag inside, I'll be able to get back to you asap with some more detailed tips & tricks to get the best mushrooms!

    Look forward to hearing from you Shane!

  • Angel Rose
    Angel Rose
    7/15/2011 4:50 PM

    I bought these mushrooms and followed the directions accordingly. They haven't grown anything. I'm really disappointed in this product.

  • Katherine
    Katherine – Grommet Team
    7/16/2011 9:25 AM

    @Angel Rose: Nik is really great to work with when this happens and will send you a replacement product. I will have our customer service team contact you with more information so that you'll be eating fresh mushrooms soon.

  • Lynne
    Lynne
    2/20/2012 11:01 AM

    I ordered a kit for myself and a good friend. After two weeks of faithfully misting, I never got sprouts, just moldy looking stuff. My friend started to see sprouts, then they just kind of disappeared. We followed the directions perfectly - any idea why this would happen to both of us? Thanks.

  • Chew-Hoong
    Chew-Hoong – Grommet Team
    2/21/2012 12:16 PM

    @Lynne: It is strange that the sprouts did not grow for you & your friend. Our Customer Support Team will be in touch with you directly to resolve this mystery.

  • ebdotkom
    ebdotkom
    4/19/2012 1:08 AM

    I ordered this kit and my mushrooms looked nothing like those in the picture. They looked more like crystals and were moldy, so I was afraid to eat them. Can send you a pic if you want but I was very disappointed since I followed the instructions to the letter.

  • Chew-Hoong
    Chew-Hoong – Grommet Team
    4/19/2012 12:31 PM

    @ebdotkom: I'm so sorry the mushrooms did not flourish with your TLC. Our Customer Support Team will be in touch directly to help you with your concern.

  • Sima
    Sima
    5/31/2012 8:37 PM

    I had the same experience as some of the others, in which I did everything I was supposed to do and got nothing. Then, after a few weeks of forgetting about it (figuring it was a dud), suddenly I noticed I have a whole bunch of mushrooms! So, for those of you worried that you haven't gotten anything yet, be patient... they still may come.

  •  Janet K
    Janet K
    7/15/2012 7:14 PM

    I'm so disappointed in this product. I gave it to my father for Father's Day, and was so excited about it, telling people that I had found the perfect gift for my dad. He began gardening after he retired, and discovered that he had a green thumb, doing very well with his vegetable garden. This has been his passion every year since retirement. The past couple of years have been more difficult for him due to age and related issues, and he had to rely more on others for help. A few months ago he finally admitted that this was just too much for him and gave up his garden (his space in the condo development garden was given to someone else), and I heard the disappointment in his voice. When I found these mushrooms I thought it was perfect for him, as a way to continue his gardening!! My folks told me that they followed the directions exactly, holding their breath, waiting...waiting, but nothing ever grew! I know they were disappointed but I felt worse, because I gave this to them.

    Any thoughts???

  • Chew-Hoong
    Chew-Hoong – Grommet Team
    7/17/2012 8:54 AM

    @ Janet K: Lucky father to have you looking out for creative ways for him to enjoy his green thumb. Here's some tips to get the stubborn mushrooms growing: (1) Make sure the kits are not in and or around heating systems while in use, (2) soak the bag in water for 24 hours to ensure proper hydration and (3) make sure the incision was made in the bag and the soil.

    If the mushroom remains "dormant", please let our Customer Support Team know at customersupport@dailygrommet.com & we'll help you resolve the issue.

  •  Ida
    Ida
    7/24/2012 6:59 PM

    Great to see your success with "back to the roots" since I first heard about you in a food-tech panel discussion! Good luck! :)

  •  Lori
    Lori
    9/13/2012 1:09 PM

    Here's a dumb question - why can't I use my own coffee grounds?

  •  Margie
    Margie
    9/13/2012 2:06 PM

    @ Lori ,

    Wondering the same thing , why not use my own coffee grounds..I have loads of grounds.

  • Jasmine
    Jasmine – Special Guest
    9/13/2012 2:52 PM

    @ Margie and @ Lori,

    Thanks so much for reaching out! We don't recommend using your own coffee grounds because there is a risk of cultivating mold when you use your own coffee grounds. While the mold isn't dangerous, it can prevent your mushrooms from growing. However, lots of our customers experiment with their kits and some have even been successful using their own coffee grounds.

  •  Heather
    Heather
    9/13/2012 3:57 PM

    How many harvests should I expect from each box? Is it a one time deal, or is there a way I can keep growing the mushrooms?

  • Jasmine
    Jasmine – Special Guest
    9/13/2012 4:14 PM

    @ Heather Hi! Thanks so much for your interest! We guarantee 2 crops from each kit, but lots of our customers get 3 or 4! So far the record is 10 crops from one mushroom garden!

  •  Heather G
    Heather G
    9/14/2012 6:37 AM

    Ummm no surprise here, they sell these kits at home depot-major disappointment Grommet!

  • Jules
    Jules – Grommet Team
    9/14/2012 5:17 PM

    @ Heather G We have been helping Back to the Roots since last year and they have indeed gained much more visibility in the last year, but their distribution is not national. You are lucky to live close to a local place, like Home Depot, taking a chance on this Grommet. I encourage you to support them wherever you encounter this, or any, Grommet.

  • Merle
    Merle
    10/5/2012 4:36 PM

    Do the mushrooms start growing right away on their own or do I need to do something to get the process started (meaning I could get them started a while from now)? I'm trying to figure out whether I can buy these now for Christmas or should I wait until the time gets closer.

  •  Jasmine Jackson
    Jasmine Jackson
    10/8/2012 7:56 PM

    @Merle Firstly, thanks so much for considering our kits! They make great gifts and are dormant until the new mushroom farmer provides the mushroom garden with it's "first rain" (a 12-24 hour soak). This mushroom garden make a unique gift of growing and can be stored in a cool dark area for months at a time! Cheers!

  • Dana Dixon
    Dana Dixon
    11/3/2012 3:55 PM

    @ Jasmine Jackson - I purchased this kit recently and followed the instructions. It's been around 3 weeks since I did the soaking and have been misting every day, however, I have seen no signs of any mushrooms growing. Is there something else I can do, please advise.

  • Dana Dixon
    Dana Dixon
    11/11/2012 7:06 PM

    Please disregard my last message, my mushrooms started growing 2 days ago and it is so exciting to watch how quickly they are growing now. Every time I walk by them, it seems as though they have grown more. It's fun and I can't wait to harvest them.

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