How To Compost Coffee Grounds: Composting Guide

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How to Compost Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are a great organic material that are packed full of nutrients that are so good for many plants, and soil. Today we are going to explore all of the different ways you can learn how to compost coffee grounds, and why you should. 

Rather than just throwing away your used coffee grounds every day, and letting it become landfill waste, let’s look at why you should consider saving those coffee grounds and adding them to your garden or compost pile. 

coffee grounds on a plate

There are many ways you can use your morning coffee to decrease the carbon footprint and help your garden, plants, or compost pile out all at the same time. Used coffee grounds contain nitrogen-rich materials that can be useful in so many ways both in your yard and with your house plants. 

No matter if you go through a lot of coffee on a regular basis, or only have a little bit of coffee grinds on hand, don’t throw the coffee grounds out after making your coffee.

Instead, hang on to them, and they can be used as a nitrogen fertilizer to help all of your plants grow. 

Old Coffee Grounds

Coffee beans are packed full of nutrients, and once your morning cup of coffee has been made, don’t throw out the old coffee grounds, but hang on to them, and add them to your compost pile or garden because they make a great organic matter that can help your plants grow. 

It’s a good idea to hang on to your spent grounds, after your morning cup of coffee has been made from them, rather than using fresh grounds in your garden. Used coffee grounds are a great green material that can be added to your garden or compost. 

A great compost pile should be made up of both green compost material and brown compost material. Brown materials are things such as wood, branches, dried leaves, and sawdust.

Green materials are things like coffee grounds, grass clippings, food scraps or food waste, and tea bags. Ideally, you want to have a good balance of each of these, and not too much green material or brown. 

Coffee Shops

If you are not a regular coffee drinker, you probably don’t have many coffee grounds to compost. That’s okay, you can use the fresh coffee grounds that you do have, and you can also check with your local coffee shop to see if they will allow you to collect their used grounds. 

A local coffee house will often be happy to save their used coffee grounds for you since they will be put to good use. These free coffee grounds make an excellent addition to your compost pile.  

You can also try collecting used coffee grounds from the break room at work, but be sure to check with your employer first to make sure it’s okay. 

Starbucks specifically has a garden program, where you can get used coffee grounds in free bags to use in your garden. The program started back in 1995 and continues at select stores. (Source

coffee grounds on a spoon

Benefits of Coffee Grounds

There are so many great benefits to using spent coffee grounds. Let’s look at some of the great things. 

Nutrient-Rich Soil

Used grounds contain approximately 2 percent nitrogen (Source – Oregon State University). The nitrogen content in used coffee grounds is similar to that of nitrogen-rich manure.

The nitrogen ratio in these grounds is a great way to assist in plant growth and rejuvenate your soil. Although as with all good things, be careful to not add too much coffee grounds, moderate amounts are good for your soil or compost pile. 

Garden Pests

Some more good news is that a thin layer of coffee grounds spread around the roots of plants, or at the base of plants, can often help to prevent pests from getting to your garden plants. Specifically, slugs and snails seem to avoid plants when there are coffee grounds in their way. 

Coffee Grounds Acidity 

There is still a debate as to whether coffee grounds contain acid or not. Let’s start by stating in this article we are referring to used coffee grounds, this means coffee grounds that have already been used to make your morning brew, and the grounds are now left. 

Used coffee grounds in general seem to have much less acidity than unused coffee grounds contain. Leftover coffee grounds are the best type to use in your compost pile. It’s also a good idea to avoid plants that hate acid because the used coffee grounds do still contain some acid content. (Source)

Caffeine Content 

It is also important to point out that used coffee grounds may still contain a small amount of caffeine. There could be negative effects from the caffeine. However, used coffee grounds have far less caffeine than fresh coffee grounds, and the impact is usually very minimal if not nonexistent. 

used coffee grounds

What About Paper Coffee Filters?

Paper filters that are used in your coffee maker are often compostable as well. When the paper filters are made entirely of paper, they will decompose over time and can be added to your compost pile.

In fact adding 100% paper coffee filters to your compost pile adds carbon-rich materials to your pile. However, if you are not using paper filters, or if the filters are made of a combination of materials, those should not be composted. 

Now, let’s look at the specifics of how to compost coffee grounds and the various methods you can use. 

How to Compost Coffee Grounds: Types of Compost Material

Compost Heap

A compost heap is a good use of all of your different types of compost materials. A compost heap is a pile of organic matter that is piled together outside and allowed to decompose over time. 

A traditional compost pile is usually made up of both green and brown compost materials. These include food scraps, grass clippings, dry leaves, and other yard waste. Adding your coffee grounds to a compost heap makes a great addition 

compost food stuffs

In Garden Soil

Another great way to compost coffee grounds is directly in the soil. Doing this can help encourage plant growth and help to turn clay soil into nutrient-rich soil. 

Although you can spread a thin layer of coffee grounds on top of the soil, the best way is to till coffee grounds into the dirt so that they are mixed. If you do this in the early spring, then allow the soil to rest, you can help encourage young plants to grow strong and healthy in your vegetable garden. 

Worm Bin

A worm bin is usually a plastic bin with holes in it to allow ventilation and moisture. The purpose is to use worms to recycle organic material and food scraps to change soil structure and turn it into soil full of rich nutrients.

Adding coffee grounds to a worm bin makes a great addition to the nutrient-rich mixture. 

Compost Bin

Compost bins come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Essentially a bin is used to collect organic materials that can decompose and eventually be added back into the soil to provide nutrient-rich material.

Coffee grounds are great compost to include in your compost bin. 

Kitchen Composter

A kitchen compost tumbler is essentially a fancy trash can that turns your food waste into a form of soil-like material loaded with nutrients.

As you may have gathered, kitchen composters are kept in the house and may require electricity to work. You can easily add coffee grounds to the kitchen composter along with your other food scraps. 


Coffee Grounds in House Plants

Another great use for coffee grounds is right in your own home. You can add only small quantities to some house plants’ soil. 

Adding just a little bit of coffee grounds to some of your house plants, especially struggling ones, can help to revive them, and assist with their water retention because coffee grounds will help the soil drain easier. You may even notice the coffee grounds revive the plants so much that there is new growth of plants. 

Coffee Fertilizer

Another use for coffee grounds is to make a simple type of fertilizer out of used grounds. To do this, you can combine three tablespoons of used coffee grounds with one-half gallon of water.

Let them soak overnight, then the next morning remove the grounds. The remaining coffee water can be sprayed on some plants as a fertilizer. 


Acid-Loving Plants

Although used coffee grounds aren’t super high in acid, they can be used on the surface of the soil around acidic plants like blueberries, azaleas, magnolia, radishes, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

The coffee grounds can work as a slow-release fertilizer for your acid-loving plants. 

used coffee grounds on a spoon

What About Unbrewed Coffee Grounds?

The topics we have covered so far refer only to used or brewed coffee grounds. You might be wondering if the same benefits can be found in unbrewed coffee grounds. The answer is that while some benefits might come with unbrewed coffee grounds, used coffee grounds are much better for composting than fresh coffee grounds. 

Unbrewed coffee grounds have a much higher content of caffeine and acid, which not all plants will love. Unused coffee grounds could also throw off the PH of your compost pile. In general, it’s a much better idea to stick with used coffee grounds. 

Composting Process

By composting, you are allowing coffee grounds to be mixed with other food scraps and yard scraps, then they go through the decomposition process. This is basically when the compost pile breaks down and turns back into nutrient-dense soil.

Once they have decomposed, this rich soil makes great fertilizer for many different areas right in your own backyard.   

The Addition of Coffee Grounds

Learning how to compost coffee grounds is very easy. There are so many different ways you can compost coffee grounds or use coffee grounds to improve plant health.

Now that you know several different options, it’s time to start collecting your own coffee grounds, and put them to good use! 

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About the author

Hi! My name is Faith, I am the creator behind My Sweet and Saucy. I have so many different things that I enjoy doing, and this is my space to share them all with you. I really hope you enjoy it! Thank you so much for stopping by!

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