Most of us don’t think twice when we throw away our daily coffee grounds after brewing. Next time, instead of having the grounds end up in a landfill though, consider trying one of these six easy ways to re-use them.
1. Add grounds to your compost pile.
Coffee grounds are a great way to enrich the nutrient content in your compost pile. Used grounds contain nitrogen, as well as phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium and sulfur1. You can also compost your paper filter to avoid throwing anything away with your daily cup of coffee.
Keep in mind coffee grounds are considered a green compost material (ex. food scraps and grass clippings), so you’ll need to balance it with some brown compost material (ex. Leaves and saw dust).
2. Use them as plant fertilizer.
If you’re a coffee roaster, consider bagging up your used coffee grounds in bulk and offering them to customers.
Sprinkle the coffee grounds at the base of plants in your garden or even directly on your lawn. Coffee grounds add organic material to the soil, which improves drainage and water retention in the soil. They also “help microorganisms beneficial to plant growth thrive as well as attract earthworms.”2
3. Use them as an odor absorber.
After allowing the used coffee grounds to dry thoroughly, add them to an old sock/cheesecloth or in any open container. Place them in the pantry or your refrigerator and they will help absorb any unwanted orders.
4. Use them as a wood stain.
Allow the used grounds to soak in water overnight. After soaking, drain off the grounds and use the water as a wood stain. The higher the coffee to water ratio, the darker the stain will be.
You can also use it as a way to touch-up previously stained furniture—though be sure the coffee stain matches the stain of the original furniture.
5. Use them as a natural dye.
We all know coffee stains. Use this to your advantage by soaking used coffee grounds to make a non-toxic alternative dye. It can be used on clothing (cotton, rayon, etc.), fabric and paper. It can also be used to dye Easter eggs or deepen the color of hair.
6. Use them to tenderize meat.
Coffee contains acids and enzymes which make it a great way to tenderize meat. It can also help enhance the flavor of meat. You can use the used coffee grounds either directly in a dry rub or re-brew and use the cooled second brew in a liquid marinade.
Bonus: Use for crafts/art projects.
Used coffee grounds can also be fun to use for crafts or art projects. You can use them for watercolor painting, tie-dying shirts or many other fun art projects. Be creative!
The Bottom Line
Finding a use for your used coffee grounds to avoid them heading to a landfill is easy and fun. Next time you go to throw away your used coffee grounds, consider one of the above options instead.
Sunset. “The Starbucks Coffee Compost Test.” Sunset, Sunset Magazine, 26 June 2006, www.sunset.com/garden/earth-friendly/starbucks-coffee-compost-test.
“Composting With Coffee Grounds – Used Coffee Grounds For Gardening.” Gardening Know How, www.gardeningknowhow.com/composting/ingredients/coffee-grounds-gardening.htm.
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