11 unusual uses for coffee

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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!

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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.
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satoko688 days 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.9276 months ago

Good idea!

rustybear7 months 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

erand110 months 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!

jpfeifer10 months ago
Forgot film developer
bestabear1 year ago

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

otmpp1 year ago
kangel11 year 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.
kangel11 year 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.
kangel11 year ago
I think the technical term for that is a pomander.
chuCraft1 year 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.
maenuela2 years ago
I make my own soap, and when i need some exfoliater soap i mixe some coffee (that has already been used to )
Beergnome2 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.
aburden2 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!
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