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Where to find UCG Starbucks coffee grounds in the Bay Area

Posted by tropical_thought SF CA 10 (My Page) on
Sat, Sep 4, 10 at 15:42

I am not able to get Starbucks coffee grounds UCG in the bay area. All the stores don't want to give the grounds away. If someone knows of a friendly store that is willing to give away grounds please comment. I would try to get them out of the dumpster, as is often suggested, but I don't know where they locate the dumpsters. They must lock them up or make them non accessible. I am trying to continue to compost without coffee grounds, but nothing is breaking down very fast any more. You can also contact me via garden web, I accept email from other members.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Where to find UCG Starbucks coffee grounds in the Bay Area

I've only had one store refuse me....and they will save them for me if I call a day ahead. The store is very small compared to some others and I would guess that the manager doesn't feel they have the room to put a UCG can out.

Since it is CORPORATE POLICY, I would guess that saying in the nicest way to each store that has refused you: "Oh gee, I heard it was SB corporate policy to give away UCG to gardeners. Do you know of a SB in this area that does provide this service? Or can you put me in touch with someone at the corporate office who can help me??" You might also offer to make an appointment to pick up the UCG at a particular time of day ...and if these overtures don't help, go online for the corporate office and ask if the UCG for gardeners is still going on, and telling that the SB in your area don't seem to do that. I hope this works for you.

I did a google search for every community/town near me to make a map of the SB. The phone number for each is online. You can call and ask if the manager will please save UCG for you. I have been blown away at how sweet and helpful the 'baristas' in my area are ... they often insist on carrying out the pkgs.

Also, my sister just mentioned to the waitress at a cafe where she often eats about the SB deal with UCG, and the waitress started saving 5gal cans of UCG for her. So you might want to ask at any of your favorite eating places.


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RE: Where to find UCG Starbucks coffee grounds in the Bay Area

Can anyone name a particular location? I called them and none of them want to do it. In fact, they tell me to find another Starbucks. If I found a Starbucks that would like to do it, then I could make a special effort to patronize that particular location. When they leave the grounds out too long they attract flies and then they tell me that they can't save them because it creates flies, but if they would use the small bags and refrigerator them or store them in plastic bins or something then it would not attract flies. I think this is just an excuse they invented not to save ground, because they don't want to do it. They are too busy, and it's just too time consuming for them. I sort of need a location at which I can park my car near by. I heard about some stores that would, but they are located in areas in which there is no parking for miles, or the downtown area. If I can't park it's too much to carry them back to the car.

I do buy coffee at starbucks and lots of mugs, but it doesn't seem to make any difference to them. I am now buying coffee beans at whole foods, because I can buy a small amounts. I don't drink huge amounts of coffee, and the beans go stale quickly. But, I have a least 10 starbucks mugs and I am always buying new mugs as the old ones break.


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RE: Where to find UCG Starbucks coffee grounds in the Bay Area

  • Posted by jean001 z8aPortland, OR (My Page) on
    Sun, Sep 5, 10 at 13:36

"I called them and none of them want to do it. ... flies..."

Local shops package in silver bags, taped shut at the top. I have no problem with refuse or filters that other folks sometimes report. And some folks take their own 5-gal bucket as has been said above.

As to flies, that won't happen if they separate grounds from discarded foods.

- Print off a copy of the corporate policy, and show it to them.
- And promise you'll be there every Tuesday at 7AM (or whatever day & time is convenient for them), perhaps even twice a week.

If all else fails, email corporate to politely explain the challenges in your area.


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RE: Where to find UCG Starbucks coffee grounds in the Bay Area

I did all of those things. I found an email, and I got them to give them to me for a while, but now they are saying the flies. However, I know UCG do attract flies if you just leave them, even if no food is present. You can run a test, put some on the ground without mixing it into the ground, in a day or two you will get flies.

So, I emailed that Starbucks email back, and did not even get a reply. I have the call the main number again and find another representative to get more help again, but I am just so tried of fussing with Starbucks all the time. I not super motivated. I would rather hear on from someone on garden web, which Bay Area Starbucks have nice managers and garden friendly policies. I know they are all supposed to have the same policy, but like individuals each location varies.

Right now, I am using Kellogg's brand amend in a bag instead of coffee grounds. It is working, it is just much slower then before when I used a 50 50 combination of UCG and Osh brand shredded redwood bark. So, it's good I have three round compost bins, so I won't run out of space. I also have 2 square rubber maid bins if worse comes to worst. I may end up with five bins because the process of decomposition is much slower now.


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RE: Where to find UCG Starbucks coffee grounds in the Bay Area

Hmmmm.... maybe my flies have more attractive stuff than UCG .... becaue the buckets full of SB UCG don't seem to attract any. The gist of these messages was to keep trying to find a way that works for each store manager.

///////////////////
snips from another thread on subject of SB:
]] I no longer get in the customer line, in case that annoys. I go over by the end of the counter where the opening is. The busy cashier may not want to be bothered with me, but another less busy person usually will ask if they can help me.
]] The woman running the place told me they do the grounds thing for gardening in spring because otherwise they aren't picked up. Even here in Louisiana. I told her I compost year round and I would be happy to pick them up. She did not mind saving them for someone but her main concern about saving them was they could not be left in the store overnight. I told her I probably could pick them up a few times a week and asked if I just stopped by if I could get what they had and she said sure. I was thrilled.
]] Our local starbucks puts UCG in heavy-duty trashbags (maybe 25lbs each), tie a knot in the top and places these in a neat wooden container on the back porch. They are available year round. I usually get 3-4 each trip and I don't even go inside! I have probably composted 10 bags of their grounds for every 1 cup I have purchased...:)[this post from mendopete .. so suspect the mendocino area]
]] Last week I finally went by my local Starbucks to ask about getting used grounds. The staff were really enthusiastic and said it was no problem at all, tell every gardener that I know about them. I took in two clean five gallon pails and they have filled them both every day for me for the last week!
Today the manager stopped me and gave me some mumbo jumbo about not being able to have my clean, bag-lined white pails on his floor. Something about Starbucks policy or local health bylaws. He was unsure of why he was telling me that I could not leave buckets. I gave him my best "whatever is best for you, I just really appreciate your help :-)," and he agreed to keep supplying me, but I was left feeling somewhat uncomfortable. I had heard from some of the counter staff that the new manager was not big on saving grounds for gardeners, so I was not totally surprised.
]] As a former Starbucks employee, and a current AssMan at another chain coffee place, I can tell you that there *is* a bit of concern regarding buckets of grinds left sitting around.
This isn't a problem, if people come to pick up the buckets.. but can result in a bit of a hassle for the store if they get forgotten for days on end.

A couple of reasons. Space is one. The SB where I worked had virtually NO back room. A hallway with the manager's desk, shelving up to the ceiling, and the sink. There was no room for more than two people back there, let alone extra stuff.

And yes.. that evil dreaded health board. Depending on who you have checking out the premises, there's no reasoning with these people if they see 'garbage' stored under your counters etc. Surprise inspections are a stressful thing, even for a place that knows they're up to code. Having something around that could get a frown from the inspector does get a managers heart racing.

Having a 'fresh' bucket of grinds is usually managable. When you're not scared to open it and show the inspector. No mold, no smell. Just 'Grinds for Gardener Steve'. He'll be by at 4 to get em'. Not so bad. But if they've been sitting there a few days because Steve forgot *again* to pick them up.. that poses a bit of a problem.

SB has gotten around this, by launching their Grounds for Gardeners' program. The grounds are labelled and actually displayed. This helps a great deal.

And people who take a garbage bag, there's no complaint there. Though Im sad to see that most SB in my area now are combining ground garbage with other garbage. When I asked the other day, I was told they didn't do that until the spring. I suggested I just take their ground garbage off their hands, and they told me it was all combined. Boo. They said they only separate them in the warm months around here.

It's disappointing. But it's good to hear that they're not all doing it. I wonder: In the cities that have composting programs. Toronto etc.. does SB and other coffee places have a'grounds bin' that goes? Or are those composting programs not for businesses?
]]FWIW, the SB near my home collects them on request. I call in the morning on a weekend, and by mid afternoon they've got a nice large trashbag full. They said they used to bag them without request, but not enough people took them, so they gave up.
]] After reading about their corporate commitment to give grounds away, I called my local Starbucks ahead of time, spoke with the manager and introduced myself. I work across the street two days a week and we agreed that I would bring in a 5 gallon bucket with a lid, in the morning and pick it up at the end of the day. I went to a local paint shop that supplies contractors (Sherwin-Williams) and they happily sold me 3 super solid plain grey 5 gallon buckets with very tight fitting lids for $3.50 CAD each (this could be a problem if closed by accident by SB people as they have to be pried open with a screwdriver... so far, I have just kept the lids in my car and no-one at SB has asked for one). I drop off the bucket in the morning and pick it up on my way home after work. People are friendly, even excited about seeing the grounds go to good use and usually offer to help me carry it out, which I decline. I want this to be easy as pie and a full bucket weighs about 30 lbs I think, so quite manageable for me to carry.
]] Some Starbucks supervisory folks and local "health" officials looking for minute "problems" have raised "issues" (I am a physician once worked for a county health department so I know how the system "works.") We've managed to overcome all objections.

Support from local employees has ranged from one manager who had the employees come to her home to enjoy a meal based on the vegetables we'd been providing to an "eye-roller" greeting us with little enthusiasm.

Just hang in there and remain unfailingly pleasant.

]] have been having poor results getting UCGs lately, but I walked in to Starbucks today, too embarrassed to ask for anymore, and the manager acually asked ME if I wanted any. She said she had "about 8 million tons of them" saved. I really almost teared up. :)
It didn't turn out to be quite that much, but a good sized bag, and a nice barista even offered to carry them out for me! Yay!

Here is a link that might be useful: Thank You SB thread


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RE: Where to find UCG Starbucks coffee grounds in the Bay Area

I have read all the other threads about it, and in my opinion, it's too much of a hassle to bother with. They don't have the foil bags you can pick up, because that is what attracts the flies. They are always too busy under any circumstances to help a coffee grounds person. If I was buy one of those unhealthy baked goods posing as healthy, they would stop.

The solution would be to just sell the bags, you could pay for them in the regular line, and they should store them in a refrigerator context, because like milk it will spoil.

I still would like to find a better Starbucks, so I am just asking if anyone other local gardener knows of a friendly Starbucks that I would be able to park nearby. I am not strong enough for carry huge garbage bags, I have a should injury that acts up, and if I can't get out of the car quickly and into the compost bin, they can leak out into the car.

UCG are acid and will eat into the plastic or foil causing a leakage, that can ruin your car interior as it also leaks. Milk is the same way. If you have ever spilled milk in your car, the smell never goes away. Waxed paper milk cartons would work as a container.

You have to call and order them and then sometimes they don't save them, because they forgot or someone else got them before you, then have to try again, and they refuse to just spontaneously give you what they have on hand. It's just a game, to make it as difficult as possible to get them, so people get sick of it and quit. In San Mateo County they put them in the trash with the landfill.

If it was easy to get UCG from Starbucks there would not be so much discussion on how to get them. If one can get them ones feels like one has found the holy grail. It should not be that way, if they truly cared about the environment and wanted to really encourage composting.


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RE: Where to find UCG Starbucks coffee grounds in the Bay Area

Tropical Thought,

I'm not sure what's too much hassle. BorderBarb and others are trying to help you, and give you lots of ideas and feedback, but you don't seem to want any of it. In my area (SoCal) SB is great about it. Yes, it may take some work on your part to make friends with the local staff. If you feel that you're being treated like it's a game, try asking at a Peet's, or Denny's, or any place else in your neighborhood.


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RE: Where to find UCG Starbucks coffee grounds in the Bay Area

I have discussed UCG here, and on the soil forum, why would you say I am not listening to advice? I am trying to bring the conversation back to what location do people get their grounds. Even if I call the 800 number again and they order the Starbucks that is near to me to save me grounds, they resent saving them. I would like to find a manager who is actually committed to the environment. But, no one has yet suggested a location. I would be willing to travel a bit if I can work it into my errands.

I guess, I could try Denny's there is one is Pacifica, but it's kind of far. There is no Denny's in San Francisco or Daly City. Peets and Tullys have said no already.
If no one suggests a location then maybe there are no locations or no friendly locations that people use for UCG, or they don't want share their secret locations. It does not have to be a Starbucks. I called some local coffee shops including one in Brisbane, I think it was called "Mad Dog in the Fog" or something like that and they did not want to save them. As you know most local coffee shop have been put out of business by Starbucks and Peets.

If people want to share their success stories. I am posting my composting page from my website to show photos of my success with composting. Although San Francisco is foggy, compost has given me huge plants on many occasions. But, I posted here to get local feedback, in general I would get lots of feedback just on composting in general on the soil forum. I just planted a woodwardia fimbriata fern yesterday in the area in which I took out the lawn, and I used a lot of compost. Ferns really love compost. I just hope it doesn't die over the winter.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Composting Page


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RE: Where to find UCG Starbucks coffee grounds in the Bay Area

  • Posted by sffog 10/SanFran (My Page) on
    Mon, Sep 6, 10 at 22:01

dennys in daly city there are 2 that i know of, serramonte center and one at westbourough and gellert. dennys in sf one in japantown. getting a little political with sb and peets . sf has fog no doubt about it but we also have micro climates with warmth and sunshine, just the facts


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RE: Where to find UCG Starbucks coffee grounds in the Bay Area

This conversation is looking very similar to what I was experiencing in Melbourne Australia, so we now have the Ground to Ground initiative underway here that collects UCG from cafes and offices.
If you can get that network of cafes to commit to do the right thing, then between them you will more than enough for your needs. I've used over 2 tonnes of UCG in the last year, and this is all from the same trusted people.

If you want to establish the same kind of trusted relationships with the guys that are making the end product, like we have, you should check out our site at http://groundtoground.org. There is a heap of information and resources there which you will find helpful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ground to Ground


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RE: Where to find UCG Starbucks coffee grounds in the Bay Area

I gave up, Starbucks is too difficult, if I go in there and ask they only give me like a tiny bit from the espresso machine, they won't save the ground coffee from the drip. I refuse to make an appointment to go back, because they always throw them out to be discouraging. It is too much work to keep going back, no other place will save them, and I can't find a hidden dumpster to collect them from at night, so I am out of luck. I still have great compost, I had to buy bagged browns, before anyway, the secret is buying bagged browns to add to food scraps, just coffee and food scraps is not going to make a good compost. It won't have body. You can't compost for free. The only thing I like about Starbucks is the mugs, the coffee beans are all stale, but you want to plug your blog, website or what ever, go ahead, but I know all the stuff already, I could write my own composting book, and I have made many a blog myself on the subject. I got so bored with the whole idea. Some people will never make good compost, because they don't want to make the effort to do so. It's like losing weight, you have to really want to do it, and not just be doing because you feel you should do it. You can totally make great compost without any coffee ground, just use bagged browns from anywhere, and food scraps, mix it every two weeks, there is really not more to say, beyond that.


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