5 Uses for Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds and tea bags

Compost coffee grounds, filters and even tea bags. The paper filters quickly decompose.
Compost coffee grounds, filters and even tea bags. The paper filters quickly decompose. | Source

Grounds for gardening

Adding coffee grounds to the compost are a good way to get organic matter into the garden. Getting used coffee grounds from a coffee-house is a good idea.

Coffee houses are usually happy to have a way to dispose of coffee. I was regularly retrieving about 5 gallons of coffee and filters from a local coffee shop. HOWEVER, more and more people are taking advantage of the organic matter from coffee houses.

The competition for this organic matter has picked up. More and more gardeners are collecting the used coffee and tea remains from coffee shops. I am happy to see any and all organic matter going back into the soil.

Water plants with cold coffee

Kitchen scraps and coffee filters quickly decompose in the garden,.
Kitchen scraps and coffee filters quickly decompose in the garden,. | Source

1. Compost

Coffee grounds can go directly into the compost pile, filters and all. So can egg shells, banana peels and any non-meat organic kitchen waste.

Grounds provide small amounts of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper. More than nutrients, they add porosity, that is the ability of the soil to hold water.

Most of the acid in coffee leaches out when making coffee. Regularly adding a lot of coffee grounds could raise the soil acidity a smidgen. Typically the level is minuscule. So, adding coffee grounds to the soil near azaleas and blueberries can’t hurt but will not increase the results of a soil test..

Any and all grinds of coffee are helpful

coffee and filters compost quickly.
coffee and filters compost quickly. | Source

2. Mulching with coffee grounds

Layer a half-inch to 1 inch of coffee grounds around tomato and pepper plants to retain moisture and control weeds. Use them as you would leaf mulch or straw. If you have sandy soil or clay, adding organic matter will help nutrient and water holding capacity.

If you have access to lots of coffee grounds, use it a sheet mulch. Spread a half-inch layer over a large area. A thin layer works best. Thicker layers of coffee grounds and trigger the growth of unsightly molds. It is not harmful and you can just rake or redistribute the grounds.

Using coffee grounds

Do you use coffee grounds in the garden?

See results without voting

3. Coffee makes tea for the garden

Make coffee grounds “tea” as liquid fertilizer. Add at least 3 cups of grounds to the bottom of a five gallon bucket. Fill with water and allow the “tea” to steep for at least two days. Pour the brew on plants as you would liquid fertilizer.

This is a handy way to add nutrients to hanging baskets. This method is mild enough that you can use it weekly when watering containers and hanging baskets.

It's all compost sometime

If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.

Abraham Lincoln

4. Soil amendment

Add coffee grounds to the garden soil by working them into the top six to eight inches of soil. It is rare that a home gardeners can add too much organic matter to garden soil. Keep coffee ground additions to the soil to about 20%. It will loosen up the soil and help maintain consistent soil moisture. Consistent water levels may reduce tomato cracking.

Specialty coffees make great compost

Lattes, espresso, it all makes an excellent soil amendment.
Lattes, espresso, it all makes an excellent soil amendment. | Source

5. Snail Nail

The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has seen promising results using 1 and 2 percent caffeine solutions to kill snails and slugs. Research showed the 2-percent caffeine solution more effective than metaldehyde, a common pesticide used to control slugs and snails.

Instant coffee is about 0.05 percent caffeine. Normal brewed coffee is a little stronger. The coffee I make is definitely strong enough to kill a slug. Though I have no idea where you find coffee cups that small.

Ask a business that serves a lot of coffee

If a business sells a lot of coffee, ask if you can collect the grounds daily.
If a business sells a lot of coffee, ask if you can collect the grounds daily. | Source

Sources

A special thank you to my local Panera Bread Company in southeast Missouri. In the cool weather, I can pick up lots of used grounds and filters. As summer approaches, competition for coffee grounds picks up rapidly.

Starbucks is very generous, used coffee grounds are free for the taking. Local restaurants that do a big breakfast and coffee business will have free coffee grounds (and egg shells, maybe?)

If you are a regular customer, and try to accommodate their schedule, it becomes a better partnership. Speedy food service in immaculate restaurants is their business. Gardening and composting is yours.

I our part of the country, my favorite Gas Station chain is Signal. They seem to sell as many gallons of coffee as they do gas. Ask when they dump the coffee and can you come get it. Ask if you should bring a clean container or trash bags when you come.

Be courteous and grateful, come when they suggest. Fit into their schedule. They are doing you a favor.

Fastest Coffee in town

The best Baristas crank out the coffee non stop, with foamy hearts and other art on top of each cup.
The best Baristas crank out the coffee non stop, with foamy hearts and other art on top of each cup. | Source

Coffee facts and factors

  • A cup of coffee is acidic, but the used coffee grounds are not. Making a cup of coffee, leaches the acid out of the coffee grounds. What's left are used coffee grounds with a 6.5 – 6.8 pH.
  • Coffee grounds decompose, turning into compost very quickly because the grounds are small pieces. Take a lesson from small grounds and chop or shed all compost contributions. The smaller the pieces, the quicker it will compost.
  • negating the need for additional sources of these nutrients. In addition, each cubic yard of coffee grounds provides 10 pounds of nitrogen (0.09% available).

  • Adding coffee grounds to the soil will improve the availability of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and copper, meaning you will not need to add additional sources for these nutrients.

  • I don't have scientific proof, but I do know that I have a lot less slug problems since I have been using coffee grounds around the strawberry bed.

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33 comments

Mike Welsh profile image

Mike Welsh 19 months ago from Wales, United Kingdom

Nice always loads of ground coffee in this house to re-use. Great Hub


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 22 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

colorfulone, Thank you for the kind words and sharing. I appreciate you.


colorfulone profile image

colorfulone 22 months ago from Minnesota

My coffee grounds do not go to waste. You hit all the high notes on this helpful hub, Patsy. Well done.

I gave this hub a backlink on "My Used Coffee Grounds Kills Slugs & Saves Hostas Plants", on Zujava.


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 22 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

MDavisatTIERS, I like your idea. After you make the coffee water, the used grounds make can make a light mulch for hanging baskets. The grounds will help baskets hold water. Thanks for reading my hubs. I appreciate your comments.


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 22 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

Anne Harrison, I admire that you take the time to empty the pods. If you have roses, sprinkle the coffee grounds underneath the roses. I will top dress your roses and add a light, attractive mulch. Thank you for reading my hubs. I appreciate the vote and sharing, it makes all the difference.


MDavisatTIERS profile image

MDavisatTIERS 22 months ago from Georgia

Good afternoon, Patsybell; thanks for some additional gardening ideas. I've used the "coffee water" in my hanging baskets for some time, but might extend the coffee ground uses after reading this. ~Marilyn


Anne Harrison profile image

Anne Harrison 22 months ago from Australia

Coffee grounds have so many uses. Now I have a pod machine, I save the pods and once a week or so empty them out to have a nice pile of used coffee for my veggie patch. Voted up


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 22 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

NO, NO, not a good habit. I know you are kidding. Thank you for reading my hubs. I appreciate it.


DDE profile image

DDE 22 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Interesting about using coffee grounds. Something new to me and will have to get into this habit.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 22 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Oh, thanks, Patseybell. I will sure keep these tips for using coffee grounds in mind!


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 22 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

OldRoses, I believe I have less insect problems with a light layer of coffee grounds as mulch in the vegetable patch. And it is very attractive around roses (half an inch layer. Heaping it on gets moldy. Thanks for reading and sharing. It really makes a difference.


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 22 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

Peggy W , very good advice. Thanks for sharing, it makes all the difference.


OldRoses profile image

OldRoses 22 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

I love coffee grounds in my composter and mixed with my soil. I've never heard of using them as a mulch. Thanks for the heads up! Voted up and shared.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 22 months ago from Houston, Texas

We have been adding our coffee and tea to our compost pile for years. My hubby also picked up some used coffee grounds from Starbucks a few times until one of them tipped over in the trunk and made quite the mess that had to be cleaned up. I would suggest double bagging it for those who wish to get those grounds. :) Will share this!


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 22 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

jeff1947 it's always time for a coffee break. Thanks for reading my hubs.


jeff1947 22 months ago

and I thought coffee grounds were just leftovers. This will make my garden better and I now have a reason to drink MORE coffee


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 23 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

Thank you. I like it when we can help each other, and our planet with a gentle reminder. You made my day.


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 23 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

Thank you. This makes sense to me. I never thought of it before. I am happy to share your wise comments.


CrisSp profile image

CrisSp 23 months ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

Great tips in here and if I may share for those with gardeners' (rough) hand, you can also rub the coffee sediments on your hands, massage it for few minutes and shake off residues on the plant/soil. Then, wash your hands with lukewarm water. Tadah! You now have a smoother hands and dead cells are buried in the soil. :)


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 23 months ago from Malaysia

I used to go and get the used coffee grounds from a coffee shop, but stopped doing it. Now you have triggered my interest and will probably start again! Thanks for this reminder.


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 23 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

Faith Reaper , Well, you made my day. Your comment and sharing make all the difference. A thousand thank yous.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 23 months ago from southern USA

How interesting! I never thought of using coffee grounds, but it makes perfect sense, and nothing should go to waste.

You always share such useful ideas in your great hubs.

Up +++ tweeting, pinning and sharing

Have a great weekend ahead.


bradmasterOCcal profile image

bradmasterOCcal 23 months ago from Orange County California

I do already put the coffee grounds into the soil, but I had never heard of the snail killing properties of coffee. How does it do with Ant Hills?

Thanks for the great information.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 23 months ago from The Beautiful South

Oh I know I do too! I still have some things like the shard and some onion plants etc that hasn't frozen yet but it will in February for sure! But by the end of Feb we usually have blossoms and so much spring.


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 23 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

Jackie, You are doing everything right. Now how can we possibly wait for spring? I want to plant something!


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 23 months ago from The Beautiful South

That's great and no I don't put meat but everything else including lots of eggshells. I am throwing dirt over it as I add it to my garden to keep birds and my chickens from getting to it. I am hoping it will be great by next summer.

I love your hubs, might be where I learned to not put meat but then there is always something around to eat those scraps. lol


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 23 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

Jackie Lynnley, That is great, Jackie. Any non-meat kitchen scraps is a good addition to the soil. It is like free fertilizer. I am honored that you read my hubs. Thank you.


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 23 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

Carb Diva, save all banana peels and coffee grounds. Bury under your roses. Rose growers swear by this. Thank you for sharing your story and for reading my hubs.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 23 months ago from The Beautiful South

I just add them to my food scraps Patsy; is that OK too?


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 23 months ago

Patsybell, you have reminded me that years (decades) ago I worked with a woman who had the most amazing flower garden. She was the receptionist in our office and the flowers are the reception desk were from her yard--there was a never-ending supply. And, she took the grounds from the break room home with her every day. I've just had an ah-ha moment. Thanks for a great post. (BTW, I would love to see photos of your garden. Based on this and other hubs I am sure it is stunning!)


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton

lol... funny


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 23 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

You keep odd hours, as do I. So. I am guessing you drink a lot of coffee. Me? I got a new espresso machine and a coffee maker for Christmas.

Where are you from? said the clerk.

Missouri.

I don't think so. Because you talk too fast.

And that is when I realized that I should cut back off on the extra shot.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 23 months ago from Shelton

interesting.. I never knew that u can use coffee grounds this way.. Im certainly going to give it a go.... thanks for the pointers Frank

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