15 Creative Uses for Leftover Coffee

round gray container with filled black liquid

Tips, ideas, and recipes to use up that leftover brewed coffee

Even if you just have leftover brew you don’t want to throw out, here are several things you can do with fresh, leftover coffee:

1) Use instead of the milk in a fruit smoothie

Add to your blender or food processor: About 4 cups of frozen mixed berries, a squirt of lemon juice, some organic cane sugar, a dash of real vanilla extract, and a small double-double (coffee with 2 cream and 2 sugar). Blend until desired consistency is reached; serve immediately or freeze for later. This smoothie, while java-injected, has a chocolate taste to it. Make this smoothie recipe to suit your own taste, adding other fruit like bananas and altering the ingredients ratio.

2) Make homemade ice cream

For a quick and easy base for your homemade ice cream recipe, try using a small 500mL can of sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk), plus the leftover coffee (black or with cream/sugar) and enough cream to make 2 cups of liquid. The heavier the cream, the richer your ice cream will be. Milk will work in a pinch. Mix together and freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. I add in 3 tablespoons of instant espresso, and at just before completely frozen throw in some chopped chocolate and toffee bits.

3) Instead of water, use the coffee as the liquid when making a cake

Even boxed cake mix can become extraordinary if you use a little creativity. Chocolate cakes work especially well with the addition of strong, black coffee. Simply substitute the coffee for the water amount in the recipe. Try mixing a few tablespoons of some instant coffee to the dry mix, and adding chocolate chips as a last step. If using eggs in the batter, be sure the coffee has cooled before adding it or you’ll cook the eggs! This idea also works with brownie, pancake, waffle, and cookie mixes, and from-scratch recipes such as those for scones.

4) Make a refreshing iced coffee

While the coffee is still hot, add milk and sugar to taste and mix well. Refrigerate, covered, until chilled and serve over ice. Add a liqueur such as butterscotch, almond, coffee, orange liqueur to your iced coffee if desired.

5) Make Coffee Granita

One method is to freeze black or sugared coffee in ice cube trays; then add the frozen cubes to a blender or food processor and blend until crumbly. Or use a rectangular pan for freezing, scraping the top of the mixture with a fork periodically as it’s freezing. Serve as-is or add to a scoop of decadent ice cream.

6) Use when making gravies

Replace part of the plain water when using a mix, or add to the pan scrapings when making from scratch.

7) Marinate your pot roast with it

Use instead of cola or your usual marinade. Try it with ribs or any cut of roast beef that benefits from a longer cooking time. Also works with ham and in meatloaf.

8) Make coffee syrup

Boil plain black coffee with an equal amount of sugar until reduced and thickened. Store in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.

9) Make dessert glazes

Glazes are often made with confectioner’s sugar and a small amount of liquid such as lemon juice, water, or milk. For cakes, doughnuts, and other tasty treats use 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar and a few tablespoons of coffee to create a delicious, flavourful glaze.

10) Hide it

Although not noticably more than a flavour booster, you can add the coffee to your recipes and no one will be the wiser. Try adding it to chili, barbecue sauce, or spaghetti sauce. If you need to “rinse” some tomato sauce out of a jar, add a small amount of coffee to it and shake. Add this mixture to your recipe.

11) Coffee coolers

Add your leftover black coffee to ice cube trays; freeze. Remove from the trays and store in plastic zipped bags for easy access. Use to cool your too-hot coffee without diluting it. Or add to hot chocolate for a mocha treat.

Non-Edible Ideas

12) Although most commonly used with tea, you can make fabric “age” by letting it sit in some strong black coffee. Use this method on fabrics that won’t be washed again as it will not be colourfast. This works on paper as well.

13) Some gardening folk swear by using leftover cooled, black coffee to water their plants. However, I would not recommend using this as your plant food very often unless the plant requires a very acidic soil.

14) Coffee and its reputation for staining may be the reason why it’s sometimes touted as a hair dye. Use about 6 cups of very strong black coffee, cooled, to soak your hair in for 30-60 minutes. Then rinse but do not shampoo. For this idea, your mileage may vary: coffee hair dye is not likely to be permanent.

15) Dye the wood scratches on your furniture back to a brown colour using leftover strong, black coffee. Apply using a small paintbrush or cotton-tipped swab. Allow to dry and apply again as needed. As above, this method is best used on a hidden scratch first to find out how the wood reacts to the treatment.

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