As I get older I often wish I had paid more attention to my mother and grandmother, both of whom lived through the Great Depression. My mother could stretch a grocery budget until it cried! My grandmother knew more tricks to doing without or “upcycling” an item than you can shake a stick at.
While many of upcycle or recycle larger items, my grandmother threw out next to nothing. Not even a half a pot of leftover coffee. Sometimes she simply would reheat it for the next day, but after that, coffee takes on a pretty brutal, bitter flavor. Still, there are plenty of things you can do with that coffee.
Here are five uses for leftover coffee:
1. Use it to make new foods
Replacing about half of the water you use to make oatmeal with leftover coffee really turns that normally boring breakfast into something interesting. I like to add some sliced almonds to coffee-flavored oatmeal. You also can freeze it into ice cubes and later make some “iced” coffee. No more watered-down drinks! Add a splash to your hot chocolate for an instant mocha drink or use it as a marinade.
2. Use it around the house and garden
I still use leftover coffee (watered down a bit) to give a touch of fertilizer to my acid-loving plants, such as gardenias and begonias. If you have dark-colored wood furniture, you can hide those scratches by adding coffee to a bit of olive oil. Pour the oil mixture onto a cloth and rub it into the scratches. You will probably have to do this several times over the next few weeks, but this works remarkably well!
You also can use coffee as a dye for clothing if you have tie-dye fans in the house, or put that coffee in a spray bottle and use it as a natural degreaser for stoves and your outdoor BBQ grill.
3. Use it for personal care
While I’m fortunate that I never needed to try this, it was one of my grandma’s favorite “cures.” Coffee enemas came highly recommended by my mother and grandmother, as a means of “cleaning out the insides.” Coffee also can help to temporarily darken your hair. Use it as a final rinse to help hide those gray hairs and make your hair shiny. You also can use those old coffee grounds and mix them with coconut oil to make a natural exfoliating body scrub.
4. Use it for crafts
If you like doing crafts, then try painting a plain white sheet of paper twice with leftover coffee. Allow to dry between coats. You can do a third coat if you want your paper a darker color. This process makes plain paper look like antique, aged paper. You also can make your own custom colored yarn and wood by staining them with leftover coffee.
5. Don’t forget coffee grounds!
Leftover coffee grounds are also quite valuable. After drying them, put coffee grounds in a container and use them to deodorize just about any space: the refrigerator, car, closet, etc. Once they have done the job, mix them into the soil with your roses or other plants for a free fertilizer. My grandmother had the most beautiful roses and she often attributed it to old coffee ground and banana peels. Coffee grounds also can unblock a drain. Simply pour your grounds into the sink, add two or three drops of dish soap, followed by a large pot of boiling water.
Coffee grounds are the best slug and snail repellent. Those critters will not cross a line of coffee grounds, because the acid burns them. While slugs hate coffee grounds, worms are attracted to them, so add them into the soil for a nitrogen boost and attractive worm food!
Just a reminder that I am talking about plain black coffee here — no sugar or cream. Don’t forget to allow that coffee to cool down, too!
What uses for coffee would you add? Share your tips in the section below: