A Surprising New Use For Coffee Grounds

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A friend who owns his own salt company here in Seattle recently told me about his process — how he drives out to the water source, gathers water, lets it evaporate, and then packages the remaining salt crystals. The one thing I couldn't get out of my mind: genius! There are no food costs and little overhead. So the other day when I read about a common kitchen waste product — coffee grounds — getting turned into something else entirely, my ears perked up.

In short, Grist wrote about the possibility of taking coffee grounds and fermenting them to make an alcohol. A Portuguese bioengineer was able to dehydrate the grounds completely and add yeast and sugar and the mixture, eventually, was alcohol. Did it taste any good? Apparently it smelled just like coffee and tasted a touch bitter. Interestingly enough, it lost most of the caffeine in the process, so that's not a concern for those (myself included) who enjoy the occasional nightcap. 

This short piece did get me thinking about what we do with our coffee grounds and some of our potentially usable household waste. Before meeting my boyfriend Sam, I composted my coffee grounds and didn't give them a second thought. Today we save them in a jar and mix them into the garden once every week or so. There's a rumor they're good for the soil, but all I know is that it feels much more productive to use them that way than just tossing them in the compost. 

What (if anything) do you do with your leftover coffee grounds? Any coffee-ground-liquor in your future?

(Image: Chris Perez)

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