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Can You Use Coffee Grounds Twice?

coffee grounds

If you’re looking to save money and cut down on some non-essential purchases, you might wonder if you can get away with brewing coffee more than once. It’s a reasonable thought but, unfortunately, we don’t recommend it. Once you use coffee grounds, most of the oils and chemicals that were present have already been extracted, and there isn’t much left that you can use to make a tasty cup of coffee.

Even though we don’t recommend using coffee grounds more than once, we do have some fun suggestions for how you can repurpose used coffee grounds around your house. In this article, we explain why we don’t suggest brewing the coffee grounds multiple times and give you some alternative ideas for how you can make the most of your used coffee.

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The extraction process

The reason you shouldn’t brew coffee grounds twice lies in the extraction process. When you bring hot water in contact with ground coffee, it starts to dissolve, and the oils and flavor compounds begin to mix into the water, ultimately producing the flavor we all know and love. Once those compounds have been extracted from the coffee grounds, they’re gone. Using the same coffee grounds again will create a cup of coffee with a completely different set of flavors compared to the original cup — rather than a slightly weaker version of the same cup.

Melitta pour over brewing

Another problem with reusing coffee grounds is over-extraction. Imagine that you finish brewing your cup of coffee and then immediately pour more water through the grounds creating a second cup. This is very similar to simply letting water sit in contact with your coffee grounds for longer, which results in a bitter, astringent taste. If you’ve ever made French press coffee and accidentally let it sit for too long, you probably are familiar with the harsh flavors you get when coffee is over-extracted.

If you immediately reuse coffee grounds, you are effectively making a second cup that will consist only of over-extracted coffee. The result will be extremely bitter and unpleasant. If you decide to try to be clever and let the coffee dry first, you run into a different problem: under-extraction. Symptoms of under-extracted coffee are a sour taste and a thin body. It seems like letting the grounds dry would help the over-extraction problem, but as the coffee dries, it will continue to extract and, once it is completely dry, almost all of the flavor will be gone.

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Other uses of old coffee grounds

We strongly recommend you don’t use coffee grounds more than once to brew coffee, but there are a few things you can do with old coffee grounds to give them new life.

Gardening

Coffee is naturally acidic, and some plants thrive in acidic soil. You can reuse coffee grounds as fertilizer to help cultivate a healthy garden by mixing your usual planting soil with old grounds. If you are into vegetable gardening, tomato plants prefer acidic soil and will benefit from a healthy dose of coffee grounds mixed in their beds. Magnolias are an excellent choice for a decorative flower that loves acidic soil and will also happily take to soil mixed with coffee grounds.

Coffee grounds repel some pesty insects, so a sprinkling of grounds around your garden can stop your plants from being slowly devoured. Snails and slugs, in particular, are averse to coffee so you prevent the damage they cause to some plants. Be careful with this, however, as snails are an important element to a healthy garden.

coffee for roses plants

Coffee scrub

You can repurpose your used coffee grounds into an exfoliating scrub with very little effort. Exfoliating is important if you want your skin to stay healthy and vibrant, and ground coffee has the perfect consistency to use in a scrub. Make sure you use medium to fine ground coffee. If your coffee is coarsely ground, your scrub will be too harsh and abrasive and could do more harm than good.

A simple recipe is to mix used coffee grounds with melted coconut oil, vanilla extract, and brown sugar to create an exfoliating scrub that smells great and keeps your skin shining bright.

coffee scrub
Image credit: Julia Sudnitskaya, Shutterstock

Furniture polish

This might sound a bit crazy, but an olive oil and coffee ground mixture make a great furniture polish in a pinch. We tried it, and while it did make our wood surfaces nice and shiny, we do not recommend it if you have pets. Our fuzzy friend was thoroughly intrigued by the food smells coming from the coffee table, and we ultimately had to clean the olive oil off – multiple times – with all-purpose cleaner before they were convinced we weren’t hiding a pasta dinner under the table.

WORTH READING: 17 Great Uses for Old Coffee Grounds

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Conclusion

Unfortunately, we cannot recommend using coffee grounds to brew more than one cup of coffee. If you immediately reuse the grounds you’ll wind up with a bitter, over-extracted mess, and if you let the grounds dry first, you’ll instead have a sour, disappointing cup.

The good news is that ground coffee is surprisingly versatile, and there are several alternative uses for brewed coffee grounds that can give them a second life and save you money. If you’re an avid gardener, care about skin health, or want your wood tables to shine – and don’t own a dog – there are some great ways you can reuse your coffee grounds.

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Featured Image: StockSnap, Pixabay

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Sean Brennan

Sean’s obsession with coffee started when he received his first French press as a gift almost ten years ago. Since then, his love of coffee – and the number of coffee gadgets he owns – has grown considerably. A scientist by training, there is no stone he has left unturned in the never-ending quest for the perfect cup of coffee. He has spent many hours tuning his pour-over technique, thinking about how to best compare grind quality, and worrying about whether the Nicaraguan or Kenyan beans will make the best cold brew. These days he favors the Hario V60, and starts each day by hand grinding his coffee before enjoying a cup prepared with care and attention to detail.

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