From Bankers to Mushroom Farmers


Back to the Roots was founded by Alejandro Velez & Nikhil Arora during their last semester at UC Berkeley in 2009. Two months away from graduation, and heading into the corporate world of investment banking & consulting, they came across the idea during a class lecture of being able to potentially grow gourmet mushrooms entirely on recycled coffee grounds. Inspired by the idea of turning waste into wages & fresh, local food, they experimented in Alex’s fraternity kitchen, ultimately growing one test bucket of tasty oyster mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds. With that one bucket, some initial interest from Whole Foods & Chez Panisse and a $5,000 grant from the UC Berkeley Chancellor for social innovation, they decided to forget the corporate route, and instead, become full-time urban mushroom farmers!

Inspired by the idea of producing local, fresh food from what was an urban waste stream, Back to the Roots has since grown to create the Grow-Your-Own Mushroom Garden which lets anyone, across the country, grow their own gourmet mushrooms at home as well!

Our Efforts Today

  • On pace in 2011 to collect, divert and reuse 1 million lbs of coffee grounds this year from Peet’s Coffee & Tea
  • Help families grow over 250,000lbs of fresh food at home in 2011!
  • Sustained 10 urban school & community gardens by donating BTTRs premium soil amendment
  • Selling our kits at over 300 Whole Foods nationwide


To create a movement, to constantly inspire, innovate, and responsibilitate*


To create unique, enjoyable, and sustainable products for our customers


Hustle. Passion. Family. Universal Happiness

Contact Us

Address: 2935 Adeline St., Oakland CA 94608

Phone: 510.922.9758

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