Great Lakes Permaculture

Coffee Grounds – My Backyard Booster

Coffee – Backyard Booster

Coffee Grounds – My Backyard Booster


I love coffee, it has become a small indulgence I look forward to in the morning.  It has not always been that way, but almost as long as I can safely remember.  One of the Permaculture principles states that we should produce no waste, also to use and value renewable resources and services.  So with this in mind let’s take a look at what we can do with our morning coffee and the waste that it produces.


  1. Throw the grounds and filters into your compost, the grounds are 1-2% nitrogen and the filters will break down also.  Try to purchase the untreated filters.  When throwing the grounds itno your compost, keep in mind that they are considered a green material.  So throw a few leaves or shredded paper over top when you have finished.

  2. You can add the grounds directly to your garden.  Most of the acidity is lost during the brewing process so it is considered neutral.  If adding the leftover coffee to the garden, make sure that it has completely cooled, then add to you acid loving plants such as Blueberrys, and azaleas, rhododendrons.

  3. You can make coffee tea very similar to how you would make compost tea, a couple of cups of coffee grounds into a bucket of water then let it aerate for 24 hours like you would compost tea.  Make sure to strain the coffee ground from the mixture before putting it into you sprayer, you will clog the spray nozzle otherwise.

  4. If you Vermcompost, you can add up to a cup a week for a small worm bin.  More than that and they will not be happy.

  5. Create a slug and snail barrier. Coffee grounds are both abrasive and acidic, so a barrier of grounds placed near slug-prone plants may just save them from these garden pests.  IF you think that the coffee might be too strong for your plant, think again.  Fresh coffee contains approximately .05% caffeine. This means that coffee grounds and fresh coffee will not kill slugs but may act as a mild deterrent. Slugs will go elsewhere to eat if given the choice.

  6. If you have a problem with cats in your garden, try used coffee grounds. The used coffee grounds won’t hurt animals if they try to eat it, and cats don’t like the smell!

  7. Use coffee grounds when repotting plants. Add the grounds to the potting soil and mix them in. Or, place a used filter full in the bottom of the pot before you put your soil in. The nitrogen in the coffee grounds will help promote leaf growth.

  8. Increase carrot and radish harvest by mixing seeds with dry coffee grounds before planting the seed.


An analysis of coffee grounds was performed in 1995 by the University of Washington, College of Forest Resources, the Primary Nutrients are:

Nitrogen 1.45%
Phosphorus not a significant amount
Potassium 1204 UG/G

Secondary Nutrients
Calcium 389 UG/G
Magnesium 448 UG/G
Sulfur high UG /G

Terms: UG/G=microgram/gram


So you see there is no reason to throw anything with this many uses away, start using the grounds in your compost or garden today.  Remember to reuse, recycle, and redistribute.

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