Coffee Grounds by the Gallon

I have a deli next door to my office and I now have 25 gallons of used coffee grounds in 5 gallon buckets and I can get 4-5 gallons a day if I wanted…

I was thinking of using these to grow mushrooms but I was wondering if I could also put them to use around the orchard and blueberry bushes.

Any thoughts??? Even CRAZY off the wall fun suggestions?


Rule of thumb was that coffee grounds are roughly the same N as the same weight of cow manure (probably better smelling). Not sure of the P and K values.

Earthworms love coffee grounds. Spreading old grounds someplace was a means to trap them for fishing.

They would likely do well anywhere in your garden/orchard/beds. Although just like manure, I wouldn’t over do it…

The coffee grounds work great on the lawn and for all types of plants.

I would compost it. It would be a good media for some mushrroms but, you would need to use it fresh and sterilize it in pressure cooker / autoclave or at least boil it.

Some people do add some to compost, but I would not compost alfalfa meal, cottonseed meal, nor coffee grounds. All can be used as organic fertilizers. You could use it to jump start composts, if you need nitrogen. NPK of coffee is 2.1 - 0.3 - 0.7. Fresh coffee grounds are acidic, used are not. PH is between 6.5 to 6.8. I would use it for nitrogen craving vegetables, corn, etc, first, then use it for everything else. I would take as much as they could give me. Fertilizer is expensive!

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Coffee grounds work great at deterring cats from digging into your mulch/beds. I’d personally raise an army of red worms in shallow pits with coffee grounds, leaves and kitchen waste!

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I once got a giant bag of coffee grounds from my local Starbucks. Last time I asked them, they asked me to set up an appointment. Problem is, the barista at that time has no idea of this arrangement. I show them the sign on the notice board about free grounds. They give me another appointment! :angry:

Coffee grounds and shredded paper compost perfectly…

Yeah green and brown, nitrogen and carbon, yes they would!
I would rather use green yard waste, and food scrapes, as both are hard to use as fertilizer.
Lee Reich the author composts everything, tomato plants, bramble canes, diseased or not. Old clothes, you name it, it goes in his compost.

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As a test, i took an old bed sheet and an old pair of jeans and I cut them up. Mixed them into the compost bin. 6 months later they were nowhere to be found. Except for the elastic on the bed sheet - it was in almost perfect condition.

PS: I’m pretty sure there was coffee grounds in the jean devouring compost. Nothing gets my compost pile steaming like coffee grounds and denim!


LOL, it’s good to hear it really works well in compost. I can’t really have a decent compost pile in suburbia, and so look for ways to compost. Like burying food scrapes etc. All the work of keeping the garden in good shape has paid off. I notice the soil is a lot better, everything is growing well in it. I have less work as I never clean my garden beds out. I may cut up stalks and stuff but it all goes back in. And leaves are everywhere, so I use the coffee to break them down in the garden beds.
I do toss bramble canes and tomato and potato plants. But Lee Reich says even diseased stuff if composted is fine.

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Because if the compost gets hot enough, long enough, it should kill many diseases and weed seeds. Since you’re not actually composting, getting rid of those things is probably better than just burying potential disease carriers.

@smatthew Sugar can help heat it up pretty quickly, too. I’ve put 5 lb bags sugar that became brick hard from our summer humidity into the pile after beating them enough to break the sugar bricks into chunks.


I understand that still most experts advise against using such materials. Probably because getting the pile at the correct temps is not always easy.And yes I do dispose of it.My city composts yard waste so I give it to them.

I generally think of at-home composting being static pile method. Maybe turned a few times. In that setup, the center of the pile will definitely get hot enough to kill diseases and weed seeds if your C:N ratio is right. But that still leaves most of the pile “untreated”. Every time you mix up the pile, you get more of the compost heat-treated, but most people only mix their pile once or twice.

At a commercial facility, they are grinding the material, and turning that compost a minimum of 5 times while measuring and logging temperatures to help ensure pathogen reduction.

When I lived in the city once I dug a hole several feet deep and built my compost pile in the hole and each time I added compost I through dirt on top so it did not smell. Eventually the hole was full and I used the leftover dirt to build raised beds. I dug into the compost later and nothing but worms were left and I planted a cherry there.

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That’s a good idea for prepping a spot to plant out in, I will be doing that!

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Just as a follow-up and to avoid starting a new thread…

I am using the grounds for composting the figuritive tons of shredded paper I produce from my office.

I have acess to an endless supply as long as the next door deli remains in business.

I also want to try using the grounds to grow some mushrooms and as a soil amendment on my blueberries.


As to mushrooms: After sterilizing is there a way to compress the stuff into a log of some sorts or I was thinking of stuffing it into one of those narrow hanging strawberry growbags/socks with the holes in them or some other container?

As for the blues: Do I just side dress or work into the soil? Is it enough to dump it on top of the wood chip mulch (3-4 inches) or should I pull the mulch away, apply and re-cover?

Any other suggestions that I didn’t think of will be more than appreciated.


Side dressing is good enough. I’d put them under the mulch, even though the smaller particles from the coffee grounds would eventually sift down through the larger mulch pieces. Putting them on top might break the mulch down more quickly, and could divert some of the advantages of the nitrogen contained in the coffee grounds.

Cudos on having access to abundant supplies of shredded paper and coffee grounds.

Too much coffee grounds will mat and wick water. I like to compost them a month or so and then use them, they break down very fast. If you are hoping for coffee grounds to reduce your PH… this isn’t Pintrest :sunglasses:, get elemental sulfur apply it twice a year and dump the coffee in the flower and shrub beds.

I was never impressed with the effect of direct addition of coffee grounds to plants. I’m sure it would be handy for a compost pile.