Just when you thought being a coffee lover couldn’t get any more delicious, your daily java habit is proving otherwise.
It turns out that your daily cuppa not only contributes to longevity, lowers risk of stroke, and possibly reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but the leftover coffee grounds have a myriad of uses outside of your cup (1, 2, 3).
Read on to discover how you can use every last bit of these magical beans.
This coffee cookbook is filled with healthy recipes and reveals the natural benefits of your morning brew.
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1. Use as a Fertilizer
Even your garden can’t resist the lure of java. Working coffee grounds into the soil adds organic matter—improving water retention and aeration—while helping beneficial microorganisms thrive. Fresh grounds are also beneficial for acid-loving plants, as they raise the pH level of the soil, while used grounds are a great source of nutritive nitrogen (4).
To use as a fertilizer, work used coffee grounds into the soil around your plants.
2. Repel Pests
Coffee grounds are great for repelling a variety of garden pests, especially slugs and snails. Sprinkling the grounds around your garden or creating a coffee ground “wall” about two inches wide around the perimeter will help deter these pesky veggie-eaters.
3. Use in Compost
Along with being a great fertilizer, coffee grounds also help strengthen garden compost with beneficial trace elements. The extra nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus in the grounds help plants convert sunlight into energy and retain moisture, making it a nutritious addition to your compost pile (5).
Add coffee grounds to your compost pile with an equal amount of a carbon source, such as dried leaves.
4. Tenderize Meat
Damp coffee grounds make an excellent meat tenderizer thanks to their natural acid content. To make a coffee ground “marinade,” simply coat raw meat with damp coffee grounds in a plastic bag, then let sit in the fridge for at least three hours (better yet, overnight). You can wash off the grounds before you cook your meat, or leave them for a subtle smoky flavor.
5. Make Homemade Candles
Have your kitchen smelling of fresh-brewed coffee any time of day by creating a homemade coffee candle.
For a simple candle, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Small glass jar
- 2 Tablespoons coffee grounds
- 1 cup beeswax
- Candle wick (you can find these at your local craft store)
- Sauce pan
- Heat-safe glass bowl
How to Make It:
- Place beeswax in your glass bowl, then place it over a small saucepan filled halfway with water.
- Bring water to a simmer to melt the wax.
- Place your wick and a sprinkling of coffee grounds in the base of your glass jar.
- Pour half of the wax over your wick and grounds. Let harden.
- Now sprinkle a second layer of grounds on the cooled layer, and pour over the remaining wax.
- Let cool, then burn to your coffee-addicted heart’s content.
You can get rid of smelly food odors in your fridge by putting coffee grounds in a small bag or bowl and leaving them on a shelf.
7. Exfoliate Your Skin
Coffee grounds make the perfect exfoliator to slough away dead skin. Simply use them as a standalone exfoliator, or create a decadent scrub like the one below:
Coffee Body Scrub
- 1/2 cup ground coffee
- 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
- 1/4 cup coconut or olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
How to Make It:
- Combine ingredients in a small jar.
- Keep refrigerated. Scrub will stay fresh for roughly two weeks.
8. Clean the Fireplace
Many fireplace owners swear by using coffee grounds to help weigh down loose ashes, making cleaning easier. Sprinkle a layer of damp grounds over the ashes before sweeping them up.
9. Grow Hearty Carrots
Carrots are particularly fond of coffee grounds. They add extra bulk and nutrients to the soil, setting the stage for heartier carrots. The grounds may also be protective against root maggots and other below-ground bugs.
10. Use as a Natural Abrasive
Tired of looking at stained pots and pans, or grimy countertops? Simply sprinkle with coffee grounds, then, using a cloth or steel wool (avoid using steel wool on wood), scrub off stuck-on food or stains.
11. Minimize Cellulite
Coffee grounds can also be an effective temporary treatment for cellulite. Massaging and exfoliating with the grounds stimulates circulation and nutrient flow, while the caffeine content temporarily dilates blood vessels and reduces water retention—all beneficial to minimizing cellulite rumpled appearance (6).
12. Create a Weathered Wood Table
Score the coveted rustic look for your wood furniture using a blend of coffee grounds, white vinegar, and steel wool.
Simply combine 1 Tablespoon of coffee grounds with white vinegar and steel wool in a glass jar. Let it sit for 24 hours. When you’re ready, begin to scrub your piece of wood with the coffee and vinegar-dipped steel wool. Let dry, then repeat a second time for a darker, aged finish. Wipe off any excess grounds.
13. Use as a Seasoning
Coffee grounds add a smoky depth to dishes—especially grilled meats and vegetables. Create your own coffee grill rub by combining:
- ¼ cup coffee grounds
- 1 Tablespoon paprika
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons coconut palm sugar
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
14. Remove Buildup from Your Hair
Massaging coffee grounds into your scalp while in the shower will help remove product build-up, exfoliate your scalp, and help stimulate hair growth.
15. Get Rid of Dark Circles and Bags
Using a combination of coffee grounds and coconut oil can help get rid of under-eye circles and bags by acting as a diuretic, which may reduce puffiness (7).
Combine coffee grounds and coconut oil until you have a thick, mask-like paste. Swipe under your eyes and let sit for 15-20 minutes. Rise off and repeat twice a week.
16. Make Soap
Make a nourishing, exfoliating, fragrant soap infused with coffee grounds.
- 1/4 cup used coffee grounds
- 8 ounces glycerin soap
- 1 teaspoon powdered coconut milk (optional)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Small glass bowl
- Sauce pan
- Muffin tins
How to Make It:
- Fill your saucepan halfway with water. Place the glass bowl over the water, creating a double boiler.
- Bring the water to just boiling, adding the soap to the glass bowl.
- While the soap is melting, add coffee grounds to oiled muffin tins.
- Once the soap is melted, remove from heat and add vanilla, coffee grounds, and powdered coconut milk.
- Fill the muffins tins with the soap using your ladle.
- Let cool for several hours before popping the soaps out for use.
17. Repel Your Pooch’s Fleas
Many dog owners use coffee grounds to repel their pooch’s fleas. Simply bathe your dog as usual, rinse, scrub him or her down with coffee grounds, then rinse again. Bonus: if your furry friend sleeps in bed with you, you’ll be waking to the smell of fresh coffee before it’s even been brewed.
Important: Be sure your dog doesn’t eat any of the grounds, as caffeine can be toxic to dogs.
For many, it’s a joyful day when we’re awakened by the aroma of brewed java. Knowing we can use the grounds for just about everything elevates these beans from a simple wake-up call to an additional way to bring more natural into our homes.
(Read This Next: Everything You Need to Know About Composting)