Weird and wonderful alternative uses for coffee

20 July 2014

Thanks to our friends at Joe Black Coffee for this blog post.

For many of us throughout the world we think about and use coffee as a drink. Whether it’s part of our morning ritual, socialising with friends or an after dinner treat, coffee is consumed on a grand scale across the world. But over the years people have discovered alternative uses for the drink that range from the weird to the wonderful. If you ever have left over coffee grounds, or fancy yourself a bit of an artist, the following uses for coffee may help you become an environmentally conscious artists without ever getting a headache.


According to the many reports about the world’s consumption of oil, we’re passed peak production and will run out of oil at some point this century. Before we return to the horse and cart or dust off our oversized roller blades from the 1980’s, scientists are looking at a wide variety of alternative fuels to offset the impending crisis. Solar power, wind and sea turbines are some of the more common methods, but we now have the potential to produce fuel from something we throw away every day, our used coffee!

According to research recently conducted by the University of Nevada, our leftover coffee grounds can be used in the productions of biodiesel. The oil that’s found in coffee grounds (approximately 15%) works in a similar way to the palm oil that’s produced all over the world. With controversy about palm oil production and the deforestation that takes place to grow the palm plant, coffee grounds provide an intriguing alternative that requires no additional farming or plantations. It’s estimated that the world supply of used coffee could produce 340 million gallons of biodiesel a year, not enough to supplement the end of oil, but surely enough to give Bella a break from pulling her wagon.


Ahhhh the medicinal properties of coffee. Clinical trials have shown that when we drink a cup of coffee it reduces the swelling of blood vessels in our brain. It can diminish the pain or even get rid of the headache entirely. Caffeine proves so effective as a pain relief it’s even used in pain medication that we can buy across the counter……I won’t mention the brand name though.

Become Indiana Jones

OK it may take a bit more than coffee to turn you into an action hero with a natty hat, but you can at least use it to create the ancient looking maps and dirt stained clothes our favourite archeologist uses. By soaking paper (or clothes) in water and coffee it can be used as a dye to age materials and give them an authentic, weathered look. It’s probably not best to use it on your face!

Add flavour to your food

Many top chefs are now using coffee in their cooking to add depth and complexity. We’re not talking about instant coffee but good, quality beans that have been roasted for the best flavour. There are a number of great recipes but one of the most popular is Moroccon lamb with a BBQ sauce. According to award winning chef John Quilter buying the best roasted Arabica coffee beans is the best option for this dish.

“Arabica is an artisanal product and it’s the complexity of taste which makes it great for cooking with”.

Increase the productivity of your sheep

If you’re a farmer or simply using sheep as an eco-friendly lawn mower, getting them to eat coffee could help with their rate of grass maintenance. According to the history books, coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia by a goat herder who noticed his animals were unusually energetic one morning. After discovering that they had been eating coffee beans it was quickly developed into a drink and the rest as they say is history.


Small amounts of coffee on your soil can release nutrients like nitrogen back into the soil, helping your carrots and roses grow healthy and strong. It’s best used on plants like roses that prefer a higher level of acidity in the soil.

Coffee grounds can also be added to your compost where it increases the production of bacterium in the vegetation, helping your compost to break down more quickly and adding additional nutrients to the fertiliser. The odour of coffee (which most of us love but cats seem to dislike) can repel your neighbour’s pets and prevent them from digging up your recently fertilised rose garden.


There’s a growing trend for artists to use coffee as a form of paint in their works. Angel Sarkela-Saur and Andrew Saur have been fans of using coffee for years as the colour provides a rich texture and hue on their canvas.

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