Love Your Leftovers – Coffee

Oct 17, 2016 | 10 comments


Used Coffee Grounds

what to do with used coffee grounds

Coffee grounds – do you do anything with yours once you have enjoyed your lovely fresh coffee? The leftover grounds are coarse and acidic.  I usually just chuck them on the compost heap, the worms love the nitrogen in them, or I tip them at the base of hostas in an attempt to keep the slugs away. But it appears that I have been wasting a valuable resource!

10 ingenious ideas to use those grounds – including using them as an exfoliator, giving your soil a nitrogen boost, giving paper an Antique look for craft projects, and using them as a dish cleaner which is ingenious.

Used coffee grounds in the garden

and here are some more ideas on what to with used coffee grounds in your garden

There is a comprehensive article here on Back Yard Boss on how to use coffee grounds in your garden, and what it does when they’re there. Quite a bit it seems, I think I need some more of them!

Because they are acidic, acid loving plants really appreciate them. They are so acidic in fact, that enough of them can change a pink hydrangea on alkaline soil to a blue one. Apparently coffee shops might give you their grounds at the end of the day if you need lots. And you might need lots now you’ve seen all these great ideas! as the owner of an acidic, heavy clay, garden, I am particularly interested in the soil improving aspect of adding lots of grounds.

Used coffee grounds in the kitchen

In Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s excellent book, Love Your Leftovers, there are a couple of lovely sounding ideas.

He recommends that once you have brewed your coffee, drain off any remaining coffee and spread the grounds out to dry them. Once they are very dry, store them in an airtight container.

  • Use a spoon or two in chocolate brownies to deepen the flavour.
  • Use to flavour coffee muffins if you don’t mind the crunch
  • Similarly, add to home made no churn vanilla ice cream for an interestingly different flavour and texture
  • Add 2 tblsps to a tblsp of black pepper, tblsp muscovado sugar, 2 tsps salt, tsp fennel seeds and a pinch of cardomom. Grind everything together and use as a spice rub on pork belly


Used coffee grounds in the bathroom

The Daily Mail lists 20 uses for coffee grounds – including getting rid of fleas on a dog and as a meat tenderiser. Apparently, they can be used to clean your hair, the Mail saying that the grounds get rid of product in your hair. I might have to try this one!  They also talk about using grounds to make gorgeous smelling candles, that sounds lovely.

They would also make a good exfoliant. There is a lot of debate around micro beads at the moment and how bad they are for the environment and wildlife. If we can use something natural like coffee grounds, or salt (which I have used and know works well) we could do our bit for ridding our seas of the micro bead and still have lovely smooth skin. When I use salt, I add a little to some nice smelling oil, so I could do the same with some grounds and see what happens.




  1. Lesley

    Lola – agree re soup. I use anything I consider edible in whatever I’m making in the first place. The only make thing I’d use from that list is the stalk, but I would have used them in the recipe first anyway.
    Maybe the rest would make stock?
    And now I’m imagining the faces of your audience

  2. Lola Davis

    When I was researching for a talk on “Waste not want not”,for a group I belonged to,I remember coming across the amusing suggestion that dried, used coffee grounds could be used to stuff pin-cushions. Quite what we could do with piles of pin-cushions I can’t imagine,although I do remember making one,stuffed with cotton wool, for my sewing box,many years ago. Covered in satin or velvet they were quite pretty and certainly in vogue in Victorian times.Now I use a boring little tin.However,I included the idea in my talk as a serous suggestion for the fun of it,with a few other daft ideas,as well as some frugal recipes which obviously disgusted my audience.My favourite “shocker” was a soup recipe using potato peelings,onion skin,carrot tops,celery root and a few other vegetable trimmings, such as cabbage or cauliflower stumps – all the bits one normally discards – with water and seasonings. In my enthusiasm for being “frugal”,I actually tried the recipe,which produced a bland,beige thinnish,extremely unappetising soup,but I suppose if you were starving it might,just, prove eatable. Another frugal recipe was based on pea shucks. It came with the note that this was a favourite army recipe.I think it would cause mutiny today.

  3. Lesley

    Katherine – I think I’m going to invest in some nematodes next year. The slugs and snails this year have been appalling. I even have to battle against them eating tomatoes in the greenhouse!

  4. Katherine

    In some areas such as heavy clay next to a hedge, nothing seems to really work except industrial quantities of slug pellets. Things like beer traps (using some yeasty ferment plus salt) appear to work in that you get a lot of dead slugs,but don’t necessarily stop your plants getting eaten by the ones that got away. I think sections of plastic bottles as a physical barrier are a bit more effective than rings of grit or sand, but I can’t claim to have done a serious trial and you wouldn’t want them round your hostas.
    A friend swears that coffee grounds made the difference between her hostas not flowering and flowering. I’m more of a tea drinker so haven’t really had enough grounds to monitor their effectiveness. I didn’t know they were so acid so perhaps I’ll just put them round the blueberries now – after I’ve scrubbed the pans with them of course.

  5. dirtgirl

    I have used coffee grounds on my garden for years, totally brilliant for stopping the snails and slugs attacking things! Not to mention improving the soil no end. I get my grounds from coffee shops where most happily give them away here rather than discard them. However some smaller shops just bag and sell huge bags of grounds for $1 – $2.

    I have a coffee pod machine at home so collect them in a bucket until end of week when I open the pods and ‘gather the coffee grinds’ it is surprising how much coffee one of those pods holds. Nothing wasted in my house and empty pods make great little seedling starters.

  6. Lesley

    Paula – wondered about the slug deterrent part. What a lovely lot of soil conditioner though!

  7. Paula Higgleton-Wood

    I used to collect used coffee grounds from a coffee shop once a week to use on our allotment. We used to collect 2 bin bags of them! I used them as they were supposed to be a deterrent to slugs,however, when I arrived at the allotment and found the asparagus chewed off at ground level and several fat slugs moving quite happily across the grounds I stopped bothering to collect them. They did improve the soil they were applied to though.

  8. Lesley

    Sue – we have several, large and small, coffee shops in Heathfield. I wonder if I dare ask any of them for a bucket of grounds?

  9. Pellrider

    I use only instant coffee. There is nothing to discard.

  10. Sue

    Unfortunately, I just drink good old Nescafe instant … so I don’t have any grounds, although I have asked and got them from motorway services Starbucks branches in the past. There are usually lots of bags of them in a big tub near the door.

    Microbeads are definitely a huge problem at the moment and it has been proven that they are getting into the food chain and into the fish that we eat. I tend to use sugar as an exfoliant, kinder to the environment than plastic and less messy than coffee grounds as it dissolves completely and clearly into the hot water as you rise your face after a good scrub 🙂

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