Concerns about using coffee grinds.

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Handbook - A Guide to Composting Human Manure: Concerns about using coffee grinds.
Author: Test2 (Test2)
Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 12:49 am
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@ ander If the pile is getting steaming hot and does not smell why worry about carbon ? If changing to chaff see if pile still is hot and steamy and does not smell. Carbon will help reduce smell.

Free source of carbon: dry leaves, dry grass clippings, dry weeds, newspaper( non glossy pages only). Newspaper indoors or outdoors. I prefer the others for outdoors.

Author: Ander (Ander)
Monday, July 25, 2011 - 10:17 pm
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Hey everyone, thanks for your thoughts.

Drying coffee grinds, I found, to be way too energy intensive, especially considering that they mold very quickly, even when dried out.

I definitely have been keeping my pile covered because of my concerns about it being too liquidy, and also because I live it a super duper rainy climate.

I haven't been using a thermometer, but the pile has been heating up and does steam when I dig into it.

Good news though, I found a new cover material!!

I have switched to "coffee chaff" - it's completely dry, fluffy, brown material that surprisingly(!) resembles sawdust. I've been getting it for free from an organic coffee shop nearby - they bring it in from their roastery with their beans and I come pick it up.

The consistency is perfect and my buckets are lighter and less liquid, which is awesome!

I'm still a little concerned about nitrogen/carbon ratio, as coffee chaff is used by farmers to add nitrogen to their soil. Am I just being paranoid, or do I need to find a significant carbon source for my pile?

Author: Utopian (Utopian)
Wednesday, May 25, 2011 - 12:42 am
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I collected coffee grounds from two local coffee shops for a few years. I dried them slightly in large pans and then mixed them about 1:1 with sawdust. I never had any problems with my buckets or my piles that consistently ranged from 135 to 155 degrees. Yes coffee grounds have nitrogen, but I don't consider it to be excessive to the point that you should avoid using it. The ideal material to use are those that are readily available.

Author: Joe (Joe)
Friday, May 06, 2011 - 1:10 pm
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Proper cover materials of the right moisture content and consistency are necessary for the correct functioning of a humanure toilet.

Author: Knothead (Knothead)
Thursday, May 05, 2011 - 7:10 pm
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Why not make a little solar dryer for the coffee grounds to take a little moisture out of them? You could also dry out and crumble some of the leaves to use in the toilet.
A simple box and a piece of clear or opaque corrugated plastic makes a nice dryer. I use something similar to melt my beeswax.

Author: Test2 (Test2)
Thursday, May 05, 2011 - 2:39 am
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What your doing is similar to what I have done, and my family is living proof its safe (using the compost on vegis 2 years now).

But pls read these tips.

Why use a "ton" of leaves. Use just enough to cover and keep pile from smelling. You don't want xs Carbon - that could stop the aerobic compost process. But if your pile is heating you are doing fine.

Wet coffee grounds (good N source) combined with leaves and paper (both good C source) is a great combo !

Sure it would be better if grounds are dry or drier, but if you use a seperate bucket for some of the urine with sawdust/ dry coffee/paper/dry leaves that will reduce the wet overload in main bucket. Or just pee in a container save for later and pour over your compost pile and cover with some leaves.

The key is is the pile getting hot. If you have no thermometer just lift upper surface of pile and put hand close and feel for heat - you will probably see steam. If its not hot - likely cause is too many leaves.

If you have a concern about too wet pile cover with a tarp, but your leaves probably form a sheild of sorts protecting from xs moisture from rain.

If you have safety concerns after doing all that, just wait 2 years after you cap off pile - at that point it is very likely safe, and I'd bet 99% or more safe for staked vegis and trees.

Author: Ander (Ander)
Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - 4:46 pm
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I live in the city, and don't own a car, or a leaf mulcher/lawnmower, so getting cover materials have always been a challenge for us.

For about six months, we used primarily coffee grinds as the indoor cover material, including a a bit of whole leaves and shredded paper. On the outside pile, I would cover the deposits with TONS of leaves.

I have stopped humanure composting for the time being, because of these concerns:

1. Coffee grinds are high in nitrogen, and we were using them in very high quantities. Will this affect the composting process? Sawdust is high in carbon. Will my pile be too high in nitrogen?

2. Coffee grinds are very moist, and do not absorb liquid. Our buckets are always super liquidy, something which is not fun to deal with and grosses out my roommates and friends. And, outdoors should I be concerned with an overly moist compost pile?

So do you think the method we were using was safe or not? We do want to use the humanure for growing food crops eventually, so I wanna do this right.

Last question: has anyone ever used "coffee chaff"? I hear it is dry, fluffy, and easy to get for free from coffee roasters. I also hear that it is high in nitrogen, which could be good or bad.

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