We all know the main use of coffee: a delicious drink that provides us with the energy to go about our day-to-day lives. But what do we do with the leftover waste once we’ve enjoyed our morning cup of Joe?
Here’s the coffee bean guide to how to dispose of coffee grounds, how you can make use of them and why coffee grounds may just save your garden.
Can you put coffee grounds down the drain?
First of all, do not put your coffee grounds down the drain. Try to avoid rinsing a full espresso basket or heavily soiled coffee filter over an open drain if at all possible too. Coffee beans are hardy by nature, and combined with pressure and water they stay compacted. Imagine the grit building up in your drains over time and you can see why they easily lead to clogging issues.
So, what is the best way to dispose of coffee grounds?
If you have a home espresso machine set up, you already know that you need something to knock out the coffee grounds, and most knock bars come with a built-in bin. If not, a container with a solid edge will work just as well. When washing, try to keep the instruments in a washing bowl and only get water involved once as much of the coffee has been wiped off as physically possible. Your plumbing bills will thank you for it.
The thing is, the leftover grounds have many uses long after the end of a nice cup of coffee, there’s so much more they can do if given the chance. Here’s our list of favourite uses for used coffee grounds:
Uses for coffee grounds
You’ve made yourself a fantastic, life-giving cup of coffee from the excellent tasting range from the coffee bean shop, and now you are left with a quickly filling up container of coffee grounds. You could just throw them in the bin, but is there anything else you can do with these magic little beans to further their use?
There’s a reason that many high street coffee shops now leave their used coffee grounds in bags for anyone to take if they so wish. As well as the fairly well-known use of coffee grounds in the garden, they can also help you with the housework, keep creepy crawlies out of the home and aid in your beauty regime. Let us explain:
We all know -and adore- the smell of a freshly brewing batch of coffee, but did you know that coffee grounds can also help eliminate unwanted odours too? Coffee beans contain a lot of nitrogen which works at absorbing at neutralising pungent smells. Pop a batch of old coffee grounds into your fridge and watch (smell?) the odours disappear.
Pro tip: This also works at clearing your hands of particularly hardy smells after cooking. Next time you chop onions or garlic, add a little coffee when washing your hands and you’ll no longer smell of the food you have just prepped.
Tenderiser for meat
Much like a good red wine, coffee contains a high level of acidity and the associated tannins. It is for this reason that some people choose to tenderise meat with coffee instead of wine.
A high tannin level acts as a palette cleanser, allowing the true flavour of the meat to come through.
If the coffee grounds are used as a rub for meat, the acid and enzymes work on softening the meat and retaining the moisture inside by sealing it with a crust of flavour.
So how do you do it?
Combine the coffee grounds with a quarter cup of water, add in balsamic vinegar and other flavour additions (we like shallots) and season well. Leave the meat to marinate for at least 3 hours before cooking.
Repair scratched furniture
This one is a bit of a lie, as coffee cannot technically fix your broken furniture. It can, however, dye any scratches that they may have incurred. Simply mix a small amount of coffee grounds with tepid water and gently push the paste into the scratch. The coffee will get to work at staining the underneath wood, making the scratch much less noticeable.
Bugs tend to have a really really strong sense of smell, and coffee has quite a powerful odour (which we love, of course).
Because of this, used coffee grounds can be used to keep away mosquitoes, wasps, bees and other biting insects that may venture a little too close to home in the Summer months. Don’t worry though, you can pay back the hardworking bees by using your unwanted coffee grounds to help grow more flowers for them…
Garden fertiliser (or compost)
Whether coffee has a place in the garden remains a contentious subject, (you can grow coffee plants however, we’ve got a blog post all about growing coffee in the UK)
It is worth remembering that coffee also contains caffeine, which can stunt the growth of some plants, so it is best not to apply it liberally across the garden without prior research into what your particular plants' needs are.
As well as nitrogen, coffee also contains potassium and phosphorus which makes the fairly neutral used grounds (rather than the highly acidic content of fresh coffee) a good addition to fertiliser, rather than direct application to topsoil and plants themselves.
There are caveats, of course. Coffee grounds, when used strategically, can help kill off weeds and discourage roaming wildlife from having a nibble on your plants.
In general, placing your used coffee grounds in your compost is only really going to benefit it, thanks to the high nitrogen levels found within the beans. Plus the long decomposition period will help in killing off any remaining caffeine.
We know that coffee has health benefits when consumed, but it can also help when used as a physical application.
Many topical skin products contain caffeine as a stimulant to promote hair growth and blood flow. You can also make a beauty product at home that makes use of coffee grounds: the humble body scrub.
By mixing equal parts brown sugar and coffee grounds, with a squeeze of lemon or some coconut oil to hold it all together, you can create a scrub that smells as good as it feels.
The larger particles will work as a physical exfoliant, while the antioxidants within the coffee will work at increasing skin cell turnover, and you may even boost your collagen production with the Caffeic acid, and work on reducing the appearance of cellulite too if the latest studies prove to be correct.
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Here at the Coffee Bean Shop, we will always supply you with the freshest, highest quality coffee beans possible, and now you know how to dispose of coffee grounds too. Continue reading our blog for yet more insights into everything coffee, caffeine, brewing and barista themed, and when you need your next cup of coffee, you can always rely on us to provide the best.