We all love coffee, and we all hate waste. And with the mounting hills of garbage ending up in oceans, we’re all becoming increasingly conscious of avoiding adding onto those vile piles, the products of neverending consumerism. So even though coffee beans break down into the soil and even add to its structure, throwing them into a plastic bag and then in the trash will slow down this natural process, turning coffee – the gift that keeps on giving – into an accomplice against nature.
Luckily, there’s so much you can do with old coffee beans! Whether we’re talking about stale beans that you discovered in the back of a cupboard, or used ground beans that stay behind after you’ve drunk your cup of java, there’re lots of ways you can repurpose them. From composting them to give the plants in your garden a boost, all the way to turning them into natural beauty products, coffee can do it all.
Without further ado, let’s look at 6 smart ways in which you can reuse coffee grounds.
1. Use Coffee Grounds To Fertilize Your Garden
If you have a garden – even if it’s a little nook of potted plants on your balcony – you can use coffee grounds to fertilize it. The soil in gardens almost always needs a little help. Either it doesn’t contain enough essential nutrients for the growth and wellbeing of the plants, or those nutrients get absorbed from the soil as the plants grow.
Old coffee beans have some wonderful properties that make them a beautiful addition to the soil. They contain a good deal of nitrogen, as well as much-needed amounts of potassium, magnesium, copper, and even phosphorus. Some coffee beans can also help add calcium and iron.
There are some flowers, like roses, hydrangeas, and camellias which simply love coffee! It helps them flourish and satisfies their need for nitrogen. Fruits such as blueberries and cranberries also benefit from the nutrients that coffee grounds add to the soil.
Some other benefits of fertilizing your garden with coffee is that coffee attracts earthworms – which are amazing for the soil, and they also may aid in the absorption of heavy metals from contaminated soil.
To fertilize your garden with used coffee beans, you can simply sprinkle them on top of the soil around your plants. Alternatively, you can bury them about 6-8 inches into the soil near the plants.
Keep in mind that it’s best to use used coffee grounds rather than stale coffee beans for fertilization. This is because used coffee grounds lose their acidity in the brewing process, and end up with practically neutral pH value, which is ideal for most gardens and plants.
2. Add Old Coffee To Your Compost
Both coffee grounds and stale coffee beans make an excellent addition to your compost. If you don’t already compost, composting is a great, natural way to add essential nutrients to your plants. This is done by composting organic food scraps, which you can also combine with stuff like leaves, biodegradable paper, branches, cut grass, garden weeds, and so on. As the organic matter composts, it creates humus: a dark, nutrient-rich, soil-like material.
Adding humus to the soil not only increases its nutrient content but also helps it retain more of the nutrients and more water. It’s a party for your plants!
In any case, coffee has time and again proven to be an excellent addition to any compost pile. To begin with, the coffee’s nutrients and their properties allow them to additionally extract more of the benefits of the other organic matter in the compost pile, so compost that contains coffee is richer in nutrients than compost without coffee, with only kitchen waste.
Another wonderful benefit of adding coffee beans or grounds to compost is that it reduces the greenhouse gas emissions of the compost while helping it achieve the highest nutrient quality. Good for your plants, good for the environment!
You can add coffee grounds to your kitchen waste compost, or you can create a compost pile by layering ⅓ leaves, ⅓ grass clippings (fresh, of course!), and ⅓ used coffee grounds.
3. Get Rid of Unwanted Bugs and Gastropods
Some bugs, like bees and bumblebees, are a very much welcome – in fact desired – presence in your garden. They are incredible pollinators, helping your garden grow and your plants flourish.
However, there are bugs and gastropods (snails and slugs) that will only do harm to the plants, i.e. eat them. To keep these little guys away from your flowers and plants, just sprinkle the coffee grounds around the flower beds. Coffee grounds are an excellent insect repellent, as the caffeine and diterpenes found in coffee are somewhat toxic to bugs. Snails and slugs hate to come into contact with coffee, as well.
But it’s not just the plants that will get a break from pests thanks to coffee. Coffee is also a great way to deter that enemy to all mankind, ruiner of good sleep, punisher of the sweet-blooded, the dreaded mosquito. Plus, it repels fruit flies and beetles, too! You can just put some used coffee grounds in bowls around your balcony, garden, or sitting area to keep pests far away.
4. DIY Body Scrub from Coffee Grounds
Why waste money on questionable beauty products (both in terms of ingredients and ethics), when you can make your own body scrub using coffee grounds? You can use coffee grounds to exfoliate your body, getting rid of dead skin and rejuvenating your epithelial cells.
Coffee – both in the form of old, stale beans and used coffee grounds – has a wonderful effect on the skin. Not only does its texture help renew the surface of skin cells and get rid of dirt, but it also has antioxidant properties due to its caffeine content. Antioxidants are very healthy for the skin and can help protect it from exposure to the sun (this is no way substitutes SPF though). Coffee also increases blood flow, which keeps the skin looking fresh and young.
There are several ways you can use coffee beans to exfoliate. If you’re lazy, or just can’t be bothered, simply mix the coffee grounds with some water or coconut oil, and then scrub the paste all over your clean body. Rinse. Feel good.
If you’re not lazy and like indulging in spa-treatment-grade-self-care, you can take the DIY coffee body scrub a step further.
For high-grade pampering, combine equal parts (usually about half a cup) used coffee grounds (or ground stale beans), brown sugar, and coconut oil. You can add a teaspoon of vanilla extract for good measure – it really adds to the scent and feel. Mix everything well together, and rub the paste into your pre-washed body. Allow it to sit for about five minutes, and rinse it off. Enjoy feeling silky smooth and smelling like a dessert.
You can also freestyle and mix coffee beans with honey (for lip exfoliation), almond oil, Greek yogurt, cinnamon, and whatever you think tastes and smells good – just make sure that it’s also great for your skin.
Just remember one thing: avoid using this DIY coffee scrub on your face. The skin on your face is a lot more sensitive than the skin on your body and you risk being too rough on it.
5. DIY Anti-Cellulite Treatment with Coffee
No matter how much we take care of ourselves, it’s difficult to skip cellulite altogether, especially as we grow older. The vast majority of adult women have at least some amount of cellulite on their bodies, and although it’s completely natural, not everyone appreciates its presence.
So, to reduce the appearance of cellulite on your body you can also use a DIY coffee-based treatment. As caffeine stimulates blood flow, it will encourage blood circulation in the affected areas, reducing the appearance of cellulite. Plus, the antioxidants in the caffeine will encourage more collagen production, causing your skin to look younger and smoother.
Simply take used coffee grounds or grind stale coffee beans and mix them with water or coconut oil. If you don’t have coconut oil, you can use almost any other oil – we generally say coconut because it has the most benefits for the skin. Once you’ve mixed those two, scrub on the affected area for about 10 minutes. Repeat this twice a week to see long-term results. Keep in mind that nothing can completely get rid of cellulite, bit scrubs like this one can decrease its visibility and severity.
6. Scrub Your Pots and Pans
Trying to get rid of stubborn food residue from cooking? You can scrape your pots and pans clean from burnt eggs, or any sort of caked-on food using coffee grounds. The texture of coffee grounds helps clean kitchen utensils thoroughly.
Simply pour some grounds into the utensil, and scrub it with a sponge or a steel scrubber. Just make sure that you’re not scrubbing a non-stick pan, as this method can permanently damage it.