Coffee grounds - do we compost them or look for other uses?

Deciding where to compromise

One of the things about life is you have to decide what is important to you. In some instances, you have to make compromises to get to your target and this can apply to both big issues and ones that are a lower priority.
Well, one of the less important ones is how you like your coffee. In our case, we enjoy ground coffee and with that in mind, some years ago we bought a machine that used coffee pods.

After each drink, we have the coffee grounds to account for. Picture credit: Janko Ferlic on Unsplash

The pods were available in several different strengths and flavours and without doubt, they were handy to use.
True, you only got a limited number in a box but the taste was what we were after. At the time, it seemed to be the ideal solution but when we started to think about the impact that single-use plastic was having on the planet, we decided it was time to change our ways. But we didn’t want to miss out on our cups of ground coffee, so we invested in a coffee machine and opted to grind the beans ourselves.
We don’t over-indulge in this little luxury but over a week, we build up quite a supply of used coffee, so the question then arises – what do we do with it?
Well, it turns out there are several options of reusing the spent material, some more obvious than others.

Despite their colour, used coffee grounds count as green matter when it comes to composting.
There are a couple of options for gardeners as it is compostable organic matter. Rich in nitrogen and various other elements, if you mix it with other material in the compost heap, it can be used to feed your plants.
Another option is to use it around your plants as it is but it’s important to exercise caution in these circumstances as not all plants would thrive with the addition. Also, although they contain nitrogen, this is not necessarily released into the soil, but the advantage of the coffee grounds is that it adds organic matter, improves drainage and aeration in the soil.
They can also be used to repel some garden pests. Slugs and snails are said not to like crawling over them, so they can protect delicate plants from damage. With others, they can be toxic and deter the likes of mosquitos, fruit flies and some beetles.

There are other possible uses

They do have some properties that help to absorb and eliminate odours, so you can leave a bowl full in the fridge to remove some strong smells, such as garlic, or even use them when washing your hands after peeling onions.
But what of other uses? Well, there are several possibilities. One thing that is easily noticed with coffee grounds is their grittiness. They have a harsh quality to them that you can make use of to exfoliate your skin or to clean stubborn, caked-on food.

Spent coffee grounds can be used for a range of different things, including as an exfoliator.
In both cases, you apply them to the surface you want to benefit from the cleaning action, and then scrub as normal.
Another option is to use them to repair scratched wooden furniture. Mix the grounds with water to make a thick paste and spread it across the scratch. If given few minutes to work, it can help to buff the scratch and colour the wood to disguise it further.
Some also say it can help to stimulate hair growth when worked into the scalp, with the caffeine in the grounds acting in a positive way.
When it comes to deciding what to do with them, there are a number of options, so you could sit back with a cup of coffee made from freshly ground beans, and have a think about how you want to proceed.

Additional reading:

To read more about different uses of coffee grounds, click here.

To read more about using coffee grounds in the garden, click here