Ground to Ground

173 thoughts on “The Ground to Ground Primer – Coffee Grounds for the Garden

  1. And since this year, 2018, I am doing exactly the same thing, thank you for sharing

    Since March 2010, I have collected over 2 tonnes of used coffee grounds, and it has all been used in my compost bin, dug into raised garden beds, around the base of fruit trees, liberally sprinkled over the lawn, or handed out to family and neighbours.


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  3. I read with much interest and pleasure the information you provided .
    From now on I will use the coffee grounds either used or not for my little garden.
    Thanks a lot,
    Yours truly, D.


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  5. How do I keep squirrels from digging up my bulbs and eating them also I have a very large oak tree in my yard and the squirrels hide acorns in my yard and are always digging in my yard which is mostly flower beds. Will coffee grounds deter the squirrels? I’m getting desperate to stop them from digging but would never want to hurt them, help.


  6. Hi Shane,

    This website is awesome and so are you! Thoroughly researched, well written, your love and passion for this is so very obvious. Plus, a lot of warmth comes through the writing and your accessibility to your readers.

    I’m in California, particularly Los Angeles. The soil that I’m dealing with is pretty much clay and appears to be nutrient poor. As I dig into it, I sometimes dig up rocks. Nothing has grown on it since I lived here except for a couple of patches of weeds that struggle to make an appearance plus the drought isn’t helping matters at all. This is nothing like the good Iowa soil I grew up seeing.

    I’m in the process of soil building using compost and green manure particularly peas and oats. My mom suggested used coffee grounds too to infuse the soil with more nitrogen and other nutrients. Plus, she said it’s also great for potted plants.

    I managed to get some used coffee grounds from a couple of Starbucks which I used on the soil in my garden and in the compost bins. Also, per this article, I added some to an area mulched with wood bark (got that free too from a tree-trimming project in my neighborhood) that a cat decided was his/her own litter box rather than something to protect the ground where I have jade and aloes growing.

    So far, I’ve not seen any evidence of the cat hanging out there since then and am hoping he or she got the message.

    I’m looking forward to seeing additional changes like healthier plants. Also, I’m encouraged by the support of the Starbucks locations that so generously shared with me. Basically, the manager at one said that she supports the Grounds for Gardening and whenever I need more bring a bucket with a lid lined with a plastic bag. They’ll fill it up and set it aside for me until I pick it up.

    Sorry for the long post. Bottom line, I really appreciate what you’re doing.




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  9. I save all mine and all my egg shells and the tea leaves and mix them together then dig them in around different plants each day- that the ground is not frozen solid then they go in the worm farm in the basement – and more from a local restaurant but I had no idea that starbucks would give them away too, my local starbucks is an hour away but next time I am there I am going to ask them, what an excellent idea. I might ask them for the coffee sacks too. I wonder if the branches get their beans in sacks?.. have a wonderful new years! excellent article. c


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  12. Pingback: Shane Genziuk Speaking at the Festival of Ideas 2013 | Ground to Ground

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  20. I knew that coffee grounds were good for your garden, but I never knew why. Thank you for sharing all of this very useful and informative information.


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  23. Hi Shane: I am SO glad you stopped by my blog because it led me to your blog and this excellent article. First off, I LOVE coffee. Love it! And I always compost my grounds. However, I never knew they were this beneficial or thought of asking local coffee shops to save their grounds for me. This is amazing! I had a slight slug problem early in the season and could have used coffee grounds…and I see it may be effective against ants which have been a problem this year. So, thank you, thank you, thank you! I will definitely be following your blog starting today.


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  26. This is an excellent compilation for the benefit of coffee grounds as a necessary addition to any garden! I will be linking to your site and brochure and encouraging everyone to use or give away their grounds rather than tossing them. I haven’t been drinking coffee in a few years, but now I will actually seek it out and try it in the Don’t Buy a Thing garden! We have so many slugs and other pests here; I am excited to try coffee grounds as both a fertilizer and organic pest control! -Grace at


  27. Pingback: Coffee Grounds Fertilize Tomatoes!! | Coffee Grounds to Ground

  28. Hi shane, great website and a great idea. I live in Perth, and we’ve got shocking soil in general. I started actively pursuing my organic vege gardening a year ago, and am constantly on the look out for new ideas to get some organics into the soil!! As an upside, I love my coffee and a new cafe has opened around the corner, so thanks for putting me onto your idea! I’ll be around the shop tomorrow to see if I can start collecting!! Congrats on spreading your passion.


    • Awesome to hear from you Richard, and best of luck with the cafe. Please let me know how it goes with them and if there is anything I can do to help.
      Also – would be great to see some photos of what you are doing with that soil – I was born in Perth so understand the problem. Damn sand and more sand.
      Lovely climate for growing mind you, just need to work on that soil!


  29. Hey there! I found this post through another article through pinterest. Pays to post your articles in comments ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, thank you for the extra information. I love the science of it all too. I did an experiment last winter to see if I could grow plants using JUST coffee grounds, for fun and out of curiosity. I grew a potato plant! It was great ๐Ÿ™‚ Wish I took pictures. I will this year though.


    • Yes please do Darlene, I’d be very interested to see how they end up. I’m growing my potatoes in car tires and am using a coffee grounds blend, but not 100%. Keep up the awesome work my Pinterest friend!


  30. I only wish I could compost my coffee grounds. Unfortunately, I use a Keurig which only leaves behind a small plastic container.


  31. Hi Shane,
    I want to collect grounds! Do you suggest going in with one of your printed brochures? If cafes agree to keep some for me, I can print some of your posters for them? (just in case you have any copyright issues for me to worry about). I’m in Perth and I can’t see any on the map thus far. And we don’t have starbucks


    • Great to hear from you Stephanie. Well done for getting into used coffee grounds, and I hope you find them as useful as the rest of us do. Regarding the posters, yes please! Print and hand out as many as you like – this is the very reason why I created them. Regarding copyright, all the material on this site is free to use for non-commercial purposes.
      Well done again, please let me know how you are going, and if there is anything I can do to help.
      Cheers, Shane.


  32. Pingback: Raising Awareness of Used Coffee Grounds | Coffee Grounds to Ground

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  34. Wow! I just read about your website and use of coffee grounds in a magazine today. I love my gardening, so I asked the shop where the mag was if I could have their coffee grounds – I now have my first bag! They had no problem with me collecting it, they’d just tossed it in a bag in their bin. I just love the smell, and look forward to testing it all over my garden. Thanx for getting the info out there as I would never have thought of it myself!


  35. We’ve been tossing our coffee grounds into our compost for years and two years ago started to supply herbs to one of our town’s premier restaurants. While we are not “certified” organic, we are all but the paperwork, and once, when the chef was here to collect new herbs he watched me dumping my kitchen compost into our pile and gave me a huge hug, We live in a inner city neighborhood and have a very small garden, but it is large enough for a 4×16 raised bed for the herbs and a 4×4 compost pile, lots of grass and more land for veggies,


    • What a fabulous contribution you are making to the environment, thank you. And it shows that you can do this from even a small garden, it is just about how you make use of the space you have. Great to see you on the site and hope you keep recycling those coffee grounds!


  36. Great post! Love the idea of the coffee shop “recycling”. We had a worm composting system when we lived and worked in Costa Rica and they were delivered in sort of a coffee “mulch” from the outer casing of the coffee beans. We’re just about to start a system here in India but are still doing the research on where to get the worms etc. Thanks for the reminder that they like their java as much as we do!


  37. Thanks for the great resource that these pages are. I live in Oslo, Norway a city that loves its coffee bars and I am sure has a huge potential when it comes to reuse of coffee grounds for gardening etc. I do not know of any initiatives here such as the one you run, and would love to see somethings starting up. And so I am thinking of initiating a project/program myself. I need to start doing some research, finding out how things work here, get some stats on amount of grounds etc and maybe how I can get some funding. I would probably want to start very small, in my borough where I am also involved in a transition town initiative which could be a good support for this. It would in any case be great to get some tips from you guys as far as how you started up, your experience and any tips etc. And if you have an email that I may be able to contact you on that would be great. Thanks your inspiration!

    Best wishes,



  38. Can I please sugest an FAQ for coffee questions. Being in IT we find this a good appendage to information sessions. Would also be mentioning that my family have collected coffee grounds for many years to make vegetables and fruits bigger and healthier.


  39. I actually heard about using coffee grounds for plants while I was working as a barista. After work, I’d bring home a few grams. I’d use half of it as a natural body scrub. The other half I share with my plants. ๐Ÿ™‚


  40. Your quote “A gardener once told me that he didnโ€™t feed plants, he fed the soil which feeds the plants.” rings so very true. Since I got my allotment I’ve become a real fan of composting and realise the importance of continually improving my soil. It’s a never ending job, but year on year I realise the benefits.
    And a very informative post about the coffee – thanks.


  41. Pingback: Making Compost and Soil with Coffee Grounds | Coffee Grounds to Ground

      • As someone who has left a comment I can tell you why I did.

        1) Most importantly I found you because you found me. You left a post on my gardening blog which means you’re out there surfing and keeping up with what’s going on (I’m hardly popular so you are not just following a crowd). I admire that.

        2) Most importantly (yep, both are most important) this is a great blog with heaps of information AND it’s a fascinating subject. That’s a win, win, win combination. So once I came hunting for you as a result of 1) I’m hanging around and likely to post.

        3) Least importantly (there had to be one) people like memake a reference to you in our blog because yours is so good which drives more traffic to you which means more comments.

        Super blog, super blogger. What more could you want?


  42. Pingback: More About Compost: Grounds for the Ground | Garden Life Designs

  43. I am passionate about the environment and love coffee… in particular espresso.
    Its no news to me that worms love coffee, but I never knew why and how the worms process the grounds. Excellent detailed read – just tweeted it to my community @potsandpickles


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  45. Great post, very informative. Please tell me why you do not put pineapple in your compost. I am composting in Miami, Florida.


    • I once added half a fresh pineapple into the worm farm, and opened it up a week later to find that over half the worms were missing. I did some looking online and came across an article explaining that there is an enzyme in pineapple that eats worms! Some other information appeared about how in some countries they use pineapple juice to rid the body of intestinal worms, and seeing how they are all related, it makes sense that it would be bad for all of them.
      Where it seems to have a reduced impact is if the pineapple is cut into small pieces and then left to rot for a week before adding to the worm farm. For whatever reason, most folks think this reduces the impact of pineapple on earthworms, but for me its just not worth it, so I add the fruit into hot compost.


      • That was my question as well, about pineapple. Thanks for asking and for the answer. What is “hot compost” and how is it used?


      • Thank you! I don’t have enough to make 1 meter cube of crippings. I will try in the fall when I’ll have a ton of leaves in my yard.


  46. Pingback: Coffee Fertiliser | Laura Rittenhouse's Gardening Journal

  47. Shane, you say you can dig grounds straight into the soil and they act as a slow release fertiliser but at the end of the article confess to preferring to make a liquid fertiliser. Why is that?

    I have one house plant that is a very hungry plant (a variety of prayer plant I believe) and I feed it often with a seaweed mix but I am sure it needs more. I’m thinking about putting some (how many?) coffee grounds straight into the soil but if you think making it as a liquid would be better, I’d give that a go. And if it works there, I’ve got a dozen more house plants (like a peace lily) that I suspect would benefit as well.

    Thanks for your blog and your help.


    • Good question Laura, and kind of depends on what you are using it for.
      I find that using the grounds in liquid are easier inside the house, and that just might be because I’m one of those messy kinds of people that leaves coffee grounds all over the floor and on myself. Don’t know how it happens, but it does!
      Maybe add a handful of used coffee grounds to rain water for half an hour then add the seaweed mix, swish it all around and pour gently over the soil. You would not need a great deal of that kind of mix to see a difference, depending on the pot of course, even with 100ml you should be able to notice it.


      • About 10 hours before I got your reply I dug coffee grounds into my zebra plant. We’ll see how it goes. I have great expectations!

        I may just try the grouds/rainwater/seaweed mix for my peace lily to see which takes off more quickly.

        If you don’t hear from me again it will because I can’t get to my computer through all that verdant growth caused by the coffee grounds ๐Ÿ™‚

        (BTW, I put a link to this page on my blog – I assume you’re happy for me to do that.)


  48. Shane, great article. In a former life worked with many growers and was always astounded that they never took note of their greatest resource – the soil. These were major growers too! It’s their largest capital asset yet they treat it as if it’s worthless. Love the idea of the map and hope many get behind it.


  49. Hello Shane,

    This is my first visit and I’m glad I stopped by. I love your subject matter and I am quite intrigued with the fact that you’re sharing a way to make the world a better place. I’m not a coffee drinker or a gardener but I know plenty of both. I can’t wait to share this new knowledge with them in hopes of forwarding this awesome initiative. KEEP THE DREAM ALIVE!


  50. I’ve heard of this before, but your blog lends credence to the use of coffee grounds. I am going to try it immediately. Thank you! How many coffee grounds can I put garden?


    • Thanks for that Mr Telecom, but I have a feeling that is not your real name? As for how much you can use, I stopped counting after 3 tonnes in my own suburban backyard, so yeah heaps of it.


  51. Hi Shane,

    Great post – I’m a keen promoter of reusing coffee grounds so its good to see a like minded individual!

    Coffee has so many uses, apart from just drinking, so kudos to you for sharing it to the world, and in a good, informative manner too.

    Best Regards,



    • Thanks heaps for that David, and all the best in your coffee grounds gardening endeavors. If you get around to it please send me some photos and I’d love to get a post on the site about it.
      Cheers, Shane


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    • You sure can Anthony. Reusing espresso coffee grounds is what this site is all about! Just save the coffee grounds and read up on this article and some of the others. You can use coffee grounds in compost, as a fertilizer, for worm farming, and as a pest deterrent. And more. If you have any other questions just write in. Cheers.


    • You sure can Anthony. There are many reasons why coffee ground is good for the garden, and you will be able to find out all about it from this site. This Ground to Ground primer page is the best place to get started on how to use coffee grounds for the garden, and if you ever need more information just let me know. Cheers, Shane.


    • Well Derrick, there is a long term impact on garden soil as a result of using coffee grounds, and it is a positive one. This site is here to show how my soil improves and becomes increasingly productive, by using coffee grounds as a compost and worm farm additive, and as a nitrogen rich fertilizer.


    • I might try it myself Margo. I’d heard coffee grounds could be used as a hair dye but never first hand. It now seems that you can be working coffee grinds into soil as well as into hair!


  54. The coffee grounds, being sterile, also work well for growing oyster mushrooms! AND don’t stop with just the coffee grounds, collect the burlap and jute bags that the green coffee beans are shipped to the roaster in. With just a handful of phone calls I collected dozens of coffee bean bags from all over the world. Read about, and check out the photos of our solar powered COFFEE Bubble Tower here:


    Bill “Stretch” Coleman
    Walking tall and stretching imaginations!


    • Great to hear Chris. Both tea grounds and coffee grounds are great for compost. When I put tea bags into the worm bin they leave nothing of the whole thing, string and all. Thanks for stopping by the site.


  55. Pingback: Compost Worms and Coffee Grounds | Coffee Grounds to Ground

  56. Hi, Shane. I am an avid gardener and environmentally friendly, but forgot all about using coffee grounds on my gardens. So glad you reminded me with this post. Great information. One of the perks of using gardening grounds is that I can meet people like yourself. Thanks!


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  58. This is a great idea for recycling coffee grounds that would otherwise add to the increasing landfill problem. It is also a great idea for cafes to advertise that they dispose of coffee grounds in this way, it may help to bring in some environmentally conscious customers!


    • You bet it will! Ground to Ground is all about letting people know about the power of coffee grinds as organic fertilizer for plants. The power of coffee is due to its ability to break down in the soil quickly and efficiently, providing the soil medium with much needed organic material. Coffee grounds encourage productive micro organisms, which leads to soil and plant health. You have the power ๐Ÿ™‚


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  62. I’ve shared with FB and Twitter. Feng Shui is about living with the natural world this is a good way to start.
    Diane. Love the coffee logo also, looks great on my espresso machine!!


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  64. what a great article! We compost and I always use the coffee grounds. Potato peelings are supposed to be very beneficial too though in winter I tend to put them in the fireplace because they do something to help cut down on creosote build-up in the chimney.
    I wonder if sprinkling them around the yard would help cut down on fire ants. If they help that you can make a fortune in Texas ๐Ÿ™‚


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  66. Pingback: Coffee Grounds for Plants | Sane but different

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  68. Great coffee ground logo. I have been using coffee grounds in my compost piles for a few months now, with good results. I live on a Caribbean island.

    Asking for the spent coffee grounds at our local coffee shops, one is usually greeted with dumbfounded stares. Two shops now regularly supply me, even keeping it for me, whenever I miss a collection day.


    • That is great news. Glad you liked the coffee ground logo. If there is anything on the site that will help you collect those grounds, please make use of it. And if you happen to get some logos or brochures into those cafes, let me know ๐Ÿ™‚


  69. Thanks for such an informative post. I have often saved my grains, and just used them…without any real knowledge about what the coffee grains were doing for my plants.

    Well Rachel, consider this you coffee grounds knowledge base! Everything to do with using coffee grounds is being assembled on this site, and thank you for being part of it – SG.


  70. My grandma already knew about the benefits of coffee ground. I don’t have a garden but use it on my indoor plants. Exactly the way you said: mixing it in because otherwise it forms a crust on the surface which isn’t of much use. Great blog. Keep letting the public know about the advantages of coffee grounds in soil.

    Thank you Inka, this is great to see. I hear that often, that a grandmother/grandfather re-used coffee grounds in the garden or otherwise. A plants response to coffee is excellent, and I can image that it was just a normal thing to do at one time. Maybe this is an opportunity to do some more research on the history of using coffee grounds for plants?


  71. Pingback: Coffee Grounds Collecting at the Office – Getting Started | Sane but different

  72. I have an outdoor compost and a worm bin… and I am not a coffee drinker. Thanks for this great idea of getting coffee grounds from an alternative source! I’ll go talk to the coffee shops in my ‘hood ๐Ÿ™‚


  73. Pingback: Ground to Ground Logos in labels | Sane but different

  74. Could I use coffee grounds for indoor growing? If so, could I apply it to the top of the soil or would it be better mixed in before planting? I would be using this for chili plants.


    • Well Leo, you sure can use coffee grounds for indoor plants, and the general rule here is to use them is small amounts. So no more than 10% of the total volume. When applying to a potted plant, you should scratch it in so the grounds are not all sitting on the top, because they will form a crust that causes drainage and air flow issues. If you haven’t planted the chili yet, I’d mix the whole lot around first, water it, then get the seeds in. Hope that helps mate and best of luck with using coffee grounds for plants.


  75. Shane – I live in WA now, but I used to live in Brighton East and would shop in Bentleigh quite a lot (in the 80s!). Well done with this – we have the equivalent of one plunger a day, but you know where that’s going now!


  76. Pingback: How a Cafe Turns Coffee Grounds to Compost | Sane but different

  77. What a great article, and for me, timely. It had occurred to me recently that I could probably reuse my coffee grounds as plant fertilizer – house plants, as I live in an apartment. It does seem wrong somehow to throw them out in trash that goes to landfill… Thank you for this.


    • You sure can use them for the house plants, just be mindful to limit how much you use in the smaller pots. They are also great in a compost pile, if you have a couple of neighbours maybe you could start one up??


  78. Pingback: Compost Worms and Coffee Grounds | Sane but different

  79. Here’s a link to see some of the pictures of my husband’s composting efforts. We are composting 100% of our used coffee grounds at our coffee shop. We also encourage people to do the same.


  80. This is a good post and may be one that can be followed up to see what are the results

    A chum mailed this link the other day and I am eagerly anticipating your next article. Carry on on the wonderful work.


  81. I’ve been using my own grounds at home in my compost pile for about the last year, inconsistently. Your math on how it adds up has really convinced me to be consistent, and to ask hubby to see about collecting grounds at work. Our goofy little town only has 2 coffee shops (one is a green house that hopefully already composts its grounds), but we also have fast food and gas stations. You’ve inspired me to go ask them if they can save the grounds and put up your sign.

    How often do places ask you to pick up? When approaching a new place, how do you do it? Handing a letter to an employee hoping it will get to the right manager or what? I can imagine that the average gas station cashier doesn’t have the power to agree to such a crazy thing as saving the earth.

    I found you on the SFG forums.


    • Peggy, thanks for writing in. Let me get to answering those questions.

      Firstly, the pick ups depend on the volume of grounds they are generating, so sometimes the smaller places only fill up a bucket every couple of weeks, and some of the busier ones do one every week. Then if you get other customers involved in getting the grounds, or the cafe owner figures out he has his own way to create soil and reduce the weight of his rubbish collection, they will start using it for themselves. And that is good also.

      As for the approach, I normally watch them working for a little while while drinking my coffee. At some point I ask them what they do with all the coffee grounds, and the answer is almost always ‘we throw them in the bin’. Sometimes they’ll know how good it is, but not often, and even then may only sometimes do something with them. After I tell them about coffee grounds as a natural fertiliser, I’ll ask them if I can start collecting some from them, and at that point they normally say OK, and this is where you might need to offer them a bin, or they will volunteer to put them into a container they already have.
      As for speaking with the owner, if its for the gas station then yes you will need to find out who that is and get them across the line. Most people are happy to help given the chance. And if it helps, I can send them an email also!

      Best of luck with it, you are doing a great thing. Let me know if I can help.



  82. Hi Shane

    This is AWESOME!!!! Well done mate, I LOVE it! I have set up the coffee grounds recycling alliance here in Melbourne with about 50 cafes on board already actively recycling their coffee grounds and diverting this waste out of landfill and into organic compost. Currently still at pilot stage we are collecting about 3 tonne a week. We provide the cafes with a dedicated 120L wheelie bin and collect from them as per normal collection services. Love your passion and enthusiasm, it really is a great program, would be perfect if EVERYONE was recycling their coffee grounds, would love to discuss with you, feel free to get in touch


  83. I saw the story in the Progress Leader.
    Good work on promoting the re-use of an organic resource.
    I am an active collector and user of grounds in compost heaps. Have done it for 4 years. I collect mostly from starbucks, sometimes from small cafes. I use my compost on a community plot to grow vegetables for the family.


    • Thank you for the comments Adrian. It is a real pleasure to hear from someone that is clearly well ahead of me in the coffee grounds collecting business! Please keep spreading the word, and if you want any stickers with the ground to ground logo let me know. Cheers.


  84. Coffee grounds are an amazing ingredient for making compost! I already sometimes ask for coffee grounds at my train station coffee shop (and before that, at work, though nowhere near as regularly as you) and this is a nice way to pass on the ‘why.’ You’d hope that coffee shops would want to do more to reduce their bill for garbage collection and that they would be willing to proactively offer grounds, just like Starbucks.
    I took part in my town’s garden tour this year and will pass this on to the other participants.


    • Just like a cafe most days Mina. Seriously, this stuff is great for most plants, costs nothing, and smells great. Please let me know how it goes with the coffee grounds, and you might find it easier with pot plants to add the grounds to a bucket of water first, leave for a few minutes, then slowly pour.
      Good luck!


  85. Hey Shane – I like this initiative. Good for you and good for the earth! The more you write and learn a communication style that works, that will help you with comments. Also, always try to ask questions at the end of a post to try and draw your readers into your subject. You can invite criticism or agreement. You can also ask how others are saving the world – a popular topic! Best of luck to you!


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