Beyond the cup – what can you do with your used coffee grounds?

Beyond the cup – what can you do with your used coffee grounds?

A Coffee Roasters conundrum

Coffee is undoubtedly one Australia’s favourite pastimes. Some may even argue it’s a necessity, and we certainly aren’t ones to deny that! Coffee is our passion and our life, and sustainability has always been at the forefront of our operation – both social and environmental.

Over the last few years there has been much discussion around the harmful waste caused by coffee, namely relating to the pods and the disposable cups, yet have you ever stopped to think about the grounds?

The average café using 20 kilograms of beans each week will send two tonnes of ground coffee into landfill each year, where it emits nearly four tonnes of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.

That’s not counting what we’re all using at home, so it begs the questions, what can we do?

Great news – there is plenty you can do, and it’s especially appealing when you consider:

  • The caffeine and antioxidants in coffee grounds may help combat cellulite, under-eye circles and other signs of aging skin.
  • Coffee grounds are packed with nutrients that can nourish plants and deter pests in your garden.
  • Their abrasiveness makes them a great cleaning scrub around the house.

With so many benefits beyond the cup, it seems crazy to be throwing the grounds away at all. Here are some of our favourite ideas on what to do with used coffee grounds:

In the garden


Coffee grounds contain several key minerals for plant growth — nitrogen, calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and chromium. They may also help absorb heavy metals that can contaminate soil.

What’s more, coffee grounds help attract worms, which are great for your garden.

To use coffee grounds as fertilizer, simply sprinkle them onto the soil surrounding your plants.


If you do not have an immediate need for fertilizer, you can compost your coffee grounds for later use. Coffee grounds can help increase nutrient levels and decrease the greenhouse gas emissions of your compost

Insect repellent

Certain compounds found in coffee, such caffeine and diterpenes, can be highly toxic to insects. Because of this, you can use coffee grounds to repel bugs, namely mosquitos, fruit flies and beetles, and they may help keep other pests away too.

To use coffee grounds as an insect and pest repellent, simply set out bowls of grounds or sprinkle them around outdoor seating areas.

You can also keep pests out of your garden by scattering coffee grounds around your plants. They help create a barrier that slugs and snails do not like to crawl over.

In the home


Cleaning ashes from a wood-burning fireplace can be an incredibly messy task. By scattering used coffee grounds over the ashes, you can weigh them down and prevent smoke clouds from forming. This not only makes the ashes easier to remove, but it also keeps dust from escaping and traveling to other parts of the room.


Coffee grounds can help absorb and eliminate odours. You can place a bowl of coffee grounds in your fridge or freezer to neutralize odours from spoiled or fragrant foods.

You can also fill old socks or pantyhose with coffee grounds and tie them off to make portable air fresheners. Place these in your shoes, gym bag, bedroom drawers, under your car seat or anywhere else that may need some deodorizing.

You can even keep coffee grounds by the sink and use them to scrub your hands after chopping garlic or onions. The grounds will help remove the smell from your hands.


Coffee grounds are abrasive and can help remove build-up on hard-to-clean surfaces. They may even help sanitize due to their antibacterial and antiviral properties. If you like to avoid cleaning with chemicals, used coffee grounds might be worth a try.

Use them to scour your sink, polish your cookware or clean your grill, scrub hard-to-clean kitchen utensils, pots, and pans.

Just be careful not to use them on any kind of porous material, as they can cause brown stains.

For the pets


Fleas don’t seem to like coffee, and you may want to consider coffee grounds as a natural treatment to your pet itch problem. Simply rub the grounds throughout your pet’s fur after shampooing. Then rinse them off and allow your pet to dry as usual.

However, coffee grounds may be less effective than a prescription product, so if your pet has fleas and this treatment does not work, you may want to contact a vet to discuss alternative options.

Just remember, coffee grounds should only be used externally. They can be toxic to dogs if consumed.

For yourself


The coarse particles in coffee grounds work as an exfoliating agent to help remove dirt and dead cells from the skin. Simply mix coffee grounds with a little bit of water or coconut oil and scrub them with your hands directly onto your face and body.

Coffee grounds can also be mixed with a small amount of honey and used as an exfoliating lip scrub.

What’s more, the caffeine in coffee grounds has potent antioxidant properties that can help protect the skin from sun damage.

It can also increase blood flow, which aids in overall skin health.

Exfoliating your scalp with coffee grounds can help remove build-up and dead skin cells. What’s more, several test-tube studies have found that caffeine, such as that in used coffee grounds, stimulates human hair growth.


There is no shortage of ideas on what to do with used coffee grounds, with benefits to be had from almost every angle. Give it a try and let us know how you go – we’d love to hear about it.

 If you’d like more advice on brewing, grinds, devices or choosing the right coffee bean for you, drop us a line. We love to talk all things coffee.

Happy caffeinating!


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