The mere thought of pouring your favourite beverage down the drain makes most of us shudder. For one, good coffee comes at a premium and wasting that priceless nectar is certainly not a very pleasing idea.
Maybe something suddenly cropped up forcing you to dash you out the house before you could finish your freshly brewed coffee pot. Perhaps you simply brewed a bit too much or that guest failed to turn up on the hour. Whatever the case, you find yourself with leftover coffee in the kitchen.
It may no longer be the greatest tasting drink when taken on its own a couple of hours later, but don’t rush to pour the nectar down the drain. Why? Because we are going to share several ideas on what to do with leftover coffee.
1. Cooking and Baking
Come to think about it, isn’t that extra coffee essentially water that has been coffee-flavoured? Use the leftover brewed coffee in adding flavour to your steak marinade. Try using your leftover brew instead of plain water when making your fruit compote for that perfect breakfast topping. Even your morning oatmeal can be made in coffee instead of milk.
Instead of using another liquid when baking use some of the leftover coffee in your favourite baked recipe to give it a unique jolt of flavour. This particularly works well in any of your chocolatey creations such as brownies or cakes. Coffee also adds an extra level of acidity to whatever you wish to bake. When making vinaigrettes, experiment by substituting the usual vinegar with leftover coffee.
2. Coffee Ice Cubes
Pour your leftover coffee into ice cube trays and store them in the freezer. They might come very handy the next time you get that urgent craving for iced coffee. You can use the iced cubes without watering down the coffee.
Not everyone loves watery iced coffee, but a simple solution is available for that. Freeze your leftover coffee and add then the cubes to your iced coffee instead of adding watery ice cubes. You will enjoy a rich and thick energizing iced coffee drink. You can use those ice cubes for lots of other drinks. Use them for making your favourite shake, smoothie, or add some cocoa powder, cinnamon, and you get an energizing, cool mocha-flavoured treat!
3. Make Ice Cream
Ice cream is unbelievably delicious and making it is something everyone should learn to do. Treating yourself to this sweet treat once in a while is good. Consider adding your leftover coffee into your milk when you want to make some unique tasting homemade ice cream.
4. Make Frappes
This is an awesome way of using up leftover coffee for it helps in making delicious tasting frappes. Freeze the coffee leftovers into ice cubes if you want to make a good frappe because it keeps them from getting watery and weak tasting. Two favourites you may want to try are Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino and Easy Caramel Frappe.
5. Add to Chilli
At a tailgate, nothing is better than a hearty, big bowl of chilli. Your leftover coffee makes a great addition to your chilli as it strengthens the flavours of your spices, making it hearty and meaty even when they don’t have any meat. The beverage adds a deep, earthiness to your meals and the acidity helps cut through the chilli thickness and brightens each bite. Also, try creating your own caffeinated chilli recipe or barbeque sauce.
6. Make Tiramisu
The classic way of ending a meal at popular Italian-American joints is with a Tiramisu. And guess what? Making a Tiramisu at home is actually quite simple. It does require brewed coffee, but because you already have some leftover coffee, you are one step ahead towards the finished product.
7. Beauty Makeup and Hair Health
Coffee has unique properties and is great for hair health. The antioxidants properties and caffeine make your hair bouncy and shiny as it removes any built-up of beauty products. If you rinse your hair every time with coffee after washing it, you will have a shiny look and it may even help with growth. Coffee, according to one study published in the International Journal of Dermatology in 2007, helps with hair growth.
The caffeine in your coffee contains comes a number of beneficial effects that work on your hair roots and follicles. Some of these facts may sound crazy! Besides stimulating hair follicle health, coffee combats the effects of DHT (dihydrotestosterone) responsible for hair loss and follicle minimization. Did you also know that you can use coffee to temporarily dye your hair? Yes, coffee has been used for this cosmetic goal for a long time.
8. Odour Removal
Many people prefer keeping a box of baking soda inside the fridge to soak up those unwanted odours. While in the hierarchy of leading odour-absorbing substances, spent old coffee doesn’t rank very high, it nevertheless does a great job at absorbing those odours. Many people will swear by activated charcoal or baking soda but leftover coffee is a good choice and a healthy one too. Also, don’t throw away those spent coffee grounds as they also help the refrigerator in combating strong odours.
9. Wood Staining
This is an easy and cost-effective way of staining wood. All that you will need is a paintbrush or a piece of cloth. First sand the wood and then paint it with some of your leftover strong coffee. You can apply as many coatings as you feel necessary. Do it after every 15 minutes to achieve your desired level of staining. You will have a unique looking piece of furniture. And since you can use coffee to stain wood, it also means you can rub it on any scratches on wood to bring back the dark color.
10. Watering Your Plants
Leftover brewed coffee can also be useful outside the kitchen. If you love growing acid-loving plants, diluted, cold coffee can boost their growth. But because brewed coffee contains high levels of acidity, limit the coffee waterings to once per week or every two weeks.
Some of the plants that do well with coffee watering include:
Coffee contains lots of dissolved compounds that are deemed essential for these plants. In particular, coffee is a great source of potassium and magnesium. This idea can be taken a step further by adding the spent coffee grounds as part of your compost. They are a great source of nitrogen, another essential nutrient for many plants.
Ensure you keep an eye on the plants as you water them with coffee. If they start getting brown or yellow leaves, that’s an indication that the soil is becoming too acidic for their health. And, of course, you should not use the coffee in watering plants if you have added milk, cream, or sugar as it attracts fungus and pests.
While nothing beats a cup of Joe that has been freshly brewed, don’t let the leftovers go to waste. If you cannot reheat and drink it later, or store it in the fridge for the next day, there is much you can do with it. The possibilities for using leftover coffee are endless. With the above suggestions, you won’t have to worry about your valuable and expensive brew going to waste.
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.