Keep Those Coffee Grounds – Uses Around the House, Garden and More

Even if you’re not a fan of composting, you may find that using your spent coffee grounds in your garden is not only a convenient way to dispose of them, but it can also provide many benefits to your plants and flowers.

But did you know that used coffee grounds have other uses you may never have heard of? Read on and we’ll give you the skinny on how to use coffee grounds in your garden, around the house and other interesting and functional ways.  

Slow Release Fertilizer

Did you know that coffee grounds such as Hills Bros.® 100% Colombian are an organic matter? While fresh grounds have more acidity and may make more effective fertilizer for acidity-friendly plants like hydrangeas and azaleas, even the spent grounds can add a dash of nutrients to the soil. Over time, you can actually amend your soil by feeding it organic material like used coffee grounds.

Although you can simply sprinkle the grounds on the soil surrounding your plants, you may find that brewing coffee grounds like tea is even more effective for fertilizing your garden and landscaping. To make this tea, simply add two cups-worth of brewed coffee grounds to a five gallon bucket of water and let the mixture steep for 8-12 hours. Then use it as a liquid fertilizer.

Mulch Additive

Mulching is a great for your lawn and landscaping because it helps soil retain its moisture and also helps prevent the growth of weeds. Adding used coffee grounds to your mulch mixture can make it even more powerful. Coffee grounds enhance your topsoil by adding nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus while also trapping moisture for your plants.

Compost Bin

If you compost, you know the benefit of adding compost to your garden and plants. After you brew a pot of your favorite Chock full o’Nuts coffee, don’t hesitate to add your coffee grounds to the mix. Simply toss them in the bin, where they’ll turn into compost along with other organic matter like egg shells and vegetable scraps, giving you a rich, dense compost that feeds your soil and plantings with a wealth of beneficial nutrients.

Attract Worms, Repel Bugs

Did you know that worms are coffee lovers too? Who knew? Many gardeners use coffee grounds to attract helpful worms to their gardens. Adding coffee grounds to the soil attracts earthworms, which help mix, aggregate and enhance the nutrients in the soil. Their movement in the garden allows more oxygen to penetrate the garden soil and enhances soil drainage.

While earthworms are a win in the garden, other bugs are not as welcome, and may be repelled by coffee grounds. Just as certain plant scents can deter pests and mosquitoes, coffee grounds also deliver a strong scent that many bugs will try to avoid, protecting your plant life.

Exfoliate Your Skin

Coffee grounds, with their abrasive quality, can move from the kitchen to the bath with ease as an effective skin exfoliator. Enjoy your pot of coffee and then simply mix your coffee grounds with water or coconut oil. Then, use the mixture to exfoliate your skin. Additionally, the antioxidants contained in the grounds may provide some benefit for your skin. You can even rub the grounds on your scalp to exfoliate and remove shampoo build-up.

Face Mask

Consider making yourself a coffee ground face mask. Coffee grounds are known to help reduce dark circles from under eyes. They can exfoliate and brighten your skin, and may even reduce the appearance of cellulite. You can make your mask by mixing coffee grounds with olive oil (use equal parts). Apply to your face and let it sit for roughly 30 minutes before rinsing.

Create a Meat-Tenderizing Rub

To enjoy a tender cut of meat, you can rub freshly used coffee grounds onto the meat. You can also mix the grounds with other ingredients to form a flavorful rub. As the meat cooks, the grounds and other rub ingredients will cook onto the meat. They’ll help lock in moisture while creating a crisp outer crust that’s dark and rich. Ideally, you should rub the meat with the grounds two hours before cooking. Simply leave it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.

So, after you’ve had your pot of morning coffee, be sure to give another life to your coffee grounds by collecting them to use in one or any of the ways listed here. It’s just one more way to enhance your garden, and lead a more eco-friendly, sustainable lifestyle.

5 DIY Coffee Crafts

Coffee isn’t just a comforting hug in a mug – it can also spark your creativity! From cooking and crafting to body care, sewing and gardening, you can use coffee grounds, beans, and repurposed containers in a variety of coffee crafts.

Try these at-home activities and show us your creations! Upload your pictures on Facebook or Instagram and tag your favorite brand.

Coffee Craft #1: Coffee Can Planter

Upcycle your ground coffee cans into planters and vases to fill your home or office with greenery.

coffee can crafts, coffee can planter

What you need:

  1. Empty Chock full o’Nuts®, Hills Bros.® or MJB® Coffee canister
  2. Spray paint
  3. Twine or string
  4. Hot glue

How to create:

  1. Empty and rinse your coffee can and remove any attached labels or stickers
  2. Spray paint the exterior of the can with your color of choice. Two or three coats may be necessary to completely coat the can.
  3. Once the paint is dry, add a drop of hot glue to the bottom of the can to attach twine.
  4. Wrap twine around the can to desired height or pattern.
  5. Add soil, water, and your favorite houseplant, herbs or flowers.

Coffee Craft #2: Be a Stay-at-Home Barista or Coffee Chef

If you occasionally grab your morning cup of coffee from a local shop and are missing your favorite barista, now is the time to brush up your stay-at-home coffee skills. You can use your favorite beans and brews to make barista-quality drinks at home. Here are a few of our favorite recipes:

Coffee Craft #3: Single-Serve Pod Seed Starters

Get your garden growing by repurposing single-serve coffee pods into seed starters! Follow these easy steps:

  1. Gather 10-12 used single-serve coffee pods.
  2. Remove the lid and dump out the coffee grounds. If you compost at home, coffee is a safe and nutrient-rich addition to your compost.
  3. Place the empty pods in a shallow box and fill them with potting soil.
  4. Place seeds of your choice into each pod and water according to seed package instructions. You should have healthy sprouts in a few days to a few weeks that you can use to start your garden!

Coffee Craft #4: Body Scrub

You can also repurpose used ground coffee into a skin-smoothing body scrub. Just make sure to dry out the used grounds before making the scrub!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup used coffee grounds (dry)
  • 1 cup sugar or salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • Scented essential oils (vanilla, lavender or citrus make great additions)

Instructions

Combine the ingredients in a medium-size bowl and store the mixture in an airtight container in your shower or bath. Smooth the scrub on your skin and rinse off for an easy and eco-friendly skin saver!

Coffee Craft #5: Coffee Can Lanterns

Coffee canisters make great lanterns. Punch or stamp a pattern into the can, add a votive candle or electric tea light and enjoy! coffee can lantern craft

What you need:

  1. Empty Chock full o’Nuts®, Hills Bros.® or MJB® Coffee canister
  2. Paint
  3. Hammer
  4. Marker
  5. Clamps
  6. 2×4 or piece of wood you can clamp to your workstation to hold the can
  7. Nail or screwdriver
  8. Votive or electric candle
  9. String or rope (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Remove any stickers or labels from the can and paint your desired color
  2. When the paint dries, attach the 2×4 or piece of wood to your workstation with clamps. Make sure 2×4 extends from the end of your workstation by the depth of your can.
  3. Place the can on the 2×4 and mark out your pattern
  4. Use the hammer and small nail to punch the pattern into the can.
  5. Punch two holes into the top edge of the canister to add optional string or rope to hang your lantern.
  6. Add votive or electric candles and enjoy

Complete Guide to Coffee Roasts

Roasting transforms processed green coffee beans into the fragrant and delicious coffee you brew every day. Did you know, the level to which beans are roasted is one of the most important factors that determine the flavors you taste in your favorite cup? Learn more about the different types of roasts, how much caffeine you can expect in each, and what products you can try to experience the full spectrum of coffee flavors from light to dark.

Heat and the art of coffee roasting

Heat is the essential element of coffee roasting and what releases the array of flavors and aromas that make coffee so alluring. During the roasting process, high levels of heat are applied to green coffee beans, which causes a dramatic chemical change.

Starting between 280 and 330 degrees Fahrenheit, the high temperatures inside of a coffee roaster force water and other volatile compounds out of the coffee beans. Then, sugars and amino groups in proteins react with the heat and cause the beans to brown. This reaction is called the Maillard reaction and is the same chemical process that creates the distinct and delicious flavors of browned foods like steak, pan-seared vegetables, and toasted marshmallows.

coffee roast chart

As the temperature increases, further chemical reactions take place. Once the water inside the beans is completely vaporized around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, the beans expand and crack. A light roast coffee is done at this point, but medium and dark roast beans continue to react and change. Around 430 degrees Fahrenheit, coffee beans undergo a chemical process called Pyrolysis, which causes the release of carbon dioxide and a second crack, which gives the beans their deep, rich color and dark roast beans an oily sheen.

Timing is everything

Time is another critical element of coffee roasting and much more challenging to master. The difference between the desired roast level and a burned bean can be just a matter of seconds. That’s why experience matters.

Coffee roasting equipment

Coffee roasting is an activity where all your senses are engaged. The color of the beans, sounds, and aromas they produce are all clues to achieving the perfect roast. Thankfully we also have technology. When beans enter a commercial coffee roaster, software is used to program and select the desired roast level, but it takes a human touch to get it just right.

As the beans roast, they are closely monitored by a roasting professional. A small scoop is inserted into the roasting drum every few seconds to check the color and texture of the beans. As soon as the desired roast level is achieved, the beans are quickly transferred to a cooling drum, where they are gently stirred to reduce their temperature and stop the roasting process.

Coffee Roast Types

Surprisingly, there is not much industry standardization when it comes to coffee roasting types and labels. Each roastmaster may have their own equipment, time, and temperature formulas for achieving their signature roasts. However, most coffee roasts fall somewhere on a spectrum of light to medium, medium-dark, and dark roasts.

green coffee roasted coffeeLight roasts

Light roast coffee is light brown in color and retains more caffeine than darker roasts. In general, it has a mild flavor and more acidity or brightness than darker roasts because the beans haven’t roasted long enough to force the natural oils out of the bean. Another appealing quality of light roast coffee is that you may taste more flavor nuances unique to its origin.

When purchasing light roast coffee, look for labels with the following descriptors:

  • Light roast
  • Light city roast
  • Half city roast
  • Cinnamon roast

Select MZB light roast coffees

Medium Roasts

Medium roast coffee is sometimes referred to as American roast because of its popularity in the USA. Medium roast coffee is a deeper brown color than light roast but still retains a matte or unglossy finish. Medium roast coffee strikes a balance between bright, sweet, and bitter flavors, which is why it is a palate pleaser for so many.

When shopping for medium roasts, look for labels such as:

  • Medium roast
  • City roast
  • Breakfast roast
  • American roast

Select MZB medium roast coffees

dark roast coffeeMedium-Dark Roasts

Coffee roasted to a medium-dark level is a rich, dark brown color and has a slightly oily or glossy finish. At this roast level, the natural oils in the coffee bean are forced to the surface, and most of the acidic bite or brightness you can taste in light and medium roast coffees all but disappears. Medium-dark roast coffee can have a sweet aftertaste that balances well with the more bitter flavor notes that can appear at this roast level.

When shopping for medium roast coffee, look for labels that say:

  • Medium-dark
  • 50/50
  • Full city roast

Dark roasts

The darker the roast, the less caffeine the coffee will contain. Dark roast coffee is very dark in color with a gleaming, oily finish. The most notable flavor attribute of dark roast coffee is its striking bitterness. Because of the pronounced bitter notes of dark roast coffee, it pairs exceptionally well with milk or cream.

Dark roast coffee is called by many names. When shopping for dark roast coffee, look for labels such as:

  • Dark roast
  • French roast
  • Italian roast
  • Espresso roast
  • Continental roast

Select MZB dark roast coffees

Ultimately, the roast you choose is all about your preferences. If you enjoy more caffeine in the morning, you may enjoy a light roast to start the day. If you prefer your coffee has a bit of a bite, try dark roasts and experimenting with cream, milk, and sugar. What’s your favorite roast? Tell us on Facebook or Instagram. Follow @chockfullonutsnyc, @hillsbroscoffee,  @kauaicoffeeco, @mjb_coffee, and @SegafredoUSA

How to Taste Coffee Like a Pro

What do slurps, spoons, and spit have to do with great tasting coffee? Surprisingly all have a place in the coffee cupping process – a tasting technique used by farmers, roasters, buyers, and Q graders (professional coffee graders qualified to provide Specialty Coffee Association ratings) to test and ensure the quality of a particular coffee. Much like wine, coffee gets its distinct flavors and aromas from growing regions, conditions, roasting, and preparations.

The endless flavors, textures, and sensory experiences coffee offers makes it one of the most traded and well-loved commodities in the world. With some practice, you can use cupping techniques at home to taste coffee and identify the important elements of flavor (fragrance/aroma, aftertaste, acidity, body, balance, uniformity, clean cup, sweetness, defects) in each of your favorite brews. To become a professional Q grader, however, takes years of dedication to the craft and training of the palette.

Cupping Preparation

To try cupping techniques at home, you will need to have some basic equipment on hand. When Q graders taste in a lab here are some of the items they use:

  • Cupping glasses or bowls – Often made of ceramic or tempered glass – that hold between 7 and 9 fluid ounces. All cups should be the same size and made of the same material for everyone tasting. It’s helpful to use a wide-mouth cup or bowl so you can get your nose very close to the coffee to take in the aroma.
  • Freshly roasted coffee – Ideally your coffee should be roasted within 24 hours of cupping and allowed to rest for up to 8 hours. Grind the coffee coarsely just before your cupping begins. Your grind should resemble the texture of course sea salt – not too fine, not too rocky, just right. Shop for whole bean coffee here.
  • Near-boiling water – 200° F is the ideal temperature. Don’t use distilled or softened water. If you don’t have a thermometer use a stovetop or electric kettle, allow your water to boil, and then let it sit for about 30 seconds before pouring.
  • Spoons – Cupping spoons are wide and shallow, and a large soup spoon is a great substitute.

Advanced items: If possible have a small sample of the green beans, roasted beans, and ground coffee available for tasters to see, coffee cup and roasted beanssmell and touch during the cupping. Learn more about Kauai Coffee and what it takes to produce coffee from seed to cup.

Brewing

To begin your cupping, brew a small amount of the coffee(s) you are tasting right in the cups or bowls you will be sipping from. The ideal ratio of coarsely ground coffee to water is approximately 8 grams of coffee to 150 mL of water. Do not use a filter or French press; just pour the water directly over the grounds in the cup. This brewing method is called immersion brewing and is the best method for cupping because it allows for more of the natural oils in the coffee to be tasted. Once you have poured the water directly over the grounds, allow the coffee to steep undisturbed for 3 – 5 minutes.

Sips ‘n’ Slurps

Once your coffee has steeped, and the coffee grounds have formed a crust at the surface of the brew it is time for the tasting to begin. Get close to the coffee and break the crust with your spoon and take in the aroma of the coffee that is released. Gently disturb the grounds again with the back of your spoon and allow them to settle on the bottom of the cup. Do you notice any change in the aroma as you move the spoon?

Once most of the coffee grounds have settled at the bottom of the cup skim any remaining grounds from the top. Now the enjoyable part begins. Take your spoon, fill it with coffee, and sip or slurp it forcefully so that it coats most of your mouth and tongue at the same time. If you’re tasting several coffees at once, you may want to discard the coffee after tasting instead of ingesting it to moderate your intake of caffeine.

What do you taste?

Happy Woman --- Image by © Artiga Photo/Corbis

Once you have tasted your coffee focus on the experience and take notes. What aromas do you smell? Was it fruity or floral? How about acidity or sweetness? Do you taste anything familiar like chocolate? Is it tangy or sharp? Are the flavors balanced? How about the body of the brew? Is it vibrant, smooth or something else? How does it compare to the other coffee(s) in your line up? With these few tips, you’ll start to uncover the complex flavors offered in your morning cup.

Shop for your favorite MZB Coffee including Chock full o’Nuts®, Kauai Coffee®, Hills Bros.®, and more now. 

Quick Guide to Coffee Varieties

You have heard it before, but variety really is the spice of life when it comes to coffee. In fact, it may be the single-most-important factor that determines the quality of your morning cup. If it has been a little while since your last science class, variety is a rank in the system we use to classify and name plants, also known as taxonomy.

Variety is a rank below species that differentiates groups of plants that are smaller than a species but have some characteristics that are similar and some that differ from the species. It may be most helpful to think of coffee varieties the same way you think about grapes and wine. For example, you may already be familiar with some of the grape varieties that make wine like merlot, chardonnay, and zinfandel. While they are all grapes, the subtle differences in how they grow and taste make all the difference in the wine they produce.

Coffee Varieties You Should Know

There are more than 100 species of coffee across the world, but Arabica and Robusta are the two most prominently used to make the caffeinated concoction we all love. Our coffee farm on Kauai is the largest coffee estate in the United States with 4 million trees planted on nearly 3,000 acres of volcanic soil. We grow several varieties of coffee on Kauai and also source from farms in Costa Rica and Brazil to guarantee a continuous flow of quality coffee from the plant to the cup. Here is a quick guide to five coffee varieties you should know.

Acaia

kauai coffee farm

Acaia is a rare variety originating from Brazil and closely related to Mundo Novo. It produces a larger bean and fruit that when roasted has a sweet fragrance with hints of chocolate, caramel, and nut, finishing with citrus and tea-rose as it cools.

Catuai (Red and Yellow)

Red and Yellow Catuai make up approximately 80% of the coffee grown on our farm on Kauai. It is derived from a cross between the highly productive Mundo Novo and compact Caturra varieties making it an ideal choice for Kauai’s warm Pacific Sun and volcanic soil. Catuai produces a high yield of fruit and grows well in full sun and at higher altitudes.  When roasted, Catuai coffee produces a sweet aroma and earthy notes.

Mundo Novo

Mundo Novo coffee plants are extremely productive and produce a high-quality cup. Mundo Novo coffee trees can grow taller than other varieties and originates from Brazil. When dark roasted, it makes for an exceptional cup of coffee with a wonderfully smooth finish.

Typica

According to World Coffee Research, Typica is one of the most culturally and genetically important varieties of Arabica coffee in the world. It grows very well at higher altitudes and produces a larger coffee bean than some of the other varieties grown at Kauai Coffee. It’s also the genetic origin of other well-known and loved varieties such as Jamaican Blue, Kona and Java.

Yellow Bourbon

A natural mutation of Typica originating in Brazil, Yellow Bourbon is known for its high quality and high yield. Sweet and floral when roasted with hints of fruit, rounding off with spice and milk chocolate.

Shop for your favorite brands and premium coffees online now. Chock full o’Nuts®, Hills Bros.® Coffee, Kauai Coffee®, Chase & Sanborn®, Master Chef®, MJB®, Reveille®, Segafredo Zanetti®