New & NowCoffee

Your Coffee Grounds Have a Much Better Fate Than the Compost

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It's true: My coffee grounds—and your coffee grounds—are very happy in the compost, which is where I dump them every day, brown paper filter and all. (And then, thanks to the New York City greenmarket compost system, they go on to fertilize green spaces all over the city. It's a pretty good life for a humble cuppa joe.)

But I produce so many coffee grounds that I wondered if there might be another fate for them besides the compost bin. The short answer? You bet. The long answer? Keep readin':

Your coffee grounds want to be a hand scrub! Or a deodorizer!
Your coffee grounds want to be a hand scrub! Or a deodorizer! Photo by James Ransom
  • Coffee grounds, like baking soda, will absorb odors, so place some grounds in whatever corner could use a little deodorizing. Niknud puts a small cheesecloth-covered jar of them in her refrigerator; our manager of digital marketing, Megan Lang, puts well-dried coffee grounds in an old pair of pantyhose (cheesecloth would also work) and keeps them at the bottom of her trash bin.
  • They'll also work their deodorizing magic on fish-, garlic-, or onion-smelling hands. Just roll a spoonful of grounds through your hands and rinse.
  • Rub them onto meat as part of a marinade! We're big fans of this coffee-rubbed ribeye and this lamb.
  • Use its grittiness to your advantage in a scrub: Jona @AssortedBites makes a body- and hand-worthy scrub from coffee grounds, brown sugar, coconut oil, and honey. Keep it by the sink to ward off dishpan hands.
How to Make Soap at Home (Even if You Failed Chemistry)
How to Make Soap at Home (Even if You Failed Chemistry)
  • Make a batch of soap (while we're getting crafty here) and stir grounds in—exfoliation and good smells galore.
  • Or use a coffee-ground scrub for a thorough counter wipe-down. Maedl simply sprinkles on some grounds and uses a sponge to scrub away anything sticky. (This would also be a good way to gently scrub any cooked-on spills from your stovetop or pots and pans.)
  • Use them as a breeding ground for mushrooms! (In a good way.)
  • Some folks put a scoop of coffee grounds into the disposal in their sink drains, claiming it sharpens the blades. (Others warn that this may cause drain clogs, especially if you have a septic tank—so do this at your discretion.)

Are you saving and reusing your coffee grounds? Tell us how in the comments.

Tags: Sustainability, Cooking with Scraps