International Coffee Day (1 Oct) is the best time to appreciate the variety of uses coffee — or kopi — has in your home beyond being able to jolt you awake everyday.
If you’ve drank more than you could drink, get started with these 6 life-changing ways to use up your leftovers that are eco- and budget-friendly!
To scour pots and pans
Let’s start with the nightmare for any home cook: cleaning a ton of pots and pans, but all with food remnants caked or burnt at the bottom! Dried coffee grounds can make light work of this! Compared to coffee powder, dried grounds have a naturally coarser and abrasive texture that makes them great for buffing away all the debris¹.
This eco-friendly alternative is gentler on the Earth, your hands and more importantly, your wallet!
How to use: Sprinkle a handful of dried grounds into your dirty pots and pans. Scour, then rinse away the excess so it’ll be clean and ready for the next round of cooking.
Note: Coffee grounds are effective on stainless steel and cast iron, but will leave scratches or stains on delicate surfaces in light colours. Avoid using them on ceramic or non-stick pans!
To exfoliate the skin
Your pots and pans are not the only ones who can benefit from a good scrub down! Coffee grounds will help to slough, not slow, dead skin away to increase cell turnover. It has the perfect size and shape for getting some intense scrubbing action in, but is still gentle on your skin.
Make your own energising scrub by mixing coffee grounds with a carrier oil such as olive or coconut oil. Regular massages followed up by a nice emollient cream will give you the happy, healthy and hydrated skin you deserve!
To neutralise odours
The delicious aroma of coffee can also help to neutralise odours in the environment quickly. Coffee contains caffeine that may help to boost the ability of carbon to absorb hydrogen sulfide (or sulfur) — an element often associated with the unpleasant smell it emits². Simply place a cup of unused coffee grounds or powder inside your fridge or cupboards. Its strong aroma will absorb the odour safely and quickly.
To tenderise meats
Tough meats can break, not make a meal. Avoid that with an instant coffee marinade! Its high acidity makes for perfect tenderiser to loosen the connective tissues — a broad term for the tendons, ligaments and collagen that hold the muscle fibres of a piece of meat together³.
You can try this by steeping some instant black coffee bags and leaving it to cool. Once cooled, place your meat in the coffee and a container. Just leave it in the fridge for up to two hours before cooking.
Alternatively, you can use the instant coffee grounds of powder directly from the sachet as a dry meat rub! It’ll complement herbs like paprika, pepper, onion, garlic and coriander nicely.
Note: Take care not to roast on high heat as this may result in a bitter aftertaste.
To cover scratches in wood
If your favourite dark wood or vintage piece has copped a few scratches, hold off that trip to the specialist for now — coffee grounds or powder can save it!
Yes, you heard that correctly.
First, apply used coffee grounds to the affected areas with a cotton bud. Leave for up to 10 minute, then buff it away with a dry towel. This has been tried and tested⁴, so it definitely works!
To fertilise plants
Our last call is to all the green thumbs out there! Coffee is a great organic fertiliser that can help to improve drainage, water retention, and aeration in the soil⁶. It’s as easy as throwing them on to the compost pile. Used coffee filters can be composted, too! Simply work the grounds, brewed or otherwise, into its surrounding soil.
Note: Fresh coffee grounds should only be used with acid-loving plants like hydrangeas, camellias and daffodils⁷. If you rinse used coffee grounds, they’ll have a near neutral pH level of 6.5⁸ and this attracts beneficial microorganisms, as well as earthworms to create conditions for any plant to thrive in.
We hope that this list changes the way you look at that humble jar of grounds or powder for your daily kopi. Energise your routine today!
¹ Capretti, L 2021, You can use coffee grounds to clean pots and pans. Here’s how, Mashed, viewed 13 September 2021
² Crazy Coffee Crave 2021, Do coffee grounds remove odors? Why and how to use it, viewed 13 September 2021
³ Deans, S 2021, Coffee meat marinade (recipes for beef, chicken, and pork), Above Average Coffee Ltd, viewed 13 September 2021
⁴ My Useful Ideas.com 2012, Using coffee grounds on furniture scratches, viewed 13 September 2021
⁵ Schwatz, S 2020,8 genius uses for old coffee grounds, considerable.com, viewed 14 September 2021
⁶ Rhoades, H 2021, Composting with coffee grounds – used coffee grounds for gardening, Gardening
Know How, viewed 14 September 2021
⁷ ⁸ Affeld, M 2021, 25+ acid-loving plants for your garden, Insteading, viewed 14 September 2021