14 Coffee Bean Uses For When You Need More Than A Cup Of Joe

It’s a shame to throw out brewed coffee grounds after a cup of Joe. Check out our 14 coffee bean uses; better for the environment and better for your wallet.

Coffee bean uses
Don’t throw out brewed coffee grounds after a cup of coffee

Now, we all know what the best thing to do with coffee beans is – grind them up and brew ourselves a hot cup of Joe. My morning cup of coffee is how I know I am ready to face the new day. 

But what if you’re tired of drinking coffee or would like to find uses for coffee approaching the expiration date or brewed grounds? It turns out that there are several cool coffee bean uses, so you can upcycle expired or brewed coffee.

Coffee As A Natural Dye & Stain

If like me, you have ever spilled a cup of coffee on yourself or on a rug, then you know that coffee loves to dye just about anything it touches. We have a white couch, and I simply steer clear of it until I have finished my morning cup. However, if you want to intentionally dye or stain things a nice brown shade, then the coffee will do the trick!

Dyeing Fabrics With Coffee

We like to do lots of DIY projects around the house. One of our favorites is to dye white clothing and fabric with coffee.

For example, I don’t like to wear super white t-shirts; I prefer creams, beiges, and tans. So, when I have a white shirt that I like, I will dye it with coffee to get a nice, soft tan shade instead!

Dyeing fabric in coffee is quite simple, and you can even use leftover coffee grounds from the coffee you drink to do it. Just use the used grounds (or new grounds) to brew a pot of coffee. I like to do it in a soup pot on the stove, so it may take a few batches of coffee to fill it.

Then, you get your fabric damp and submerge it in the pot of coffee for about ten minutes. Next, you let the fabric soak in water with vinegar to help the color set before finally throwing the fabric in the dryer.

While the exact color that comes out will depend on the coffee and the kind of fabric you use, in my experience, the coffee dye results in a nice, light tan shade.

Antiquing Paper

You can also use old coffee grounds for antiquing paper. I remember in 4th grade; I had a school project where I was supposed to write diary entries as if I was a settler on the Oregon Trail. My mom helped me make the entries look older by dabbing coffee and coffee grounds on white paper. 

By doing this, the paper takes on a brownish-yellow shade and warps from water damage, giving the paper an old-time feeling. A tea bag has a similar effect if you’re out of coffee.

Staining Wood

Coffee grounds are also an excellent, natural choice for staining the wood a deeper shade of brown. A lot of wood stains and dyes contain chemicals and compounds that we do not want in our house, and coffee is a great alternative.

All you need to do is sand the wood you want to stain, then soak old coffee grounds and rub them all over the wood surface. Let the grounds sit on the wood for a little while, and when you wipe them clean, the wood will now be a deeper shade of brown!

Coffee As A Cosmetic Product

Coffee contains caffeine and many antioxidants. As such, it has many cosmetic uses that should not be ignored! 

Plus, coffee smells quite nice, so there really aren’t any major downsides to adding coffee to your daily beauty routine. Coffee grounds tend to be much cheaper than commercial skincare products.

Used Coffee Grounds For Cellulite Treatment

For many people, cellulite can be a source of insecurity. It turns out that scrubbing coffee over cellulite can help to smooth out the appearance.

Young charming sexy girl makes coffee foot scrub in the bathroom
Scrubbing coffee over cellulite can help to smooth out the appearance

While the exact reasons for this are still up for debate, there is a general consensus that the caffeine in coffee can promote healthy circulation where it is applied and that the antioxidants promote skin health.

Once cellulite forms on the body, it can be hard to get smooth it out or get rid of it. Simply mix the coffee grounds with hot water to form a paste and rub it on the affected areas – remember, the water should have cooled, so you don’t burn yourself. 

Used Coffee Grounds As An Exfoliant

You can use the same coffee ground mixture for treating cellulite to exfoliate. Coarse coffee grounds are a natural exfoliant that will have your skin feeling fresh and smooth.

Simply soak coarse coffee grounds in hot water and rub them across your skin with your bare hands or a washcloth. This will help remove dead skin and have you feeling refreshed.

Be careful using the coffee scrub on your face and other areas where the skin is more sensitive, especially under your eyes. You also should avoid doing this every single day.

Make sure to use coarse-ground coffee, not a finer espresso grind. Coffee that is ground too fine will be too soft to use as an exfoliant.

Also, if you like to make soap, you can mix the course coffee grounds into it. That way, when you rub the soap on your body, you also get the exfoliating benefits of the coffee.

Coffee Bean Uses In The Kitchen

I am a sucker for anything coffee-flavored. From tiramisu to coffee ice cream, I cannot help myself. So, if you’re tired of drinking coffee but still crave the flavor, you can add it to all sorts of goods. 

Enhancing Baked Goods With Coffee Grounds

Just about any baking recipe can be enhanced by adding coffee, whether you’re baking cookies, banana bread, or cheesecake. Just sprinkle coffee grounds on top to add the perfect hint of flavor.

Some recipes are better with fresh-ground coffee, whereas other recipes can be made with used coffee grounds. Coffee can be used as a spice, such as cinnamon, or can be brewed as part of the liquid batter for your next culinary creation.

Making Coffee Ice Cream (Or Whipped Cream)

If you already enjoy making ice cream, then making coffee ice cream will be straightforward. There are lots of great recipes on the internet – brewed coffee can be added to your ice cream base to add the earthy taste of your favorite coffee roast to your ice cream.

If making ice cream is too difficult for you, you can also add coffee grounds when you make whipped cream. All you need is heavy whipping cream, sugar, vanilla extract, and finely ground coffee.

As you mix the cream, sugar, and vanilla (a stand or hand mixer is needed), you can add powdered coffee to give the whipped cream the perfect coffee flavor. Check out our homemade coffee ice cream recipes for more ideas.

Tenderizing Meat With Coffee Grounds

One of my favorite parts of cooking big cuts of meat is making a good marinade. While my recipes are top-secret, I can tell you that adding brewed coffee to your meat marinade is an excellent idea.

While marinades normally rely on salt, vinegar, and spices to flavor and tenderize cuts of meat, coffee contains natural enzymes, which result in a more tender final product. 

It is a perfect use for that old bag of coffee that you bought too long ago to remember. You can also add coffee grounds to your favorite dry rub recipe to enhance the overall flavor of whatever you are putting on the grill!

Scouring Pans With Coffee Grounds

For a long time, I would get frustrated when I got gunk stuck to my favorite pans. I was always worried that I would damage the surface of my pan trying to get it clean, especially for my cast iron and other non-stick pans.

Coarse coffee grounds are an excellent option for removing the burnt bits stuck to your pans and baking trays. Mix coarse coffee grounds with warm water in the pan and then scrub the grounds into the food residue. 

Coffee grounds will help get the food off without damaging your pans. You can rub it in with the soft side of a sponge. I also like to scrub with a crumpled ball of tin foil – because tin is a soft metal, it won’t damage the surface of your cookware.

Coffee As A Natural Deodorizer

It turns out that anything containing nitrogen will do a great job of eliminating unwanted odors. Much like how you can place baking soda in your refrigerator to get rid of unwanted smells, you can place a bowl of coffee grounds to absorb unwanted smells.

Coffee In The Garden

Finally, there are a ton of great uses for old coffee grounds in and around the garden.

Composting Coffee Grounds

It turns out that used coffee grounds are the perfect compost additive. Compost requires the right balance of carbon and nitrogen, and coffee naturally has carbon and nitrogen in the perfect balance for composting.

I have worked at a few coffee shops where customers would come pick up our old coffee grounds to add to their compost at home. Coffee grounds never need to end up in the garbage! They can help you grow your crops.

If you don’t have compost (or friends who compost), you can use some coffee grounds as a fertilizer for your houseplant. You can place a few spoonfuls of used coffee grounds on top of your house plant soil. Over time, these grounds will act as a natural fertilizer for your plants.

Repel Ants And Slugs With Coffee Grounds

A person applying used  coffee ground powder as natural plant fertilizer on potted plants
Place coffee grounds on and around the plant

Used coffee grounds can also be used as a pest repellant in your garden. It turns out that ants and slugs hate the smell of coffee, so you can place the grounds on and around the plants in your garden that you want to protect from these pests. Plus, the ground coffee will act as a fertilizer in your garden!

Burning Coffee Grounds As An Insect Repellent

Finally, burning coffee grounds act as a natural insect repellent. Like incense or a citronella candle, make a clump of dried coffee grounds and burn them to drive unwanted mosquitoes away! Remember to practice this with extreme caution and keep them far away from children and pets.


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.