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?
- Home and garden uses
- Arts and crafts
- Personal care
- And more!
If you can think of any others ways to use leftover coffee, please comment at the bottom!
Table of Contents
- 1 What to do with leftover coffee
- 1.1 1. Make coffee ice cubes
- 1.2 2. Chill it and make iced coffee
- 1.3 3. Kick your oatmeal up a notch
- 1.4 4. Make a delicious mocha
- 1.5 5. Blend up a frappe
- 1.6 6. Make your own ice cream
- 1.7 7. Try your hand at tiramisu
- 1.8 8. Bake some sweet delights
- 1.9 9. Beef up your meat marinades
- 1.10 10. Add coffee to chili
- 1.11 11. Deepen your vinaigrette
- 1.12 12. Water your acid-loving plants
- 1.13 13. Get crafty
- 1.14 14. Improve your hair health with a coffee rinse
- 2 What to do with leftover coffee grounds
- 2.1 15. Make a compost or fertilizer
- 2.2 16. Grow mushrooms!
- 2.3 17. Mix up your own dry rub
- 2.4 18. Use as a shower body scrub
- 2.5 19. Mix with honey to make an exfoliant
- 2.6 20. Scour pots and pans
- 2.7 21. Soak up unwanted refrigerator odors
- 2.8 22. Make fragrant coffee-scented candles
- 2.9 23. Make your own coffee soap!
What to do with leftover coffee
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.
1. Make coffee ice cubes
I love iced coffee, but I run into three issues with making a strong, flavorful cup:
- Ice cubes dilute hot coffee too much
- Chilling hot coffee takes too long
- Cold brew takes even longer
Related: 6 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.
2. Chill it and make iced coffee
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.
3. Kick your oatmeal up a notch
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.)
How to Make Coffee Oatmeal
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup leftover coffee
- Pinch of salt
- Honey, agave nectar, maple syrup (optional)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- Combine oats, milk, coffee, and salt in small pot and simmer on medium heat
- Let cook for about 5 minutes
- Stir in your sweetener of choice and vanilla extract inside the last minute, if desired
- Once desired consistency reached, remove from the heat and enjoy
4. Make a delicious mocha
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?
- Traditional mocha, which is more coffee than chocolate
- Iced mocha
- Hot chocolate with a splash of coffee
- Chocolate milk with a splash of coffee (or coffee iced cubes!)
All of the above are delicious, it just depends which mood you’re in!
5. Blend up a frappe
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:
How to Make a Frappe
- 2 cups of coffee frozen into ice cubes
- 2 cups almond milk (or milk of your choice)
- 3 1/2 tbsp chocolate syrup
- 3 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
- Whipped cream (garnish, optional)
- Additional chocolate syrup (garnish, optional)
- Shaved chocolate bar (garnish, optional)
- Make ice cubes from your leftover coffee
- Combine coffee ice cubes, milk, chocolate syrup, and granulated sugar in a blender
- Blend until you reach desired texture
- Top with garnishes if desired
6. Make your own ice cream
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:
How to Make Coffee Ice Cream
- 1 1/2 cups milk (whole works best)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup leftover coffee
- 4 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Heat milk and heavy cream in a pot over medium heat until just scalded
- Beat egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl
- Add the milk to the mixing bowl slowly until well combined
- Pour the contents of the bowl back into the pot and cook over low-medium heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 12-15 minutes)
- Remove from heat and stir in the coffee
- Allow to cool to room temperature and then freeze using your ice cream maker’s instructions
7. Try your hand at tiramisu
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.
8. Bake some sweet delights
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.
9. Beef up your meat marinades
Anyone who’s ever cooked meats knows that different meats require different seasonings and marinades:
- Fish is best with light marinades, such as olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, a little lemon, and parsley.
- Chicken can stand up to something a little stronger, such as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon. Light beer is good, too.
- Pork kicks it up even further adding ingredients such as Worcestershire sauce and mesquite seasonings.
- Beef can stand up to just about anything, and that includes coffee!
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:
How to Make a Coffee Meat Marinade for Steak
- 6 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 cup of leftover coffee
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Combine ’em all!
10. Add coffee to chili
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.
11. Deepen your vinaigrette
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.
12. Water your acid-loving plants
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.
13. Get crafty
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.
14. Improve your hair health with a coffee rinse
Caffeine has several beneficial effects on your roots and hair follicles. Seriously, some of these facts are pretty crazy:
- Stimulates hair follicle health
- Combats the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is responsible for follicle minimization and hair loss
- Resulted in 46% growth in hair follicles and 33% increase hair follicle life expectancy!
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.
What to do with leftover coffee grounds
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.
15. Make a compost or fertilizer
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.
16. Grow mushrooms!
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:
- No need to sterilize coffee grounds, as the brew process did that
- You have available coffee grounds, like, every day
If you’re interested in giving this a try, check out this guide to growing mushrooms in coffee grounds.
17. Mix up your own dry rub
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:
- Don’t go wild with the coffee grounds. Start lightly and work your way up.
- Use finely ground coffee, not leftover French press coarsely ground coffee.
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.
18. Use as a shower body scrub
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.
19. Mix with honey to make an exfoliant
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:
How to Make a Coffee Exfoliant
- 1/2 cup ground coffee
- 1/4 coconut oil
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup coarse salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Any essential oil you enjoy
20. Scour pots and pans
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!
21. Soak up unwanted refrigerator odors
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.
22. Make fragrant coffee-scented candles
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! This video should help:
23. Make your own coffee soap!
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. But despite my exhaustive research, I’m sure this list is incomplete! How do you use leftover coffee grounds? Comment below!