12 Uses for Coffee Waste

Barista serving coffee

Have you ever wondered what to do with the waste from your daily coffee?   

What is coffee waste? 

Coffee waste is any ingredient that is no longer used in the processing of coffee. We mainly think of waste when we talk about coffee grounds. This is the leftover coffee from any brew, from drip coffee to espresso. 

But that’s not all. About 50% of the coffee fruit is not used: Parchment, mucilage and pulp are usually discarded. Moreover, washed coffee uses several liters of water to dissolve the mucilage, and this water is usually discharged into rivers, polluting the waters in coffee-growing areas. 

As you can see, the beverage you drink every day is causing some environmental problems that we can reverse by making the best use of it. So, read on so you can start making the most of your coffee waste.

Uses for coffee fruit without beans

This type of coffee waste reuse applies only to coffee farms because this waste is generated in the first stage of coffee processing. When the ripe cherries are picked from the tree, the pulp must be separated from the coffee beans. This process is usually performed by pulping machines, which eject the coffee beans on one side and the waste on the other. 

Coffee Tea 

Some people don’t like coffee much because it tastes too strong, is too acidic, contains too much caffeine, or for other reasons. We even distinguish between coffee lovers and tea lovers.  

With the coffee fruit, we can make both a hot and a cold brew. This drink is nothing new. In Ethiopia and Yemen, it is very common to drink coffee tea. When waking up, after a meal, for guests, etc. The history of coffee even begins with infusing red berries and not coffee beans. 

All you have to do is let the coffee fruits dry for about 3 days. It is important that they are completely dry, like the leaves of a tea. Make the infusion just like any other tea, and that’s it! This drink tastes fruity and sweet, has very little acidity and very low caffeine content. 

Coffee syrup 

It may sound a little strange, but coffee fruit syrup is an excellent dessert. It is made into syrup like any other fruit but has a taste that will surprise you. And if you have never tried coffee fruit before: It has a sweet and mild taste that will perfectly match your dessert. 

First, you need to wash the coffee fruit. To do this, use boiling water with baking soda or baking powder. When they are clean, heat them with a little sugar and a splash of water on medium heat until they reach a syrupy consistency. If you prefer, you can use some filtered coffee instead of water for more flavor. 

You can also add cinnamon sticks, lemon or orange zest, cloves, essences of your choice, etc. Done! This product is already marketed in some countries and costs about 10 euros for 120 grams of syrup.


Coffee compost is one of the best uses for this waste. Many farms are already taking the first steps to use this compost as the main fertilizer for their crops. Coffee fruit can be stored in pits for about 6 months and makes a good organic fertilizer. 

If you also add the fermentation water, you get even more nutrients. This waste could be used as fertilizer for a quarter of the coffee grown in the area. This means that out of 10 hectares of cultivated land, enough compost is produced for 2.5 hectares.  

Use of mucilage 

After the cherry pulp is removed, the coffee beans are still coated with a mucilage that is characteristically sweet. In washed coffee, the mucilage is removed from the beans during the fermentation and washing process. After the coffee has been in the water for a few hours, it is washed with clear water to completely remove the mucilage.

Coffee Honey 

The water used for the fermentation process has a sweet taste and is usually discharged into nearby rivers. However, this sweet water, also known as coffee honey, has numerous nutritional properties. Today, it is often used in energy drinks or as stand-alone honey. 

In the search for new substitutes for sugar, coffee honey is entering the market as a sweet product without added sugar. Plus, many other recipes can now be made with this honey, such as coffee mucilage candies. 

Uses for coffee grounds 

Coffee grounds, used coffee grinds, or whatever you want to call them, are the most common household waste that always ends up in the trash. Here are all the ways you can use them. 

Abrasive for cleaning pots and surfaces

Teflon pans are a dream. Food residue does not stick to them, they are easy to clean, and they are practical. However, when the Teflon is worn off, cleaning it can be more difficult than cooking the food itself. Then you have to spend minutes with the sponge trying to remove the stuck food! 

Coffee has an acid-forming property, and since it’s ground, it acts as a natural abrasive against grease and food stuck to the pan. Simply take some of the coffee grounds and rub them onto the toughest surfaces with a cloth. Then wash it off with a regular sponge and you’re done. In a few minutes (and without much effort) you will have your pots and pans clean again. 

You can also use a mixture of the coffee grounds with lemon, which is ideal for cleaning greasy surfaces such as griddles, work surfaces, or stovetops. 

Keep cats away from your garden 

Cats are curious and like to hang out in gardens. Some even like to eat leaves and grass. If you want to prevent cats from damaging or contaminating your garden and plants, simply sprinkle some coffee grounds in the area. 

The smell of coffee is unpleasant to cats. To increase the effect, you can also combine it with lemon or orange peels. 

Body soap  

Making homemade coffee soap is fun and easy. This applies only if you also like the aroma of coffee. The process of making it is very simple. You just need to save some soap scraps or the small soaps that are given out in some hotels. If you want, you can also buy glycerin soap, which is neutral and perfect for this preparation. 

Cut the soaps as small as you can or grate the pieces if possible. Place in a water bath or bain-marie to melt. If you don’t know what a bain-marie is like, just heat some water in a larger pot until it boils. Then put the soap in another container (a smaller pot or jar) and place it on top of the boiling water so that the soap melts slowly.

Then add the coffee grounds. If you want an exfoliating effect, add more. You can also add a few drops of vanilla extract and stir until all the ingredients are mixed. Now pour the mixture into a silicone container or mold, let it dry and your homemade coffee soap is ready.  Like a spa in home!

Odor neutralizer 

Coffee has the property of absorbing the odors that surround it. Therefore, using dried coffee grounds is ideal for eliminating odors in your home. Just make sure that it is absolutely dry, otherwise, it may cause mold. You can spread the coffee grounds on a tray and let them dry in the sun for 2 to 3 days or use heat. 

This works not only for the house, but it is also great for the fridge. The coffee will absorb all the odors there. You can also use coffee in your closet, shoe closet or drawers where things can take on a storage smell. It is even ideal for places where there is a lot of moisture, as the coffee will absorb it. 

Coffee is also perfect for bathrooms. You can take a handful of coffee grounds and mix it with a little baking soda and an essence of your choice, and that’s it. You can form some balls from this mixture and wrap them in a thin fabric. Then you can decorate them as you like. You can place several in different areas of your bathroom or in the toilet to neutralize odors.

Soil Fertilizer 

Coffee is also an excellent organic fertilizer that gives life to our plants. Coffee contains many nutrients such as nitrogen, calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and chromium. Even though it is the remains of your coffee, it still contains many nutrients that are good for the soil and can absorb heavy metals from it. 

The best thing about this tip is how easy it is to do. You simply have to collect as many coffee grounds as possible from your house. When you have a good amount, just add them to your garden soil or pots and that’s it.

Some plants that benefit greatly from the nutrients in coffee are carrots and radishes. Before planting, you can mix the soil with coffee and you will see that the plants will grow better. It is also a very good fertilizer if you want to grow mushrooms. 

Coffee also has a double benefit here. Used as a fertilizer for the soil, it also helps as a natural repellent for snails and slugs that can infest your crops. The caffeine keeps these little critters away from your plants.

Natural play dough 

If you have children at home, this will be a good activity to do with them. Although it is not so aesthetic, it is natural, chemical-free and has a new texture for them.

Simply mix the dried coffee grounds with wheat flour. To do this, use twice the amount of flour for the amount of coffee you want to use. That is, you can use one cup of flour and half a cup of coffee grounds. Also, add half a cup of salt and mix these ingredients with a little water and you’re done. Stir until you get a homogeneous mixture. If the mixture is too hard, add more water, if it is too soft, add more flour. 

With this, you can then knead any figures and your children will be delighted. 

Repel insects and pests 

Coffee is also suitable for driving away some unwanted animals. In many cases, when we store sweet foods, ants are immediately on the spot. With coffee, this is no longer a problem. 

Sprinkle dried coffee grounds in the places where these curious insects stay, and you will see that the ants will gradually leave your house. It also works great for any other space in your home where insect nests are forming. 

Homemade coffee candles

Making candles is a very simple and fun activity that you can do at home. Now, if you add coffee, its aroma will permeate your home in an inexpensive way. 

You can also use leftover candles for this purpose or buy some paraffin wax. Put it in a bain-marie and add some coffee to the melted wax in layers as you want. Remember to put the wick in the containers before. The preparation is about the same as with the soap scraps described above. 

The uses of coffee are infinite. Other studies are currently underway to include coffee waste in animal feed, more industrial fertilizers, beauty products and even in some fuels. So next time you brew your morning cup, remember to save the grounds!

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