3 Ways to repurpose coffee grounds
BY Alicia Erickson
14th Nov 2023 Recipes
3 min read
Coffee grounds are a waste product of making coffee but instead of throwing them away, why not repurpose them to use for beauty, gardening or even a food ingredient?
Do you make a beeline straight for the coffeemaker the moment you get out of bed? Does your morning only start once you’ve consumed at least one cup of coffee?
Whether you’re a serial coffee drinker or more of a social cup-of-joe type, coffee is brewed and consumed in mass quantities around the world.
Coffee grounds—useful instead of wasteful
This beloved beverage is deeply embedded into cultures from the standing espresso bars in Italy to slow coffee ceremonies in Ethiopia. One caveat? From most coffee comes grounds, which are typically thrown away.
Coffee grounds are tossed into the garbage without another thought—75 per cent of coffee grounds wind up in landfills. The grounds damage the land around the landfills and as they’re decomposing, they create greenhouse gases, which contributes to rising global temperatures.
The upside? You don’t need to throw away your coffee grounds. Think of them as a bonus ingredient in your kitchen that you can repurpose and use to enhance home beauty treatments, revitalise your garden, or give some cooking recipes an extra kick—all while reducing your waste.
1. Coffee-infused food
If you’re a whiz in the kitchen, getting creative with food waste is part of the fun! The less we throw away means the more innovative we get with our recipes. Think of coffee grounds as a bonus ingredient that can enhance some of your everyday favourite foods.
"Toss coffee grounds into your morning smoothie, homemade granola, brownies, chocolate cake mixture or pancakes"
Toss coffee grounds into your morning smoothie—the roasted flavours of coffee are a delicious enhancement to a peanut butter, banana, and cacao concoction. Consider adding coffee grounds to a homemade granola mixture or pancakes for a surprising twist. They also are a delicious addition to your favourite brownie or chocolate cake mixture. About a third of a cup of grounds will do the trick.
For the home gardener, coffee grounds are an all-natural, easy-to-add boost. The acidity in coffee is fantastic for plants like hydrangeas, roses, carrots, blueberries, radishes, and orchids and can really enhance their growth. “Leftover tea leaves and coffee grounds are amazing for horticulture,” commented Michael Perry from Mr. Plant Geek. “They help add vital nitrogen to the soil and aeration to plants and flowers, as well as aiding drainage. They also serve as a great tonic for roses growing in containers.”
"The acidity in coffee is fantastic for plants like hydrangeas, roses, carrots, blueberries and radishes"
According to Perry, coffee grounds are an especially powerful boost for growing mushrooms. “Coffee grounds are, firstly, pasteurised by the brewing process, and therefore don’t contain contaminants to interfere with the mushroom spores. Secondly, they’re packed to the brim with nutrients which help mushrooms thrive.” Toss those used grounds into the garden instead of the rubbish next time! Keep the soil to coffee grounds ratio at about 4:1. Grounds should make up 25 per cent of mixture, at most.
3. Face masks and skin remedies
Not a gardener? Mix up some home beauty magic with your leftover coffee grounds instead. While not as potent as freshly ground coffee, used coffee grounds are great additives to scrubs and face masks that leave your body feeling exfoliated and your face revitalised. The grounds are packed with antioxidants that offer some powerful remedies for your skin. Antioxidants fight free radicals that cause skin damage. They also have anti-ageing properties thanks to their ability to reduce redness and soften sunspots, while also reducing inflammation and dark circles under the eyes. Eyes a little puffy? Wrap some of the grounds in a damp paper towel and place them over the eyes—the caffeine temporarily helps reduce the puffiness.
"Coffee grounds are packed with antioxidants that offer some powerful remedies for your skin"
Looking at your coffee grounds in a whole new light? Mix them in with a few simple ingredients found in your kitchen to make some all-natural face masks and body scrubs. Try mixing about a ¼ of a cup of spent coffee grounds with Epsom Salt or Sea Salt and olive oil. This textured scrub helps soften out rough feet. Or, mix a couple of spoons of grounds in with a spoonful of honey and a few tablespoons of milk. Apply the mixture to your face, leave on for approximately 15-20 minutes, and wash off with lukewarm water after. The coffee mask will leave your skin soothed, balanced and glowing.
Banner credit: Coffee grounds in a coffee machine
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