Clever Coffee Hacks: Don’t Let Your Leftover Coffee Grounds Go To Waste

Words: Tam Selley

We’re a little coffee-crazed… we love to brew it, smell it, sip it and savour it in any and all ways possible. But, did you know that coffee has bounteous uses besides bringing us pure unadulterated, caffeinated joy? We’ve put together a fun list of how you can repurpose your coffee grounds – for the foodies, the green thumbs, the little ones at home and lovers of DIY.

leftover coffee grounds

Kitchen Uses

Coffee grounds are good for more than just brewing your morning fix.

Cooking & Baking

While coffee is the staple breakfast beverage (lunch and dinner too), it’s also a delicious addition to your list of cooking ingredients. Now, you may already associate coffee with sweet and dessert-style recipes like tiramisu, but you can actually incorporate coffee into savoury recipes too for rich, earthy and smoky flavours. Check out some of our amazing coffee recipes that you can try at home.

Cleaning & Odours

Soaked your pots and pans and still struggling to clean the grime? A few coffee grounds on a cloth or rag can be really effective in scrubbing off those stubborn hang-ons. Just be careful not to use coffee on dishes that stain easily, like ceramic. Coffee is also your pal when it comes to getting rid of bad smells. Simply keep a little dish of coffee grounds in your fridge to absorb any funky scents – same as you would with bicarb.

Keep another little dish on your kitchen counter, so you can rub your fingers with coffee after cutting garlic and onions. The grounds will absorb all that garlicky odour.

leftover coffee grounds

Gardening with Coffee

Grounds are great for gardening.

Food for your Flora

Leftover coffee grounds can be used in your garden in a multitude of ways. Coffee has properties that, if used correctly, will have great benefits to your plants and soil. You can even use coffee to brighten up your flowers! The colour of Hydrangeas for example, is influenced by the pH level in the soil, so if you add coffee grounds to your soil, the pH level will lower and your flowers will turn blue!

Coffee Compost

Chucking your leftover coffee grounds in your compost pile is as easy as throwing them in the bin. Don’t have a compost pile? Now’s a great time to start one… it’s not only beneficial for your plants, but it’s another useful way to manage your waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill – yay!

Coffee grounds add nitrogen to your compost pile, which all plants require for healthy growth and reproduction. Categorised as a ‘green compost material’, it’s essential that you combine an appropriate amount of brown compost material to your coffee grounds e.g. wood chips, dry leaves and saw dust. The ideal ratio is 4:1 (brown to green).


Coffee grounds can also be sprinkled directly onto the soil and raked through as a slow-release fertiliser, which adds organic matter to the soil. This helps to improve aeration, drainage and water retention. It also attracts our little earthworm friends to naturally till your soil to loosen it, while add essential micronutrients like potassium and phosphorus.

leftover coffee grounds


Just like coffee gets our rears in gear every morning, it gives plants a natural push too. Leftover brewed coffee, or residual coffee from machine drip trays can provide acid-loving plants a growth boost. Pour the cold leftover coffee into your plants once a week, but be careful not to ‘overwater’ them with coffee… if your soil is too acidic, the leaves will start turning yellow-brown.

Deter Animals

Another debatable use for coffee grounds is that it can deter unwanted garden pests. We say ‘debatable’, because who doesn’t want a garden full of puddy tats? While coffee may be an irresistible aroma to the human shnoz, it’s an unpleasant smell for our feline friends with hypersensitive olfactories. Combined with another strong scent such as orange peel, the smell of coffee grounds will keep stray cats out of your gardens.

Home & Skincare

Save coins and make your own…


What better way to pay homage to our beloved coffee than by having little scented coffee surprises around our homes? Double-up some clean stockings and fill them with collected grounds from your coffee grinder, tie it off and voilà – you have a homemade coffee-scented air freshener!

Coffee-scented Candles

You can also transform your leftover coffee grounds into a neat and beautifully scented candle to give off more coffee aroma to your home. Making candles is super-easy and fun activity that you can do at home on a rainy day or any day, really.

Coffee Varnish

Get crafty and use your leftover coffee grounds to turn your coffee table into old fashioned weathered timber. All you’ll need is a tablespoon of coffee, steel wool, white vinegar and a jar to place all of your ingredients in. Place ingredients into the jar and leave for 24 hours. Once the steel wool has adopted the coffee colour, fish it out your jar with a plastic glove or bag and wipe it over your wood, re-dipping when necessary. Once you have done the first coat, allow to dry for an hour before getting your second coat on. Abracadabra!

leftover coffee grounds


You guessed it – coffee is your bod’s best friend too. The properties in coffee will do wonders for your skin; the granular consistency makes it perfect for exfoliation and getting into those pores. For your face, simply use leftover coffee grounds with a bit of coconut oil and tea tree oil, and gently scrub your face in circles. Your face will be left feeling smooth, energised, and smelling like tiramisu.

Similarly, you can make our little moisturising hazelnut body scrub blocks. These guys are amazing for your skin, and so easy to make and store.

leftover coffee grounds


Even the kids can get involved in the leftover coffee ground excitement! Mixing up your coffee grounds with a bit of flour, water, salt and cold coffee can make the base for versatile doughs. Bring those raptors to life by cooking up some epic little homemade fossils for your kids to make at home.

If your kids aren’t mad about our prehistoric predecessors, you can use shells, Barbies, or whatever animals your little ones are crazy about to create fossil imprints – let the imagination run wild! See how to make them here. Alternatively, you can hide little treats, toys and objects inside the dough mixture by creating balls and baking them, which your mini archaeologists can bury in their excavation site, dig up and crack open!

You can even make your own playdough with your leftover coffee. This version is really easy to make, and while it may taste pretty grim, its edible, which means it’s safe for your little ones to experiment with.

Watercolour Paint

Regular brewed coffee can even be used for watercolour painting! You’ll only have the colour brown, but still a great, non-toxic and natural paint. Just dip a paintbrush into your brewed coffee, and stroke onto paper or card – it will dry in the same fashion as watercolour paint, with a faded textured look.

leftover coffee hacks

Being Friendly To Our Environment

Modern conveniences call for modern day solutions. The ever-growing demand for convenience means that there are new products consistently being developed to meet our needs. The coffee capsules, for example, is one such product that has been developed for consumer’s convenience. The nature of these singular pods, however, means that we have more packaging and more waste. Be sure to recycle responsibly.

Coffee crazy like us? We can teach you everything you need to know about coffee right here. Also, cook and bake like a pro with these coffee recipes.

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