If you are a fan of recycling and care about doing the right thing for the environment then you should not be throwing away your used coffee grounds into the general waste. There are plenty of uses for used coffee grounds after you have used them to brew your coffee with one of the best being a deterrent for unwanted animals or neighbours cats.
If it is standard practice for you to separate your cardboard and plastic and put them into the different bins provided by the council ready to be taken away by the rubbish men then keeping your coffee grounds separate is also a good way to stop unnecessary waste going straight to landfill.
As well as useful things to do with your used coffee grounds there are a few things that you may think could be a good idea but are definitely not so let’s cover them first.
Can you reuse coffee grounds to make more coffee?
If you drink both tea and coffee then you may be familiar with making more than one cup of tea with a single teabag. Most teabags come with enough tea to comfortably make two cups of tea.
I know this because I used to be a buyer for a very large supermarket and the cheapest teabags had a only a small amount of tea in them and that way the price could be kept low.
Most tea bags, however, contain enough tea so that the flavour is not compromised if you use one teabag for a single cup for yourself and then use it again shortly afterwards for a second cup or you can simply put the teabag into a teapot and pour in enough water for two cups.
If you don’t already use your teabags to make more than one cup then you are only getting half the tea out of your teabags that you could be.
The next time you are making two cups of tea, use the same teabag to make two cups and you won’t notice the difference.
Using tea as a guide, it would be completely reasonable to suggest that you could reuse your coffee grounds to make another cup of coffee but coffee is not the same when it comes to re-using as tea is and you should definitely not use coffee grounds that have already been used to make more coffee.
To get the best possible flavour from a cup of coffee you need to add the right amount of coffee and mix it with the right amount of water otherwise you will end up with a cup of coffee that is far too strong, far too weak or even horribly bitter and unpleasant.
Getting it right makes a big difference to the overall flavour. If you are interested in finding out how to get it just right, this article explains how:
There are lots of different brewing methods which makes coffee an extremely versatile drink so you should experiment with all of the different ways to make coffee before considering using your used coffee grounds to make more coffee.
This article explains all of the different ways to make coffee:
Unlike tea bags where they give you more tea than you need in a single teabag, with coffee it’s important to use the right amount of coffee for the number of cups you are making.
With coffee, the vast majority of the oils and flavours that end up in your cup are extracted from the ground coffee during the first brew and that includes the caffeine.
One of the main benefits you get from coffee is the energy boost it gives you first thing in the morning or in the afternoon when you are feeling a bit flat and that boost comes from the lovely caffeine that is naturally found in coffee beans but most of the caffeine is extracted from the coffee when it is brewed.
I tried brewing coffee twice in my cafetière for research purposes for this article and it tasted absolutely disgusting. The flavour was gone, it tasted bitter and there was no caffeine benefit to be had.
So our advice is to only use ground coffee once to make coffee and find the right brewing method that works best for you.
Are used coffee grounds good for plants?
It may sound like a good idea to add used coffee grounds to soil in order to stimulate plant growth.
Used coffee grounds contain all sorts of minerals such as nitrogen, calcium and potassium that will help to develop plants better than just using soil alone BUT the coffee grounds also contain other things that are bad for plants such as caffeine.
Most of the caffeine is extracted from coffee when its brewed but some does remain and most plants don’t like caffeine. It’s not going to kill them but it’s not going to promote very good growth either.
When it comes to this kind of thing instead of taking the advice of any old Tom, Dick or Harry its best to rely on specific scientific studies.
This study by the Urban Forestry and Urban Greening journal tested plant growth with and without used coffee grounds and concluded that “applying spent coffee grounds directly to urban agriculture soils greatly reduced plant growth”
So the reality is that adding used coffee grounds to plants is actually bad for plants, not good for them.
So don’t use your used coffee grounds to make more coffee and don’t add them to soil to stimulate plant growth but there are a number of things you can put them to good use on.
Stop the local cats coming into your garden
We had a problem in our garden where one of our neighbour’s cats decided that it would be a good idea to do its business in our garden on a regular basis.
Occasionally we would catch it in action and shoo it away but most of the time we would be presented with a pile of poo which is pretty unpleasant to get rid of especially if it doesn’t come from your own pet!
A little bit of research suggested that used coffee grounds might do the trick because cats have a heightened sense of smell and used coffee grounds have a very distinct pungent smell that would not appeal to cats.
Although I was a bit sceptical, I thought there was nothing to lose so I sprinkled a some used grounds on the grass in the area where the cat liked to relieve itself in hope rather than expectation.
To my surprise, the cat never pooed in my garden again and although I have seen him out and about again, he has never ventured into our garden since.
It worked for me and so if you have a similar problem it’s worth a go.
Exfoliate your skin
You can spend a fortune on products that clean and exfoliate your skin.
I was given some Molton Brown exfoliating body wash and it has tiny brown bits in it that acted as the exfoliator.
It was lovely but it cost a lot of money and the little bits actually looked like coffee grounds so I took a £1 bottle of shower gel, emptied it out, added some used coffee grounds, mixed it up and poured it back into the bottle and I had my own ready-made exfoliating body wash.
Was it as good as the Molton Brown? Probably not but it felt pretty good and it didn’t cost me an arm and a leg. Definitely worth a try.
Depending on what you keep in your fridge you can end up with some unwanted smells that seem to linger.
If you like strong cheese or have left some vegetables in there a little too long and you can’t seem to get rid of the smell then wrap up some used coffee grounds in a cloth and leave at the bottom of the fridge for a few days.
The grounds will absorb the smell and bring the freshness back to your fridge.
This is counter-intuitive because you would think that something like coffee grounds would block rather than unblock your sink but it worked for me more by accident rather than design.
The kitchen sink was becoming increasingly blocked and not draining properly no doubt due to the food gunk that slipped in during rinsing before the dishes went into the dishwasher.
It was getting to the point where we needed to call the plumber because the stuff you buy at the supermarket and pour down was only working for a few days before it blocked again.
At the same time, I got a new coffee machine where I was knocking the used grounds into a knock box (to keep to reuse of course) but some coffee grounds still remained in the portafilter and needed rinsing out in the sink.
I drink a lot of coffee and so was rinsing the portafilter out in the sink 4-5 times a day and over the course of the next few weeks the sink became unblocked.
I never linked the two things together until I started researching this article and found that it had worked for other people as well.
Don’t go pouring huge quantities of coffee grounds down your plughole but the next time you have a blocked sink try a small handful of coffee grounds with some washing up liquid and a kettle full of boiling water.
It’s certainly not going to cause you a problem but you may find it helps to unblock your sink.
What else can you do with used coffee grounds?
There are a lot of wild claims about the things you can do with used coffee grounds.
I prefer to suggest only the things that I have personally done myself as opposed to listing a whole bunch of wildly exaggerated recommendations.
Some suggest rubbing used coffee grounds into meat as a way to make it more tender and improve the flavour.
That’s a big no for me. I wouldn’t do that with freshly ground coffee grounds let alone used ones.
Some of the grounds would remain in the meat after cooking and who wants to grind used coffee grounds in their teeth when biting into a juicy steak?
It’s going to make the meat taste awful and make it like eating sand. When was the last time you saw Gordon Ramsey rubbing used coffee grounds into meat to make it more tender? I wonder why?
Cellulite reduction is another one we have seen. The most expensive creams available are not proven to reduce cellulite so what chance do you think there is of used coffee grounds being the magic potion? If they were then the beauty companies that spend millions on research and development would already be making full use of them.
There are many more that I wouldn’t bother trying but the ones above have been tested by me and there is some benefit to be had as well as avoiding making more coffee with them and avoiding using them on your plants.