If you can’t start your day without a home coffee (we hear you!), there's a good chance you’re going through a whole lot of coffee grounds. While your instinct might be to chuck them in the rubbish or compost, there are actually a bunch of ways you can give this byproduct a second life.
Like coffee grounds, many items are discarded without a second thought in today's fast-paced society. We believe in rethinking ‘waste’ and looking for creative opportunities to turn trash into treasure, diverting from landfills, reducing the need for other (often plastic-wrapped) products, saving money and having some fun along the way!
So while coffee’s primary purpose is to fuel your days, its life does not have to end at your last sip. Below we dive into our favourite ways to repurpose used coffee grinds in the garden, throughout the home and as a substitute for beauty products.
IN THE GARDEN
1. Fertilise your plants
As your plants grow, their roots deplete the soil of nutrients, and over time this can affect the health of your plants and garden. Lucky for you, a fast and easy fix is waiting for you in your home coffee equipment of choice! As well as absorbing heavy metals that contaminate the soil, coffee grounds contain numerous minerals that promote plant growth. They also help aerate the soil, retain moisture and attract earthworms which turn waste into rich compost. In particular, acid-loving plants like blueberries, carrots, radishes, daffodils, hydrangeas and azaleas absolutely thrive in coffee grounds.
How to use: Sprinkle used coffee grounds onto the soil around your plants and let mother nature do the rest! Be mindful that some plants dislike acidic soil, so it’s always best to do a quick Google search beforehand.
2. Repel pests
If you’ve ever had a problem with ants, slugs, snails or mosquitos, this one's for you! Unlike us humans, many critters despise coffee. For some pests, the smell is repulsive; for others, the caffeine is toxic. Either way, coffee grinds can be a great natural alternative to chemical filled (and often plastic-wrapped) pest sprays and repellents.
How to use: If ants are getting into your home, try spreading a 5cm line of used coffee grounds around vulnerable areas and replace them weekly. If slugs are munching on your lettuce, strawberries or seedlings, scatter some grounds around the base of the plants to create a barrier. If mozzies are driving you mad, set out bowls of grounds around outdoor seated areas; the strong scent will help mask the human smells that lead them to their next meal.
3. Grow your own mushrooms
Growing mushrooms from the waste of your morning cuppa has to be one of the greatest life hacks going around! Usually notoriously tricky to grow at home, coffee grounds are packed full of nutrients that mushrooms thrive on. Plus, they’ve already been sterilised during the brewing process which makes them ready for use. Oyster mushrooms are your safest bet, and you can buy its spawn online.
How to use: You’ll need 2.5kg coffee grounds (which you can save up at home or ask for at your local cafe - if they’re anything like us, they’ll be happy to provide!), 500g mushroom spawn, and a bag or bucket to grow them in. Follow this mushroom farmer’s guide for the best results!
THROUGHOUT THE HOME
4. Neutralise stinky odours
Perhaps some food has spoiled in the fridge, your dog has relieved itself on the carpet or your rubbish bin is starting to pong. Before you reach for the Glen 20 or bicarb soda, why not try your luck with used coffee grounds? Coffee contains nitrogen, which helps absorb and neutralise odours, making it an excellent natural way to remove smells around your home. You can even use grounds to remove cooking odours from your hands, meaning no more stinky garlic fingers!
How to use: Where there’s a stench, there’s a way with coffee grounds! Place a bowl of grounds in the back of your fridge to neutralise the stench of spoiled food. Fill old socks with used grounds and place them in gym bags, drawers or under your car seat. Keep a bowl by the sink to scrub your hands after chopping onion, garlic and meat. Dot around carpet odours, leave overnight and then vacuum. Sprinkle some in the bottom of your bin bag.
5. Natural cleaning scrub
Abrasive and acidic, coffee grounds are a great coarse cleaner to help remove build-up and gunk on hard-to-clean surfaces, including pots, pans, grills and barbeque plates. They also contain antiviral properties, which may help sanitise surfaces. This trick should only be used on surfaces you’d be comfortable using steel wool; be careful not to apply it on porous material as it may stain or on non-stick pans, which may ruin the protective coating.
How to use: Try sprinkling onto pots, pans and grills before scouring caked-on food. For more stubborn gunk, try soaking in hot water for 20 minutes before gently rubbing coffee grinds into the residue. You can also put used grinds directly onto a rag or cloth and apply straight on surfaces for a deep clean.
6. Tenderise meat
From granola to cookies, coffee grounds have many delicious applications when it comes to baking. But what about in savoury cooking? One of our favourite ways to use grounds in the kitchen is with steak, brisket, chicken thighs or even on a roast. This is because coffee grounds contain enzymes and acids that give meat a softer texture while simultaneously enhancing its flavour. Used grounds are more eco-friendly and work just as well!
How to use: We’ve previously written about a coffee meat rub as part of our favourite coffee recipes, but why not sub in used coffee grounds to give our sustainable coffee beans some extra life? Otherwise, you can add grounds to your favourite dry rub recipe; apply to meat two hours before cooking and then enjoy the resulting dark, crispy crust.
7. Exfoliator or body scrub
Beauty brands have made squillions from coffee-based exfoliators and scrubs - and for good reason! Being coarse and gritty, coffee grounds are a natural exfoliant that can help remove dirt and dead cells from skin and hair. Additionally, the caffeine within can increase blood flow and circulation, aiding skin health.
How to use: Make your own scrub at home by placing 1 cup of used grounds, ⅓ cup of brown sugar and ⅓ cup of coconut or olive oil into a jar and mixing well. When you’re in the shower, apply the scrub directly onto wet skin, scrub or massage it in, and then rinse! Be sure to secure the jar with a lid when not in use to prolong shelf life.
8. Make your own soap
Coffee granules act as a great abrasive, making them the perfect ingredient in household or gardener’s soap. As mentioned above, this natural byproduct will also help neutralise odours, scrub grime and remove dead skin cells; three things you want your soap to do! We partner with a soap maker who creates our popular closed-loop soap using grounds from our cafe, but we encourage you to give it a go at home if you’re feeling adventurous.
How to use: Check out this recipe for coffee grounds soap.
9. DIY bath bomb
Far from fancy bath bombs, but still a great way to get a second use out of your coffee grinds. Soaking in coffee grounds can benefit your body in several ways; residual caffeine in coffee grounds can activate the process of repairing cellular damage, while anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce muscle aches and pains.
How to use: Place a handful of used grinds in a nut milk or cheesecloth bag (or similar) and secure it with a string or rubber band. Pop in your hot bath with a cup of epsom salts for ultimate relaxation and rejuvenation!
ONE LAST THING!
If you are drinking so much home coffee that you are rolling in coffee grounds, remember that the high nitrogen content makes for an excellent green matter to compost. This means used grounds are great to feed to your worms alongside our home compostable coffee bags!
If you want to test out some of the ideas above but need more leftover grounds, you can always ask at our Oakleigh roastery and cafe and we’ll be happy to send you home with a bucket of ours! If we’re too far away, ask at your local cafe; with any luck, they’ll be willing to help.
Finally, if you’re in need of some sustainable coffee beans, head to our online shop. And if you need a little help choosing a product, you can check out this guide to choosing the best coffee for you. Happy repurposing!