Last updated on May 11th, 2023 by Jules Winnfield
There is nothing quite like the taste of your first sip of coffee in the morning, brewed exactly how you like it and steaming hot. But with the price of groceries these days, the high cost of coffee beans could have you worried about how to pay for it!
Some people have turned to the idea of reusing coffee grounds in order to save money. But can you use coffee grounds twice and still get coffee taste like the delicious hot elixir you love?
Technically, you CAN reuse coffee grounds to make a new cup of coffee, but we truly don’t recommend it. The results will be colorless, weaker in taste, and lacking in caffeine. If you want a delicious, strong, steaming cup of coffee, the short answer is do not reuse the beans. Although you might think that rebrewing the same coffee grounds might make your cup of joe stronger, it actually has the tendency to make the coffee bitter.
The long answer is that you can DEFINITELY reuse coffee grounds in a myriad of ways, but just not to make a cup of coffee! Read on to find out the tricks of the trade when it comes to coffee grounds.
How Grounds are Used in Different Systems
If you want a robust cup of coffee that is at the peak of flavor, you should only use the grounds one time. Each coffee-making system uses grounds in a different way, but reusing beans is not a good idea.
Full-bodied and flavorful coffee can be yours if you use a French Press. This manual coffee maker has a cylindrical carafe, a plunger, and a built-in filter that acts like a percolator. This uses “just-boiled” water to steep coarse grounds for about four minutes, in a gentler method than drip coffee making.
It is also used immediately, and doesn’t lose flavor on a warming plate. Reusing coffee grounds in a French Press will give you flavorless, dull coffee.
An espresso machine forces water through finely ground coffee beans using very high pressure, which will give you a highly concentrated Italian style coffee. The point of espresso is to be highly concentrated and bold, so reusing espresso grounds is an especially ineffective idea in this application.
Cold brew uses a coarse grind of beans, combines them with water, and allows them to steep overnight, for approximately 12 hours. The coffee will infuse into the water and create a strong, concentrated flavor. Cold brew has a smooth, sweet taste since the bitterness of the beans is left behind.
This is the only brewing method that seems to stand up to reusing grounds. If you add extra time to the steeping and add some milk and sugar, this second use will at least be tolerable.
For a list of coffee beans best for cold brew, check out our full review.
If you are looking for cheap, simple, and fast caffeination, drip coffee is your ticket. Hot water is poured over coffee grounds in a paper filter and uses gravity to brew directly into a cup or pot. Unfortunately, sometimes the water can burn the beans. Once the coffee grounds are used, they will not make for a good second cup of coffee.
Reasons to Brew Only Once
Whether you are talking to an aficionado of coffee, or the average coffee drinker on the street, if you ask about reusing grounds, you will likely get the exact same answer every single time. Yes, it is possible to reuse the coffee grounds for a second time. But if you reuse coffee grounds, you will lose taste, depth, and caffeine. Even though it might seem like a good idea, it is just not worth it.
There are several reasons that make this especially clear.
We eat and drink with our eyes first. If you reuse your coffee beans, the brewed coffee will literally pale in comparison to the original cup. And when you are ready to dive into a scintillating cup of joe, a weak looking drink will be a real turn off.
Quality of Taste and Aroma
One of the best things about a fresh cup of coffee is the aroma, and if you brew your coffee beans more than once you are virtually guaranteed to miss out on the aroma. The delicious, strong taste of coffee will also be lost if you re-use the beans.
Loss of Caffeine
Let’s face it. Millions of coffee drinkers do love the taste, but one of the main reasons to drink coffee is for the caffeine boost that it gives. In the average 8 oz cup of coffee, there are generally between 80 and 100 mg of caffeine per cup.
In the first brewing of beans, studies have shown that the caffeine concentration is between 10 and 12 mg/g. A subsequent study shows that spent coffee beans or used coffee grounds have a concentration of only 3.59 – 8.09 mg/g. This loss of caffeine is reason enough to not reuse the grounds.
Using Leftover Coffee Grounds
So can you use coffee grounds twice? Although no one who enjoys a good cup of coffee should be reusing the grounds to make a second, tasteless cup, there are many other ways to reuse your coffee grounds. These used coffee ground hacks can help you in a surprising number of ways.
For Your Garden
Old coffee grounds, and even together with eggshells, make an excellent fertilizer, and can be mixed with grass clippings or leaves to help your plants grow. Coffee grounds contain many of the nutrients that your plants need, such as iron, phosphorus, calcium, nitrogen, and chromium. Worms are also attracted to coffee, and worms will facilitate plant growth upon their arrival in the area.
As a Cleaning Agent
Whether you want to scour your hands after some time in the garden, or clean pots and pans that need an abrasive cleaner, used coffee grounds will do the trick. They are abrasive enough to dislodge the bad stuff, but will not damage the pots or your hands.
As a Bug Repellent
Some of the properties of coffee, especially caffeine and diterpenes, can be very toxic to bugs, and therefore coffee grounds can serve as a good way to keep bugs away. Beetles, fruit flies, and mosquitos will all want to stay away from coffee.
For Skin Care
As you probably already know, antioxidants protect your skin from free radicals, which can damage your skin. Not only does coffee have benefits to your health, but some studies have shown that coffee oil can increase collagen and elastin, to help your skin to be firmer. It can also help to moisturize your skin.
As a Deodorizer
Used coffee grounds are good at neutralizing odors. You can place them in an open jar in the back of your fridge to absorb those unwanted odors that creep their way into your foods. Used coffee grounds can also neutralize odors in other ways, such as the odor of onions and garlic on your hands after chopping. Wash them with coffee grounds to remove the odor.
When it comes to the question of can you use coffee grounds twice, using them to make a second cup of coffee is definitely not advised. But there are a variety of ways to use them to reduce waste and remedy situations that arise in a typical house and garden.
As the old saying goes, seven days without coffee, (or with reused coffee grounds) makes one weak. For a strong cup of coffee, stay away from used grounds.
Coffee Has Never Read This Good!
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“Jules” is a pharmacist by day and investor, writer, and health nut by night. When he’s not sipping on some coffee laced with MCT oil during an 18 hour fast, he is writing about how to get your coffee grind on or playing Monopoly with his 2 boys and wife. Ahh…life is good!