Surprising (And Frugal) Uses for Coffee

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There are many frugal uses for coffee, aside from your morning cup of brew. Find unique ways to use brewed coffee, ground coffee, and used coffee grounds.

There are many frugal uses for coffee, aside from your morning cup of brew. Find unique ways to use brewed coffee, ground coffee, and used coffee grounds. #usesforcoffee #coffee #morethancoffee #waystousecoffee #oldcoffeeuses #coffeegrounduses #leftovercoffeeuses

Uses for Coffee

Most people love a steaming pot of coffee in the morning but are unaware of the myriad of other uses for un-brewed coffee, brewed coffee, and the used coffee grounds. Coffee can be one of the most surprising, versatile and delicious multi-use items in your pantry!

Did you know that the popular drink used to jump-start your morning can also jump-start your garden? Or that the delicious smell of coffee can help reduce other odors? It’s true! Find even more unique ways to use coffee below. Many of these are also great ways to use expired coffee or use up old coffee so nothing goes to waste!

—Be sure and check out these uses for coffee filters too!

Uses for Un-Brewed Coffee

Whether you are looking for ideas on what to do with expired coffee or maybe just have more coffee beans that you can use, there are many uses for unbrewed coffee beans.

Coffee Scented Air Freshener – If you use pre-ground coffee you can pour the unbrewed grounds into a short glass mason jar or other small container and set out to add the delicious smell of coffee to your living area. You can always add a little cinnamon, cloves or other dry herbs to create a different scent.

-If you grind your own beans, select the coarsest setting (French Press Setting) to make a Coffee Scented air freshener.

Odor Absorber– Use one of those unmated socks you have all but given up on, pour in some un-brewed, ground coffee beans, tie a knot in the top and Voilà – odor absorbers! The coffee beans will help absorb foul odors in your car, fridge, or slide them inside a pair of stinky shoes to help.

Coffee Bean Decor – Coffee beans look absolutely beautiful surrounding a large candle down inside of a hurricane vase or large mason jar. You can also fill a shallow bowl with coffee beans and nest a few tealight candles down inside of it to make an inexpensive centerpiece for your table.

Eat Them – Chocolate dipped expresso beans are a very trendy but expensive little treat. Easily make your own by dipping beans into melted chocolate. Once the chocolate has rehardened, store them in the fridge.

Make a Body Scrub – Use ground coffee beans to make an invigorating Homemade Coffee Body Scrub Recipe. The caffeine will help wake up and firm your skin.

Clear your nose– Keep a small tin of coffee beans in your car or purse for those times when you are overwhelmed by different scents. Take a whiff and clear your nasal palette. This really comes in handy if you are walking through a scented candle or lotion store and can’t get rid of the smell.


Uses for Brewed Coffee

Sure you can brew the standard cup of coffee, but what if you have some leftover? Here are some ideas to keep your brewed coffee from going to waste.

Easy Marinade– Did you know coffee is pretty acidic? When you need a light acid for a marinade most people turn to a vinegar or citrus but coffee can also act as a delicious, deeper marinade base for red meats. Google Coffee marinades for some tasty ideas for your next tri-tip or BBQ recipe.

Use coffee in your baking– Coffee also enhances the flavor of chocolate. Add a shot of espresso or dark brewed coffee to recipes utilizing chocolate. Like this Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting or these delicious  Chocolate Muffins!

Natural Dye– Do you have scratches on your wood surfaces? Brewed Coffee’s dye properties can help minimize the look of scratches. Leave a little coffee at the bottom of your pot until it thickens (you know- until it looks like that stuff you hate to have to clean up when someone forgets the pot on the burner). Put a little bit of that reduced coffee on a damp dishrag and apply it to the scratches. Let it set overnight if possible to dye your scratches and make them blend better.

Freeze it- I love using ice cube trays to freeze things in! Freeze your leftover coffee in the trays, once frozen, pop them into a freezer bag. Grab a few out anytime you want to heat up some coffee to drink or use in your marinades and baking. If you like iced coffee, you may want to use these instead of regular ice so that you don’t water down your coffee while cooling it off.

—Make Cream Cubes, in the same way, to add to your coffee!


Coffee Scrub

Uses for Coffee Grounds

Now that you have enjoyed a delicious pot of coffee you’re left with the grounds. Don’t throw them out! There are many uses for coffee grounds you may never have heard of before!

Make a Body Scrub– You can use used grounds to make Homemade Coffee Body Scrub Recipe as well. Since the caffeine has been cooked out, you won’t get all of the added skin tightening and invigorating qualities it offers but you will still have a delicious, coffee-scented scrub.

Natural Fertilizer– Place the wet coffee grounds in your garden as fertilizer. Acid-loving plants like tomatoes and blueberries, especially love having grounds applied around the base of the plant.

Ant Detterant– Ants are not a fan of coffee grounds so boil a large pot of water with the used grounds and pour the steaming concoction on the mound itself.

Playdough– Use coffee grounds in place of kool-aid in this Homemade Playdough recipe to add a fun multi-sensory play with an added scent and texture. Kids can use it to make delicious pretend foods or use it as a fun (and cleaner) version of mud play, with toy animals stomping through it, and trucks scooping and moving it around.

—Check out this post on How to Keep Little Ones Occupied During School for more fun sensory ideas for little ones.

Make your own Tea Bags– Another fun way to use coffee is to make your own homemade Coffee Tea Bags! Those make great gifts!

Absorb Odors– It’s not too late to use your grounds to absorb odors. You can spread the damp grounds on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven on low to dry them out completely. Use them as directed above or add them to your cat litter to refresh the box and adsorb odors.

—Find even more Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds

Next time you make a pot of coffee you might want to consider taking advantage of coffee’s unique properties that make it far more than just a delicious morning beverage.

Looking for more uncommon uses for everyday items? Here are a few to check out:

16 Unique Uses for Honey

Castile Soap Uses For Your Home & Body

Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

15 Unique Uses for Toothpaste

11 Ways to Use Squash Seeds and Pumpkin Seeds

Uses for Witch Hazel

Uses for Epsom Salt

Find more Uses For Items on Little House Living.

If you love finding frugal uses for everday items and simple recipes, you will absolutely love my book, Little House Living: The Make Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-Sufficient Life. It features 130 recipes that are perfect for your household!

In what ways do you use coffee for, besides drinking? merissabio

This post on Uses for Coffee was originally published on Little House Living in October 2013. It has been updated as of October 2019.

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  1. I am chemically sensitive. On the rare occasion when I go shopping, there are times when I get chemical fragrances on my hands from the shopping cart (hand creams, perfume, etc.), which are all toxic chemicals and which are nearly impossible to get off. This is a real health issue for me. That’s when I reach for a handful of wet coffee grounds right from the coffee maker. Rub that vigorously on the hands and it will take most of the chemicals out. If I’m lucky, that day I have made blueberry coffee and my hands smell like blueberry coffee for a few hours.

  2. I use the left over coffee as the water in brownies or cake. And the grounds are added to my garden.

  3. That’s a great idea about the air freshener. Do you have any other recipes to use as a natural homemade air freshener? I love the smell (not the taste:) ) of coffee but I’d love to try other kinds. Store bought air fresheners are scary!

  4. I just used coffee to tone down some highlights in my bangs that missed being toned at the hairdresser. Worked like a charm. I took about 1/2 tsp of freshly ground coffee added a little water and worked with my fingers until it was brown. Then I sectioned out the highlights that were too light from the rest of my bangs. I worked in the coffee ‘juice’ and let it sit for a couple minutes, then rinsed and let dry. I did this three times because I didn’t know how quickly it would take hold in the hair. I am VERY pleased.

    1. What a great idea to use the coffee as a toner. May I ask how long does this last? I think I am going to try it on my greys. You have really piqued my interest.

  5. I use them for the chickens who eat and compost it and for the Garden flowers I want the Cats to stay out of.

  6. I have used them in the past for a scrub in the shower. The exfoliating effect feels fabulous and the diuretic effect reduces swelling! 🙂

  7. Thanks for the tip about coffee darkening hair, I am only 27 but i do have quite a bit of noticeable grey strands which is embarrassing for my age. I have been looking for a way to darken them because i am pregnant and can not use regular dye due to chemicals!
    Also, as for air freshener, i put coffee beans in a mason jar or vase, shove a mini strand of white xmas lights or little LED lights with battery pack (you can get that at craft store for few dollars) cover the top with a doilie tie a ribbon around it to keep it on. wa-la. the heat of the lights warms them up just enough to trigger the sent into the air. also makes wonderful gifts for the holidays! ( dried flower pedals and cinnamon sticks are also nice as alternative!)

  8. I mix the used grounds with brown sugar and coconut oil to make a nourishing exfoliating scrub, just put it in a jar & keep in the shower, you can add a drop or two of vodka to increase shelf life. works great!

    Also, I’ll rub used grounds on the dog to repel fleas.

    1. I have never heard of using grounds in a scrub. Do you dry out the used grounds or use the damp ones? Thank you!