Whether you’re quick on your feet first thing in the morning, or you have to physically crawl to the Mr. Coffee to get started, coffee is an essential (and delicious) cornerstone of our morning routines. But coffee has been around for a long time, nearly 500 years! So it should come as no surprise that people have discovered, and innovated, different creative ways to use this miraculous agricultural wonder. In this article we examine the best uses for coffee grounds.
Table of Contents for Top Uses of Coffee Grounds
- Absorb Odors
- Kitchen (Uses Cooking / Baking
- Cleaning and Moisture Spills
- Insect Repellent
- Additional Uses
When I was a child, the best part about those daunting, early morning grocery store trips, was that wonderful waltz through the coffee aisle. Back then, I knew I didn’t like coffee, I wasn’t quite there yet, but the aromas always enticed me.
After all, a coffee’s aroma is an essential aspect, second only to taste.
But this pleasantly pungent odor is good for more than just determining quality. Coffee grounds can be used as effective deodorizers. Simply Place previously brewed coffee grounds in the back reaches of your cabinets and/or refrigerator. You can effectively eliminate any unpleasant smells from pungent foods like garlic and onions.
Creating an apparatus is easy-peasy. Simply take small socks (or stockings) and fill them with the coffee grounds. First, make sure they are dried. Then tie the top together creating a sack/sachet. This keeps the coffee grounds in while allowing them to breath.
Coffee grounds can also be used to mask the odor of more…harsher substances…
I’m talking about poop. [Ironically, coffee makes you poop as well.]
From bus bathrooms to porta-potty’s, coffee grounds are commercially used to reduce the odors in a lot of public facilities.
Using coffee grounds is not only cost effective, but it also prevents exposure to potential chemicals found in air-fresheners.
Uses for Coffee Grounds in Gardening
Many people often ask the question “is coffee good for plants?”. Coffee is so good that even the plants love it! In fact, this is one of the most common uses for coffee grounds and it’s a trade secret that people with green thumbs are well aware of.
Let’s take a brief look at why coffee grounds are good for gardening and growing plants.
Coffee naturally contains high concentrations of nitrogen and acidic properties. Soil craves nitrogen to thrive, so adding fresh coffee grounds to your garden increases the fertility of the soil.
The same applies with coffee’s acidity. Adding coffee to soil can raise the PH levels, essential for plants that require highly acidic soil.
Coffee’s high nitrogen concentration make it the perfect addition to your compost pile too! High levels of nitrogen are essential for a healthy and rich compost heap.
Keep in mind: You should only use fresh coffee grounds which haven’t been brewed. Used coffee grounds dispel most of their acid and nitrogen in the brewing process, giving them a neutral PH balance.
Uses for Coffee Grounds in Cooking and Baking
Using coffee in the kitchen (other than in the coffee machine) isn’t a new tactic. For example, desserts such as Tiramisu use it as the main ingredient.
Coffee grounds can be used on a variety of baked goods. From brownies to cheesecakes, fresh coffee grounds add texture and improved favor profiles. It even extenuates the flavors already presented.
But if you’re anything like me, you aren’t much of a baker, but that’s totally fine! Coffee can be used to make cold desserts too, like ice-cream and custards.
But aside from cooking and baking, coffee still has tons of applicable uses in the kitchen!
If you’ve ever chopped up pungent veggies (garlic, onion, etc.) you know that smell sticks on your hands, even when you’ve washed them a million times. This might sound weird, but rubbing your hands thoroughly with dry coffee grounds before washing with soap and water, will practically remove the stagnant odors entirely.
Additionally, coffee grounds (dry) make an amazing meat tenderizer/rub. The course granules effectively tenderize the meat while delivering an interesting (yet creative) flavor profile with the rest of your seasonings.
Coffee grounds can be used in countless ways when cooking. For some epic coffee recipes check out this list provided by Taste of Home.
Do you struggle scrubbing tricky gristle and other burnt bits from your cast-iron pans? Try scrubbing your pan with dry coffee grounds. The gristle is no match for the rough texture of coffee!
Uses for Coffee Grounds for Cleaning and Moisture Spills
Odors aren’t the only thing coffee can masterfully absorb, but liquid spills as well…
A few years ago, while I was still bartending, I had a bar guest who unfortunately couldn’t keep their dinner down. They threw up in the bar mid dinner rush, but my manager had a creative solution. He quickly grabbed a few bags of fresh coffee grounds and thoroughly sprinkled them atop of the vomit. After about 10 minutes, the vomit had completely absorbed into the grounds, allowing us to simply sweep up the mess with no issues. Not only did the coffee grounds make cleaning incredibly easy, but it also masked the smell.
I’ve used this tactic on all kinds of liquid spills ever since, and it’s worked like a charm every time. In my opinion, this easily is one of the most overlooked uses for coffee grounds.
Now that we’re slowly heading into the cooler autumn months, you might be sweeping out the fireplace in preparation for cooler temps. Well, if you’ve ever swept a fireplace, you’re aware of our infuriatingly difficult it is to sweep it without covering the room in 5 inches of soot. Well, good news! By sprinkling coffee grounds on the ashes/dust before sweeping, you significantly reduce the giant plum of dust that kicks up while sweeping.
You may have heard that pouring coffee grounds down your garbage disposal is a big no no. This is true under most circumstances. However, there are situations when coffee grounds can be of help when used properly and intentionally.
To help clean up and remove debris from your garbage disposal, you can create small pucks/balls of coffee by forming them together and putting them in the freezer. When the disposal clogs, simply place a coffee puck in the drain and run the disposal. The coffee grounds will scrape and clear any debris that’ve gunked onto the disposal blades.
If you’re having to deal with bugs and pests, know that coffee grounds can be used as an effective insect repellent. According to the EPA, coffee grounds are an effective and safe inspect repellent. It’s also worth noting that coffee grounds work best as a repellent when burned.
Place the coffee grounds (burnt or not) in bowls or sprinkle them in designated areas to keep the pests away. This is a one of the lesser known uses for coffee grounds, and it’s one you’ll definitely appreciate especially if you’re enjoying a BBQ outside and pests are out in full form.
Other Helpful Utilities
I’m sure you’re realizing that coffee grounds are almost like a Swiss army knife when it comes to useful applications.
If you dwell in cold and icy environments, coffee grounds can be used in substitution for salt on icy patches and walkways. Not only does it provide suitable traction but prevents corrosion on the cement and asphalt that occurs when using salt.
My grandpa, to this day, always carries a tin of dry coffee grounds in the trunk of his car during winter months. If his car becomes stuck, he simply applies a generous amount of coffee beneath the stranded tire which provides just enough traction to get the vehicle unstuck.
Again, that’s something I’ve done too ever since.
If you’re feeling extra crafty, dry grounds can be used to remove scuffs and tarnish from wooden products and furniture. It acts almost like sandpaper when directly applied to the blemish.
Top Uses for Coffee Grounds: Conclusion
As you may have learned, the uses for coffee grounds are extensive and serve as an important ingredient for many “life hacks” if you will. So the next time you sip your morning brew, take a moment to appreciate the wide-reaching benefits of this magical bean.