According to the British Coffee Association, we consume roughly 2 billion cups of coffee across the globe a day. A large percentage of this will be from instant coffee, but ground coffee consumption is on the rise. All of this generates a lot of used coffee grounds.
Like many families, we love a good cup of coffee made from freshly ground beans in the morning, which means we accumulate quite a lot of spent coffee grounds. Given that coffee is a greenhouse gas intense industry similar to chocolate, it’s important to stretch the coffee products you use as far as you can. We’d also recommend reducing the amount of coffee you drink if you’d like to reduce your carbon footprint.
Repurposing Used Coffee Grounds
There is a very long list of things you can do with used coffee grounds, so the next time you throw out your grounds, perhaps reconsider and use it for one of the options below.
If you don’t drink coffee but would still like to try the options below, you can get used coffee grounds from Starbucks or your local coffee shop should be able to assist if you ask them to save some for you.
Used Coffee Grounds in Your Beauty Routine
Used coffee grounds can be worked into your beauty routine as ground coffee makes a great scrub and can be used in homemade soap. Some claim that it even works to reduce cellulite.
1. Make a Body Scrub
Coffee is a great body scrub and some claim that it’s a good option for reducing cellulite, although the science on that is a little patchy. It might just be the scrubbing action that helps to reduce the appearance of cellulite, but who doesn’t like the smooth after effect from a good body scrub? Note that used coffee grounds will contain less caffeine which may very well reduce the opportunity for cellulite reduction but it doesn’t take away the exfoliating properties of the coffee grounds.
To make a scrub out of used ground coffee, make sure the grounds are completely dry as the moisture in the coffee grounds will spoil the scrub. I’d also recommend making small batches of the scrub and to always do a patch test to ensure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients. If you’d like to learn more about making your own sustainable body scrubs read our DIY sugar scrub tutorial.
- To make a coffee scrub, mix two tablespoons of ground coffee with two tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and one teaspoon of organic lemon juice (for added AHAs and to use as a preservative). You can also add 3-5 drops of essential oil such as orange or peppermint.
- Use the scrub to massage 1-2 tablespoons into your skin while you’re showering, focusing on any “problem” areas. You can repeat the process up to 3 times a week, the amounts listed should be enough for 3 applications. You can store your scrub in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
2. Make an Exfoliating Soap
I absolutely love these handmade soap bars and making them yourself is very rewarding. You can use coffee grounds in homemade soap to add exfoliating properties.?
Here is a great recipe for a homemade coffee scrub soap.
Use Coffee Grounds in the Garden
Used coffee grounds are a gardener’s friend and have multiple uses in and around the garden, from composting and killing weeds to keeping cats away – who knew!
Some websites list that ground coffee can be used for fertiliser, I’d proceed with caution here as caffeine is not a good addative to soil, see point 5 below for more detail. Unless your coffee grounds are decaf, I don’t recommend using it as a fertiliser and advise to use minimal amounts for composting.
3. Composting with Used Decaf Coffee Grounds
Used coffee is a green additive for compost and can technically be used in your compost bin, however, it should only be done if the coffee grounds are decaf. If you do plan on using caffeinated coffee only do so in very small quantities as it contains caffeine and can actually hinder plant growth. There is also some evidence that even though worms appear to be attracted to ground coffee, the caffeine can actually kill them in concentrated amounts. Note that you can add your coffee filters to your compost if you are using a filter type machine, so that’s a plus.
4. Growing Oyster Mushrooms
You can effectively grow oyster mushrooms in coffee grounds. Oyster mushrooms are not affected by the caffeine and are known to flourish when grown in used coffee grounds. The growing process does need quite a lot of ground coffee so you’ll have to save it up.
Here is a tutorial on how to grow oyster mushrooms from used coffee grounds. Note that you can’t use coffee grounds that have collected mould for mushroom growing so make sure you freeze your grounds during the collection phase.
5. Use Caffiene in Coffee Grounds as Weed Killer
Because used coffee ground still contains caffeine, studies have shown that it can stop cell development within plants. The key function of caffeine in plants is allelopathy – a biological phenomenon where a plant produces biochemicals (caffeine in this case) to kill other plants and reduce their competition.
Even though decaffeinated coffee grounds can make a great slow-release fertiliser as it contains nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and other micronutrients, commonly recommended caffeinated coffee grounds won’t have the same positive effect. This makes caffeinated used coffee grounds a natural weed killer for most things other than Oyster Mushrooms and caffeine-containing plants of course.
To use, just sprinkle the coffee grounds thinly onto weeds, or boil the grounds with water to use as a liquid. It does take a while to work and re-applying is a good idea. Just be mindful not to contaminate the adjacent soil and kill the plants you’re hoping to keep alive.
6. Keep Cats Away
If you have a problem with cats using your garden as a toilet then leaving small containers with ground coffee in their favourite spot might just be the solution you’re after as cats seem to dislike coffee. I’d be mindful sprinkling the grounds on the soil as it could affect plant growth. Cat poop can carry nasty parasites so it’s best to make sure they don’t turn your garden into a toilet, especially if you have young children who might accidentally come into contact with the parasites.
Used Coffee Grounds in the Home
From outside in the garden to inside, there is always something you can do with your castaway coffee grounds. Turning our focus indoors you can use it for arts and crafts and to removing odours in your home and car.
7. How to Remove Odors with Ground Coffee
As you are probably aware coffee does carry quite a strong smell, it can also absorb other odours on your hands, in the fridge and other odour collecting places.
If you slice a lot of onions and garlic, you can use ground coffee to alleviate the strong smell that these bulbs leave on your hands. Just scrub your hands with ground coffee and rinse. It’s that simple.
If you’d like to create a deodorising filter for around the home that is quite easy to do with a few used bags and a hole punch.
- To use, make sure the coffee grounds have dried completely
- Then find an old paper bag or even used food packaging such as a sweets bag. Breathable materials work better in this instance
- Make a few holes in the upper end of the bag with a hole punch, then add your used coffee grounds, add a string to hang and place in a strategic position.
8. Use as Woodstain
Coffee has the great ability to stain materials, including your fresh white shirt. For this reason, it can be used to darken wood by a few shades without the chemicals!
All you need to do is re-make a brew of coffee from your used grounds, by boiling the grounds in water and leaving to rest for 8-12 hours. The higher the coffee concentration in your brew, the darker the stain of course. Here is a tutorial for making wood stain from used coffee grounds that cover the steps in more detail.
9. Make DIY Candles
If you love the smell of coffee, then adding them to your candle making process is a great idea. Just make sure that you’re using a strong coffee bean here as the smell won’t be as strong otherwise.
You can find candle makin gHere is a DIY coffee candle tutorial to help you get started.