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Can You Compost Whole Coffee Beans? Surprising Facts!

arabica coffee beans

It is hard to imagine coffee going to waste. Unfortunately, no matter how much we try to stop it, the loss of coffee happens from time to time. For those who enjoy grinding their coffee beans at home, you may find yourself with stale beans that you just don’t feel comfortable adding to your morning brew. But what can you do with the loss? Can you compost whole coffee beans? Luckily, the answer to that question is yes, you can! Continue reading to learn more.

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What Is Compost?

If you’re both a coffee and a plant lover, you may be curious about compost and what it is. According to the EPA, compost is an organic material you can add to the soil to help your plants grow better. Compost also helps keep landfills cleaner by reusing materials that often end up there. Scraps of food and waste from our yards, unfortunately, make up 30% of what our landfills are comprised of. By using these materials as compost instead, we can help with the issue of having places to leave the country’s waste.

When it comes to composting at home for your plants, there are two ways you can do it. Backyard composting is done by having a small pile or bin to add the waste to. This form is done outside so that it’s easier to add the yard materials as you have them. The other method is to compost inside the home using special bins. Luckily, a proper compost bin won’t attract insects or rodents. They also won’t smell. If they do, you’ve added something you shouldn’t have.

close up of coffee grounds and coffee beans
Image Credit: Pam Walker, Shutterstock

Caffeine and Your Plants

The caffeine in a cup of coffee is one of the many reasons coffee lovers enjoy this drink. Did you realize that your plants enjoy caffeine too? By adding your unused, unwanted, or stale whole coffee beans to your compost pile, you’re giving your plants a healthy dose of this caffeine that can help them grow better. You should keep an eye on how many coffee beans you use in your compost, however. Too much caffeine can be bad for your plants, just like it is for us humans.

How Long Does It Take Coffee Beans to Compost?

It may take three months or longer for coffee beans to break down. One of the downsides of using whole coffee beans in your compost pile is their dryness. While a well-balanced compost pile needs dry materials, it also needs water to start the composting process and stay usable throughout. By using coffee beans and the coffee grounds you’ve used over time, you could severely slow the breakdown of your compost. Keep this in mind when you add beans and grounds so your compost pile stays healthy for your plants.

natural compost with used coffee grounds
Image Credit: photoschmidt, Shutterstock

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In Conclusion

Whether you’re a composting legend or are ready to do your part for a healthier planet, understanding the relationship between whole coffee beans and your compost pile is important. If you add your unused beans to your compost pile, you can offer your plants a great number of benefits. Unfortunately, if you use the wrong ratios you can harm your plants and hinder their growth. Use caution when composting whole coffee beans and you’ll find your garden will thank you for the healthy addition.

Featured Image Credit: Enotovyj Pixabay


Melissa Gunter

Melissa has been a fan of coffee since the first sip she stole from her Granny's cup when she was just a girl. Now, she spends each morning writing with a hot cup of coffee at her side. With a love of sweet and creamy bliss, Melissa and her daughter, Amber, stop by and try out every local coffee shop they see. Neither are afraid to try something new and have a long list of favorite coffee beverages they simply can't do without. When she's not freelance writing about her 2 passions, coffee, and pets, Melissa spends her time with her husband, 2 kids, and 5 fur babies. She also loves diving into the fiction world under her pen name, Rena Marin. If she isn't at the laptop or with the family, Melissa is out enjoying the mountains of East Tennessee she calls home.

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