After sourcing, roasting and preparing the best coffees we can find, we recognize that used coffee grounds still have tremendous value, specifically as a great ingredient to any compost system. We’re passionate about compost at Swing’s, and it was our intention that once we opened our newest brew bar and roasting facility in Alexandria, VA in 2013, we would make freely available all of our used coffee for the community to take and use in their systems. The result is that almost all of our used coffee gets a second life in a garden or flower bed or bar of soap.

One of our favorite partners in this endeavor is Common Ground City Farm, located in the District of Columbia. Throughout each week, a volunteer comes to pick up used coffee for compost. We’re proud to support Common Ground in their efforts to grow food, educate, and help low-income DC community members meet their food needs. In 2013, Common Ground delivered 5,200 pounds of fresh vegetables to low-income residents in their efforts to combat poverty and food deserts.


CGCF uses a system based on modified windrows, developed with assistance from Darren Joffe of Farmer D. It involves sizeable piles of soil, food waste, and straw, built up in layers. It requires some space, but it can take in up to 450 lbs of food waste a month, and produces usable compost in about three months!

Adding woodchips, newspaper or other “browns” to the compost is critical to the compost bin working. Your food waste (“greens”) provides nitrogen to the compost, while these “browns” provide carbon. A 1:3 nitrogen to carbon ratio allows the compost to get hot and break down the organic matter in it. Moisture level and temperature are also important factors, and we monitor the windrows’ temperature and moisture.

Partner Link:

DOWNLOAD Swing’s Fruitful Guide to Fertile Soil