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! I not only love eating all kinds of foods (intolerances permitting), but also love the stories behind the products I consume. You perhaps are one of those people too. You might religiously read food labels -like me- and have a thing for tackling food waste either by avoiding doing it yourself or helping others reduce theirs.

NAM mushrooms

Speaking of food waste, I have found a Portuguese start-up called NÃM mushroom. The start-up has been founded in 2018 and its main product is a substrate for growing oyster mushrooms using coffee waste. Let me tell you more.

As with most of the start-up stories, this starts in the basement, and if you visit their website, you 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!).

How it started

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

As a result, Natan built a small urban farm in the heart of Lisbon. He started to turn kilograms of coffee waste into mushrooms. With the team, they took the mushroom grown with coffee waste to local restaurants in order for them to taste them. It resulted in a success! Those restaurants were really happy about those mushrooms grown with coffee waste.

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, book a visit! Moreover, you’ll also get your own DIY kit to grow your own mushrooms at home.

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