10 tips for recycling coffee grounds

December 12th, 2010
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A nice filter coffee … mmm.. I don’t think there’s anything that tastes better ..except maybe for pizza. If I was ever doing anything else for a living, I think I would like to work in a shop that sells coffee beans ..or pizza :).

One of the great things about filter coffee is not only the better taste compared to instant, but the grounds can be recycled and used in a variety of ways. Since pizza doesn’t leave any grounds, or even crumbs in my case, I’ll just focus on coffee in this article.

I use the term “recycle” rather loosely as recycling means to make more of the same product from waste from that product. A more accurate term in relation to coffee grounds would be reuse, repurpose, upcycle or downcycle, but recycle is a word that seems to be an umbrella term these days – and some folks do actually recycle coffee grounds it seems (read on).

Here’s 10 quick tips for reusing coffee grounds:

- If you have a worm farm, dump the grounds in – I swear the caffeine jolt makes the worms chomp through more. But seriously, it doesn’t seem to do them any harm; but I’d recommend mixing them through the pile so the worms don’t overdose on any residual caffeine.

- Use coffee grounds as a plant fertilizer. Sprinkle the grounds around the base of the plant then dig them in a little. They can also be sprinkled directly on your lawn.

- Add the grounds to compost piles to enrich nutrient content – the grounds contain Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium and Sulfur. Phosphorous is becoming scarce, so we need to conserve it as much as possible.

- Add water to the grounds and allow to stand for a day or two. Drain off and then use as a liquid plant fertilizer – cold coffee that you’d usually toss down the sink can also be used in this way.

- After drying the grounds thoroughly, add them to an old stocking. Tie off the ends and then use in cupboards and your refrigerator as an odor absorber. Alternatively, you can just place the dried grounds in a container of some sort.

- Rubbing your hands with used coffee grounds will remove strong smells such as onion or fish.

- Grounds can be used as a scourer for greasy pots and pans

- A ring of coffee grounds around sensitive plants can discourage ants and some other pests.

- Use as a wood stain. Allow them to soak in a small amount of water overnight (or hot water for a shorter period), then drain off. The amount of water you use will determine how dark the stain is. Also good for touch-ups to mahogany furniture.

- This one’s interesting and I can’t say I’ve tried it. Dry out the coffee grounds in a warm (not hot) oven; then add equal weight of fresh coffee grounds and then use that mix to create another brew. After that brew, try one of the tips above – I wouldn’t recommend repeating the cycle :). 

By the way, a good tip for how *not* to use coffee grounds. Don’t try to get rid of them via your kitchen sink. They’ll stick to grease in the drain and form the basis for further build-up. Over a period of time this will totally clog the drain.

With all these wonderful re-use options for coffee grounds; perhaps hit your local coffee house and ask them if you can collect theirs on a regular basis. They’ll reduce waste and you’ll have a useful product – everyone wins! You might want to get in quick; since the time this article was originally published it seems many people have been doing just that, so used coffee grounds are becoming quite sought after

Below are some additional tips from GLT readers. If you have other uses for coffee grounds, please add your ideas!


Michael Bloch
Green Living Tips.com
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