7 Brilliant Ways to Use Leftover Coffee and Coffee Grounds

Coffee, for as long as I can remember, has been part of my morning routine. Iced or hot, I’ll take it any way I can get it. And during COVID-19, well, coffee has been consumed even more so than during a normal week—which means more used coffee grounds and more leftover coffee and cold brew in various cups lying around the house.

After chatting with a few of my favorite coffee producers and brands, including Slingshot Coffee Company, Little Waves Coffee Roasters and Kaldi’s Coffee, I learned several tips and tricks for how to reuse coffee grounds and leftover caffeinated morning juice for sauces, jams, and even a sinful ice cream topping. Coffee-marinated meat? You bet. And it's so good. “Cold brew concentrate works great as a sauce base since it provides good viscosity and mouthfeel, depth of flavor, and aromatics. [It’s also] a good bonding agent for the additional oils, sugars, spices, and vinegars that, when blended evenly, distribute the flavors through the meat,” says Jenny Bonchak, founder of Slingshot Coffee Company.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

Insider tip: during COVID-19, many coffee brands and roasters are trying to stay afloat. From Slingshot’s free shipping, Kaldi’s Gratitude Blend and coffee subscriptions, and Little Waves’ daily goal to sell/ship 230 bags of beans to stay current with employee pay and bills, there’s never been a better time to stock up on all the caffeinated goods.

So with that being said, check out 7 mouthwatering ways to use up leftover coffee and coffee grounds.

Add Brewed Coffee to Chili Base

Just like you would with leftover wine, toss any leftover coffee lying around in a pot of chili. Coffee and meat share similar earthy flavors so they will go hand-in-hand in this equation. The stronger the brewed coffee, the more smoky and aromatic the chili.

Cold Brew Steak Marinade

Whether you make cold brew concentrate at home with the Toddy Cold Brew System or simplify with Slingshot’s fruity, juicy cold brew concentrate, keep a little handy for this incredible steak marinade. It will not disappoint. “The cold brew has its own natural sugars that lend to the caramelization during the cooking process,” says Bonchak. “Those warm toasty notes of caramel, chocolate, and nuts that you get from a great coffee become deeper as the marinade/sauce on the meat is set over flame and heat, continuing to caramelize and add depth and natural sweetness.”

Slingshot’s Cold Brew Marinade


  • Steaks of choice (enough for 2-4 steaks, depending on size, about 2 pounds of meat)
  • 3/4 cup Slingshot Cold Brew Concentrate
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt

1. Whisk ingredients in a bowl to mix. Soak steaks in a bag or bowl to marinade for one hour minimum.

2. Place steaks on grill and paint leftover marinade on top. Cook to a preferred temperature and enjoy.

Make Coffee Syrup for the Best Ice Cream Topping

Bonchak notes the simplicity of a coffee syrup and the uses are endless, starting with a dreamy drizzle atop vanilla ice cream on a hot summer day. Use a 1:1 ratio of cold brew concentrate and sugar, bring to medium heat in a saucepan, stir until sugar is dissolved, and you’re done. Another favorite is replacing Hershey’s Syrup with coffee syrup for a more grown up version of chocolate milk.

A Caffeinated Veggie or Fish Glaze

Bonchak also suggests building a sauce or glaze for both vegetables and fish by mixing coffee, maple syrup and soy sauce together. “Delicious,” she says. The best part? It’s actual ingredients you have sitting around in the refrigerator or pantry—and a fun way to utilize that last couple sips of coffee you weren’t able to consume.

Make a Dry Rub with Leftover Coffee Grounds

I basically got bored one afternoon and decided to experiment with used coffee grounds in an attempt to make a dry rub for a cornish hen and it turned out to be a new favorite pastime. And it’s this simple: Drain leftover coffee grounds from the morning, mix in herbs of choice (I highly recommend Spicewalla Modena Balsamic Rub, as it’s my all time favorite) and a little sea salt (I used Hatteras Saltworks to support local) and let dry in the sun on a tea towel. Once it’s dry, continue as you normally would, and rub/massage the chicken with the mix then let it sit for a bit to absorb flavors. Once it’s grilled to perfection, get ready for an amplified, perfectly spiced piece of poultry. But don't stop there; you could use this rub on anything from skirt steak to pork tenderloin.

Coffee-Bacon Jam

“Coffee-bacon jam is a recipe that I've used in the past for a few of our coffee-infused dinners,” says Frank McGinty, Director of Marketing and Chef of Kaldi’s Coffee. “It works great on a charcuterie board, tossed in pasta, as a garnish for meats, etc.,” he adds, plus it’s a delicious combination of sweet, savory and salty in one place. Make it, store it, and whip it out to impress guests or enhance basically anything lackluster. Pro tip: slather it on a pimento cheese-topped cracker for the ultimate bite.

Kaldi’s Coffee Bacon Jam


  • 1 pound bacon, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1. In a large sauté pan, render bacon for 7 to 8 minutes over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 5 to 6 minutes before adding garlic.

2. Allow to cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, until fragrant, and add brewed coffee, brown sugar and thyme. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, adding water if needed.

3. Season with salt and pepper and pulse in the food processor to your desired texture. Allow to cool, place in a jar and refrigerate until needed.

Coffee Is Also for Cocktails

Dial it up a notch for early evening coffee cocktails, one of Bonchak’s favorite porch activities. Her favorite, a "Cold Brewlavardier,” is simply equal parts Rye whiskey, cold brew, Campari and Vermouth. It’s just enough perk me up to get you through evening chores and dinner, but also a delicious way to jazz up a classic Boulevardier. A coffee-induced Negroni also sounds appealing, or really anything in the dark liquor department will mix well.

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