Upcycling is a new term that is used to replace the traditional concept of recycling. The idea specifically refers to when discarded products are given more value. In the case of coffee grounds, they can’t necessarily be recycled, but they most certainly can be given a greater value, and sometimes in very adventurous and creative ways.
One of the most common ways to add value to your used coffee grounds is by adding them to a compost pile, but if you don’t have a system in place, coffee grounds can also be directly sprinkled onto soils to add organic material, which helps build healthy soils and tends to attract earthworms and also repel slugs and snails from garden patches.
There are several other uses for spent grounds. Although some of the suggestions I have heard may sound questionable, such as spreading coffee grounds onto your pets after a bath to help rid them of fleas, or to use spent grounds to exfoliate your skin, perhaps sticking to the garden, or using as a fertilizer would be the least messy option.
My favorite application, and also one of the fastest growing trends in upcycling spent coffee grounds, has been with mushroom growing kits! One of the leading examples of this growing trend is with the company Back to the Roots, where the founders of the company both learned that coffee grounds were a perfect medium (or substrate for those mycophiles out there) for growing mushrooms. Since they have started, they have surpassed the collection of over 20,000 pounds of spent coffee grounds from surrounding coffee shops in Berkley, California, and have turned a sizable profit from this typically overlooked resource.
In only a few weeks, these kits can produce several pounds of oyster mushrooms, which have an amazing texture and flavor for cooking savory dishes. I can attest! I have just harvested my first batch of fresh mushrooms and they are delicious. There’s even a way to recolonize these oyster mushrooms by adding the stem butts to more spent coffee grounds to continue growing your own.
Spent coffee grounds most often head straight to the landfill, but if you’re a gardener or love house plants, perhaps you can give your coffee grounds a second chance to help enrich your life.
Shop Arbor Day Coffee.