Unorthodox Uses for Coffee

Imagine with me for a moment. Imagine that a long, long time ago, some random dude observed birds getting hyped up on the coffee berry (or however you believe coffee was discovered). Imagine people never accidentally dropped some fried coffee beans near a fire or imagine a large done didn’t slip and crush a pile of these roasted beans. Imagine if we didn’t have espresso or latte art or single origins. Now imagine if we didn’t have coffee as we know it but the plant still existed. What would it be used for if not to help us survive dull meetings or classes or give us something to do with our hands and the awkward pauses on a first Tinder date.

What on Earth can coffee be used for if not our energizing needs?

My first tip comes from personal experience. Mixing approximately equal parts coconut oil and coffee grinds and use as an exfoliant! I use it as a full body scrub in the shower. The only downside here is the oily residue in the tub. The caffeine supposedly helps draw out those nasty unwanted things in Your skin and it is the perfect texture to scrape away your dead skin cells. Plus the oil is a fantastic moisturizer!

We’ve covered here how coffee grounds can be great in your compost, especially when combined with your used coffee filters. The grounds are also great to add to fertilizer (unless you’re growing tomatoes) and have been known to deter pests like slugs, weeds, and cats! Coffee is also a great friend to earthworms!

One specific recommendation I read about for protecting your garden or lawn from neighboring cats is to combine used coffee grounds with orange peels. Apparently curious felines can’t stand the concoction!

If you love the smell of coffee you don’t have to have it brewing 24/7 to enjoy it. You can DIY your own coffee potpourri of sorts by pouring your fresh grinds into a stocking, tying it off at the end and hanging it in a strategic area of your room. It is recommended to double the stocking for best security! The stocking can also be placed in your refrigerator to help keep foul odors at bay.

You can also store coffee grounds in an open dish in a safe place or even unground coffee beans–which also make an interesting decorative choice, especially in a coffee shop or restaurant.

Whole green or roasted coffee beans can be placed in a glass to store pens, for example, to cushion them, prevent them from marking up the glass and give them a lovely display.

Whole roasted beans can and are also used as a nasal palate cleanser when sampling perfume aromas; reportedly they help the aromas remain fresh and strong so that you get the full effect of those perfume samples.

One of my favorite unorthodox ways to use coffee grounds is for cooking. I have a rub in my spice rack right now that’s a combination of coffee grounds, chili and cumin and tastes delightful in ground beef (for tacos) and on roasted cashews! Coffee rubs are especially good for steaks, especially when you let them marinate for a while before cooking.

One trick I learned in my time in theater is that brewed coffee (and black tea) are both great ways to give fabrics an aged look. It can also give a lovely, light stain on wood, especially if you soak the wood with the coffee grounds in the brewed coffee–money-saving DIY is totally on trend. Brewed coffee can also make a spur-of-the-moment or unique paint; brewing different strengths can give you the option of painting in shades of brown.

Used coffee grounds are also ideal for cleaning especially greasy and caked on pots and pans; you can leave the used coffee grounds into soak up the grease, and then the abrasive grounds help to scrub away the lingering residue.

Finally, and depending on who you are/who you’re meeting, a whole coffee bean (or a little bit of coffee in general) is a great substitute in a pinch for a breath freshener!

These are great ideas for when you are in a pinch for paint, or dish-scrubbing, facial exfoliant, or breath mints. They are also creative uses for the excess coffee lying around, whether you drink it or not, or a great way to put your used coffee grounds to continued use! Reduce, reuse, re-caffeinate!

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  1. I could not imagine how my day would be like if there’s no existence of coffee for drinking. When I was in my early 20s, I was really curious why people loved to drink coffee and questioned myself what’ was in that drink that people usually craved for. Then when the time came when I was working in a 12-hour shift duty, I have realized the essence and benefits of coffee in my daily living! The feeling of enthusiasm when drinking coffee is amazing. But aside from loving coffee as my usual drink, I think I would like to use the coffee as a freshener for I really want the smell of it!

  2. Great article, I have heard that coffee is a great body scrub, adding coconut oil is a plus.

    I have never heard of using coffee grounds as a spice. I will have to try the combination of coffee grounds, chili and cumin. I have used coffee in recipes before. I have also seen coffee beans used for decoration in different coffee shops, and they look nice.

    I have used used coffee grounds to scrub pans before, and it works.

  3. There are lots of coffee scrubs and body butters on Etsy. Apparently the caffeine promotes better blood flow, or something like that. I’ve also seen coffee beans in jars as decor. But I’m not sure about coffee grounds. Wouldn’t used, wet ground eventually go moldy? I know what happens when I leave them in my coffee maker for too long!

  4. I’m interested in trying the coffee scrub on my face, but concerned that it might irritate my sensitive skin. Has anyone tried this?

    @Marianne, I hear ya! I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was about 18, and that was only because I had a really bad headache. Not sure what age I was when it became a morning ritual!!

    • I have really sensitive skin, and because of that I unfortunately can’t use any scrubs; sugar, Epsom salt, coffee, or otherwise, on my face to exfoliate. You should be able to use them in the shower though. In my experience, they’ve really helped me to lighten my stretch marks from pregnancy. Hopefully you have a good experience with them if you try it! 🙂

  5. I really love the smell of coffee, the idea of pouring fresh grinds into a stocking, usually when I make a cup of coffee I leave it a bit so the smell can spread all over the room but it doesn’t last for a long time as I drink it xD that’s why I definitely going to try this new idea, hope it goes well.

  6. Coffee isn’t just “a drink”. Since it was discovered, it has been used for many things. I use ground coffee as a breath refresher (oops).
    I’ve also heard coffee is used a lot in perfume shops, since it resets the sense of smell. It’s like a reset button if you’re buying perfumes. You smell a perfume, smell some coffee, then the other perfume. That helps the brain a lot not to mix up the different smells. 🙂

  7. This was a really fun article! I have heard of so many uses for coffee that are out of the ordinary. I’ve actually made a coffee sugar scrub a few years ago. I used ground coffee, sugar, and olive oil at the time. I think I’ll go back and make it again sometime soon, but I’ll use coconut oil instead. I’ve also heard of people brewing coffee extra dark and strong on purpose with the intent of coloring their hair. I’ve never tried that method myself, but I imagine it wouldn’t work on anyone unless they had really light hair to begin with. I’m sure it would be pretty temporary though. Another use, just like you mentioned in the article, is coffee as an air freshener. My grandpa is a coffee addict, and has been drinking multiple cups of black coffee a day his entire life. He actually has an extra can of coffee beans that he leaves open on the counter to scent his cabin. It’s really amazing just how many uses for coffee there are out there.

  8. Ok, I tried the coffee and coconut oil scrub. I should have done this while in the shower. It was quite messy! It also left a tinted stain on my face that transferred to the towel after wiping my face 🙁

    I used the ‘used’ grounds. Maybe I didn’t have the ratio right, but it seemed to exfoliate ok. My skin didn’t feel irritated, but then, I also didn’t apply much pressure when putting the scrub on.

    After rinsing, my face felt soft – perhaps due to the oil? I have overly-oily skin, yet the scrub didn’t make my face feel yucky.

    I would try again – as long as I’m in the shower 😀

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