Thursday, April 7, 2016

Composting Coffee to Make Your Garden Grow

Reposted with updated information.

I have to admit, I’m not a regular coffee drinker. It’s tea for me, but I love, love, love the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Every once in a while, I’ll cheat on my tea habit and splurge on some frou, frou chocolaty mocha deliciousness with lots of whipped cream. Of course, my coworkers then make fun of me as I uncontrollably bounce around the office and speak in caffeinated double time.

But there is another reason to love coffee besides its delightful aroma and jolting
caffeine high. Spent grounds from your cup of joe make a fantastic addition to your compost bin and provide plants with important nutrients. The used-up grounds contain loads of nitrogen which speeds up the composting process, giving you finished compost sooner (cup of steaming hot nitrogen booster, anyone?). And, while we may love the smell of coffee, many animals do not, so mixing the grounds with food waste will actually deter raccoons and other nosey critters from messing with your compost bin.

Compost Buzz
Gardeners in the know covet finished compost for its ability to improve soil structure, retain moisture, and create healthy productive gardens. Spent coffee grounds “sweeten the pot” even more by adding phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper, all minerals your plants need. And, after the grounds decompose, they release oodles of the nitrogen your plants love.

If you’re a regular java drinker, you probably have enough spent grounds to satisfy a backyard compost pile. Simply throw the grounds, filter and all, into the bin. Us non-coffee drinkers have to go about getting our coffee ground fix creatively. You can pilfer the coffee maker at work, sweet talk your neighbor, or even ask a local coffee shop. Most cafes will gladly set aside some spent grounds for you, and some even package the used-up grounds for people to take for free.

Coffee Emporium would love to share their coffee grounds or check with your local coffee shop.

House Blend
Of course, don’t get in over your head. If you add enough grounds to keep your compost bin awake for a week, make sure to add plenty of carbon based material, like dead leaves, to balance out the nitrogen. Otherwise, you risk the pleasant coffee aroma being replaced by a far less pleasant rotting odor. Not the sort of smell you want to wake up to, trust me.

Other than remembering to add leaves, the process of composting coffee grounds is super simple with definite rewards for your garden. Now, if you’ll excuse me, a tall iced mocha is calling my name.



  1. I have been composting my coffee grounds for years but was told recently that I should not compost coffee grounds (and orange peels) because they're too acidic. What do you think about that?

    1. Very good question, Vicki. I have read that coffee grounds are actually not that acidic, most of the acidity is leached off into the coffee itself. A small amount of citrus peels is perfectly fine, your bin will adjust and I have never had problems with them. Now if you have a whole bushel of rotten oranges you are trying to compost, that might affect the pH of the pile.

    2. You don't even need to compost them. Just scatter them in you garden or on your lawn. Night crawlers love them.

  2. Thanks. That's the answer I was hoping for.

  3. Great article.Thanks for sharing.