A French press revelation

A Goldilocks morning! The size of my grounds were juuuust right.

Shockingly, my morning coffee from my French press was delightful. Or, to borrow a phrase from a reader, “awesome and magical!” Who knew?

I was worried I would grind the coffee beans too small or leave my watery grounds to mingle too long before pressing them down. I tend to over think things. Can you tell? So I went with my gut. And my gut came through. But as I finished my coffee, I was faced with an unexpected task – emptying loose, messy, wet and sticky grounds.  And so begins Tuesday’s topic – coffee grounds.

Remnants of my morning….coffee grounds set out to dry.

Messy, wet and sticky grounds. The beauty of a drip coffee maker is that wet grounds are neatly contained in a filter and easy to just pick up and toss out. It is so rote that it does not even feel like I am creating waste…I lift the tray, turn around and dump it in my kitchen garbage. But when I finished my coffee this morning, I was left with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and a dilemma both practical and ecological…used coffee grounds. Messy, wet, sticky, organic grounds. So I decided to go A la Mode and make a change and elevate my morning coffee to saving the planet. Okay, maybe not saving the entire planet, maybe just an inch or two. So here are, I hope, some useful tips on what coffee to buy, removing grounds from your French press quick and clean and using the used coffee grounds until there is nothing left to use.

If you are looking to purchase coffee that is good for the environment, good for the growers and just tastes good, Practicalenvironmentalist.com and Treehugger.com go into detail about the difference between organic, free trade, shade grown and every other green coffee question you might have as well as direct you where to buy it. Personally, I love Newman’s Own Breakfast Blend roasted by Green Mountain Coffee and I have found it in many mainstream grocery stores.

After a little rudimentary research, I think it is safe to say, it is probably not a good idea to pour your grounds down the drain. Some sites say it is fine, others say grounds can build up in pipes like to egg shells and potato skins. I say err on the side of caution. So re-fill the French press with water and pour through a strainer. Tap the strainer on a paper towel or plate and spread out the grounds to dry. Once dry, there are a number of uses for your grounds. Here are just a few I found:

  • Use grounds as a natural compost and fertilizer for gardens or house plants. If you are like me and live in a small apartment and don’t have a garden or many house plants, see if a local community garden or neighbor with a green thumb will take them off your hands.
  • Coffee is similar to baking soda in that is absorbs odor but is better than baking soda because it smells like coffee. Place wet grounds in the freezer or refrigerator. Place loose grounds in an open jar or if you have extra coffee filters, just pour some grounds in, bunch close and tie with ribbon or string. When they dry, sprinkle the grounds outside.
  • I have seen a few sites recommend using coffee to exfoliate your skin. This should be fine as long as you are not using and excessive amount of grounds, like every pot. Just in case the experts who say coffee in the drain is bad are on to something.

I will continue my quest to find more practical uses for coffee grounds. Who knew a tragedy (yes, breaking my carafe is technically considered a tragedy) could turn into an A la Mode moment?

2 thoughts on “A French press revelation

Add yours

  1. Hooray! So happy to hear you found French-press love. And great tips for using the grounds, I never considered trying to use them for any purpose before.

  2. As an add-on to your second bullet point, I hear (but haven’t really tried, I sort of tried, but that is a longer story) that you can put coffee grounds in a diaper pail to keep the overwhelming odors at bay. With two kids in diapers, we empty things out fast enough that it doesn’t really matter so much.

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