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What To Do With Left Over Coffee? 5 Great Ways To Waste Less

Ashe Samuels
Last Updated: April 18th, 2023

Coffee tends to leave a little clean-up. Depending on the type of brewing method you use, you could spend just as much time tidying as you do fixing up your cup.

Some coffee drinkers finish up their session by rinsing out their pour-over cone and server. Others go the intensive route of cleaning out their Moka pot’s basket and filter (after cooling off the entire thing with cold water, of course).

One thing we can all relate to is? Having a mess of used coffee grounds filling up our garbage can.

What to do with leftover coffee? That’s a nearly Shakesperian question for your average aficionado. Here are a few ideas you can get started with.

What To Do With Left Over Coffee – 5 Options

  1. What to Do With Leftover Coffee In The Pot
  2. Improve Your Home Garden
  3. Donate Your Used Grounds
  4. Avoid The Urge To Use A Coffee Face Scrub
  5. Air Freshener For Your Trash

Coffee With Beans

1. What to Do With Leftover Coffee In The Pot

Do you often find yourself with a little leftover in the pot? This is a common occurrence for those with large families or busy schedules.

It seems like a huge waste to just pour it into the sink, particularly if you spend extra on specialty roasted bags. Then again, leftover coffee doesn’t exactly taste all that great compared to its hot, fresh counterpart.

If you’re a fan of cooking, consider using leftover coffee for your next recipe. This tasty video from Cho’s Daily Cook uses instant coffee, but your leftover pour-over could make a fine substitute the next time you’re craving a platter of cookies. Owners of the Moka pot will have a bonus point for sheer flavor.

Iced coffee is the next logical conclusion. Consider icing up your leftover coffee with a little milk and sugar.

Keep in mind this isn’t the same method as creating a cold brew, which starts cold and needs up to a full day of soaking to achieve its full range of flavor.

As for me? I’m extra careful to use the right amount of beans so I don’t have any lingering cups because that fresh flavor and subtle aroma can’t be beaten.

What to do with leftover coffee becomes easy once you get in touch with your inner chef.

2. Improve Your Home Garden

Perhaps the most popular use for home coffee grounds outside of padding for your trash liner is as extra soil.

I’ve considered using old coffee grounds to support my dream garden, particularly for its benefits in a vegetable garden, though I’ll have to wait until I have more room for all the pots and tools.

Until then, you can store your leftover coffee grounds in a spare container and add them to your next seed beds.

Coffee is a healthy ingredient all around, giving us essential antioxidants when we drink and giving your future plants the potassium and nitrogen they need to grow tall.

A plant that doesn’t have enough nitrogen will gain a distinctively yellow, withered look.

Now, make sure not to confuse compost with fertilizer. The former is designed to give your plants somewhere firm and sturdy to set their roots, while the latter is what your plants are feeding on.

Compost is also separated into brown and green varieties depending on what they’re composed of. Does this mean all plants would benefit from using old coffee grounds? Absolutely not! Each plant, flower or herb comes with its own set of environmental specifications you should follow as closely as possible.

Since coffee is naturally acidic (that’s what protects its flavor), make sure to fill out your compost with plants that need that environment. Radishes and carrots are a solid choice, while you should steer clear of more leafy vegetables.

3. Donate Your Used Grounds

This part of the list depends heavily on where you live and how much spare time you have on your hands, but if you can? Used coffee grounds make a great essential ingredient for several business sectors.

Businesses that rely on used coffee grounds usually buy them from restaurants and cafes, such as Bio-Bean (the creator of the eco-friendly coffee logs). This is mainly because they have to ensure no other ingredients are interfering with the coffee, which is a little unreliable when coming from the consumer end of things.

That said, you could always try reaching out to recycling facilities or environmental non-profits in your area and asking if they take coffee grounds. You may be surprised by what you hear!

If you need a little extra help, Business Recycling has a useful list of the different places you can start reaching out to. They stress the need to get creative with your garbage disposal due to today’s landfills being a major contributor to harmful chemical build-up.

Alongside thinking critically about your used coffee grounds, give a little thought to the coffee accessories that make up your experience. Have you ever used a reusable pourover filter? What about giving the more eco-friendly oat milk or almond milk a try?

Going green has never involved just one step. It’s a plethora of small and large actions that completely change how you interact with the world at large.

4. Avoid The Urge To Use A Coffee Face Scrub

This may come as a bit of a shock, but used coffee grounds don’t make the best face scrubs.

Trust me when I say I wish it could be different. Coffee and skin care? That’s a match made in heaven! The skin on your face, however, is incredibly delicate and finicky.

What can seem like a simple exfoliation session with a handful of used grounds can end up causing micro-tears in the uppermost layer of your epidermis, leading to weakened and wrinkled skin over time. While an extremely fine grind could reduce the risk of micro-tears, it then has the possibility of clogging your pores.

Dirt, dead skin, and excess oil already have a field day with our faces…why would tiny coffee grounds be any different? When you also factor in the acidity of the coffee and the skin’s highly volatile pH balance — this is responsible for managing your skin’s natural fatty acid and oil production — you run several risks.

Skip the trendy coffee face scrub and go for what’s proven to work. Oil cleansers are my personal favorite to naturally and gently unclog pores without tearing my skin or stripping away my moisture barrier. You can pair this with a foaming cleanser afterward, which is popular in Korean skincare circles.

What to do with leftover coffee should not include your face. Avoid the harsh and acidic coffee face scrub in favor of tried-and-true facial cleansers.

coffee cup
Image: winhide

5. Air Freshener For Your Trash

Coffee grounds smell amazing. Even the old ones. I’ve certainly noticed a difference in my attitude when taking out the trash.

Instead of grimacing and holding my breath, I find myself dreading the process much less. If all that coffee is going to be sitting around, anyway…use it as an air freshener!

More specifically, bundle up your pourover grounds or coffeemaker filters and place them inside the trash can. You can also save a few in your cupboard and toss them into the garbage periodically to keep the stench low.

This will save you a purchase of trash air fresheners (which goes double for those with chemical sensitivities that lead to headaches and nausea).

This is a useful option while you’re still searching around for a proper recycling facility to take your grounds. If they’re going to end up in the trash, being a little strategic can have your home smelling so much nicer.

What To Do With Left Over Coffee? – Conclusion

What to do with leftover coffee? Quite a lot when you get down to it!

Used coffee grounds are one of the most common and accessible recyclable ingredients out there. Nearly as much as paper and plastic. With coffee a multibillion-dollar global industry and daily lifestyle for most people, this truth will remain steady for a while yet.

If you have friends or family who love coffee, broaden their horizons by linking them to this list. In the meantime: what do you like to do with leftover coffee?

About The Author

Ashe Samuels

Ashe is a B2B copywriter, digital marketer, and graphic designer for the coffee, tea, and alcohol niches. Here I share industry news, review products, and analyze social trends.

Just so you know, if you click on a product on and decide to buy it, we may earn a small commission.

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