Have Old, Unused Coffee Beans? Put Them to Use With These 7 Ideas

Written by: Anne Mercer

It happens to the best of us.

We purchase specialty coffee beans with the best intention to brew them right away. Then, life happens…

You make coffee at the office or support your local coffee shop for a daily pick-me-up with a friend. Before you know it, you’ve forgotten when you purchased the beans and are stuck with old coffee beans.

Now what?

While your coffee beans haven’t gone bad and are safe to consume, they certainly won’t taste spectacular.

Don’t fret! There are several creative and delicious ways to use old coffee beans at home.

Today we’ll show you:

  • 3 signs your coffee beans are past their prime
  • 7 creative ways to use old coffee beans around the house
  • How to store and use coffee beans to reduce waste

By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know how to repurpose unused coffee beans and how to avoid having old coffee in the first place.

How to Tell If Your Coffee Beans Are Old

It’s not hard to tell when coffee beans are old—look for these tell-tale signs:

  • Your coffee tastes boring. Coffee is meant to be sweet, rich, vibrant, floral, and everything in between! If your coffee tastes bland or “okay,” it’s likely several weeks or months past its prime.

  • The roast date is several months old. Specialty coffee bags display a “roasted on” or “best by” date. Coffee typically tastes best when brewed within the first 30 days after roasting. To guarantee freshness and an abundance of flavor, always look for a roast date before buying a coffee.

  • You can’t remember when you bought the coffee. Not sure when you purchased that lingering bag of beans? Chances are, it’s super old.

  • Trust us. The minute you taste old coffee, you’ll know! 

    7 Creative & Fun Ways to Use Old Coffee Beans

    Don’t throw old coffee beans in the trash! From the farmer to your local roaster, so many people worked tirelessly to get those coffee beans into your hands. Don’t let their hard work go to waste.

    Instead, repurpose your unused coffee beans with these seven fun ideas.

    1. Make Cold Brew Concentrate

    Cold brew is one of the simplest ways to brew coffee. 

    Weigh, grind, steep, drink!

    Read: 7 Common Cold Brew Coffee Questions Answered

    Since cold brew is an immersion brewing method, it won’t have the bright flavors and crisp acidity that a pour over coffee would elicit. This means old coffee beans that might have lost their vibrancy are perfect for smooth, rich cold brew.

    And, if you brew it as a strong concentrate, you’ll be able to use it in a variety of recipes from cold brew cocktails to protein shakes. You can’t go wrong with the classic cold brew over ice, too.

    2. Create Coffee Artwork and Decor

    Ground, brewed, or whole bean, old coffee can be used to create all types of artwork. Use ground coffee to provide texture or brew up some coffee and paint with it. Get creative!

    Or, you can even create home decor out of your unused beans. Fill a candle holder or flower vase with beans to spruce up your kitchen, dining room, or home office.

    Check out these crafty coffee artwork and decor ideas.

    3. Compost Your Coffee Beans

    Instead of throwing coffee beans in the garbage, toss them into a compost pile!

    There are so many ways to make your coffee routine eco-friendly and composting is one of them. From adding nitrogen to the soil to keeping away unwanted bugs and pests, composting used and unused coffee grounds has proven to be a beneficial gardening practice.

    If you don’t have a green thumb, look to see if your city has a communal composting service you can contribute to.

    4. Whip Up a Coffee Body Scrub

    Did you know you can use coffee grounds to exfoliate your skin? Coffee’s texture and acidic content make it the perfect natural exfoliant.

    Use this step-by-step guide from Taste of Home to make a coffee body scrub at home by combining:

    • 1/2 cup ground coffee
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Store the DIY scrub in a cute jar and you’ll never need to buy an expensive exfoliator ever again!

    5. Bake a Delicious Coffee Dessert

    Is there a better combination than coffee and dessert? Nope! Coffee is the perfect pairing to cake, pies, chocolates, and every type of dessert imaginable.

    One of my favorite ways to use old coffee beans is to make a coffee-infused dessert, like:

  • Affogato: A classic espresso dessert! Pull an espresso shot and pour it over your choice of ice cream for a sweet coffee treat.

  • Cold brew float: This dessert is self-explanatory and tasty. Instead of soda, add cold brew made from the unused beans to a glass full of your favorite ice cream.

  • Texas brownies: Add a cup of coffee to your brownie batter for a flavorful and bold kick.

  • Coffee milkshake: Clearly, you can’t go wrong when you combine cold brew and ice cream.

  • Mocha frosting: Coffee + cake = amazing! Whip up some mocha frosting to put on top of chocolate or vanilla cake for a decadent coffee dessert. 

  • Tip: Don’t use your freshly-roasted coffee for these recipes. Reserve your best and freshest beans for your morning cup of coffee. Instead, choose any old or unused beans for your dessert recipes.

    6. Try a New Brew Method

    Learning to brew coffee can be complicated. Extraction theory, grind size, different pour over techniques—there’s so much to understand!

    Perfecting a new brew method can lead to a lot of wasted coffee as you fine-tune your technique. Instead of using fresh coffee beans, start by using your old supply.

    You’ll be able to get the mechanics of the brew method or recipe down without all the coffee waste.

    Read: Perfect Coffee At Home: A Starter Guide To Coffee Brewing Fundamentals

    7.  Create a Coffee Blend

    Want to put your coffee knowledge to the test? Channel your inner barista and challenge yourself to create a coffee blend with the unused beans.

    This exercise is perfect when you find yourself with old bags of different single origin coffees. Experiment with pairing various amounts of each coffee and see what tastes best. Who knows what you’ll come up with!

    Here’s How to Reduce Coffee Waste at Home

    While there are so many ways to repurpose old, unused coffee beans, try to avoid this situation as much as possible. You deserve to enjoy the wonderful, natural flavors of freshly roasted specialty coffee.

    Follow these quick tips so you’ll always have delicious coffee on hand:

  • Only buy as much coffee as you need. We get it. With so many coffee blends and single origin coffees to try, it’s tempting to buy as many bags as you can get your hands on. In reality, you can only drink so much coffee. Reduce the amount of old coffee beans you have at home by only buying as much coffee as you truly need. For an individual drinking 1-2 cups of coffee per day, one bag a week is more than enough coffee.

  • Store beans properly. Your beans will “get old” much faster if they’re stored incorrectly. Check out our Guide to Coffee Bean Storage for instructions on getting the freshest flavors out of your beans at home.

  • Grind small amounts each time. Sure, it may seem convenient to grind all of your coffee beans at once, but it’s one of the worst things you can do. Once the coffee is ground, all of the aromatic compounds are released and the natural flavors begin to diminish. This is why we always recommend grinding only the amount of coffee you need and brewing immediately.
  • Say Goodbye to Unused Coffee Beans

    There’s one more way to reduce coffee bean waste at home:

    Drink specialty coffee that’s so good, you can’t get enough of it!

    Our coffee is sourced from family-owned farms from around the world and shipped to your doorstep within two hours of roasting—meaning all the delicious flavors you crave from your morning coffee are locked in and ready to brew.

    And, when you try JavaPresse coffee, we’ll send you our top-rated manual grinder for free! With specialty-grade coffee and a grinder in hand, you’ll never worry about having old coffee beans at home again—you won’t be able to resist brewing multiple cups of coffee each morning.

    Get your coffee and free grinder today!