What to do with stale coffee beans?
December 1, 2007 5:25 PM   Subscribe

I have a couple of half-full bags of stale coffee beans that no longer make good coffee. Aside from throwing them in the trash, what can I do with old beans?

It's occurred to me that old coffee beans might be compostable, but I'm an apartment-dweller and I think my vermicomposting worms would go into shock from that much caffeine. If all else fails I may just dump these in a nearby semi-wooded area, but that seems kind of tacky. And weird.
posted by lindsey.nicole to Home & Garden (28 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Freecycle them? I'm amazed (and appalled) at what people have taken off my hands.
posted by justonegirl at 5:26 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you have a burr grinder, you can clean it by grinding minute rice in it. After you're done, you can flush out the rice with some of the stale beans, instead of wasting precious fresh beans for that purpose.
posted by jclovebrew at 5:32 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Apparently coffee is brilliant for absorbing bad odors. So, maybe grind them up and put them in a air permeable container and place in freezer?

Coffee grounds do indeed compost well, and you might use this a selling point for getting rid of them on Freecylce.

You can also grow mushrooms on used coffee grounds, but only if you boil them first (to semi-sterilize them).
posted by Deathalicious at 5:33 PM on December 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

You could throw it down a staircase while people are walking up it :P

Seconding Freecycle.
posted by DMan at 5:35 PM on December 1, 2007

The beans will still make acceptable coffee. Take them to your local homeless shelter/kitchen.
posted by artdrectr at 5:38 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Old beans that won't brew a decent cup of coffee can still be used. One friend of mine uses coffee as the secret ingredient in his barbecue sauce. Other uses: marinade, flavoring for cake or ice cream, a sauce or glaze...
posted by lekvar at 5:42 PM on December 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

Just throw them away in the garbage.

What's the difference if you're willing to go dispose of them in a wooded area if they end up in a dump, their environment impact will be the same.
posted by 517 at 5:54 PM on December 1, 2007

Ice cream
posted by Max Power at 5:58 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Grind them, wrap the grounds in foil and toss the packet in your gas grill next time you wanna add some lovely smoky flavor.
posted by deCadmus at 5:59 PM on December 1, 2007

They'll make pretty good air 'fresheners', or at least give off their aroma. Put 'em in a small jar that's had holes poked in the lid, keep them in the car where the jar can get heated by sun when parked, you'll have a nice coffee-scented ride.
posted by pupdog at 6:01 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Grind them up semi-coarse and exfoliate with them, mixed with a little liquid soap.
posted by marylynn at 6:10 PM on December 1, 2007

517 writes "What's the difference if you're willing to go dispose of them in a wooded area if they end up in a dump, their environment impact will be the same."

That's not even close to being true.
posted by Mitheral at 6:12 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

I use coffee beans as scent-receptor-refreshers. You know how sometimes you have a bunch of things to smell (say candles, perfumes, wines) right in a row and after the first two your nostrils are saturated? Keep coffee beans in a glass jar, and take a good whiff between smellings. Works pretty well for me.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:17 PM on December 1, 2007

The caffeine found in coffee beans is very effective in minimizing cellulite.

Grind them, put them in your lotion, rub on your body, and let it soak into your skin for an hour. Keep re-applying throughout the hour for a stronger effect until your skin is saturated. When you're done, shower.
posted by dannon205 at 6:29 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

I would save them, make half-decent coffee out of them when the weather gets nicer and make iced coffee with coffee ice cubes. Use the second rate coffee for the cubes, natch.
posted by jessamyn at 6:32 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Make some coffee liquor, your own personal kahlua, tia maria, A dark, medium-bodied coffee liqueur made from a fine blend of cane spirit, jamaican coffee, vanilla and sugar.
posted by hortense at 6:45 PM on December 1, 2007

Best answer: make an exfoliating scrub:

1 part ground coffee beans
mixed with 2 parts brown sugar
a big dash of vanilla extract
enough oil to make a sludgy paste

store it in a pretty jar.
in the shower, rub it on your legs & arms as an exfoliant.
posted by twistofrhyme at 7:18 PM on December 1, 2007 [4 favorites]

Freecycle them?
At least with my local freecycle, you're not allowed to give away opened food products. I don't know if that applies to food that you say shouldn't be used as food.
posted by Airhen at 7:44 PM on December 1, 2007

get drunk with your friends.

Toss back a shot of vodka and suck down a lemon wedge dusted with sugar on one side and coffee grinds on the other.

Its awesome.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 7:49 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Definitely ice cream, but a little bit of grounds goes a long way - I've made a half gallon with just a few Tablespoons of grounds.

Save them for fertilizer or compost.

Cover them in chocolate and give as gifts?
posted by rhapsodie at 7:50 PM on December 1, 2007

Compost, after grinding. Perhaps at a community garden.
posted by Kickstart70 at 7:51 PM on December 1, 2007

I'll agree with the composting in a garden, even if it's just your yard or houseplants. It's an excellent fertilizer.

Also in my younger days we made coffee and used the leftovers as a final hair rinse to enrich our natural color. It really does work, but only if you're a brunette of course. :)
posted by magnoliasouth at 8:46 PM on December 1, 2007

Use them to make some awesome candles for Christmas presents.
posted by messylissa at 9:12 PM on December 1, 2007

Buy some melt and pour soap, a few molds, and mix in the coffee grounds for awesome exfoliating kitchen soap that gets rid of garlic and onion smells.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:24 PM on December 1, 2007

Best answer: They will absorb odor as well as moisture. My old roommate used to pour whole, un-ground beans into our trashcan before putting the new bag and/or liner in. Then, the next time you change the bag, dump out the old beans into the trash bag and add new ones to the bin. Add a dish of them to your fridge or in your crisper drawers.

Grind the beans up and mix them with some coarse sugar, the oil of your choice and a few drops of vanilla fragrance and you have a nice body scrub which you can put in a jar and give away as a gift.

Use them as garnishes in drinks/martinis.
posted by SassHat at 11:39 PM on December 1, 2007

Coat them in white chocolate and eat them.
posted by RussHy at 3:10 AM on December 2, 2007

I just learned yesterday that coffee grounds are a staple for making fake facial stubble in youth plays. Know anybody who wants to play a pirate, lumberjack, hobo, or mountain man? Smear some vaseline on the chin (unless you're prone to clogged pores - yikes! but this is what I was told...) and then smoosh the coffee grounds onto the vaseline.
posted by vytae at 10:10 AM on December 3, 2007

make an exfoliating scrub:

My wife's friend swears by coffee grounds mixed in with her facial cleanser (not homemade). Don't know the science but she has pretty great skin.
posted by muscat at 12:49 PM on December 3, 2007

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