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Bags for life... we think not!

6 great environmentally friendly uses for old coffee bags

December 14th 2021

By Savannah Coombe / 7 min read

How to make a homemade coffee body scrub

Our coffee bags are NOT ‘bags for life’ and this is something we couldn’t be prouder of. Our coffee bags are biodegradable and can be added to your food waste bin at the end of their lifespan. This minimises waste as much as possible. If this still isn’t enough, we wanted to compile a list of alternative uses for our coffee bags to really drive home the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ message:

Espresso Martini

Even ‘used’ coffee bags can have a second life as the espresso component of an espresso martini – the perfect holiday drink! Make sure you soak the bags for longer to extract more flavour. You can find the New Kings ‘Coffee Bag’ Espresso Martini recipe here.

If you are using bags that have already been used once to make coffee, here is a quick alteration to make sure you get their full flavour:

Boil your water and add it and your coffee bag to a mug. If you have collected several old bags, then you can add them all to the mug. Add one teaspoon of sugar for every coffee bag. Allow this to brew for 45 minutes. Remove the coffee bags and continue with the recipe (do not add extra sugar syrup and omit the steps on brewing your own coffee).

This creates a very strong espresso syrup, perfect for tasty espresso martinis!  

Vegan Coffee Brownies

Vegan Brownies

We have created the ULTIMATE vegan chocolate brownie recipe. Moist, gooey and chocolatey, this recipe really can do no wrong.

In the original recipe we used a new, unused coffee bag but there is no reason you can’t use an old one to reduce waste even further. Simply split the bag open after you use it and use the ground coffee inside in this recipe. We recommend tipping the used ground coffee into a bowl and letting it dry before adding it to the brownie batter.

Personal Care

Coffee Face Mask

Coffee masks are already extremely popular. The benefits of caffeine on the skin are widely reported – it’s great at brightening and evening out skin tone. It’s even thought to contain antioxidants and anti-ageing properties. It increases blood flow to reduce puffiness and swelling, draining the lymph nodes around the face and removing nasties. It’s super easy to make a DIY coffee mask at home.

This method utilises a used New Kings Coffee bag, but it is important to ensure this bag isn’t contaminated before you use it. One of the biggest skincare rules is that we don’t want to introduce any new bacteria to our faces during our skincare routine (especially from our hands). Any bags you use should come directly from a mug. If you have added milk, sugar or anything else to the mug you cannot use the coffee bag to make a mask. We would also advise against leaving the bag lying on the side of your kitchen counter for ages before you use it. Wash your hands before you begin to mix the mask or apply it to your face.

How to make a New Kings Coffee face mask:
1. Empty the contents of a used New Kings Coffee bag into a small bowl
2. Add one tablespoon of honey and mix with a tablespoon
3. Apply the mask to your face using the back of the tablespoon
4. Gently massage the mask over your skin with your (clean!) hands
5. Leave the mask for 20 minutes and rinse off with cold water (we recommend doing this in front of a sink or in the shower to avoid making a mess)

Honey has both antioxidizing, smoothing and moisturising properties. Massaging the mask in step 4 gets your blood flowing and allows the coffee grounds to gently buff the skin, creating a natural exfoliating effect and removing dead skin. It is important not to be too rough in this step as the facial skin is very delicate and removing too many layers can cause more damage in the future such as dryness and acne breakouts. Rinsing with cold water closes the pores which have been opened during the mask process to prevent future bacteria from getting in. We do not recommend storing this mask, you will want to make it fresh each time. 

Homemade coffee body scrub

Body Scrub

Unlike the face, most skin elsewhere on our body can take a more intense scrub. Some places that body scrubs are particularly good for include the arms, legs, bottom, shoulders, back, feet and hands. Exposure to the elements creates a thick layer of built-up dead skin which dries out and can leave our body looking parched and dry. It can even lead to acne breakouts in strange places or skin conditions such as eczema. If you are dealing with skin conditions such as eczema however, it is recommended to see a professional dermatologist rather than treating it with DIY skincare. Areas such as the stomach tend not to be exposed to the elements as much and don’t often need to be scrubbed.

You’ll need to collect a few used coffee bags for this recipe as you’ll need quite a lot of coffee grounds to make an effective scrub (between 6 to 8 bags). Unlike the face mask, it is okay to store these for a while before using them in your scrub.

How to make a New Kings Coffee body scrub:
1. Add the contents of 6-8 coffee bags to a bowl
2. Add ½ cup of brown sugar
3. Add ½ cup of melted coconut oil
4. Allow to cool slightly until the mixture is a warm temperature that can comfortably be added to the skin
5. Gently massage it all over the body as needed
6. Wash off in the shower (be careful as the coconut oil can make surfaces slippery)
7. Optional: apply a moisturiser such as coconut oil or body butter

You probably have already heard that coffee grounds make a great fertiliser. They contain several imperative nutrients that nourish and replenish the soil after the plant has used all available nutrients. This includes iron, potassium, nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and chromium. Most pot plants and gardens need some type of fertiliser to ensure your plants continue to grow. It’s also possible that coffee grounds can absorb heavy metals in the soil that damage your plant.

Simply open your used New Kings Coffee bag and sprinkle the ground coffee over the soil around your plant. Dispose of the bag itself in your food waste bin. If you’re using the fertiliser outside, it can also attract worms which are great for the health of your plants. It repels harmful insects and bugs however, providing even more protection for your plant.

You can also use your coffee grounds to make compost to use to fertilise your plants later. If you’re into composting, you probably already know what it is. Just in case you don’t, it’s the process where organic items turn into a dark, nutrient-rich material. Compost is also known as humus. This material is highly beneficial to plants and helps the soil hold onto more nutrients and water. Other organic materials that can go on your compost heap include bark, leaves, grass clippings, stale bread, fruit and vegetable waste, eggshells and herbs. Please avoid using meat and fish waste, grease and oils, dairy products and diseased plants as these can attract rats and create big issues. 

Fertilize your plants with coffee grounds


Old coffee grounds have several functions when it comes to cleaning. It can act in a similar way to a scrub and help remove built up grease and grime from surfaces, especially if you like to avoid cleaning chemicals. Be careful on porous materials, such as wood, as the grounds may leave brown stains behind. Studies have shown coffee grounds may even have a sanitising effect due to their antibacterial and antiviral properties. Use them to scrub sinks, polish cookware or clean grills. Use it to scrub and clean pots and pans that have built up significant amounts of grime. Pour the used coffee grounds on a pot and scrub it down using a wet cloth. Do not use it on any non-stick items as the coffee grounds will scrub off the non-stick coating. You can put old coffee grounds in your fireplace to weigh down the ashes before cleaning it. The grounds stop clouds of ash from forming as you sweep and makes cleaning the fireplace a lot simpler without spreading a layer of ash over everything you own. Coffee grounds can also have deodorising effects as they contain nitrogen which neutralises bad smells. Put a bowl of coffee grounds in your fridge or near pungent food to remove odours from the air. Fill socks or similar items with coffee grounds and leave them around the house to create a fresh smelling environment. Some people even say that scrubbing your hands with coffee grounds after cutting onions or garlic will help remove the smell from your fingers. 

Products talked about in the blog post