5 Handy Uses for your Used Espresso Grounds
You’ve made, and savoured, your favorite espresso beverage - but, what to do with the used grounds? Whether you use an automatic or manual espresso machine, or prefer the classic stove top espresso maker, espresso grounds can accumulate quickly.
Before you empty your full knock box into the trash, check out our favorite ways to give new-life to your used espresso grounds.
1) Give your houseplants or garden a boost.
A handy tip passed down through generations of family experience - plants love your used espresso grounds! The acidity and nitrogen levels in coffee and espresso help to balance soil pH and nutrients, acting as a natural fertilizer. Simply break up your espresso pucks into a fine powder, and sprinkle around the base of your houseplants once a month before watering - the grounds will saturate the soil and act as a slow-acting fertilizer, leaving your plants happy and healthy.
In the garden, grounds sprinkled around the base of plants can deter small pests and animals while acting to enrich your soil. Your compost bin will also thank you for sending some grounds in its direction - their nitrogen content balances high-carbon emitting compost materials, and earthworms, which play an essential part in the composting process, love espresso and coffee.
2) Naturally dye and hide pesky grey hairs
Struggling with a few pesky grey hairs, but don’t want to go through the trouble and hassle of a full dye job? For brunettes, the answer can be as easy as incorporating used espresso or coffee grounds into your hygiene routine. Simply cover 2 cups of used grounds with boiling water and let steep until the liquid becomes dark and strong. Strain the liquid, let cool, and then add it into a bottle of generic shampoo (in my house, we first tried this with 2/3 of a bottle of Head and Shoulders left by a house guest). Shake well, and use once a week as part of your normal shower routine. The dye from the espresso will stain the lighter (a.k.a grey) hairs a rich brown. Although the dye might not match your colour, it is natural, chemical free, and perfect for hiding a couple pesky grey hairs.
Mix 1 part espresso grounds with 2 parts sugar and add just enough olive oil to dampen the mixture - you’ve now made an easy, all-natural exfoliant! This is great for a nice scrub, and will leave your skin fresh, clean and rejuvenated.
Tip: Use brown or cane sugar for a deeper, richer result.
4) Make your own soap
As somebody who’s attempts at crafting more closely resemble the aftermath of a bad horror movie than anything you’ll find on Pinterest, I was skeptical when I first came across the idea of using espresso grounds to make my own soap. Not only was the process super easy, but the end product is incredible - the grounds in the soap gently exfoliate and naturally deodorize without using harsh chemicals or intense fragrances.
Simply cut up a bar or two of glycerine-based soap (I found mine for a dollar in a discount bin), and melt in a double boiler. Once melted, mix in 1/4 cup of grounds and pour into a muffin tray to cool and harden. I used parchment cupcake liners in the muffin tin, and added an extra teaspoon in the bottom of each before pouring in my melted mixture.
Once cooled, the wrappers are easily peeled off, and your newly-made soap is ready to use, or wrap and store. Given the natural staining properties of espresso, you’ll want to be sure to keep these in a soap dish.
Tip: Keep one of these next to your kitchen sink - they are ideal for removing strong food odours (like garlic) from your hands after food prep.
As with the soap above, I was initially pretty weary when a close friend suggested I try this recipe incorporating my used espresso grounds into homemade candles.
With my crafting confidence bolstered after my soap making success, I gathered the necessary supplies and got ready to give it a try. My girlfriend gently reminded me where our fire extinguisher was located, and strategically left for a night out…. and came home to find these two lovely (and successful!) candles.
I used two packages of plain white emergency candles, and carefully trimmed the wax off of the wicks - though, you could easily use wax scraps from old candles or purchase blocks of wax and wicks specifically for candle crafting.
Use a double boiler to melt the wax, and then pour into an empty paper cup, or whatever container you have available - empty milk cartons work just as well. After pouring a small layer into the base of the cup, secure your wick and let set for 20 minutes.
Once set, sprinkle a layer of espresso grounds and then top up with the remaining wax. Feeling creative with my new-found crafting confidence, I repeated this layering step for one of my candles to give it multiple layers. The end result not only looks great, but smells great too - as the candle burns, the espresso grounds give off a wonderful scent, free of any chemicals or over-bearing fragrances.