What To Do With Old Coffee Grounds: Steps Towards A Greener Future

If you’re anything like us, you have lots of used grounds lying around. With over 6 million tons of coffee grounds ending up in landfills each year, the question becomes, “How can I reuse these grounds responsibly?” Just because the grounds can’t make another cup doesn’t mean they are useless. By spreading the grounds out on a baking sheet, you can allow them to dry before trying any of these tips.

Coffee grounds going into a Hario V60
Coffee grounds being added to a Hario V60

Here are 5 ideas of how you can reuse coffee grounds and help reduce your impact on our planet.

Fertilize Your Garden with Coffee Grounds

This is probably the most well-known use for used grounds. Even after brewing, the grounds are filled with essential nutrients required for plant growth. Soil doesn’t naturally have all the nutrients needed for optimal plant growth and can be depleted over time. Used grounds contain minerals that support plant growth like nitrogen, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and chromium. Coffee grounds can help absorb heavy metals that contaminate the soil. They can also attract worms to promote healthier soil. Simply sprinkle used grounds on your soil to unlock these benefits.

Neutralize Orders

Coffee grounds are packed with nitrogen which can help absorb and eliminate odors. Place them in a bowl in your refrigerator or freezer to neutralize any food odors. Small pucks of frozen grounds can be used in a sink’s garbage disposal to neutralize any odors. Dried grounds are also great for removing odors like garlic or onion from your hands. Simply rub the grounds over your hands like you’re washing them, rinse, and wash with soap. Be amazed as the odors are gone.

Cleaning Pots & Pans

Coffee grounds are incredibly coarse and abrasive no matter how fine of a grind. By sprinkling the grounds directly on pots and pans even the toughest mess can be removed with a normal wash. As a bonus, it should also remove any smells that may be on the cookware. Be sure to rinse thoroughly or your next meal could taste like coffee.

Exfoliating Skin & Hair with Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are an ideal exfoliating agent that can be easily made into something for skin or hair care. Mixing the grounds with water or coconut oil can make an easy scrub for removing dirt, dead skin, and can even help with acne. You could also massage a handful of grounds into your scalp for a few minutes before shampooing. The antioxidants and caffeine in the grounds can increase blood flow, accelerate hair growth, and promote the overall health of your hair and skin.

Composting with Coffee Grounds

Lastly, coffee grounds are amazing for compost. Composting is a natural process that can turn organic waste into a nutrient-packed soil enhancer. Adding grounds to your compost not only improves the quality of the compost, but it also reduces the greenhouse gas emissions made by the compost. To learn more about the process of composting, check out our friends at Food 2 Soil’s website. They promote composting by having drop-off locations throughout the city, including all three of our locations.

There are five simple ways that you can reuse your coffee grounds and help make a smaller impact on the planet. There are dozens of other options out there and people are finding new, innovative ways to reuse their grounds every day. It a small step towards coffee saving the world.

Pour Over Coffee: The Definitive Guide

At Achilles Coffee Roasters, we are crazy about our Pour Overs. While it may take longer than other brewing methods, we believe it is the best way to deliver an incredibly consistent cup of coffee. There are many ways to make Pour Over coffee (Hario V60, Chemex, Kone, etc.), but this will serve as a general guide to improving your brew for any of these methods.

What is Pour Over Coffee?

Pour Over Coffee in Action

Pour Over coffee is one of many brewing methods made popular recently by the rise of Third and Fourth Wave coffee. By continually pouring fresh water over the beans, you can extract more from the surface layers of the beans. It also allows you to have greater control in the brewing process by changing the grind consistency, water temperature, brew time, or weight of the beans used.

Where Did Pour Over’s Come From?

Pour Over coffee isn’t as old as you would think. As coffee grew increasingly popular throughout the 1800s and into the turn of the 19th Century, so did people’s fascination with brewing to improve the flavor in their cup. 

Around 1908, a German woman named Amalie Auguste Melitta Bentz was tired of the bitter coffee from her percolator and began experimenting with other brewing methods. She created the first cup of Pour Over coffee by using some blotting paper and a brass pot that she punctured with a nail. Melitta was so happy with the outcome that she released the Pour Over brewers to the public. By the 1950s, the cone shape that we see today was released for sale. To this day, Melitta is still a very well known brand for its Pour Over equipment and filters.

What Makes a Great Pour Over?

As said above, there are many things you can adjust in your Pour Over brewing to improve the overall flavor of your coffee. We’ll go over each individually.

The Water

Water quality is just as important as any other part of brewing a great cup of Pour Over Coffee. We recommend using clean, filtered water, but using tap water at home will not ruin your cup. 

The next thing you want to pay attention to is the temperature of the water. By using water between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit, you can assure that proper extraction will take place. If your water is too hot you will have a bitter, over-extracted cup, and too cold will leave you with a bland, watery cup. Temperature can easily be measured by a thermometer or temperature controlled kettle.

The Beans
Freshly Roasted Achilles Coffee Beans

It’s not only important to use quality, freshly ground beans when brewing Pour Over coffee, it is also important to use the correct amount of beans. At Achilles, we use 25 grams for our 12oz Pour Overs and 33 grams for our 16oz’s. The general rule is 60 grams for every liter of water. A simple scale is a very cheap, handy accessory for this step.

The Grind

A consistent grind is crucial to a consistent flavor. We recommend a Burr grinder. A Burr grinder will ensure all of your grinds are about the same size, unlike Blade grinders that will leave you with an uneven grind. To illustrate why this is important, think of cooking. When you chop all of your ingredients into identical sizes they will all cook in about the same time. However, if you have many large and many small items, the small ones will be overcooked, the large ones will be undercooked and will not taste as good.

The Brew

So you have your water, your beans, and a consistent grind. Now you’re ready to make an amazing cup of coffee, right? Not quite, now it’s time to bring it all together with the brew.

First, we recommend quickly rinsing your filter with hot water. This step isn’t always needed but will reduce any paper flavors.

Second, add your freshly ground beans into the filter and start adding your water. You’ll want to do this in a clockwise motion and make sure you are soaking all of the beans. You’ll want to fill up your brewer about 3/4 full and wait about 30-45 seconds while the water drains. This will allow your coffee to “bloom” and release Co2. If you do not allow the bloom to happen that Co2 will produce off-flavors that will end up in your cup. 

Once the bloom is complete, continually fill your brewer with water in a clockwise motion. Always ensure to wet all the grinds evenly until you’ve reached your desired brew. 

This whole process should take about 3-4 minutes depending on your beans and your grind. Adjust your grind accordingly to change the brew time. A finer grind for a longer brew and coarser grind for a shorter brew time. This will also change with different beans. For example, we use a finer grind for our medium/dark roasts and a coarser grind for our light roasts.


Those are the essentials to brewing an amazing cup of Pour Over coffee. Play around with all of these elements until you are satisfied with your final product. Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so don’t be afraid to break or bend any of these “rules”. 

The Pour Over Coffee Method

The Filters

Achilles-Coffee-Roasters-San-Diego-Buy-Coffee-Online-Hario-v60There are many ways to create a delicious cup of coffee at home. Today I want to talk about making a great cup of coffee using the pour over coffee method. To get started, you need to make sure that you have some fresh roasted coffee beans and all of the right equipment. For beans, Achilles Coffee Roasters has many options that will fit everyone’s personal tastes from light to dark roast. As far as equipment goes, the first thing you need is a cone and filters. There are three major options that we can choose from. At Achilles Coffee we use a ceramic Hario V60. There are other choices as well: The Kalita Wave or Chemex with the corresponding filters. For whichever one you choose to use, there is a basic pour over process that will work no matter what.

The Grinder and Kettle

Next, if you did not get your beans pre ground at the store you need to have a home grinder. It is recommended to not get your Baratza Encore coffee grinder. It is a conical burr Achilles-Coffee-Roaters-Buy-Coffee-Online-Hario-Kettlebeans pre ground and to only grind them within fifteen minutes of making your coffee. A really solid home grinder can be purchased for around $100. My recommendation for home grinder is the grinder that has thirty settings from coarse to fine that evenly grinds your coffee to near perfection. Lastly, I recommend  a Hario kettle, which has a spout that allows you to control the flow of water as you pour it over the grinds. With all of your equipment in hand, it is time to make that awesome cup of coffee.

The Pour

The first step in the process is to heat up your water. The ideal temperature for water is 200 degrees. The best way to achieve this is to bring your water to a boil and then let it sit for about thirty seconds. While your water is heating up, you can go ahead and grind your beans. Your grind should be quite a bit finer than a french press grind (which is generally very coarse) Buy-Coffee-Online-Achilles-Coffee-Roasters-San-Diego-200x150and quite a bit coarser than an espresso grind (which is generally on the very fine side). Experiment with your grind and find what works best for you! It is recommended to use between 25 and 30 grams of coffee for a 12oz drink, and 30 to 35 grams for a 16oz drink. When your water is up to temperature, the first thing that you want to do before adding your beans is to place the filter in the cone and pour a bit of water to seal the filter to the cone. After this point, there are many different theories on how to pour the water over the beans; however, it is an agreed upon idea that the entire process should take somewhere between four and four and a half minutes. The easiest way is to begin with a slow steady pour from the outside and spiral inward. After all of the beans are saturated, allow the coffee to sit and “bloom” for about 20 to 30 seconds. Then repeat the pour from outward spiraling inward again, but only allow the coffee between 5-10 seconds before adding more water with the same spiraling pour. Keep repeating this process until complete!

Perfect the Pour Over Coffee Process

The Stages of Pour Over Coffee

The preparation of pour over coffee has experienced a real renaissance in recent years. Some of this might be attributed to the rise of Third Wave Coffee – the growing emphasis on single-origin cups of coffee, as well as the increased awareness of the complexity of flavor found within a bean. Pour over-brewed coffee is an excellent way to experience the diversity of flavor profiles found in a variety of beans and roasts. The following is a guide to the different stages of the pour over brewing process.

Stage One: Beans and the Grind

To begin your pour over coffee, you’ll need to be equipped with the necessary supplies. First, you’re going to need fresh roasted beans. Since pour over is a great way to experience the flavors found in the bean and its roast, you’ll want to buy coffee roasted within a week or two from a local roaster. Why spend the time on the pour over if the bean isn’t worthy of the investment? You will find most Third-Wave coffee shops that do their own roasting sell beans in increments of 8, 12 and/or 14oz.

You want to grind your coffee immediately before you brew – the fresher, the better. The coarseness of the grind is very important. If you are making a 12oz. cup of coffee you want the complete pour to take about 3 minutes. Too course and your cup will finish pouring within a minute, too fine and you will be staring at your cup of coffee for 5 minutes before it is ready. Make sure you measure out the amount of whole beans before you – usually, between 23 and 27 grams of coffee per 12 oz. of water is a good rule of thumb.

Stage Two: Water Temperature and the Kettle

One important piece of equipment that is often overlooked by at-home brewers is a kettle that makes pouring easy. Purchase either a conventional kettle or an electric kettle with a gooseneck, not a spout. When you pour the water over the beans, you’ll want a lot of control over the amount of water in the pour and where you pour it. A traditional spout just won’t afford you that control, and you’ll end up with a subpar cup of coffee. An electric kettle is convenient because you can monitor the temperature of your water – ideally around 204 degrees Fahrenheit.

Before you place the coffee in the filter, wet the filter with hot water by pouring just enough to saturate the paper. This will help you prevent the paper taste of the filter from detracting from the coffee flavors.

Stage Three: The Initial Pour – Saturating the Coffee Grounds

For the initial pour, you want to pour between 60 and 75 grams of water over your coffee. Saturate the entire surface of the grounds, and watch as the coffee bubbles and moves – this is called the “bloom,” when carbon dioxide is released from the grounds as the coffee begins to be extracted from the beans.

Roast-Coach-Pour-Over-Coffee-Espresso-Bar-San-Diego Stage Four: Continuing the Pour

After the coffee has bloomed, but before the bloom has collapsed, pour another hundred grams of water into the grinds. Pour slowly, in a spiral motion, moving from the center of the grinds to the outside, and back. Watch carefully while you’re doing this – you want to make sure that all of the grounds are saturated. It might take you a couple tries to really perfect your timing on this, but no worries! Brewing a good cup of coffee takes practice, just like anything else.

Stage Four: The Finished Cup

Just one more pour to go! Once your second pour has almost drained, go ahead and carefully pour once more – again, a spiral pattern is optimal. Pour until you’ve reached around 350 grams (12oz.) total for your cup of coffee, and wait until it has completely drained. Take a few sips before adding any cream or sugar and start to familiarize yourself with the unique flavors of each cup and enjoy one of the purest forms of coffee preparation, pour over coffee.