A Quick ‘N Simple Guide to Coffee Composting

Coffee grounds have a colorful history of clogging sinks and leaking out of garbage bags — it’s easy to make coffee, but what do you do with the soggy aftermath? 


We recommend you compost it! … And no coffee grounds are better for composting than 100% organic coffees like the ones we carry at One World. Organic coffee isn’t just better for the health of coffee drinkers and producers, it’s also better for your garden!


Before we dive into the benefits of adding coffee grounds to your compost pile, let’s review why composting in general is such a great idea.


Why should I compost in the first place?

Image Credit: The South Coast Insider

If you’re already composting, you know what a win-win this eco-friendly practice is. If not, it’s worth considering for these reasons.



  • Saves money on fertilizers

  • Reduces organic waste in landfills (we’ll discuss why this is important below)

  • Improves the health and quality of soil 

  • Reduces our carbon footprint by cutting down emissions of vehicles needed to transport waste 


Many of us think it’s not really a big deal if we throw out our unused veggie scraps — I mean, they’ll biodegrade wherever they wind up, right? They will, but at significant cost ...


Plant waste that breaks down in landfills does so without oxygen, just as it might in a cow’s stomach, creating huge amounts of methane gas, a greenhouse gas 21-times worse than CO2! 


So, there is a real environmental cost to not being vigilant with our plant waste.


For more information on the benefits of composting and how to get started, visit Green Action Centre’s website here.


Why compost coffee grounds?

We now know that composting plant material is a very important thing for the survival of our planet and, ultimately, our long term wellbeing. Composting coffee grounds, however, offers a number of special benefits.


Coffee grounds:


  • Add plenty of essential nitrogen to the compost pile

  • Are high in magnesium and potassium that plants love

  • Are an excellent fertilizer that retains moisture in soil and attracts beneficial organisms

  • Repel garden pests like slugs and snails due to their caffeine content 

  • Are beneficial for acidic soil-loving plants like blueberries and lillies.

Is coffee a green or brown compost material?

Image Credit: Less Noise, More Green

For composting, you need a ratio of 4:1 brown-to-green material — and coffee grounds are an excellent candidate for that green compost material.


Green compost materials make up the “wet ingredients” of the compost pile. These are often recently growing plant matter like food scraps, cut grass, or coffee grounds as well as manure. Green compost material introduces the essential element of nitrogen to the compost which attracts important microbes and gives them the necessary tools to help break down the contents of the pile.


Brown compost materials include dead leaves, straw, sawdust, twigs and even newspaper, which is usually printed with soy-based inks. This is the necessary nutrition for the organisms that will work their magic on the pile.


Getting the best results with coffee in your compost pile

Fall leaves are one of the best brown material pairs for coffee grounds


The tips below will get your coffee compost off to a good start and help you reap the rewards of a great compost pile as quickly as possible.


  • Making 10-20% of your compost pile consist of coffee grounds will give you their full benefit

  • Dead leaves are one of the best brown materials to pair with coffee grounds and can optimally make up the majority of the 4:1 brown matter ratio

  • Shredding yard leaves will help them break down faster

  • It’s okay and even beneficial to leave grounds in their paper cone filters as long as they are unbleached, and chlorine-free. 

  • Coffee grounds are best not used in isolation outside of a compost

  • If you want to grow plants that favor less acidic environments you may want your share of green material to include other non-acidic plant matter

  • Don’t forget to turn your compost! If you’re using a compost tumbler you should stir the contents every three-to-four days, and if you have a compost pile, every three-to-seven. Turning your compost is critical as it helps heat up the pile which jump starts the decomposition of material.


And remember that organic coffee will always give you the best results and most nutritious plants from your compost! Favoring organic materials in compost piles ensures the long term health of your soil by adding higher quality nutrients to it and not introducing unwelcome pesticide residues.

One World makes it easy to get the best grounds for your composts (and the best quality coffee too ;)) with our local order service and free delivery.


Visit our webstore to order some now and get your perfect coffee compost started!

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One World Roasters
967 North High St,
East Haven CT 06512

United States
Phone: 1.203.376.1589

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