12/22/2011 11:54 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The 5 Best Uses For Leftover Coffee


Photo Credit: Isabella Cucchi

Once I acquired my own kitchen (!), I quickly learned the economics of coffee. As any reasonable caffeine addict knows, buying coffee is insanely expensive. Honestly, it must be the most profitable business idea of the century. One Starbucks latte per day can cost you up to $1,820 per year. And it's 90% made up of heated water. Seriously?!

The first step is to get yourself a coffee machine or a French press. Making coffee for yourself is definitely cheaper. If you make a whole pot, chances are you're going to have some left over. Accurately predicting how much you will actually drink is difficult. You can store it in the fridge for future iced coffees, but that can get kind of boring, and in winter not too many people wake up wanting an ice cold beverage. So to get even more caffeinated bang for your buck, here are the best ways to reuse your coffee pot leftovers.

**Best Ways To Reuse Coffee**

Photo Credit: Isabella Cucchi

1. Coffee Ice Cubes. Remember that thing I just said about iced coffee? I am actually one of those people who wakes up in winter wanting an ice cold beverage. Namely, iced coffee. But iced coffee becomes watery all too quickly, and then you've wasted your precious caffeine. Or, like me, you find yourself drinking the coffee-water just so it doesn't go to waste. Solution! Freeze leftover coffee in an ice cube tray, so that when they melt you're just getting an extra jolt of caffeine.

2. Cocktails. When I was a kid, I discovered a coffee mug bearing the recipe for Irish Coffee in a house my family was renting for the summer. A friend and I tried to make it, not fully realizing that this was an adult beverage, but my parents acted too quickly for us to actually taste the fruits of our labor. They seemed pleased, though, to have the recipe handy, and there's a reason. Irish Coffee is delicious. It's basically a cup of coffee mixed with a bit of sugar and a shot of whiskey for good measure. Topped with whipped cream, cause, why not? It's essentially the precursor to Kahlua and cream. You can also make your own kahlua from that leftover coffee: Boil a pot of coffee with a lot of brown sugar, then remove from heat and add vanilla and vodka or Everclear (a quick internet search yields several good recipes). Use that for White Russians, or anything else that calls for Kahlua! On the flipside, try adding liquor into your coffee. The possibilities are endless.

3. Baked goods. Chocolate and coffee go together like...chocolate and almost anything else. But if you bake with chocolate often, you've probably encountered recipes for brownies and cakes that use espresso powder. The coffee deepens the chocolate flavor and makes it undeniably richer and more complex. The same principle applies to liquid coffee. It can be added to chocolate mousse, chocolate tarts, or brownies. It makes the best chocolate icing too. In fact, coffee can be used in any recipe that calls for water, since that's basically what it is.

4. Marinades. Coffee is a great addition to BBQ marinades. Much as with chocolate, it lends a depth of flavor that is difficult to replicate. It works especially well with beef, and it pairs nicely with brown sugar, black pepper, and other slightly smoky flavors. I'm fairly certain it would also be great in a molé sauce. Try it in this bacon jam, for instance. As you're making it, you'll discover it smells a lot like a BBQ.

5. Compost. It's not just the coffee itself that's useful, but the nasty grounds that clog up your sink drain as well! Used grounds can be tossed into your compost bin, or can be sprinkled on plants in your garden to enrich the soil. can also use coffee grounds as a DIY cellulite reducer: mix ¼ cup warm, used grounds with 1 tablespoon olive oil and apply to your skin where desired. Wrap with saran wrap and leave on for several minutes, then wash your skin in warm water. Who knows: might be worth a try?

Lily Bellow graduated in 2009 from Harvard University with a degree in English Literature. While in college, she bartended and cooked at the campus pub, and as a result has a difficult time eating chicken wings. She is the Managing Editor for Small Kitchen College.

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