I love coffee. I run an entire website dedicated to it!
So as you can imagine, I hate wasting coffee.
Even the thought of pouring that sweet nectar down the drain makes me shudder.
If you’ve always wondered what to do with leftover coffee (and coffee grounds) then you’re in the right place.
In this guide I’ve compiled 23 different uses for leftover coffee. What kind of stuff is on this list?
If you can think of any others ways to use leftover coffee, please comment at the bottom!
Got a partially finished pot of coffee and not sure what to do with it? Here are 23 things you can do with leftover coffee.
I love iced coffee, but I run into three issues with making a strong, flavorful cup:
Related: Best Cold Brew Coffee Makers
Coffee ice cubes are my preferred solution!
Side note: I get a kick out of the intro for that video for calling it a “recipe” for coffee ice cubes.
Or just stick your leftover coffee in the refrigerator and enjoy it a few hours later.
Leftover coffee will deteriorate in flavor the longer it sits. According to this article from Food 52, the flavorful oils in coffee begin to go bad after about 4 hours, giving you a narrow window in which to truly enjoy the remnants of your flavorful cup.
We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We also know it’s impossible to function without coffee.
Combine the two and you get the most efficient nutrient and caffeine delivery system known to man!
Here’s how to make coffee oatmeal thanks to Good. Food. Stories. (Believe it or not, it isn’t as simple as making your oatmeal with coffee.)
At a high level, I’ll call a mocha anything that mixes coffee and chocolate — that’s just an amazing combination. What am I classifying as a mocha here?
All of the above are delicious, it just depends which mood you’re in!
I’ll be honest: I had to look up what a frappe is.
Sounds delicious! Let’s make a coffee frappe, courtesy The Chunky Chef:
Making ice cream from scratch is something everyone should do at least one time. It’s unbelievably delicious, but my God — I couldn’t believe how much sugar was required!
While I don’t regularly eat much sugar, there’s nothing wrong with a sweet treat every once in a while. Enter coffee ice cream! Check out this easy recipe from The Kitchn:
Any time you go to an Italian restaurant, you sort of have to get the tiramisu, don’t you?
Most tiramisu recipes call for espresso, but really strong coffee will suffice.
Tiramisu is a good deal more complicated than the other recipes I’ve shared here, so I won’t clutter this space with a recipe. Instead, check out Fifteen Spatulas, which has an easy-to-follow (and sure-to-be-delicious) recipe for glorious, authentic Italian tiramisu.
More general than tiramisu, you can add coffee to any sweet delight. The acidity of coffee is the perfect balancing component to the sweetness of desserts, especially chocolate desserts.
My favorite baked good to add coffee to? BROWNIES.
This recipe by Billy Parisi requires only 1/4 cup of leftover coffee for a full dish of coffee-flavored brownies.
Anyone who’s ever cooked meats knows that different meats require different seasonings and marinades:
Coffee is slightly acidic, with a pH of about 5.0, which puts it right behind beer and way behind lemons.
Acidity is important in a marinade, especially for tougher meats, as it aids in the breakdown of connective tissue. This means more tenderness.
Here’s a great marinade recipe from Taste of Home:
I’m originally from New England, which makes me a die-hard Patriots fan. It also makes me a regular cold-weather tailgater, and there’s nothing better at a tailgate than a big, hearty bowl of chili.
The coffee adds a deep, earthiness that complements the (usually) beef and beans. And the acidity in the coffee helps cut through the thickness of the chili and brightens each bite.
How much coffee should you add to your chili? This Tailgate Chili recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups of chicken stock. You can replace some of that with coffee. Personally, I’d use 1/2 to 3/4 cup of strong leftover coffee and maybe supplement the chili with some beef bouillon cubes.
Big vinaigrette fan here. I make homemade salad dressings all the time, and this one is just delicious: Homemade Balsamic Coffee Vinaigrette.
Think coffee in your salad dressing is weird? Maybe it is. The key, in my opinion, is to use a bright, citrusy coffee, like something from Ethiopia. While it goes well with just about any type of salad, I think it’s especially good on salads with a protein, like steak.
You can find the recipe at the link above from Community Coffee Company.
We’ve talked enough about ways for you to ingest your leftover coffee, so let’s shift our focus to how your plants can ingest it!
I’ve always wanted to be a gardener, but I move around too much to let any kind of garden take hold and I somehow kill every house plant I’ve ever owned. Maybe me not having a garden is for the best.
Or maybe I just need to water my plants with coffee! Seriously, this is actually a thing. There are a ton of plants that grow best in acidic conditions, and coffee can be incredibly beneficial for them. What kind of plants are we talking about?
And the list goes on! (Here’s a more complete list from Morning Chores.)
Pro Tip: Whereas most tips on this list work best with strong leftover coffee, this one works best with slightly weak or diluted coffee. And don’t water your plants with coffee every day. Maybe once every 1-2 weeks.
Coffee has a lot of dissolved compounds essential to these plants. Specifically, it’s a great source of magnesium and potassium.
As anyone who’s ever spilled coffee on their clothes can tell you, coffee stains can be hard to get out. Usually they’re unwanted.
In this category, they’re intentional! Grab a cup of coffee, a paint brush, and some thick, absorbent water color paper. Boom — instant art station!
Now, why would you do this instead of just buying water colors? Honestly, no clue. Maybe you’re extremely frugal. Maybe you want to teach your kids to be less wasteful. Maybe “coffee stain brown” is your favorite color. Who am I to judge?
You can also use coffee to dye shirts. It sounds somewhat ridiculous, but people own those red dirt t-shirts (my dad included) so there’s a market for natural dyed clothing.
Caffeine has several beneficial effects on your roots and hair follicles. Seriously, some of these facts are pretty crazy:
Pro Tip: Do not use a coffee rinse on very light colored hair!
You need about 2-4 cups of leftover coffee, depending on your hair length. Make sure you’ve allowed it to cool! You can apply the coffee after shampooing. This site recommends using a spray bottle to apply and leaving in for 20 minutes.
Even if you drink all of your coffee, you still have spent coffee grounds sitting in your coffee maker. Here’s what to do with leftover coffee grounds.
In Idea #12 we recommended using coffee to water your acid-loving plants. You can take this idea a step further and add coffee grounds to your compost. The grounds are a source of nitrogen, which is an essential nutrient for plants.
If you aren’t a composter, you can try adding spent coffee grounds directly to the soil. While they won’t contribute nitrogen if used in this manner, they still add organic material to the soil, which will improve water drainage and even attract earthworms!
Note: While leftover coffee itself is acidic, spent coffee grounds are actually much more neutral in pH. If you want to use leftover coffee grounds on any plant just give them a quick rinse in the sink.
Coffee grounds are a great substrate for growing mushrooms, which is something everyone should try once — unless you’re allergic, that is.
What are the benefits of using coffee grounds instead of the usual media, such as sawdust:
If you’re interested in giving this a try, check out this guide to growing mushrooms in coffee grounds.
Back to cooking-related uses, coffee grounds make a great dry rub for beef! Now, I know what you’re probably thinking:
Eww, I hate when I get coffee grounds in my cup. Why would I willingly choose to eat them?
It’s a valid question, to which I have two recommendations:
Coffee is the perfect foil for the sweetness of brown sugar, and the earthiness pairs well with salty and spicy flavors. This recipe is delicious.
Just like caffeine is great for your hair, it’s great for your body as well. The coarseness of ground coffee can be used as a body scrub to help remove dead skin, just like a pumice stone.
Or you can take it a step further and mix the ground coffee with honey or coconut oil to make an exfoliating wash. The Edgy Veg offers the following recipe:
I make a lot of bacon, because everything is better with bacon. Sometimes after making five straight batches of bacon, the bottom of my frying pan gets a little caked up with delicious bacon bits. A sponge isn’t always enough to clean those bits off. If only I had a coarse scrub that wasn’t too abrasive.
Enter coffee grounds!
Sprinkle some into the pan, grab a sponge, and scour away. The caked on mess will come up in no time.
Beware! Plumbing experts do not advise flushing ground coffee down the drain, so only use a small amount of coffee grounds as necessary, and always make sure to regularly clean your drains!
Most of us keep a box of baking soda in the refrigerator to soak up unwanted odors.
(I’m looking at you, Mike. I remember that time you left your fish in there for a few days too long…)
In the hierarchy of odor-absorbing substances, spent coffee grounds admittedly are at the bottom of the totem pole. All things equal, activated charcoal is best, baking soda is a close second, then unused coffee grounds, and then used coffee grounds.
But in the presence of a strong refrigerator odor and the absence of other solutions, give the spent coffee grounds a go.
I always have a candle burning in my home. I even have one burning right now! While my current candle is spiced apple scented (I’m originally writing this in January), I do love a good coffee scented candle.
After all, what’s better than the invigorating smell of coffee permeating your home?
(Bacon. The answer is always bacon.)
If you want to get a little crafty and put your ground coffee to good use, try your hand at making your own coffee candle!
But why stop at making your home smell like coffee. Why don’t we make you smell like coffee?!
As mentioned a few times already, the caffeine in coffee is great for your skin. And the coffee grounds themselves serve as a gentle exfoliant in your soap!
Here’s a great soap recipe with step-by-step visuals using 1/4 cup of spent coffee grounds.
There you have it! No longer must you worry what to do with leftover coffee or grounds.