Start up of the month: NÃM mushroom, from coffee waste to Oyster mushrooms

If you are reading this, it means that you are a gastronaut like me, and not only do you love eating all kinds of foods (intolerances permitting), but you also love the stories behind the products we consume. You perhaps are one of those people who religiously read food labels and have a thing for tackling food waste either by avoiding doing it yourself or helping others reduce theirs.

Speaking of food waste, I have found a Portuguese start-up called NÃM mushroom, founded in 2018 that produces a substrate for growing oyster mushrooms using coffee waste but let me tell you more about what I have learned so far about them.
As with most of the start-up stories, this starts in the basement, and if you visit their website, you too can follow the development of this idea that led eventually to an urban farm that you can also visit at a very friendly cost (I will for sure, take me to Portugal now!).

It was 2017 when Natan, the young founder, started to look into business models for circular economy as he did have the strong intention to start a business that would tackle food waste and have a positive impact on the environment. He wanted his business to be based in Portugal (I cannot blame him), and, given the unique relationship of this country with coffee, he started to think about using coffee to grow mushrooms. This is very much possible and a very effective strategy, I wrote about it in this old post about coffee-by products.

He built a small urban farm in the heart of Lisbon and started to turn Kg of coffee waste into mushrooms which he and his team took to restaurant first to show their product and also for them to taste. It resulted in a success and those restaurants that were presented with the mushrooms grown from coffee waste were really well received.

Fast forward to 2022, NÃM transforms tons of coffee (powered by Delta Cafés) into mushrooms in their urban farm in the Lisbon area. If you happen to be in Portugal, you can book a visit and you’ll also get your own DIY kit to grow your own mushrooms at home.


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