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laurelzito

Liberate yourself from Starbucks

Laurel Zito
11 years ago

I gave up on trying to get Starbucks coffee grounds after years of dealing with rudeness and hostility from the staff. They don't want to collect coffee grounds because there is no money involved. Instead of UCG I got Kellogg's Amend big bags from Home depot. I mix that with kitchen scraps in large round plastic bins, and it works just as well if not better than UCG. UCG are a huge amount of work, because they are heavy and acid and have to be mixed in with everything else. I don't have a tumbler. Unless one has access to a dumpster with coffee grounds dealing with Starbucks is too much work. You have to call them first, then they go there, then they usually don't have them, they forgot, or they gave them to someone else. I should have been weeding with all the time I lost dealing with Starbucks. I never buy coffee from them either. The stuff in the bags is stale old beans, roasted months in advance. I get my coffee from Whole Foods where they roast it fresh, and tell you the date they roasted it on. I don't have to "grateful" to Starbucks, anymore. This is a great liberation.

Comments (22)

  • mustard_seeds
    11 years ago

    That is too bad you had such a hard time. I suspect that there is a wide variation amongst the Starbucks stores. The shop near us does not save them for anybody, it is just whoever happens to be there when there are grounds. If you ask for the plastic garbage bag "if it is really full" they gladly hand it over and I bet they like not having to scoop into the little silver bags. But sometimes someone else was just there and got the grounds. That is okay, it stayed out of the landfill. Does a lot go in the dumpster? I would guess that yes it probably does if they are busy and don't have time to scoop. But they are doing something and I appreciate what they try to do. They have always been very friendly and even ask to see pictures of the garden!

  • robertz6
    11 years ago

    Five years ago Starbucks seemed to place more importance in the grounds-for-gardens program.

    I estimate the Starbucks nearest to me throws about 80-90% of their grounds in the dumpster. How do I know? That's where I collect them.

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  • albert_135   39.17°N 119.76°W 4695ft.
    11 years ago

    There are different sorts of Starbucks in our community. Some owned and operated by the corporation and some private enterprises using Starbucks products. Our corporate owned Starbucks still puts out grounds for gardeners even though there isn't much gardening around here because of the cost of water. The others have never put out grounds for gardeners.

  • borderbarb
    11 years ago

    Funny ... I've always heard that SanFranFolks were very friendly. Come to find out, that SoCal folks are much friendlier. ALL of the SB baristas that I've encountered down here in SD County are friendly, helpful, and actually appologize when the UCG bin/bags are empty. Go figure.

    Of course, I'm friendly too. More important, I am ALWAYS appreciative. I don't expect service when they are extra busy. I certainly don't expect them to call me when they have a supply [your expection, expressed in an previous thread]

    The fact that providing UCG is corporate policy does not mean that every SB store follows lock step 100% of the time. It also doesn't give the customer permission to DEMAND anything. But, I repeat. Here in north SD County, I have only had one SB store turn me down..and that was a very small store, limited space...they did hold some for the next day once, but since my transportation is not reliable, I hesitate to ask them to keep UCG for certain days.

    I spent my working years in the belly of a corporate beast, whose motto was 'customer always right'[while cheating them quietly] We 'agents' had to put up with the grossest abuse .. smile .. and continue to serve. As a result, I have nothing but admiration for the young baristas at SB ... where the employees actually get health insurance and profit sharing ... who seem as tickled as I am that my earth worms will love their UCG. They also seem pleased when I bring them a jarful of flowers from my garden.

    Re: UCG being acidic .. my earthworms take them straight from the SB bag ... and seem to thrive.

    So, why not suggest an alternative to UCG, and not vent your resentment toward SB.

  • Kimmsr
    11 years ago

    It is a corporate policy of Starbucks that the grounds they generate be made available to any gardener that wants them. If individual stores do not follow that policy that is the individual stores not Starbucks. Whether any one store will follow that corporate policy depends on many things and may include your local Public Health people that inspect and license these places.

  • annpat
    11 years ago

    Sour grapes. None of your experience is like mine. I've never been treated poorly at Starbucks. Of course, I wouldn't dream of calling a busy business during hours to inquire about coffee grounds. And I certainly wouldn't dream of asking busy people, in a crowded space, to save grounds for me. I walk into Starbucks, stand at the end of the counter, and ask the first employee who asks if they can assist me, if "your coffee grounds' trash bag is full enough for you to want me to take it off your hands?"

    I've never left a Starbucks without coffee grounds...which are not heavy (in the garden), are not hard to handle, do not need to be mixed with anything, and which, according to years of conversation here, are not acidic, once brewed.

    The employees often ask if they can help me carry the bag out, and I always refuse, based on my theory that people who are not asked to put themselves out, are often very gracious. (I've often had someone there offer to go get me another bag that they haven't taken to the dumpster yet.)

    I don't know how I'll deal with it when I can't manage the bag, which is often heavy, by myself.

  • humboldt101
    11 years ago

    I actually work at Starbucks. I have worked for a few. Every one of them does it differently. If there is a large demand for them, they usually empty the grounds and filters into the silver bags, as we do at my work. They WILL NOT hold them for you. First come first serve. Sorry, it's nothing personal. I myself intend to take home grounds sometimes, and a customer takes it instead. Not a big deal. That being said, they are a good place for composting materials. I take home grounds, banana peels, and even tea bags and coffee filters. I am also getting free pallets from them to build compost bins. And when they remodeled, they gave me five sets of patio furniture for my cabin. Starbucks might not be the answer for you where you live, but you do live in a big city. People aren't as polite in the "City" as they are here in Humboldt County.

  • cjs111
    11 years ago

    thats too bad. i am in chandler, a burb of phoenix and the starbucks in my grocery store gladly gives them out. They even suggested I let them know ahead of when I want them so the can collect them the day prior. I picked up 3 bags from them that were difficult to carry because they were so full. May be try another starbucks.
    Also, I always approach them when they don't have customers.

  • lisascenic Urban Gardener, Oakland CA
    11 years ago

    I've had much better luck forming a relationship with a local coffeeshop/bakery (Arizmendi, for those in the Bay Area) and leaving them my own five gallon buckets. But I only did this when I knew I would be stopping by every single day. Otherwise my buckets became burdensome, and a bother.

    The folks at this business were really delighted by the fact that I was using their used grounds to rehabilitate a crappy vacant lot, and turn it into a wildflower garden.

    Despite what other people suggest, the used grounds were a superlative soil amendment. My soil improved rapidly and my worm population exploded!

  • petalpatsy
    11 years ago

    My local Starbucks very, very seldom puts the grounds in a silver bag. They just double bag the garbage grounds and put them in a little brown can by the door. I've never called to check before hand, and it is hit and miss, since lots of people around here garden. I've had them offer to carry it for me, and I've had them call out "Thanks!" when I pick it up. Naturally, if they are busy, they ignore me. I'm seldom very presentable when I stop by...no make up, ratty t-shirt, wild hair--you know, gardening mode. I'm happy to escape attention.

  • rott
    11 years ago

    ..
    Two things I've observed. Starbucks tries. Starbucks is not consistent from store to store.

    When Starbucks leaves the silver bags in those buckets, people use the buckets as trash cans. Buckets have since left the building around here.

    When I was hard core collecting coffee grounds I would hit about five Starbucks on my way home from work. There was one store that would always look at me funny like I was scamming or something and then I'd have to act grateful while they made me wait to get half a donut box of grounds when I've got a 60 lb sack of coffee grounds in the car from the previous store. When I hit stores regularly they produce. If I'm not so regular, they're not so prolific.

    When I want coffee grounds, I walk in and ask. If I get none, not a major disaster. It's not like I'm going to ask for my money back.

    Brewed grounds are not acidic near as I can tell. Starbucks coffee doesn't curdle my stomach like office coffee drip machine stuff does and Starbucks coffee grounds don't stink like office coffee drip machine stuff either. I once spread a couple of hundred pounds out in front of our front door and for two weeks it was wake and smell the coffee on my way to work and it smelled good (I'm a tea drinker).

    Used grounds can go directly on the ground but mulch on top of them to avoid the crusting affect.

    I'm kind of surprised there are Santa Barbara baristas in SD according to borderbarb. Might they be from San Bernardino? I guess we can rule out SF.

    I have to expect that there are lots of Starbucks in SF. Try another.

    to sense
    ..

  • borderbarb
    11 years ago

    To clarify .. the SB in my post was short for Starbucks.
    So glad that all other posts verify what my experience has been. I've been amazed at the courtesy from barristas who seem to be doing 3 things at once, asking me if they can help. When I ask if they have any UCG, the response is usually ... 'just give me a minute and I'll get them for you' .. or 'someone just picked up a bunch, sorry, we don't have any right now'.Always with a smile. I'm a small town gal, now living in a large city and this kind of courtesy is rarely found in busy stores.

  • goren
    11 years ago

    If one really thinks a 'policy' might be told them by front-office is real, one should maybe think the Dodo will return.
    What is said for public offering, is not necessarily what is actually offered. They have to put a good face to the do-gooders...to say otherwise, is poor business.
    To suggest a business should just stop and pay attention to him/her collecting their waste and not pay attention to what pays the bills, is ludicrous.
    Maybe ask if you can come back at ??? time to collect what grounds they have at that time and maybe you'll get glad-hands.

  • Laurel Zito
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    I am using only Kellogg Amend brand in bags, kitchen scraps, discarded leaves,in my bins.

    Coffee grounds are so heavy, wet, and dense. I can't see any advantages to them, when, I still had to buy bagged shredded redwood to add to the coffee grounds to balance the greens with the browns.

    The Kellogg Amend is so light and fluffy, the compost does not get packed down and has more air circulation and has to be turned less, and is easier to turn. My compost has become much lighter and fluffier. I can turn the whole thing without making this pain come in my shoulder, that I get from lifting heavy things.

  • annpat
    11 years ago

    So, let me get this straight. You buy stuff to compost?

  • trivedi_south
    11 years ago

    Most of them who work there are very sweet, nice bunch of folks. I agree that one shouldn't bother them or go during busy times. Having said that, the one near my home is ALWAYS busy. I quietly stand in line and at times they say "sorry we already trashed" or "sorry, someone got it before". I have asked them if they can leave it in a marked trashcan (marked UCG) next to the store where they have bunch of trash cans and that way there won't be any other trash in the UCG marked trash bin. However the shift supervisor said "NO. We get inspected and there could be flies and such". However later on I was thinking that there possibly couldn't be inspections "outside" the store?? And that is where they are putting their unclaimed UCG anyways....right...till it goes in the strip mall dumpster!

    So anyhow...need to keep asking them....or need to find the store manager and discuss with him.

    Most people who work at SB are young (college kids) and very sweet/nice.

  • berryman135678
    11 years ago

    My hunny bunny gets my UCG from a local ma n pa coffee shop. She has 2 -two gal buckets with lids. She works on the floor below and swaps the buckets daily. As a thank you we patronize the establishment, tip the the workers, and drop of baskets of fresh Tomatoes (I always plant twice what we ever need) and peppers in the summer. No Problem, no hassles and I get 4-6 gallons of grounds a week.

  • elephantschild
    11 years ago

    A business whose primary motivation is to make money? What's this world coming to? Next thing, you'll be telling me they neglect their non-paying "customers" to serve their paying ones! ;)

  • jolj
    11 years ago

    I have never found anything other than animal manure, that is a better compost then coffee & tea waste.
    Leave & grass chipping being next.
    I agree with most of you, any time I have ask( always Nicely), I have got what I ask for, some time more.
    I do not get UCG from any retail store, but if you are in South Carolina, there is a Star Buck processing Plant, that roast their coffee. I never been there, but have heard they need some one to pick up the Coffee waste.

  • mushroomrockets
    11 years ago

    I went to starbucks, gave them a 5 gallon bucket. They filled it and I'd get it week after week.

    If you have a problem with your Starbucks, call whoever is above them, whoever manages that store, or the region, etc. It's their company policy, so they should be following it. =)

  • pvel
    11 years ago

    Give me liberty or give me UCG.
    My local Starbucks keep the silver bags of grounds in a discreet place on their counter. Sometimes I get 1 bag, sometimes 2 or 3, sometimes none.
    The baristas are always nice. My compost is fantastic. I greatly appreciate that they have such a good policy.

  • humboldt101
    11 years ago

    My store places the silver bags to the side for anyone to take them. I just took 12 bags to my property yesterday. And... Mushroomrockets is right. IT IS OUR COMPANY POLICY. You should say something. But, if you're still having troubles getting greens, look into the food banks and local restaurants. Our local food bank posted on Craigslist that they throw away 600-1,000 pounds of vegetable waste each month. Local restaurants are also looking for people to pick up their waste to reduce their garbage bill I would assume. As for the people that work there, most of them understand and are willing to help. There are always a few bad apples, and they irritate me as well. As for me, "I'm a terrible person. If your dog's aren't barking at me, then they are horrible judges of character, and you need to train them better." - That's what I tell the cops.