Top 5 Uses for Used Coffee Grounds

Top 5 Uses for Used Coffee Grounds

Top five uses for used coffee groundsAny time I have an abundance of a certain kind of garbage, I become obsessed with discovering useful ways of disposing of said waste.  For instance, when I brew beer, I save the spent grains for cooking, and toss the rest in my compost pile.  Brewing a pot or more of coffee a day results in good amount of used coffee grounds, and I decided it was high time to allocate a new home for them, outside the trash bin.

First a Confession

There are many more than five uses for used coffee grounds.  As surprising as this revelation is, I decided to focus on only five of the best uses.  The most useful uses if you will.

1: Compost

Much like my spent grains from homebrew, coffee grounds make a great addition to the compost pile.  The grounds can help speed up the decomposition of other materials in the pile, but it also adds a good amount of nitrogen  and other vitamins to the compost.

Most sources will tell you that used coffee grounds are acidic and therefore must be balanced out with lime in the compost pile, and that the coffee grounds are especially helpful for fertilizing acid-loving plants.  As it turns out, this may not be true.

As reported on by Monte from, the acidity found in roasted coffee beans is mostly water soluble, and therefore extracted during the brewing process.  This leaves the used coffee grounds very near a neutral pH, and an effective buffer in the compost pile, bringing it closer to neutral pH whether from base or acidic leanings.

The grounds are also said to attract worms, which are great for a healthy compost pile.  Coffee grounds should be limited to no more than 25% of the compost pile’s makeup.  This balancing of waste matter in the compost pile is something you should always strive for.  Simply put, you want an equal mix of “green” (nitrogen) and “brown” (carbon) matter, which should achieve the required 30:1 ratio of carbon to nitrogen.  For the record, coffee grounds are actually nitrogen rich matter, even though they are not green.

2: General Garden Use

Used coffee grounds can be used elsewhere in the garden to attract worms, fertilize plants, or deter pests such as slugs and snails.  Some gardeners even create a water-based fertilizer by adding the grounds to a bucket of water and letting it sit overnight before watering plants with it.

3: Deter Ants

Like slugs and snails, ants appear to dislike coffee grounds as well.  You can sprinkle it around or on top of any hills and the ants will move on.

4: Kill Refrigerator Odors

Dry out your used grounds by leaving them out on a tray or cookie sheet.  Then pour them into an open canister and leave it in the fridge.  The grounds will help to absorb odors and freshen the interior of your refrigerator.

5: Household Cleaner

For a quick and easy scouring cleaner, mix equal parts coffee grounds and baking soda.  This mix is great on pots and pans.

These top 5 uses for used coffee grounds are the ones I find most helpful around the house, but you can find a number of other ways to use coffee grounds as well.  For instance there are many beauty tips involving used coffee grounds.  And don’t be afraid to get creative as well.  There is one particularly interesting use that involves mixing the grounds with water and flour to create “breakable rocks” that you hide little prizes inside.  These little treasure rocks can be a fun party game for children.

I hope these ideas will help you lighten the trash bag in your house and maybe even enhance your garden.