Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Your Daily Fix: Make the Most of Used Coffee Grounds

Written by Raleigh Briggs
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Ah, the humble coffee bean. Some of us out there agonize over the origin, color, and aroma of every batch of beans we buy, but once they’re smashed to pieces and doused with boiling water? Into the trash, or the compost. What a shame!  


Illustration by Famke Schoonbergen
 
Ah, the humble coffee bean. Some of us out there agonize over the origin, color, and aroma of every batch of beans we buy, but once they’re smashed to pieces and doused with boiling water? Into the trash, or the compost. What a shame!

Readers, I invite you to look at that soggy, used up filter in a new light. Coffee grounds are a great raw material for all sorts of projects, from crafts to cosmetics. Here are just ten ways to put a creative spin on your crippling caffeine habit.*
 
1. Keep animals out of your garden. Cats and other critters dislike strong smells like coffee. Mix used coffee grounds with a few torn-up lemon or orange peels and sprinkle them around your garden. And while you’re at it . . .

2. Feed your flowers. Acid-loving plants go nuts for the nitrogen in coffee. If you grow carrots, roses, azaleas, or rhododendrons, show them some love by spreading a few used grounds around next time you water. Go easy though: too much nitrogen and your plants can fizzle out.

3. Dye stuff. You can make natural dyes from all sorts of kitchen refuse (red onion skins = lovely red violet!). Steep used grounds in hot water to make a rich brown dye you can use on fabric and paper; or for coloring eggs.

4. Scrub yourself. If you look at the ingredients in expensive “body polishes," coffee is a common one. Cut out the middle woman! Use fine- to medium-ground coffee as a cheap, stimulating body scrub.

5. De-funk your fridge. Baking soda all gone? A small dish of used, dried coffee grounds placed in your fridge or freezer will help to temporarily absorb odors. 

6. Freshen your hands. Those used grounds from breakfast will come in handy (sorry) around dinnertime. Give your hands a scrub to dispel clingy kitchen odors, including the dreaded “sponge hands.”

7. Get a head rush. If you’re a brunette, a scalp scrub with coffee grounds can enrich your hair color and exfoliate your scalp. Try rinsing with cool water to feel extra awake!

8. Repel bugs. Ants, snails, and slugs think coffee grounds are disgusting. Sprinkle a border around your garden, along exterior walls, or in corners.

9. Be a little abrasive. Coffee works great as a scouring powder for extra-dirty items like greasy pans, barbecues, and ashtrays.

10. Disguise nicks. Camouflage scratches on wood furniture by painting them with a little liquid from soaked coffee grounds (aka . . . coffee).

*Note: If you live in a moist climate, your used grounds have a good chance of getting moldy. Dry them out on a cookie sheet before you use them.

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