Interview with Tobias Lau, Founder of Beyond Coffee
Established in 2012, with their mushroom mindset spreading all over Copenhagen, this innovative company that just started to harvest in business growth in 2016, has now become one of the pioneering, circular economy business models in Denmark. This is our interview with Beyond Coffee’s Founder, Tobias Lau-walk into the wonderworld of Tobias’s sustainable vision with us.
This Copenhagen-based project is situated in Jaegersborggade, known as the “Greenest Street” in town. With two coffee seats on the sidewalk, this curious-looking “coffee shop” is the heart of one of the leading innovative sustainability companies in Copenhagen, Beyond Coffee.
Despite it being a few minus degrees, Anna and I were very eager to get to our interview. Tobias began by passionately and proudly introducing his neighbors, each of whom were affiliated with green initiatives of different crafts and creative businesses, warming us up with his wild enthusiasm and knowledge. He dived into explaining about innovative possibilities in reusing waste towards new opportunities in a more circular world.
So Tobias, how did Beyond Coffee get started? Was it out of your love for coffee or for mushrooms?!
“Haha actually it was out of, I love the fact that we need to change the world.
After meeting this key mushroom farmer, the idea of collecting organic coffee grounds from coffee shops and restaurants to grow oyster mushrooms had just gotten tucked in my mind. I kept thinking about it even though the professional aspect was still not familiar to me.
The potential values which can be refined through expanding the life of these “wastes” can be THE chance to create more positive growth in society- create new markets, employ more people, develop our civilization in views of better utilisation of natural resources- made me excited in believing that we can create an example to establish a new mindset that enhances our society.”
And with that, Beyond Coffee was set up with the message that Tobias and his think tank team aimed to introduce into the world: When you make coffee, you only use 0.2% of the coffee's nutrients. Only the coffee aroma ends up in the coffee you drink. The remaining 99.8% are disposed as coffee grounds. That is a waste of resources and a waste of nutrients!
Oyster mushrooms are an edible fungus that love to grow in coffee grounds, and the nutrients in the cap can be turned into other products. As we stood in one of these containers, reveling in this simple circular economy, we saw how it illustrated the possibility of building new business models by finding solutions to consume what is already available. The oyster fungi of Beyond Coffee are exploding with a unique, nearly floral smell that you don’t commonly find from those cultivated by conventional oyster mushroom farming systems. This might be also the reason why they have proudly become one of the first suppliers to a whole-organic Michelin restaurant from Copenhagen that uses these fungi to design a series of highly nutritious, mushroom-based recipes in a collaborative effort with Beyond Coffee.
“ The road to more sustainable growth is built by the waste that surrounds us.” Tobias writes on one of his articles.
It’s more than true that we can tell, for Tobias, that nothing about social improvement is impossible. As an experienced consultant in social actions, his vision is refreshing. Tobias impressed us with how he sees sustainability as finding out solutions with integrated concerns all linked by psychology, ethnology, physics, economics, and biology.
“My hope is to continuously bring something new to the world.” says Tobias as we neared the end of our interview, lovely mushroom farm. As he departed on bike, the important ethos demonstrated through his creative projects has been engraved in our hearts. The focus of Tobias, or Beyond coffee, is neither coffee nor mushroom- It’s all about Beyond.
Who would you like to see next on the Douce Journal?
“Maybe Brent Smith from GreenWave? He is a pretty cool guy. Me and Thomas Harttung showed him our mushroom farm early in 2017. Maybe that's my best bet.”