coffee explained

Can You Eat Coffee Grounds?


Coffee grounds are edible, but as you can imagine, this doesn’t tell you much about whether or not you should eat them. Let’s take a look at just how safe it is to eat coffee grounds and what you can expect afterwards. What’s more, we have provided a few ideas on how you can eat the coffee grounds as well. Let’s begin!

Is It Safe to Eat Coffee Grounds?

Here’s a fun fact: did you know that people have been consuming coffee for over a thousand years? However, it wasn’t always drunk.

It is believed that Early African tribes mixed coffee berries – beans and all – with animal fat and ate them for energy. Many researchers theorize that coffee was only turned into a beverage somewhere around AD 1000. This goes to show that coffee beans are, in fact, edible.

That’s great news, but is it safe to consume coffee grounds? For the most part, it is completely safe to do so, but there is a small caveat.

Coffee beans, and consecutively coffee grounds, contain a component known as diterpene compounds. These are associated with raising your blood cholesterol levels. You are not exposed to these compounds when you drink coffee as they are filtered out.

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This doesn’t mean that you can’t eat coffee grounds, however. Rather, you should be aware of this information so that you can adjust your consumption of coffee beans accordingly.

Before eating coffee grounds, also consider your current reaction to drinking coffee. Do you notice any adverse effects when you drink coffee? The beverage doesn’t agree with everyone and can cause problems. For instance, it can act as a laxative for some.

If you do experience any side effects when you drink coffee, there is a good chance that eating coffee grounds will also cause issues for you. As such, you should steer clear of it. However, if you can tolerate regular coffee without any problem, don’t hesitate to try out the ground beans!

What Do Coffee Grounds Taste Like?

First things first, you may not want to eat a teaspoon of coffee grounds as is. It is not the taste that you have to worry about – the texture of the grounds can be pretty unpleasant. Your best option is to add the grounds to other ingredients before eating it.

Still, what do coffee grounds taste like?

Well, this does depend on the kind of coffee grounds you are using. The taste can vary depending on the type of bean, where the coffee was grown, and how it was processed. Naturally, a dark roast is going to be more bitter than a light or medium roast.

It should be noted that your coffee grounds may not have the same complex notes as your brew. This is because the hot water extracts these flavors and aromas. However, you will still be able to enjoy a smoky, nutty, flowery, or even herby flavor.

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Most coffee brands will give you some idea of what kind of flavors and notes to expect with each bag. This should give you a heads up on what you end up tasting.

Should You Eat Fresh or Used Coffee Grounds?

Well, it is possible to consume both fresh and used grounds. The grounds are still edible even when they have been exposed to hot water.

Naturally, used coffee grounds will have a more muted flavor than the fresh kind. If you find fresh grounds to be a bit too strong, this can be a positive thing. In the end, it is just a matter of preference. Of course, eating used coffee grounds can be a great way to cut down on waste.

Just make sure to consume the grounds shortly after they have been brewed. Wet coffee grounds can be a breeding ground for bacteria. If you aren’t going to consume the grounds straightaway, it is a good idea to refrigerate them until you do.

What Happens When You Eat Coffee Grounds?

Eating coffee grounds can seem like a pretty strange idea. It’s only natural to wonder what happens to your body after you eat them.

Well, there’s no need to worry. Your body digests coffee grounds the same way as it does any kind of food. As the coffee grounds move through your digestive system, the various components of the coffee will be extracted. These will then be absorbed into your bloodstream.

In many ways, these effects can be amplified when you eat the coffee grounds rather than when you drink coffee. Bear in mind, however, that when coffee grounds are steeped in water, only some of the compounds make their way into the brew.

When you eat coffee grounds, your body will absorb almost all the substances present in the beans. This can be both beneficial as well as a disadvantage, depending on the component that is absorbed.

Can You Eat Coffee Grounds for Caffeine?

One of the main reasons that you indulge in one or more cups of java each day is for the caffeine fix. Is this something that you can expect when you eat coffee grounds? And, how much caffeine can you consume in this way?

There is some evidence that you may get a faster caffeine fix when you chew coffee grounds. This is because the caffeine is more readily absorbed in your mouth. However, the total caffeine absorption over a period of time doesn’t change.

How Much Coffee Grounds Can You Safely Consume?

Caffeine can certainly provide you with a boost, but in large quantities it can be quite dangerous. A caffeine overdose can occur if you consume around 5 to 10g of caffeine in total. However, various factors such as body weight can impact at what point toxicity sets in.

Consuming too much caffeine can result in vomiting, agitation, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, arrhythmias of the heart. Although rare, it is also possible to go into cardiac arrest after drinking too much coffee.

Most experts would advise you to consume between 200mg and 400mg of caffeine in total – no more than this.

You should also be aware that some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. This means that they will be affected by smaller quantities of caffeine. It can take longer for the caffeine to leave the system as well.

In this instance, you can try decaf coffee. Keep in mind that even decaffeinated coffee will contain some caffeine.

Now, the exact amount of caffeine in your ground coffee can vary quite a bit. This means that depending on the brand, two tablespoons of coffee can contain anywhere between 60mg to over 100mg of caffeine.

It is a good idea to check the brand that you’re using to know how much caffeine is in each tablespoon. When in doubt, less is always more.

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Always start with a smaller quantity – around one teaspoon. Depending on how you feel after this, you can slowly increase your intake with time. The moment you begin to notice any adverse effects, cut down on your consumption.

However, considering that coffee grounds can increase your blood cholesterol level, it is a good idea to not consume more than two tablespoons at a time. Also, you may only want to eat coffee grounds occasionally instead of every day.

Benefits of Eating Coffee Grounds

Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits that you can enjoy when eating coffee grounds:

Stimulating Effects of Caffeine

Caffeine doesn’t just give you more energy, it can also help you feel more alert as well. In fact, you may be able to notice a general improvement in your mental abilities. You should find it easier to concentrate and perform various cognitive tasks with fewer mistakes.

Reduced Risk of Cancer

A collective body of research found that drinking at least one cup of coffee a day – around two tablespoons of coffee grounds – can reduce your risk of cancer. It was estimated that this lowered risk was around 3 percent for a wide variety of cancers.

The type of cancers include leukemia, breast, colorectal, esophageal, bladder, endometrial, pancreatic, and prostate.

Lowered Chance of Liver Disease

It also appears that coffee has a protective effect on your liver. People who drank moderate to high levels of coffee were less likely to develop liver cirrhosis and fibrosis. This effect was even noticed in individuals who had sustained liver damage as a result of excessive alcohol consumption.

Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Drinking coffee every day was also associated with a reduced chance of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, the more coffee consumed, the better the odds were. Therefore, eating coffee grounds is bound to have the same benefit. This was result was also found with decaffeinated coffee.

Lowered Chance of Brain Disorders

It appears that coffee – and coffee grounds – can have a pretty impressive impact on your mental wellbeing as a whole. To begin with, coffee can potentially have a protective effect against depression.

Coffee may also prevent cognitive decline, particularly memory issues associated with Alzheimer’s disease. A regular intake of coffee may also be able to lower your risk of Parkinson’s disease.

How to Eat Coffee Grounds

As mentioned, swallowing a spoonful of coffee grounds isn’t the most appealing idea. Well, luckily for you, there are numerous ways you can include coffee grounds in your food.

Meat Rubs

You may not think that coffee and meat go together, but you would be wrong. One of the best ways to include coffee grounds is by using it in a meat rub before barbecuing your meat.

There are a few different reasons why coffee grounds work so well in this capacity. First of all, the coffee grounds are slightly acidic. As a result, it helps to break down the surface proteins and boost the natural flavors of the meat. This makes for a more juicy and tasty barbecue.

Another effect of coffee grounds is that it forms a protective layer when the meat is being grilled. The grounds get nice and charred but ensure that the inside of the meat stays moist. This gives you the best of both worlds.

Coffee Seasoning

Mix ground coffee with cinnamon, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and whatever other combination that you like. Then, toss it into some sweet potato fries or any other vegetable and roast.

This will help make any vegetable dish more interesting. However, this seasoning is especially good for sweeter vegetables as the slightly bitter coffee offsets the flavor.

Chocolate-Based Desserts

Coffee grounds work well with any dessert – after all, the taste of coffee does go with most sweet delicacies. Nevertheless, coffee has a special impact on chocolate. It helps to boost the chocolate taste creating a deeper and more complex flavor.

Due to this, you can add coffee grounds to any chocolate dessert that you like. This includes cookies, brownies, cakes, and everything in between.

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Toasted Coffee Chips

Want to snack on your coffee grounds? Well, turn them into chips. All you have to do is get some wraps and cut them up into small triangles. Rub them with oil and sprinkle with sugar and ground coffee. Then bake until crunchy.

What’s great about this snack is that you have the freedom to choose from a wide variety of dips. Chocolate, vanilla, dulce de leche – you just have to find your favorite combination. They are great with fruit as well.

Buttercream Frosting

If you’re looking to add flavor as well as texture to your buttercream frosting, coffee grounds are the way to go. You can add the coffee grounds along with the other flavorings and whip into the frosting well.

Now, coffee grounds would be the perfect pairing for something like an espresso frosting. However, there’s no need to limit yourself. It can be added to anything from vanilla to chocolate. The only thing that matters is that the flavor complements the cake or cupcakes as well as the flavor of the frosting.

Top Tips for Eating Coffee Grounds

Here are the top tips for eating coffee grounds or adding it to your food.

Use Good Quality Coffee

The quality of the coffee you use matters quite a bit. There is no denying that good quality coffee tastes better. There is less bitterness and you can enjoy more complex notes.

Remember, when you eat coffee grounds you will be able to taste all this directly. So, it makes sense to invest in a better brand of coffee. This is especially true when adding the coffee to recipes. Poor quality coffee grounds can ruin the recipe as a whole.

Add Fresh Ground Coffee to Recipes

If you want a great taste and good texture in your recipes, it is a good idea to use fresh ground coffee. Even though you may be trying to minimize food waste, fresh coffee grounds can’t be beat in terms of flavor and crunch.

When adding the coffee grounds to cake, brownie, or cookie batter, you can make used coffee grounds work. However, this isn’t the case with rubs, seasonings, and frostings. Thus, use the fresh version for these recipes, at least.

Start with Small Amounts

Even when you are following a recipe, it is a good idea to always start with a small amount of ground coffee. After all, it can be an acquired taste for some people. The last thing you want is to have to toss an entire dish away because you or your family doesn’t like the taste or texture very much.

So, it is a good idea to use a small quantity in the beginning – and make a small batch too. If you enjoy the flavor and the crunch, then you can add more in the future. It’s just a case of trial and error.

Minimize Addition of Unhealthy Ingredients

If you want to eat coffee grounds for its health benefits, try to be mindful of the other ingredients you add to the mix. After all, it doesn’t make much sense to eat coffee grounds if you’re going to add a ton of sugar, fat, and other ingredients on a regular basis. Limit these ingredients if you want to be truly healthy.

It’s a good idea to have a few healthy recipes on hand if you are planning on using coffee grounds on a regular basis. This will allow you to strike a good balance between taste and health.

There you have it – the answer to whether you can eat coffee grounds. While they are edible, and delicious, you also have to be careful.

It is important to consume coffee grounds in moderation. This ensures that you reap the health benefits of the grounds without also incurring the side effects. Thus, it will be a more enjoyable and delicious experience for you.

Now you know exactly how to find this balance. There are plenty of recipes for you to try out too. The only thing left to do is to take your taste buds on an adventure with this unusual ingredient!

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About the author


Samuel is a coffee lover and a writer. He's travelled extensively throughout Southeast Asia and has soaked up the sun, the culture, and of course - the coffee. He loves to write about his experiences, and he hopes to travel even more in the future.

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