Picture of 11 unusual uses for coffee

Every coffee drinker knows the feeling they get when they have their morning ritual of a hot strong cup of coffee. Mmmmmm, just saying the word makes me smell it in the air; coffee. As a longtime coffee consumer and avid caffeine-scientist I've seen my way around more than a few pots of potent, percolating brain juice. We all know the great benefits of coffee, it's:

  • Hot
  • Caffeinated
  • Awesome

But did you know that coffee has a life outside of being a tasty bevvy? It's true! Coffee grounds can continue to be useful after you've had your morning fix and can work in some interesting ways. So, save those beans and find 11 unusual uses for coffee!

Step 1: In the garden

Picture of in the garden
Spent coffee grounds can be mixed with lye to make a great composting agent, you can even throw in the coffee filter, too!
Worms in compost like to eat the bacterium that grows on the facets of coffee grounds, though the grounds themselves are a a food source it also adds grit to the worms' digestive system allowing them to digest better.

Small amounts of coffee grounds can be added directly to top soil, especially on plants that like high acidity in the soil like azaleas or roses. Coffee is high in nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, potassium and other trace minerals, spreading around a thin layer of coffee grounds on your soil will allow a slow release of these minerals into your plants.

Be aware of which plants like acidic soil (roses), and which plants don't (tomatoes).

Insect Repellant:
Coffee has a very strong odour which many insects and animals do not like. In addition, it's been suggested that mosquitoes, ants, slugs and maggots all dislike the acidity of coffee and will stay away from areas where there is high concentration of acidic soil.

I'm allergic to coffee ***facepalm***


Airfun3 months ago

I got a freezer that had something rotted in it, the type of freezer that ought to be thrown out.

Found advice on the net (thriftyfun I think) to place a dish of ground coffee and some sheets of crumpled up slightly damp newsprint in the unplugged freezer, did that, left it with the lid closed for several days, changed the paper a couple times. Now you would never know it had a stink!

This freezer was disgusting, I had read you can never get the smell out, it would be in the insulation, in the rubber trim etc. Well, it no longer stinks. I leave a dish of coffee in the freezer, I'm afraid it will come back, it's just too hard to believe it worked that well :)

satoko685 months ago
Mix finely ground coffee with an oil of your choice that's suitable for your skin type. Use as an all-over body scrub. Helps tighten up the skin & reduces dimply skin around the stomach/thighs. Another use is as an eye-bag depuffer. Soak your used grounds in hot water, covered, & leave overnight. The next day, strain into a plastic or glass jar with a lid (an old face cream jar is perfect). Place cotton pads which have been cut to fit the container inside, soaking up all the liquid. Store in the fridge. Take a couple cold pads out in the morning, apply to your eyes for 5-10 minutes. It really helps depuff the eye area & can be made fresh every week using your old grounds.
Nice 'Eight O' Clock' shadow! Haha

To get rid of the smell of spilt milk in a car grind some coffee in a container and put near the spillage, the coffee will absorb the disgusting smell of gone off milk in no time.

Put a tablespoon of instant coffee into a pot of chili. It give it a rich flavor and can't be detected as coffee (unless you put too much in!). Chocolate works well too!

I put a teaspoon or 2 into my vacuum cleaner. The air that comes out while vacuuming no longer has that dusty smell and makes the house smell welcoming with that lovely coffee smell. Love the smell, just can't stand the taste.

mikeasaurus (author)  merle.saunders.92711 months ago

Good idea!

rustybear1 year ago

well heres one i take two teaspoons of fresh ground coffee and drink it very first thing in morning with 2 glass of water and throughout the day never feel tired

erand11 year ago

Re: facial exfoliate: Grind the coffee as fine as possible, espresso or turkish. Otherwise, it will scratch your skin which leads to bad stuff. Caffeine is good for the skin though. My esthetician(sp?) warned me about the grind!

jpfeifer1 year ago
Forgot film developer
bestabear1 year ago

I use coffee grounds to melt snow on a sunny cold day

otmpp2 years ago
kangel12 years ago
Fabric dye: You can also keep it in a pot on low on the stove, letting the coffee continue 'brewing' into the fabric for a darker look more quickly, but you have to keep an eye on it to make sure the fabric stays submerged.
kangel12 years ago
I'm not a coffee-taste fan, but it brings out great flavor in the meat. If you aren't a fan of getting a bite full of coarse coffee bits, use a VERY fine grind in your mix. I actually put the fine grind into a mortar and pestle to smash them into a powdery consistency.
kangel12 years ago
I think the technical term for that is a pomander.
chuCraft2 years ago
Your image of using coffee to exfoliate has been hijacked by a stupid Pinterest hoax about using baking soda and coffee to remove hair (I try to link people back to your Instructable when I see it). I guess if they try it, at least their face or legs will be nice and smooth!
hgarmorer2 years ago
Very cool. I didn't know about this one. Thank you.
hgarmorer2 years ago
If your cat loves coffee, you can try cayenne pepper or chilli powder. They hate the smell, and will (should lol) not go near it.
maenuela3 years ago
I make my own soap, and when i need some exfoliater soap i mixe some coffee (that has already been used to make...coffee )
Beergnome3 years ago
I've done this with Venison and Kangaroo tenderloin.
salt, pepper, and course ground coffee beans. roll the tenderloin into rub.untill its crusted. then grill over very hot coals. Sear the outside. the center should be rare

slice the tenderloin very thin.
My daughter used to just eat the coffee beans, grabbing a few from the coffee grinder in the grocery store. She would tell me they tasted like nuts. I actually had to try them, and she was right, they do taste like nuts. I don't care for the feel, but the taste was nutty.
aburden3 years ago
ill release this secret to the world...
coffee is great to drink, it provides you with a shot term energy boost. you mix it with milk, how water and sugar to make a drink. but i just mix with hot water.
Takelababy3 years ago
Dried coffee grounds can also be sprinkled on the floor before dry mopping. Adds a bit of shine and grabs the dust. Then compost it.
dbell3 years ago
I might have missed it in a comment, but you didn't mention using coffee to develop film and photographic paper! Check it out; search "caffenol" - it's real!
slpr3 years ago

Mixed with your normal moisturizer coffee does also provide an emergency tan, never used it myself but my housemate does. Also, olbas oil is the only thing I have found effective in stopping the genocidal tenancies of my 2 cats towards my houseplants.
It would appear that 2 out of 3 of my cats actually love the smell of coffee. One will come running when the grinder is running
I have to agree here, my cat is notorious for drinking out of and knocking over guests' coffee cups (also, stealing their cigarettes) so I'm pretty sure coffee grounds would have him licking the dirt rather than running away from it... o.O
Haha! Sounds like your cat has some habits to kick! =)
hehe no kidding... I have no idea where he got those preferences though, since neither my husband nor I smoke or drink coffee o.O My brother theorizes that he was a trucker in a past life... ^.~
dcumisky3 years ago
Coffee mixed with washing soda and water can be used to develop black and white film. Can't remember the amounts off the top of my head but a quick look here should sort you out.

It's fun! Also, saying that the chemicals "combine to smell like grim death" is an understatement.
lkuziez96803 years ago
coffee can also enhance a chocolate flavor- like if you put a dash of instant coffee in hot chocolate it tastes great
HAHA! I love that with the beard. You remind me of an Old West Cowboy. Person. Or something.
Kids loved the faux beard pic! :)
StalkerBear3 years ago
Another use for ground coffee is to stop inside mouth bleeding (most probably all type of bleeding).
My friend's 3 yo bled from inside of his lip - 10 changes of ice didn't stop the bleeding, a little of ground coffee stopped it in around 10 seconds.
jlund3 years ago
Just put the roasted beans in your mouth and chew now you have even stronger than coffee
bwoodfield3 years ago
I use coffee as a wood stain quite often. Take dark roast coffee and mix with boiling water in a 1:1 ratio. Let the mixture cool for a good couple of hours with the grounds in the water. By the time it's cooled the liquid is an very dark brown, almost black color. Filter the grounds out and apply liberally with a wide brush. Expect to apply at least 3 coats, the more coats the darker it will be. I made shelves for my wife and applied around 6 coats of coffee stain. The wood came out with a deep walnut color in the end.

Keep in mind though, you are applying water to wood. If you're staining a large piece there is a chance that it will cause the wood to warp. In addition make sure you allow the wood to dry slightly between coats. This will minimize the warping as it won't stay wet for a long period of time.

The wood will also have a very matte finish to it once it's done being stained. I apply polyurethane to my pieces after to seal the wood and give it a slight gloss, giving a light sanding between each coat to smooth out the finish.
You can also use cooking oil to get a nice finish on your wood, just get the untreated wood and rub in some cooking oil. Wipe off the excess and leave it for a while. Depending on the environment the wood is in, it might excrete some of the oil over time, so just wipe it down a couple more times and you get a nice shiny finish :)
If some of the polyurthanes can be thinned with water or cleaned up with water, couldn't the coffee mixed in with it to make a new kind of finish for the wood? Still, I would think that a few coats would be better, too.
mikeasaurus (author)  bwoodfield3 years ago
Great tips, thanks!
stickmop3 years ago
Like the frig idea, fresh ground coffee will sweeten your ice chest after a camping trip. Just toss a tablespoon or two in and forget about it until it's time for the next trip. Then rinse and refill it. If the cooler is grody, then use the abrasive qualities of the grounds to help clean it.

And if you spill something in your car, tossing fresh grounds on the carpet will help mask the odor until you can get rid of the spill.
LOL....I spilled a good bit of coffee (already brewed) in my car and I can't get rid of the coffee smell. Maybe that was a good "accident".
Hehe, were you trying to predict the weather with it?

This idea totally works! But to make it even simpler and more eco-friendly, I just pop out my damp used cone filter with the coffee grounds in it and pop it into a coffee mug and stick it in the back bottom of the fridge. It gets refreshed as often as we make coffee! :-)
gogglecrab3 years ago
You should read this article, I bet you could add some things from it! : )
colorex3 years ago
I made my own coffee air freshener a bit different, though it looks more awesome!

I just grabbed a lid from a Nutella jar (that looks like a drinking glass) and a grid from an old desktop computer PSU. 5 second later:
awesome idea! :D
If you're looking for a good source of coffee grounds try your neighborhood coffee shops. A lot of them like my local coffee roaster actually bag them up and give them away, although some may charge a convenience fee. They are very popular with gardeners, like this post shows, for adding to compost and the worms do love the rich Nitrogen content.
scoochmaroo3 years ago
Coffee beans make an excellent stand in for pie weights too! (of course, so do carpentry nuts)
wilgubeast3 years ago
These are great. Humorous, well-researched, and with stellar pictures. Well-played, sir.
apurva naik3 years ago
really cool!
do you know coffee powder can also be used as a blood clotting agent to stop the blood flowing from a small wound?
it doesn't hurt at all and use can easily use this on small cuts etc.
but you should not use it on larger wounds where stitches may be required because application of coffee makes stitching really difficult.
working in a restaurant we used coffee frequently for cuts. it works very well, ive used it on myself many times, even on larger wounds with no problems
depotdevoid3 years ago
Ah, this makes me sad. I had to quit drinking coffee a couple of months ago, it was exacerbating my heartburn problem.

Still, excellent instructable, and the faux beard picture is comedy gold!
mikeasaurus (author)  depotdevoid3 years ago
Thanks Ian!
The faux beard was a good stand-in until my Movember moustache came in
depotdevoid you should try this product. One of the best coffee substitutes I have found. In fact we use half coffee and half Teeccino every day. You can brew it just like coffee. I have no other relationship to this company other than a loyal customer for over 10 years.
Huh, I may try that some day. I didn't really think to go looking for an actual substitute to coffee, instead I've been hitting the tea pretty hard. I went cold turkey from caffeine altogether for about three weeks, but that wasn't a lot of fun (not even close to how bad quitting smoking was, but still no fun). I've grown to really like a good green tea, which in addition to being a nice hot drink with plenty of caffeine (both required for a happy depotdevoid in the morning), it doesn't have the heavy acidity you get from coffee.
This concept (step 9) can also be applied to create a heavy duty hand scrub! If you find your hands all greased up after a motor project, or have specs of paint after a paint job, stay away from those cleaning chemicals! Just use regular hand soap and a pinch of coffee grounds and scrub away!
Well done! Thanks!
Gaark3 years ago
Love the coffee beard, I'm gonna have to combine that with my welding gogs :D
ndinitz3 years ago
In the section aout dyes, I have used it to make a notebook look much older than it really is. Just use the same method as the towel soaked in coffee...
I love the smell of coffee, and now I have a whole new list of things to make people question my sanity. I wonder about making a coffee concentrate to add to unscented aftershave lotion. Curious...
sunshiine3 years ago
Love the beard! You are so funny! I had the same thought for an instructable. Guess you have me on the run! Actually my ideas do differ. Thanks for sharing a great Instructable. Never thought to use it for an air freshener. My mind is blank right now for suggestions. Sunshiine
lmnopeas3 years ago
Cool! My favorite meat rub has coffee and chocolate in it! I've also been to a couple wine tasting rooms that use coffee beans as a palate cleanser like the perfumeries.