How to Use Coffee Grounds in Compost

| Compost, Video

Among my favorite ingredients for making compost is coffee grounds. Here, I’ll show you how to use coffee grounds in your compost and how you can source coffee grounds for free.



Compost is my not-so-secret ingredient to having great soil and a productive garden. My “recipe” for making compost includes manure and used bedding from my chicken coop, fruit and vegetable scraps from my kitchen, leaves and other debris from my yard — and coffee grounds from the local cafe. 

Coffee grounds are a fantastic addition to a compost pile because they are rich in nitrogen and they complement carbon-rich inputs, like leaves, to accelerate the activity of the bacteria and fungi that break down organic material. With the right mixture of nitrogen sources, carbon sources, water and air, microbes will flourish.

After you have brewed your morning coffee, the used grounds — and the paper filter — can go into your compost bin. (You can also collect grounds in a kitchen counter compost container until you are ready to take them to your outdoor bin.) Turn the compost pile once every week or so to mix up all the ingredients and to introduce air to the organic materials and microbes.


Countertop composting bowl

The used grounds and the paper filter from your morning coffee can be collected in a stainless steel compost container with a lid until you are ready to take them to your outdoor bin.


If you’re not a coffee drinker, or you’re just looking to make a lot of compost, you can ask coffee shops for their used grounds. Small businesses will typically be happy to have someone remove their grounds. Even corporate chain cafes will give away grounds if you ask. Starbucks calls their program “Grounds for Your Garden,” and it’s been in place for 25 years.

You’ll be doing coffee shops a favor by taking away waste that they otherwise would have to pay to dispose of, and you’ll also keep those valuable grounds out of a landfill.


Coffee Grounds in a compost bin

Even if you don’t drink coffee, you may be able to score lots of coffee grounds from your local coffee shop or grocery store. All of the coffee grounds you see here in my compost bin were obtained from my local Starbucks.


For comprehensive instructions on making compost, you can get my free resource, The Complete Guide to Home Composting. It will tell you everything you need to know to create quality compost that you can add to your garden confidently. 

Do you use coffee grounds in your compost? Let us know in the comments below.

Links & Resources

Some product links in this guide are affiliate links. See full disclosure below.

Episode 16: Composting Guide A to Z: The Quick and Dirty on Everything Compost

Episode 75: Top Questions for Composting at Home: You Asked, Joe Lamp’l Answers

joegardener blog: Backyard Composting: A Simple Recipe for Making Great Compost

joegardenerTV YouTube: Three Steps to Easy Home Compost

joegardenerTV YouTube: Backyard Composting—Simple Steps for a Fast Start

joegardener Online Gardening Academy™: Three popular courses on gardening fundamentals; managing pests, diseases & weeds; and seed starting!

joegardener Online Gardening Academy Master Seed Starting: Everything you need to know to start your own plants from seed — indoors and out. 

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*Disclosure: Some product links in this guide are affiliate links, which means we would get a commission if you purchase. However, none of the prices of these resources have been increased to compensate us. None of the items included in this list have any bearing on any compensation being an influencing factor on their inclusion here. The selection of all items featured in this post and podcast were based solely on merit and in no way influenced by any affiliate or financial incentive, or contractual relationship. At the time of this writing, Joe Lamp’l has professional relationships with the following companies who may have products included in this post and podcast: Rain Bird, Corona Tools, Milorganite, Soil3, Exmark, and Wild Alaskan Seafood Box. These companies are either Brand Partners of and/or advertise on our website. However, we receive no additional compensation from the sales or promotion of their product through this guide. The inclusion of any products mentioned within this post is entirely independent and exclusive of any relationship.

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