How can I reuse/use up really, really old coffee beans?

I mentioned in passing on my simple/frugal living blog that we’re having our kitchen ceiling replastered at the moment.

Ahead of the plasterer starting on Monday, we had to tidy off all the work surfaces and tops of cupboards – quite a challenge for hoarders like us with many, many culinary hobbies! Anyway, among our tidying, I found a couple of half-used bags of coffee beans in an old biscuit tin. My boyfriend John bought them from an expensive coffee bean shop but didn’t really like them – he couldn’t bring himself to throw them away though, better to keep them as a back-up just in case he runs out of his preferred ones. That sounds like a good plan, doesn’t it? Except they’ve been waiting in reserve for quite a while now. So long so that I had to search my old email to find out when we went to the place we bought the beans from (Lincoln). 2007. Five years. Gosh.

They do still smell quite coffee-ish but I suspect they’re long, long, long past their prime!

They could go on the compost heap but I’d rather reuse them in some other way rather than just letting them rot.

They could be ground and used in the same way you can reuse any coffee grounds — the magical internet tells me I can use it for dyeing fabric/yarn or even my hair, and I imagine these virgin beans would result in a deeper colour than already used once ones.

But does anyone have any ideas for ways I could use them whole? Crafty ideas or practical ones?

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16 Responses to “How can I reuse/use up really, really old coffee beans?”


  1. snigface says:

    I live near Lincoln, and if it’s the same shop I’m thinking off, they do in their cafe an amazing and quite massive coffee sponge cake which I have copied from time to time – piped buttercream and top and decorated with chocolate covered coffee beans – it is very sugary and coffee-y (?) but for a caffeine addict like myself, it’s pure bliss.

  2. Given their age I would be cautious about considering using them for anything consumption related, but after grinding perhaps the fragrance can be employed as part of a Poopourri?

  3. heather says:

    Fill up a coffee cup and put a tea light with the tin holder in it. Light and enjoy coffee scented house.
    Twitter @SilverTranceLA

  4. bookstorebabe says:

    Ground, I know there’s various recipes out there for making coffee bath scrubs and soap. There’s dying/staining fabric.
    Whole? Unless you want to coat them with a clear sealer to preserve them, and make jewelry with them, there’s not a lot of options I can think of.

  5. Cindy says:

    I like to take a wide mouth mason jar (preferably the older style) and partially fill with the beans, then put in a votive cup w/candle and then fill around being careful not to get beans in the candle until almost to the top of the votive. The heat from the candle warms the beans and scents the air. If you use a scented candle (vanilla or caramel) it really smells lovely.

  6. anna says:

    Add some old coffee beans inside a small canvas pouch for making a car refreshener. The coffee beans will absorb the bad smells. Or use an old sock for a less sewing version.

    You could also use the old coffee for dying fabrics. Grind it (if it’s not ground), and boil for a while, add the stuff you want to dye – like jeans etc -, dye like you would with natural plants.

    Coffee is also great for composting. But the stuff should still smell good, so at least use a part of it for something like a car refreshener or a potpourri.

  7. Tyg och otyg says:

    Perhaps you could use the coffee beans to stuff little bean bags (made from scrap fabrics of course)? Could make a nice gift for a child. :)

  8. Maggie Brimson says:

    If you grind them they can be put on the garden to release nitrogen
    or put on the compost heap

  9. Allison says:

    You can use them at the bottom of terrariums so that water can drain and stay antimicrobial

  10. Grace Filkins says:

    If you are brunette or have dark hair and usually dye your hair you can make a very strong brew and use it as a rinse in your hair. It helps keep roots from showing between dyes and it helps keep grays away.

    You can also grind them really fine and mix it with olive oil for a coffee scented body scrub. That would be really nice!

  11. Beccie says:

    I can think of a wonderful way to use those old beans up with little to no energy to do the project. If you have any old material that you can use to cut out to rectangles same size, you can put your beans in them after you sew them together and use as a heating source for pained areas of the body. All you would have to do after either sewing the 2 pieces together or using an ironing tape to connect the two pieces, fill the bag with your beans and you can heat them in the microwave and use on those painful sore spots on your body. Make the size any size you want. I would make them and give them as gifts for Christmas. Sew simple and yet so beneficial and they would smell good too as you heat those coffee beans in the microwave. Good luck. Beccie

  12. Medeea says:

    Use them as they are to make candles. Coffee scented candles and quite a site to look at!

    Grind and use them when making soap. Coffee makes a wonderful scrub.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Brew them up into a very strong coffee and use it to stain wood projects!

  14. Heather says:

    When I used to sell scented candles as a home based business, I would fill a few salt shakers with coffee beans to take to my customers’ candle parties. When the girls were smelling my 80+ sample smells, their noses would “give out” after a while. To revive their olfactory abilities, I would hand them one of the coffee bean filled shakers, tell them to shake it up a bit and take a good long couple of whiffs. It would completely revive their abilities to smell again. You could carry a small shaker in your purse for perfume shopping, and take it out when your nose gets tired… Or when you have to stand beside someone who hasn’t washed in a year.

    • Sharon says:

      I laughed and laughed at that one! :o) I could picture digging in your purse for that shaker on the subway lol….

  15. Sofia says:

    Grind them, brew a strong brew, and once cooled, use to dye paper! It gives it a nice antiquey look for stationery or craft projects.



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