There’s a lot of discussion surrounding ways to make coffee more sustainable at the source, but we’ve opted to look at the other end of the spectrum, with our customers coffee waste in mind. 

As humans, it’s become abundantly clear that we’re a wasteful species and it’s no different when it comes to our attitude towards used ground coffee. 

There must be tons of used ground coffee discarded on a daily basis. Dumped directly into the dustbin. Surely, this organic product has other uses, once the flavour has been extracted? 

Qualities of coffee 

Many would claim that coffee’s qualities are in its stimulation alone. Yet, in addition, there are multiple theories supporting the health benefits of caffeine, arguing that it can improve motor performance, combat diabetes and even make us live longer! That being said, caffeine can cause irritability, anxiety, headaches and insomnia. 

Coffee is mainly made-up of caffeine, so its chemicals are unavoidable, unless you drink decaffeinated coffee. Caffeine is not a man made creation, however, it is made via plants, making it extremely natural. 

Caffeine contains high levels of nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon and oxygen which can all be beneficial, if used in a smart way. 

Away from its chemical makeup, its physical texture and scent are two other attractive qualities that could be taken advantage of. 


What are the best uses for ground coffee?

Asides from making tasty beverages, the ground coffee decanted in the aftermath has plenty of uses unbeknown to many. Below are some very simple tips of how you can recycle coffee. All of which can be easily implemented to great success. 

1. Composting

Depending on your coffee making device, your used coffee grounds may collect in a nice container for you. This can then be disposed of in your food waste bin and added to your compost pile, to great affect. 

The rich levels of nitrogen existent in coffee grounds make them a great ‘green’ composting material. However, in order to maximise the nutrient balance of compost, more ‘brown’ carbon-rich materials such as dried leaves and bark would need to be added. 

2. Fertiliser

Are coffee grounds good for the garden? 

Rather than adding coffee grounds to your compost pile, you can use them as an instant fertiliser for house and garden plants. 

As we know, coffee grounds are rich in Nitrogen, and they are relatively PH-neutral. This makes them an ideal fertiliser. 

Sprinkle your used coffee grounds across the soil and work it in with your fingers or a fork. This will add nitrogen as well as improving the soil’s water retention. 

Moreover, earthworms feed on organic matter and their castings contain nutrients that plants love. Coffee grounds are organic matter, so adding them to your garden will attract earthworms, which will, in turn, provide your plants with vital nutrients and drainage.

3. Deodoriser

If you’re a keen cook, and often find yourself with various smells stuck beneath your nails from spicy foods or garlic, coffee grounds can be used as a natural deodoriser. 

Try rubbing coffee grounds through your hands and underneath your nails and rinsing with water. You should find that not only have the previous odours vanished but your skin feels soft and exfoliated too. 

If you have any other unpleasant scents lingering around in old food containers or the likes, you can try using coffee grounds to combat these, also. 

4. Skin Care

As highlighted above, used coffee grounds possess rich nutrients that can act as an exfoliation tool. You can combine the coffee grounds with other elements such as brown sugar or coconut oil, to make a more pleasant exfoliator.  

5. Cleaning

Due to the abrasive texture of used coffee grounds, they can become a key component for removing stubborn layers of dirt. 

Try using them whilst scrubbing pots and pans or kitchen surfaces, to remove grime and dirt. 

Although the coffee grounds are coarse, they’re usually not so harsh as to cause damage. 

6. Deterrent

By sprinkling used coffee grounds around your garden, you can protect your plants or crops from insects. 

Coffee acts as a repellent and can keep slugs, snails and ants from disturbing you and your garden. Add some orange or other citrus peel and cats will also be deterred. 

Lincoln & York's commitment 

Lincoln & York are proud to be one of the UK’s largest suppliers of certified coffees. Educating other businesses and organisations so that they can continue to recycle coffee on a larger scale, diverting it away from landfill, is part of our responsibility.

Whilst bigger organisations will continue to produce useful things like biofuels, in the form of biomass pellets and coffee logs, the smaller, end consumer can make use of coffee grounds in other inventive ways.