What to do with leftover coffee grounds (plus! free Starbucks samples in Philadelphia in February!)

True story: I’ve never made a pot of coffee in my life. We’ve had a Keurig for years. I don’t know what I’d do without ours. But  those little plastic k-cups create such waste that we were feeling a little guilty. Still, the ease of the k-cup always won… until Christmas Eve when my husband selected the last gift in the Christmas party Pollyanna–4 reusable k-cups. Suddenly, I didn’t have a choice. It was time to do away with the laziness.

what to do with leftover coffee grounds

My next challenge was finding coffee. Thankfully, finding it wasn’t hard — Starbucks sent me a sample bag of their Vanilla Blonde Coffee, which I’ve been sipping each morning. It’s lighter than the coffees that Starbucks is so strongly known, and I love the addition of a little vanilla syrup. Just how to start my morning. And using the disposable k-cups is, surprisingly, simple!

The challenge, however, has been figuring out what to do with the leftover coffee grounds. For a few weeks, I dumped them into the trash but I kept thinking that there had to be something more. I remember my grandfather used to toss his around flowers in the garden, but this is the middle of winter, and I wasn’t about to dig through snow and frozen earth to help the flowers (sorry flowers).

What to do with leftover coffee grounds

Use coffee grounds for composting

Turns out, my grandfather was right. Angela England, author of Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) (Living Free Guides), shared this in her chapter Gardening Smart from the Start:

Coffee grounds will raise the acidity of the soil in large quantities, so some people prefer to age their coffee grounds in a separate compost pile reserved for acidic-soil plants like blueberries, camellias and hydrangeas.

My friend, Jennifer, also mentioned that you can buy a counter size Compost Bin to save your coffee grinds through the winter.

Exfoliate with your coffee grounds

This idea didn’t surprised me and a lot of friends –Pinterest is littered with recipes for using coffee grounds to exfoliate. Noelle from An Opera Singer in the Kitchen shared that she uses them after cooking with fish or onions to wash her hands (brilliant!) and Charmed Valerie shared the home remedy that she uses to reduce cellulite temporarily.

Use coffee grounds in your recipes for food and drinks

Heather at Home-Ec 101crowd sourced this question and came up with nearly 20 responses including cold drinks and flavoring for brownies and chili.

Play with coffee grounds (for kids!)

This suggestion came from Gail, a preschool director and toddler teacher:  “Let them dry for a few days, then mix with regular oatmeal and salt to create a mixture for the kids to play with. Put it in a tub with buckets, shovels and even cut plastic flowers and let the fun begin!”

In Philadelphia, you can sample Starbucks before you buy

taste starbucks in Philadelphia

Of course, you have to drink the coffee first. And, if you’re like me, the entire coffee aisle at the grocery store overwhelms your senses as you try to decide which coffee is right for you. My favorite way to figure it out? Taste them. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, then you’re in luck. Through February 19, watch for the Starbucks mobile café at Suburban Station at 1735 Market, Love Park at 1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Temple University at 1600 N. Broad St., Penn’s Landing, and Philadelphia Home Show to try a 6 oz. sample of either of these offerings for a warm and delicious respite from the chilly winter days:

  • Love Park (1500 JFK): Jan 31st and Feb 5th, 7th, 13th and 15th
  • Suburban Train Station (1735 Market): Jan 30th and Feb 4th, 14th and 19th
  • Temple University (1600 N Broad): Feb. 1st and 6th
  • Penn’s Landing (Chestnut & Front): Feb. 2nd and 17th
  • Philadelphia Home Show (Philadelphia Convention Center): Feb 9th and 10th

Thanks to Starbucks for the sample. This post contains affiliate links.

Image courtesy of [image creator name] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

mom of 3 and wife living in the Philadelphia suburbs, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse, a merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel (jewelryverse.com) and founder VlogMom and Splash Creative Media. A marketing strategist and freelance education and parenting writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, PTO, cooking and exercise.

© 2013, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.


  1. says

    They make excellent fertilizer and compost materials for sure! We used to have people come in to the coffee shop where I worked and ask us to save the grounds for their flower beds. and, every night we’d empty the drip bucket from under the espresso machine out onto the grass and I’ve never seen such healthy beautiful grass as where we dumped that!!

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