Freshly Brewed Compost

Written By: Jennifer Vander Linden, Product Manager

Did you know that drinking coffee could benefit your garden and enrich your compost pile?

Lets DIG IN to see how coffee grounds go from that ‘Cup of Joe’ to your luscious gardens—all while diverting organic waste from the landfills.

From the Coffee Pot to Compost

According to The National Coffee Association and The Specialty Coffee Association of America, “Americans consume 400 millions cups of coffee per day making the U.S. the leading consumer of coffee in the world.”

With all those coffee drinkers, coffee shops are looking to make use of their coffee grounds.

Pictured here is a coffee shop in Appleton, Wisconsin, All Seasons Coffeehouse. Not only do they give away coffee grounds, they also compost food scraps from their restaurant operation and offer the compost to customers.

Coffee grounds are a great additive to your compost pile—adding beneficial nutrients. So next time you visit your favorite coffee shop, ask if they have any coffee grounds or compost to share with you and add them to your compost pile or garden.

If you prefer to enjoy coffee brewed at home, unbleached, paper coffee filters are an ideal carbon source for your compost pile. For best results, tear the filters into smaller pieces before adding them to your compost pile.

I, myself tend to use a compost turner to shred the filter as I am turning it into my GEOBIN composter. The GEOBIN compost bin is an economical way to get started with creating a large, contained compost pile.

May Your Coffee Be Green

Do not let the brown color of coffee grounds fool you into thinking they are a “brown” additive for your compost pile. Coffee grounds are actually a nitrogen-rich “green”, while “browns” are carbon-rich materials like leaves, sawdust, hay and paper.

For composting with the GEOBIN Composter, your pile should consist of the following combinations:

  • Air + Water + Carbon + Nitrogen = Compost
  • 1 Part Greens + 3 Parts Brown + Water

Coffee Grounds are Happiness for Your Garden

Coffee grounds are a great source of nitrogen, phosphorus and other trace minerals for your compost pile. The nitrogen assists with seed germination and plant growth, while the phosphorus can help improve overall the composting process. (Compost piles made up of mostly yard waste and food scraps tend to be low in phosphorus.)

There is a perception that coffee grounds are too acidic for composting. The truth is coffee grounds are highly acidic, but easily manageable–experts recommend no more than 20% of your total compost volume should consist of coffee grounds.

Plants that Prefer Acidic Soils

Since only 20% of your compost pile should consist of coffee grounds, you can always use extra coffee grounds in your garden and around plants that prefer acidic soils.

There are acid-loving plants like hydrangeas, and daffodils, so adding a sparse amount of coffee grounds to the soil around them will help them flourish. To select the color for your blooms, typically a more acidic soil with a pH lower than 6.0 will produce blue blooms. An alkaline soil, with a pH between 6 and 7, will produce more pink or purple blooms.

How to Add Coffee Grounds to Acid-Loving Plants:

  1. A recommendation by many gardeners is to rake coffee grounds into the existing soils—making for a health soil amendment.
  2. If layering coffee grounds on top of existing soil is preferred, add a ½-inch layer or less of coffee grounds–more than that could crust over, keeping water and air from the root system.
  3. Keep coffee grounds off leaves and other yard waste—so they can penetrate into the soils.

Coffee Grounds are for the Worms

As it turns out, earthworms enjoy coffee grounds. If you favor vermicomposting, sprinkle some grounds into your container to keep your crawlers happy.

A healthy soil supports earthworms, who in turn offer better drainage, make soil more absorbent, increase nutrient availability and improve soil stability. They feed on organic matter in the soil and leave behind valuable castings.

So the next time you enjoy a cup of coffee, share your joy with Mother Earth and relax in your exquisite garden.

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