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Using Starbucks Coffee Grounds In Your Garden

Starbucks Grounds For Your Garden Program

Grounds For Your Garden

Did you ever wonder what Starbucks does with all of the grounds they consume producing great coffee every day? Well if you guessed that they throw it out, well you would have been correct many years ago. In 1995, Starbucks began offering bags of their used grounds free for the taking by customers or sending them to commercial composting programs in places where they are available in order to reduce waste.

Now, in most stores you will find a small bin or bucket with bags of used coffee grounds. They’re typically packaged in the same bags that the coffee beans came in, and sealed up with a sticker indicating that they are “Grounds for Your Garden.” However, sometimes you might just find bags filled with several unsealed coffee ground packages. They are absolutely free for the taking and the baristas love it when someone takes all of them off their hands, obviously because they would have to store them for a composting service or throw them away.

Starbucks Coffee Grounds

Starbucks coffee grounds and filters are compostable and can improve soil structure while adding nutrients

Starbucks coffee grounds and filters are compostable and can improve soil structure while adding nutrients

Plant Nutrition Of Starbucks Used Coffee Grounds

Starbucks used coffee grounds contain low levels of the three macronutrients that plants use to grow. In comparison to some chemical fertilizer with a balanced ratio of nutrients with a label of 5-5-5 or 10-10-10, used coffee grounds would have a rating of 2.28-.06-.6, meaning it contains 2.28 percent nitrogen, 0.06 percent phosphorus and 0.6 percent potassium. More information about the nutrient contents of Starbucks used coffee grounds is available from the source of this information at

This means that it is relatively high in nitrogen as compared to the other two macronutrients, phosphorus and potassium. Coffee grounds won’t provide nutrients like a chemical based fertilizer will, however they will provide nutrients over time as they are broken down in the soil by microbes, acting more like a slow-release fertilizer. There is also no risk of burning your plants with too much nitrogen. By incorporating coffee grounds into your garden soil, or potting soil if you garden in containers, you can improve the drainage of poor soil or potting mix as coffee grounds are very granular, similar to sand. They can also improve poor soil and potting mix by providing nutrients over time to plants.

Starbucks Coffee Grounds

A small trash can that I use to store coffee grounds outside before using them in the garden or in plant containers

A small trash can that I use to store coffee grounds outside before using them in the garden or in plant containers

Coffee grounds and filters inside the trash can

Coffee grounds and filters inside the trash can

Getting Used Grounds From Starbucks

If you frequent Starbucks, simply look for the bin that holds the packages of coffee grounds or ask a barista if they have any available for the taking. If you don’t visit Starbucks that often, simply call the nearest shop and ask them if they have any available (that way you don’t make a trip for nothing if they don’t have any available).

Seeing as how used coffee grounds are generally wet and the fact that bags can leak, I highly recommend that you either bring a large bucket, plastic tote or some other sealable container that can hold the bags of grounds and catch any leaking coffee, which smells delicious, but most people don’t want staining the inside of their car, trunk or truck bed. At home, unless you are planning to use them immediately or spread them around your garden, you can keep them in a sealed bin or other container. Try to use them when possible as they can mold with time.

Using Starbucks Coffee Grounds

The used coffee grounds you collect from Starbucks can be tilled into your garden soil in the spring, spread around the top of the soil layer, composted with other compostable materials, or mixed with potting soil for container gardens (they are a great potting mix amendment and tomatoes just thrive off of them). For potting soil, mix generally 1 to 2 parts used coffee grounds with 3 to 4 parts potting soil. When tilling used coffee grounds into your garden soil, till them into the first 6” or so. Over time, coffee grounds can improve the structure of poor soils and add nutrients.


Jeremiah Simpkins (author) from Pulaski, VA on April 08, 2012:

I'm glad you found my hub useful jaswinder64! Happy gardening!

jaswinder64 from Toronto, Canada. on April 08, 2012:

I learned a lot from your hub, Using Starbucks Coffee Grounds In Your Garden. Very informative article,I used to throw coffee grounds, now I can use them for my garden.

Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on March 31, 2012:

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Hi Jesimpkl, I had forgotten about using coffee grounds in the garden. This is timely for spring. Thanks for sharing the information. I don't have a Starbucks around anymore, I don't think. If I track one down, I'll ask for their grounds. In the meantime, I'll use my own.

Jeremiah Simpkins (author) from Pulaski, VA on March 05, 2012:

I'm glad to see so many people already using coffee grounds (whether their own or from Starbucks)!

catchadream from Lakeland, Florida on March 05, 2012:

I have been using coffee grounds for years as a fertilizer for my garden and potted plants. I also use any left over coffee and pour on my plants.

StarCreate from Spain on March 05, 2012:

Never mind Starbucks, I throw away coffee grounds at home every morning! I am going to start saving them now - thank you for this.

Angie Jardine from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on March 05, 2012:

Thank you so much for this, jesimki ...

I have my own coffee grounds every day that I just throw in general waste thinking I couldn't use them in my composter.

Now I know better my garden should really improve!

spinninfree from Bellevue, WA on March 05, 2012:

Just an odd side note - another great and somewhat unknown use for coffee grounds is eliminating extreme odors. One time when managing a storage facility - a gentleman died in one of the storage units and was undiscovered for about a week and I used coffee grounds to eliminate the odorous smell of death from that storage unit.

snlee from Asia Pacific Regions on February 27, 2012:

I used to throw coffee grounds into my flower pots without realizing such good benefits..simply organic. Thanks for such useful organic information

Jeremiah Simpkins (author) from Pulaski, VA on February 26, 2012:

RTalloni, that's a very unique use, I had never considered that! It makes sense because hydrangeas respond to ph changes by changing color from blue to pink or vice versa, and coffee grounds are slightly acidic.

RTalloni on February 26, 2012:

I've used coffee grounds to change the color of blue hydrangea to pink. I'm glad to learn of other uses that Im not familiar with--thanks!

I believe I'll be swinging by Starbucks… :)

Jeremiah Simpkins (author) from Pulaski, VA on February 26, 2012:

It certainly helps! I always give them to my tomato plants to give them a boost without risking burning the plants or causing them to stop flowering (and therefore producing fruit).

Myfanwy from Tennessee, USA on February 26, 2012:

My mother always used coffee grounds on her rose bushes and they produced many beautiful flowers for many years. This does work!!

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