More Than Just a Cup of Coffee: 3 Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds

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By Carmen and Tripp Eldridge

Coffee plays a huge role in our daily lives. In fact, Americans drink approximately 146 billion cups of coffee a year. Chains like Starbucks are using an average of eight million single-use cups per day and coffee prices are at an all-time high. If you are a coffee drinker, there are a few ways you can enjoy your coffee in a more sustainable way besides just using a reusable cup at Starbucks. 

According to the National Coffee Association, 64% of coffee drinkers in the United States exclusively prepare coffee at home, which means we are increasingly going through more and more coffee grounds to prepare that perfect cup. While we wouldn’t suggest using your brewed coffee grounds to make more than one cup of coffee, there is a lot more you can do beyond your morning pick-me-up. 

  • Self-Care Secret

Did you know that coffee grounds have a range of benefits for your skin and hair? The antioxidant properties in coffee mean that scrubs and soaps add moisture and can even help your hair grow. 

For a simple body scrub, mix together coffee grounds, brown sugar, and a natural oil (like jojoba or coconut). You’ll get a sticky paste perfect for moisturizing and exfoliating your skin, removing dead skin cells, and leaving a subtle, yet delicious, coffee scent. You can also apply the grounds under your eyes to help eliminate dark circles. 

Brewed grounds have also been shown to stimulate hair growth. Massage the grounds into your hair and rinse with cold water to feel the invigorating effects and see the increased shine. Not only can coffee make you feel less tired, it can make you look that way too!

  • Sustainable Cleaning Substitute

Between its grainy texture and rich scent, it may come as a shock that coffee grounds are a great way to clean your home. Scatter your grounds on pots and pans (stainless steel or non-stick only), inside your sink, or even on your grill, and scrub away. This environmentally friendly substitute for chemical cleaners will leave your cookware sparkling! 

You may have learned to keep baking soda in your refrigerator and freezer to keep your food smelling fresh, but coffee works just the same! Bake your used grounds in a thin layer on a baking sheet at 250 degrees until dry. Store them in an open container and use them throughout your house to absorb unwanted odors. 

  • The Ultimate Gardening Hack

Whether you’re fertilizing or composting, coffee grounds are the ultimate gardening hack you might not have known about. Because of its abundance of nitrogen, coffee grounds are the perfect addition to your compost bin. Just like it does for humans, coffee gives bacteria the energy they need to turn your grounds into nutritious soil for your garden.

There are also several plants that thrive on coffee grounds, including carrots, blueberries, radishes, tomatoes, and broccoli, as well as certain varieties of flowers. Leave the grounds at the base of your plants in the top layer of soil for them to act as a fertilizer for your garden. They will also help keep bugs, pests, and even larger animals, like slugs and rabbits, from ruining your harvest. 

Whether you use a traditional coffee maker or k-cups, the next time you brew yourself a fresh cup of coffee, remember that your used grounds don’t have to go to waste. So, enjoy your perfect cup of joe and then seize the day with what’s left over.