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14 Clever Uses for Old Coffee Beans (With Pictures)

coffee beans on a black table

As a coffee lover, you know that you’ll end up with two things: coffee beans that have gone stale and coffee grounds from brewing coffee. Many of us just throw these out, thinking they are useless or that they take too much time to do anything with. This just adds to the tons of food waste that are thrown out every year. There are some great ways you can use your old coffee beans and grounds to help your skin and hair, clean your house, and garden, and so much more. Here are 14 clever ways you can use those old coffee beans and grounds instead of throwing them away!

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Here are 14 Smart Uses for Old Coffee Beans

1. Help Out Your Roses (and Other Plants)

Old coffee grounds have a high nitrogen content, which helps to fertilize roses. Camellias and hydrangeas love coffee grounds. Certain fruit plants also benefit from the nitrogen in coffee grounds, such as blueberries and cranberries. Simply dig out around the plant a little and bury your coffee grounds. This will also benefit the plants, as coffee grounds deter pests such as slugs. This is a great way to be a more green gardener and also save money on fertilizers!

coffee for roses plants
Image Credit: Pixabay

2. Use Coffee as Decor

Old coffee beans can make some amazing-looking decor in your home. Put some on the bottom of glasses, and then place a candle on top for a beautiful look. You can also create artwork and crafts to decorate your home with or give to your fellow coffee lover friends. The largest coffee bean mosaic in the world uses a million coffee beans; while you do not have to create anything that large, you can have a lot of fun seeing what you can make yourself.

3. Add Some Chocolate

While those old coffee beans may not be good enough to make coffee with, they may still be edible. Buying chocolate-covered espresso beans from the store can be pricey, but they are so yummy! Homemade chocolate-covered espresso beans are easy to make. Simply melt chocolate over low heat, mix the espresso beans in, and then spoon them onto parchment paper. Wait for them to cool and you get a delicious and decadent snack.

stacks of different chocolate barks
Image Credit: Theon Nord, Unsplash

RELATED READ: A comparison of the most popular hot-chocolate K-cups

4. Add Coffee to Your Compost

Whether you have old coffee beans or used coffee grounds, they both make great compost. Simply throw them into your compost bin and let them break down with the rest of your compost. Your garden will love the rich soil they help create, and you will be helping to keep waste out of landfills.

5. Keep Pests Away

It is so annoying when you are trying to enjoy being outside and mosquitos or other insects come to ruin the experience. Coffee grounds are a natural pest repellant. Set out bowls of coffee grounds around your picnic area to help keep pests away. If you have an outdoor area at your home you use often, sprinkle coffee grounds all around it. This will keep mosquitos at bay so you and your family can relax.

You can also put coffee grounds into your pet shampoo when you wash your dogs. This will help prevent fleas naturally. If you have cockroaches in your home, set up a natural cockroach trap with a glass jar and some coffee grounds. Place the grounds into the bottom of the jar, then use paper towels to set it at an angle and make it easy for the cockroaches to climb in. Once in, they cannot escape because they cannot climb up the glass.

coffee beans and ground coffee
Image Credit: wideonet, Shutterstock

RELATED READ: Do Coffee Grounds Attract Rats and Mice? What to Know!

6. Control Odors with Coffee

Coffee grounds are great for getting rid of odors in your refrigerator and freezer. Coffee grounds can overpower and eliminate odors such as onions, garlic, and other unwanted scents. You will need to dry the coffee grounds out if they have been used. Simply throw them in the oven at 250 degrees until they are dry. Be sure to check them often so they do not burn. Then, let them soak in those nasty odors and leave their wonderful coffee scent behind. As a bonus, they can be composted once they have done their job!

7. Clean Your Dishes

Do you have pots and pans with dried-on or burnt gunk on them? Coffee grounds can be used to help get this off and make your pans good as new. Simply put some damp coffee grounds on the pot or pan, then scrub it as usual. The coffee grounds’ natural grittiness will help to clean off the gunk, leaving you with a clean pan.

8. Use as a Skin Scrub

Stop paying a ton of money for an exfoliant for your skin. Exfoliants take off dead skin cells, encouraging new skin growth and making your skin look more youthful. For a skin scrub, either use stale dry coffee grounds or dry out your used coffee grounds before making the scrub. You can make a simple scrub with just coffee grounds and coconut oil, or you can create a fancier scrub with just a few more ingredients.

For a more spa-like scrub, use half a cup of coffee grounds, half a cup of brown sugar, half a cup of coconut oil, and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Rub this mixture onto your skin and let it sit for three to four minutes, then rinse it off. This works wonders for your skin and smells heavenly. What a great use for old coffee beans!

man with coffee grounds in his face
Image Credit: Cast Of Thousands, Shutterstock

SEE ALSO: How to Make Coffee Scrub (Simple Steps)

9. Reduce the Appearance of Cellulite

Another major skin issue is the appearance of cellulite. The caffeine in coffee grounds stimulates dilation, and rubbing the coffee grounds on your skin will stimulate circulation. The antioxidants in coffee grounds also increase your body’s production of collagen. All of this will help to plump out your skin, reducing your cellulite. While coffee grounds cannot get rid of cellulite forever, they can reduce its appearance and save you from having expensive procedures done. Mix the coffee grounds in with a little coconut oil to make them easier to rub on.

10. Use it As a Dye

Grind up those old coffee beans and brew them to make a natural dye. You can control your color outcomes by brewing stronger or weaker coffee. Stronger coffee will produce a deeper brown, while weaker coffee will produce a light brown. After brewing your coffee, pour it into a pot and bring it to a boil. Throw in your fabric and stir it around to make sure it is completely coated. Let the fabric sit for at least an hour; let it sit longer to get a deeper color. Pull the fabric out and immediately put it through a cold water rinse until the water runs clear. Set the fabric in a cold water bath with vinegar for ten minutes to set the dye, and then use your fabric!

11. Use on Your Hair

Coffee does more than just taste great and supply you with a pick-me-up when you need it. It can also help your hair! Caffeine can prevent hair loss and stimulate hair growth. Grind and brew those old coffee beans. Once it has cooled, work it into your hair. The caffeine will get into your roots, stimulating your hair. It also will improve your hair’s structure. All of this leads to more hair growth and healthier hair. This will also improve your hair’s texture and general appearance.

hair dye-pixabay
Image Credit: artursfoto, Pixabay
How to Dye Hair With Coffee
If you have a bunch of old coffee lying around and you're looking for something to do with it—besides drinking it—one option you might not have considered is using it to whip up homemade hair dye. Believe it or not, coffee can serve as the base for hair dye and help you stretch the time between more extensive dyeing sessions.
See the simple steps!
coffee hair dye materials

12. Use As a Meat Tenderizer

Do you love a good, tender steak or some wonderful juicy chicken? You can use your old coffee beans to tenderize your meat. Brewed coffee is full of enzymes. These enzymes cause the meat to become more tender when it has been marinated. Use your old beans to brew a strong pot of coffee. Once that coffee has cooled, marinate your meat in it for 24 hours. You can also include coffee grounds in your rub to make a caramelized sweet and savory flavor on your meat. This is especially true when you barbecue with coffee grinds.

13. Grow Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a yummy addition to your meals, but they are also expensive to purchase from the store. You can use your old coffee grounds to grow your mushrooms at home. A simple setup with a five-gallon bucket full of coffee grounds can be the perfect breeding ground for mushrooms. You will need to purchase mushroom spores for the type of mushroom you want to grow. Shiitake is an excellent choice for growing this way. This is also a cool project to do with kids, so they can enjoy watching the mushrooms grow and then enjoy eating them too.

Cardboard Method of Growing Mushrooms
One of the easiest and best ways to grow mushrooms is using the coffee-cardboard method. It doesn’t require pasteurization, so there aren’t extra steps in addition to the directions on growing.
See the simple steps!
oyster mushrooms in a bottle

14. Get Out the Paintbrush

Our last suggestion was reader-submitted, and we have to admit that it’s our favorite! Did you know that you can paint using coffee? Mix old coffee grounds and room-temperature water in a small bowl to make a watercolor-like substance. Then all you need to do is dip into your creativity!

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The Bottom Line

As you can see, there are tons of great uses for old coffee beans or coffee grounds. These ideas will help you save money and improve the environment. You could even get some yummy foods, better skin, stronger hair, and wonderful gifts if you implement these ideas. Which way do you plan to use your old coffee beans?


Featured Image Credit: ben44, Shutterstock


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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