You don’t have to be running a cafe to find yourself sitting on a huge quantity of discarded coffee grounds.
The easy, default approach is to simply take that puck – or the contents of your French Press – and toss it all in the bin. With Americans still favoring drip coffee over all other methods, there’s a lot of coffee waste lying around!
In this article I want to outline some of the surprising uses that exist for your coffee grounds.
I’ll keep this article updated as I learn more ways to make use of this extremely potent material.
(If you want to explore more of my coffee content, take a look at the home brewing guide I have elsewhere on the site!)
Never Down The Sink!
Before we move onto the many ways you can put your coffee grounds to use, there’s one important thing to note straight away.
The one place you should never, ever ditch your coffee grounds is in your sink.
They’ll naturally settle and clump over time. Once they solidify you’ll have a blockage on your hands, and the only person who’s going to be happy about that is your local plumber…
Further, if you make use of a septic tank, those acidic grounds will also play havoc with your internal plumbing system.
Throwing old coffee grounds into the bin isn’t ideal, but if it’s your only option then it’s a much better choice than adding them to your plumbing system.
Control Those Pesky Pests
If you’re a keen gardener then you’re no doubt fighting at least one front against the many pests that populate the average garden.
If you want to avoid using pesticides, used coffee grounds are an excellent tool to add to your arsenal.
For a start, cats really don’t seem to like the smell of coffee grounds. If you’ve a problem with a neighbor’s pet fouling up your lawn, you might consider putting a few jars of old grounds here and there in the garden.
They’re also really effective at driving away ants, snails, slugs and other plant-chewing pests. Just sprinkle the old grounds around your prized plants, and you’ll create a very effective natural barrier that will send the pests packing.
I’ve not tried this myself, but others swear that sprinkling the grounds over lawn grass will do wonders for encouraging lush green growth.
Just make sure the grounds have dried out completely before sprinkling them around your garden. Otherwise you run the risk of encouraging mold growth among your carefully tended slice of paradise!
Some will say that coffee grounds aren’t great as a fertilizer, because they have a naturally high acidity level.
You can fix this problem, however, by thoroughly rinsing the grounds under water for a good amount of time. After doing so, you’ll have a much more neutral compound to work with.
That compound is also bursting with plant-happy nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Try sprinkling the grounds around plants, and work them into the soil a little once you’re done.
You can also make a liquid fertilizer if you’ve got access to one of those squeezy spray bottles.
Take the lid off, add your grounds, then fill with water. Now just let it stand for a few days so that the mixture can properly combine.
When that’s done, you can apply the nutrient-rich mix to your plants in a very targeted fashion.
Feed Your Compost Heap
Coffee grounds are a great ingredient to add to your home compost heap. Again, it’s those nutrients that make this material so effective.
If you find this works for you, but you don’t consume a lot of coffee, you do have one other option to explore.
It’s not uncommon for your local coffee shop to empty that puck straight into the bin. That’s understandable as they get through a lot of the stuff!
If you’re on good terms with your friendly barista, ask if they’d consider adding a day’s worth of grounds to a small container you provide them with.
Once you’ve collected the “waste”, just add it to your compost heap over a period of time. That’ll keep it very nicely fed until it’s time to apply it as a fertilizer.
If you haven’t got a compost heap of your own, but want to help do your bit for the environment, your local authority may provide you with a food waste bin. Have a Google around for the services in your area.
Clear The Air
Despite coffee’s rich smell, old coffee grounds become a remarkably effective odor neutralizer once they’ve been fully dried out for a while.
Once they’ve dried, keep them in jars and put them in cupboards that are prone to picking up a pong or two. I much prefer the residual odor from this process over sickly sweet commercial deodorizers.
If you’ve been chopping smelly foods like onions or fish, you can also rub a little of the old grounds into your hands for an effective exfoliating scrub. Once you’ve rinsed your hands you’ll notice very little residual odor.
One final tip is to actually freeze the dried grounds in an ice cube tray. Whenever you change your garbage can liner, throw one portion in. This works really well for kitchen bins in particular.
Hopefully this article has given you some inspiration about how to make the most of your old coffee grounds at home.
If I discover any other coffee grounds hacks, I’ll add them to this article in the next update.