Having had both a combination of a wholesale coffee roasting business and a coffee shop, I would have a lot of spent coffee grounds due to the making of espresso’s, latte’s, Cappuccino’s etc. In the beginning I would throw them all away at the end of the day.
Then one day a client came into the shop and asked me what I did with the used coffee grounds? After I let him know that I was just throwing them away he asked if he have them instead as he was using them for his plants. It was at this point that I started to investigate what creative uses there are for coffee grounds and here are 9 ways I found out that I could use them:
Lets start with the Coffee Grounds Themselves
Although this may be obvious to most coffee grounds are what is left over after coffee is brewed. Regardless of whether the coffee made was in a espresso, pour over or even using a drip machine, the grounds that are left over can be re purposed for a variety of reasons that are good for the environment and in some cases for yourself as well.
Here is a list of some of the more popular and unique ways coffee grounds are used:
The reason that coffee grounds are so useful in Plants is because they are rich in Nitrogen and therefore make a great fertilizer as they contain several key nutrients required for plant growth. To use coffee grounds on plants, you can simply sprinkle them onto the soil surrounding your plants. Just be watchful not to use too much as it may do the opposite of what you want and actually stunt the growth of the plants you are using it on so in this case you definitely have too much of a good thing.
Plants that like coffee grounds are mostly those that are acid-loving plants like azaleas, hydrangeas, blueberries, and lilies. In addition, many vegetables like slightly acidic soil, but tomatoes typically don’t respond well to the addition of coffee grounds so just be careful to not add them to the these vines.
If you like to compost than adding the nitrogen rich coffee grounds to your pile will improve it by adding organic material to the soil that you spread it on, which improves drainage, water retention and aeration. A side benefit of adding it is that it also keeps rodents and other creatures away that might getting into your compost pile .
Its best to layer one part leaves to one part fresh grass clippings to one part coffee grounds and then turn it about once a week. If you do this then you’ll be ready to use it in about three to six months. If your not the best at adhering to this type of schedule or putting the effort into a compost pile you can still use the grounds but its recommended that you add a high carbon source, such as leaves to balance it.
Worms and Coffee Grounds
Composted coffee grounds attract worms since worms love them. By adding it to your compost, it is like giving food to the worms and will therefore improve any compost pile
Bug Repellent – You can use coffee grounds as a insect repellent for mosquito’s, bees and wasps. Note that it doesn’t kill them it just keeps them away.This is a much more eco friendly way to go if you have big mosquito issues like we do here in Florida. If your issues are more along the lines for ants snail or slugs, you can still use grounds by spreading it around in areas that there are at. So what is it in the coffee grounds that keeps them away? Believe it or not its simply the smell
Food Odors – You can use coffee grounds in your refrigerator instead of say baking soda in order to mask any offensive smells that may caused from something that has gone bad. Note that it doesn’t remove the smell it just masks or overpowers it. Now this had a good and bad side to it in my opinion because if a product goes bad you can’t smell it then it may stay in the fridge much longer than you may want!
A Soap Scrub – Another healthy use of coffee grounds is as scrub but its better not to use it “straight out the box” as it were.. You are better offer making a soap of sorts out of it and the simplest recipe that I was able to find about this was from wellnessmama.com. This recipe consisted of the following:
- 1/4 Cup Ground Coffee
- 1/4 Cup Sea Salt
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.
Mix the grounds and salt together in a small bowl and then add the coconut oil and there you have it.. Now you can use for its exfoliating and anti-inflammatory properties and it also good for improving circulation as well as smoothing your skin and if its been a rough night, reducing puffiness in your eyes.
Why go out and buy candles when you can create your own with coffee grounds. I found this video that explains it much better then I could and I also think its helps to visually see how to do this. Needless to say that in the end you have a great looking candle that smells just like you ground up some fresh roasted coffee! Is their any better smell than that?
Painting with Coffee
I first learned about this technique years ago when I was living in Costa Rica and I met this guy who was doing, at the time, something I had never seen done before. He was painting using coffee grounds. And I don’t mean by making a cup of coffee and dipping a brush in it. He was taking the grounds in mixing it in his own unique way to draw scenes of rural life in Costa Rica
That was the only time I had seen it done until I had a guy come into my coffee shop a few years back who was doing the same thing. I therefore invited him into the coffee shop to work and so that customers could come and see what he was doing. Needless to say it was a big it and had people asking about him for a long time afterwards.
Now one doesn’t have to go to that extent to draw with coffee, since Painting Coffee painting uses the natural dye in coffee to stain the paper, but you can use coffee grounds mixed with water to make a beautifully colored “paint.” Afterwards all you should need to do is Spoon some coffee grounds onto several different paper plates. Add varying amounts of water to the coffee to make different shades of brown and then with a paintbrush, apply the coffee-like watercolor to your canvas or parchment
Although it might sound odd at first, adding some coffee grounds to some dried spices such as paprika, or Cumin. When you add the coffee grounds to these spices it will become a rub of sorts and will add just a little something interesting to your meats, poultry or veggies that will have your friends and family guessing on what you used.
The best part about this rub is that is not as overpowering or as spicey as you might think once its cooked into whatever you have going. It’s a great addition to grilling or cooking you do and once you have it, it becomes very addicting. To make a simple rub all you need to do is combine coffee grinds, salt and paprika or coffee grinds, cumin, chili powder and salt and your all set. Of course there are a lot of variations that you invent so see what you can come up with!
As you can see by now there are a lot of uses for those used coffee grounds so next time you brew that next cup of coffee make sure you set aside a place to put those grinds and put them to use in any of the ways mentioned above. You will not only be helping yourself but the environment as well!