Coffee pods and coffee cups are the obvious planet polluters, but we have to also remember that coffee grounds also end up in landfill. We wrote an article recently called ‘Are coffee pods bad for the environment’; which highlighted that 29,000 coffee pods go into landfill everyday. Even with compostable coffee pod options where people tend to think that you could put something “compostable” in your back garden and watch it degrade over the years - this simply isn’t the case and compostable pods should be put in special bins that are taken to compost or even biomethanisation facilities (say what?!). Plastic cups are another obvious polluter with the UK using approximately 182.5 single use coffee cups every year! Companies like TOPL encourage reusable options which are certainly friendlier options for the planet.
Coffee grounds are not innocent here in causing problematic landfill issues for the planet. Around 500,000 tonnes end up in landfill every year. At RiSE coffee box we want to encourage all of our members to do whatever they can to reduce this as much as feasibly possible and below we have put together 10 fun and practical ways you can reuse your coffee grounds to stop them going into landfill.
coffee grounds can Fertilise your Garden
According to Gardeners World coffee grounds are an “excellent compost ingredient and are fine to apply directly onto the soil around most garden plants if used with care and moderation”. This is great to hear and something we have started doing in our garden recently. The coffee grounds have a relatively high level of nitrogen, as well as potassium and phosphorus which help stimulate plant growth and is good for the soil. It helps the soil in stabilising its ph balance. Coffee grounds are a great source of organic compost for the garden. The best way to use coffee grounds in your garden is to add them to compost containers but sometimes I have seen Ben thrown them straight onto the root of the plants which seems to work too! Tomato plants and some seedlings don’t like the caffeine so much (losers!) so avoid these if you can.
They are also a pest repellent from slugs as well as rodents such as rats and foxes. This is not scientific fact but has worked well in our own garden, one week we saw rats scuttling around and after putting down the grounds they seemed to disappear.
2. use coffee grounds for cooking and baking
Coffee grounds can be used in a huge number of recipes. Mainly in cakes and deserts. We found some cool recipes here. The obvious recipe is coffee cake, but others include espresso brownies. BBC good food have a good recipe here.
Another used coffee ground brownie recipe we love is courtesy of The Guardian:
To make 12-16 brownies
2 organic apples, diced (if non-organic, peel them, too)
80g used coffee grounds
250g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
120g rye flour
150ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
50g cocoa powder
How to make them:
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/gas 4. Grease a 20cm x 20cm baking tin with a little olive oil and line with parchment.
Put the diced apple and used coffee grounds in a small saucepan with two teaspoons of water and a pinch of salt. Put a lid on top and put on a medium heat. When you see steam, turn down the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, or until the apple is soft.
Blend to a puree, then return to the pan and, off the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted.
Add the sugar, flour, oil and cocoa, and mix thoroughly. Pour into the greased tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a crust forms on top but the centre is still moist. Leave to cool, then slice and serve.
Other ideas include;
Make a gravy. Add some punch to your Sunday dinner. Add your coffee grounds to your gravy mixture. Be careful on adding to much as it may overpower the gravy, just a small amount to give it a kick.
3. use coffee grounds as a marinade for meat
The deep flavour of coffee is known to pair extremely well with meat, as well as with spices in hot and bbq sauces. The coffee grounds give the meat or sauce a deep, potent, aromatic delicious smokey flavour. It pairs well with chocolate too!
Save your used coffee grounds for up to 1 week or freeze them if you need to keep them longer.
Coffee grounds provide an intense flavour so recommended when you are slow cooking meat, including brisket, pork ribs or slow cooked beef. If you want to use this with chicken or steak you can, but cook for a little longer than you usually would.
Another recipe provided by The Guardian for the ground coffee is:
4 tbsp spent coffee grounds
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp chipotle chilli flakes, or other chilli (optional)
5 tbsp barbecue sauce or tomato ketchup
1kg pork rib, beef short rib, brisket, chicken etc
300g stock vegetables (ie, shallots, carrots, celery, garlic)
Make a rub by mixing the spent coffee with the pepper, salt, paprika and chilli flakes, if using. Rub the meat all over with the barbecue sauce or ketchup, then pat on a thick, even crust of the rub.
4. Burn Coffee Grounds as Mosquito Repellent
Using used coffee grounds is a well known, safe and effective repellent method for keeping mosquitoes and other bugs away. They generally hate the smell of coffee (weirdos!) and the smoke creates fear, which sees them flying away from the smoke. Its a winning formula! We have tried it in our garden this summer and if definitely works!
It’s a bit like burning incense, place the coffee grounds in a ceramic bowl or plate and burn them with a lighter. Keep an eye on it and don’t leave it to burn alone, to avoid any accidents. The coffee grounds will burn in the same way incense would and the combination of coffee smell and smoke will deter any flying pests.
It also works as a general pest repellent as most creepy crawlers and flying insects hate the compounds in the coffee grounds, particularly caffeine. This can be highly toxic to them and they generally will avoid it. This can also be applied to other rodents like rats, mice as well as slugs and snails. Sprinkling coffee grounds in areas you think they may be hiding can deter them from living in that area. Be careful that your dog cant get near the grounds as dogs are generally allergic to coffee (although our dog Molly accidentally drank coffee as a puppy, and seems to be fine!)
5. Use coffee as an Exfoliate scrub for Your Face
If you have coarsely ground coffee at home, used for a French Press / cafetiere (here), it can be used as a great exfoliant.
Coffee scrubs can be made relatively easily at home, but if this isn’t for you alternatively friends of ours over at Upcircle Beauty have created a fantastic range of reused coffee ground beauty products from reused coffee grounds collect around London and we have a exclusive coffee and beauty box on Virgin Experience days here.
If you are feeling adventurous at home all you have to do is mix half a cup coffee grounds, with half a cup of sugar and half a cup of coconut oil. Shake it up vigorously and let it settle.
You can also add your coffee grounds to a bar of soap (by melting the bar, adding the ground and reshaping it and letting it reset in the fridge). This gives a great exfoliation to your skin as well as leaving all the caffeine and antioxidants on your skin.
6. Coffee Stimulates Hair Growth
Another favourite to reuse your coffee grounds is to exfoliate your scalp. This helps you remove the buildup of dead skin cells that are left behind from shampoos and hair styling product. Caffeine is also known to be a stimulant that can increase blood flow and accelerates hair growth. Caffeine is being increasingly used in cosmetics. You can simply dry out your coffee grounds and then add them to your beauty products you already have and rub them into your scalp and leave in your wet hair for a few mins. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the grounds out.
According to Health Line there are a number of benefits in doing this including:
Restores hair growth
Leaves your hair softer and shinier
Naturally gets rid of grey hair
What you’ll need, according to Health Line:
2–4 cups of brewed, completely cooled ground coffee
spray or applicator bottle
plastic shower cap
You’ll need 2 to 4 cups of brewed coffee, depending on the length of your hair. Let the coffee cool completely, and then pour the brew into a spray bottle or an applicator bottle.
Wash and condition your hair as normal. While your hair is still wet, spray or apply the brewed coffee to your hair, making sure to saturate your strands.
After applying, massage the coffee into your hair and scalp for a few minutes. Apply a shower cap and allow the rinse to sit on your hair and scalp for about 20 minutes.
For an extra layer of moisture, mix your favourite leave-in conditioner with the brewed coffee before applying to your hair.
After 20 minutes, rinse the coffee from your hair with cold or lukewarm water and then pat dry.
If using a coffee rinse to dye your hair, you may need to repeat the rinse to achieve the desired colour.
7. use coffee grounds in cleaning products
Coffee grounds have a multitude of uses for cleaning. Here are some of the popular uses.
You can use them to clean ashes from a wood-burning fireplace. The coffee grounds can be used to cover the ashes like a blanket thus weighing them down and preventing the small particles from lifting up into the air. This makes it easier to remove and prevents dust from escaping into other places in the house.
The grounds can also be used as a scrub on tough stains on pots and pans that you cant get rid of. The grounds are not hard enough to scratch your pans but can scrub off stubborn caked-on food stains.
Lastly, you can use the coffee grounds to clean your garbage disposal. Just pour the damp grounds in and run some water. Then turn on the garbage disposal and it will clean itself! You can also mix them with some chemicals to create an even more potent cleaner for your garbage disposal. By mixing coffee grounds with Epsom salts, vinegar, and baking soda the resulting mixture can remove hard water stains and other buildups.
8. Neutralise odours and bad smells
If you don’t want to go to the effort to make a candle you can also use the coffee ground to neutralise odours and bad smells. Coffee grounds contain nitrogen which eliminates sulfur from the air when combined with carbon. When you leave coffee grounds out it helps absorb and eliminate odours. The coffee grounds can be left out in a bowl or saucer in whichever room you choose!
9. use coffee grounds in arts and crafts
Coffee grounds can be reused in a super fun way when you are doing your arts and crafts. Coffee grounds can be mixed with water to be used in painting (whether it is light roasted coffee or dark roasted will vary the darkness of the brown ‘paint’. Coffee grounds can also be reused to make a paste using coffee, gel and acrylic paint. You can then use the paint in abstract art or to add texture to your paintings. You can see a really cool example here with texture being given to a planter pot. You could also use the coffee grounds to make coffee-stained paper to give it an antique look and feel or if you are having an arts and crafts Sunday with your kids it could be to make pirate letters!
10. Make a Coffee Candle
The smell of a coffee candle naturally neutralises odours and can be a great way to kill any nasty smells around the house and leave your house smelling delicious! All you need to make this is:
A candle holder or jar
Soy wax flakes
You then need to:
Melt the wax over a medium to high heat (10-15 mins, try not to allow the max to go above 93 degrees).
Add the coffee grounds to the wax flakes. The ratio should be 5g of coffee to 340g of wax flakes (but can vary depending on how strong you would like it)
Stir for 2-3 mins
If you want to deepen the colour use brown candle dye
Wait for the wax to cool before you pour it out into your jar
Add the wick at the end. Put a pencil across the top of the car with string tied around it holding the wix in place.
We hope you enjoyed some of our fun ways to reuse your coffee grounds!
Ben and Alice