By the time you take your first sip of that mug of morning coffee, it has already passed through the hands of farmers, growers, pickers, shippers, and roasters. What began in faraway soil has traversed a continent, and an ocean or two–thanks to the tireless work of numerous people–to end up in your cup, to be enjoyed whenever and however you like it. To imagine the scope and magnitude of the work it takes to wake you up in the morning is staggering. So what a shame then that the journey generally ends unceremoniously and upside down in your trash can. But that needn’t be the case.
Many home gardeners are taking the process full-circle by using coffee grounds in their gardens. Turns out coffee grounds provide generous amounts of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper when it’s sown directly into the soil. They also release nitrogen as they degrade. Most of the acid in coffee ends up in the brewed product, so grounds boast a near-neutral pH level.
There is also anecdotal evidence that coffee grounds attract worms and repel slugs. We received this anecdotal evidence from Joe’s wife–and master gardener–Nancy, who swears by the method.
Certain kinds of plants prefer coffee more than others. Rosebushes, azealas, rhododendrons, and camallias are coffee-loving flowers. Root crops like turnips and carrots grow well with the addition of coffee grounds.
Coffee grounds–and paper filters–are also compostable. Other uses for coffee grounds include:
- Before you clean out your fireplace, cover ashes with wet coffee grounds. This makes the ash easier to remove and also ensures your living room doesn’t become a dusty mess.
- Fix a stinky freezer by placing a bowl of used coffee grounds in it overnight. Add a drop of vanilla extract if you’re feeling fancy.
- Add a dose of used coffee grounds to keep bait worms alive and happy all day at the lake.
- Some people claim that a combination of orange peels and coffee grounds will keep cats out of your flower beds (and keep beds from becoming litter boxes), but a basic google search doesn’t offer much in the way of proof.
Saving used grounds from the trash can is a great way to help around your house and garden–and in a larger sense, to honor the work of coffee professionals around the world.