So you’ve forgotten to put away your newly opened bag Midnight Brew after a long worknight and found it a couple days later stale and ruined huh? Shame… Well, we forgive you. Mistakes do happen.

But you’re not about to drink stale coffee are ya? No… Months of getting into the coffee hobby and your palate has stopped accepting bad coffee.

So what do you do now? Throw it away? Seems like a huge waste of money. Don’t worry, we got you. We also hate the idea of wasting good coffee even if it’s expired.

Old coffee grounds

If you have a large amount of stale coffee, chances are you bought pre-ground coffee on sale. Nothing wrong with getting a good deal until your supply of morning brew goes bad.

If your stale coffee isn’t pre-ground, you’ll need to grind them for every use-case we can think of. Make sure to clean your burrs or grinder blades carefully if you’re grinding stale coffee. Wouldn’t wanna contaminate the taste of good coffee later on.

Compost and fertilizer

A great, no brainer use for any of you with a garden or some potted plants is to use the grounds as compost or fertilizer. Wait, what’s the difference?

No, we’re not talking about liquid fertilizer in this case. Rather, coffee fertilizer as in adding it straight into the soil. And composting as in mixing it with your household food waste and letting it mix together with the coffee grounds. The latter method will give your plants more nutrients but takes time to compost properly and will stink up the area unless you have a closed box.

Be aware that agricultural research from 2016 shows that adding too many grounds directly into the soil will reduce

N.B. If you’re into vermicomposting, there’s research indicating that adding coffee grounds will increase the nutrient composition of your end compost if coffee grounds are added to the waste. Don’t look up vermicomposting if you’re afraid of worms.

Protecting plants

If you do any gardening, you’ll be familiar with pests like snails, squirrels, and slugs. The caffeine and diterpenes in coffee are natural insecticides which can help ward off many pests from eating your precious vegetables. On top of that, spreading coffee grounds around your plants can prevent them from getting fungal infections.

Do keep in mind though, coffee grounds are not a cure-all solution. Plenty of pests such as spider mites, white flies or aphids are not affected by their properties so make sure to pair your grounds with another form of insecticide depending on what you’re growing.

Removing odors

Like baking soda, coffee grounds are great at neutralizing odors.

Remember those Arm & Hammer ads teaching you to use baking soda to neutralize funky smells in your fridge? Well it turns out that coffee grounds are also great at absorbing smells due to their hygroscopic property.

So even if your coffee’s gone stale, you can still use it to neutralize odors in your fridge by leaving it in a bowl or a cup with exposure to the air. Not bad for coffee you were about to throw out right?


You’ve heard of coffee scrubs right? Maybe you’ve never tried it yourself, lord knows we hadn’t. Anyway, coffee works great as a gentle exfoliant, much gentler than a salt scrub and helps reduce cellulite.

If you’re gonna make a scrub, remember to mix it with an oil to form a paste consistency. Coconut oil or olive oil works great in this case. You can also add sugar or salt if you need a harsher scrub, add and mix as you go to find the right consistency for you.

As an unexpected bonus, you’ll smell like morning brew 😉

Scrubbing pots & pans

Following the exfoliant use, you can also use your stale coffee grounds as a natural “organic” scrub to clean your pots and pans though it’s not as abrasive as salt. This is a good idea for food stuck on surfaces like Teflon which you wouldn’t wanna scratch.

Unfortunately it’s nowhere near as good as salt scrubs though, so hard to remove stains are out of the question.

Restoring furniture

If you’re into furniture restoration, you can include coffee to your process in a few different ways:

One is to mix coffee grounds and water to create a natural wood stain, similar to how you’d age paper with coffee for props (more on that later). You can use this method to touch up scratches or to give a piece of furniture a darker, richer finish.

The second way is to mix coffee grounds with olive oil to create a natural furniture polish. This can help clean and protect wood surfaces, while also giving them a subtle shine.

Lastly, coffee grounds can be used to remove odors from furniture (like with your fridge), making them a useful tool for freshening up old or musty pieces you may have taken in.

Hair treatment

If you hadn’t known before, you know it now, the team at Coffeine is mostly guys. So we had no idea anyone used coffee for hair treatment but apparently, it can stimulate hair growth, improve hair texture, and enhance hair color.

One way to use coffee for hair treatment is by mixing coffee grounds into your shampoo. This mixture is supposed to help prevent hair from getting greasy quickly, remove oil treatments, and act as an exfoliator to remove buildup from your scalp (dandruff).

Another method is to use a cold brew to spray onto your hair after washing it, and let it sit for 20 minutes before rinsing it out with warm water. This is supposed to help boost hair growth, reduce hair loss, and make hair thicker.

For more detailed information about this, take a look here.

Candle making

Lavender scented candles to relax? Get outta here with that! (Just kidding, lavender is quite nice.) It’s time to make candles with a scent that actually relaxes you. The smell of morning coffee except it’s at night.

You can mix coffee grounds into your wax mixture and pour it into a candle container to make a fragrant coffee scented candle. Make sure to mux it evenly though, otherwise the grounds will pool at the bottom making a blank candle for the top part.

The candles will come out looking peppered which you might not think is very cool. But the fragrance will be worth it.

Arts & crafts

Though old coffee makes for a bad drink, you can still brew it to make paper or clothing dye. If you’re not gonna drink it, the smell is more or less the same when it comes to using it as a dye. You either like it or you don’t.

An age old craft project is to use coffee to age paper and make it look like an old document or book. But have you seen the fantasy map trend? This is probably the coolest trendy thing you can do if you have to spend a day with some kids. And it’s something they’d remember forever.

Closing thoughts

Crazy how many uses there are for old coffee isn’t it? We were shocked by the amount of uses too. Though we’d never thought about it much because we constantly run out of coffee, it’s good to know what to do with the occasional sample of horrible brew.

For us, the spent coffee grounds will be going into compost from now on. We’re not exactly artsy folks so it’s a lot easier toss it into a bin with the household food waste and then use it to feed our garden vegetables.

Oh, and if you wanna prevent having to deal with stale coffee in the first place, go check out our article on how long coffee lasts to better preserve freshness. Long story short? Put it in the freezer.


What can I do with unused stale coffee grounds?

The best thing to do with old coffee grounds is to use it as fertilizer for your garden or add it to the compost pile to get the benefits without the waste. If not, a good use is to use the coffee grounds as an exfoliating scrub for your skin.

Can you use old coffee for anything?

Yes! Depending on your personal hobbies and interests, you can use old coffee for arts & crafts, exfoliation, fertilizer or even pest control.

How do you freshen stale coffee?

Once stale, there’s no way to freshen it up. Although, one traditional way to cover up stale coffee is to add ingredients like chicory, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom or even swap your sugar with a sweetener like honey or maple syrup.