Score Free Coffee Grounds At Starbucks For Your Compost Heap

Living in the big city and not having access to any sort of garden of my own, composting is the last thing on my mind when I step into a Starbucks. But for those of you who could use some material for your compost heap, the coffee giant will apparently hand over their used grounds free of charge. Just ask the 94-year-old man in Texas, who does this every single day.

For about four years, the nonagenarian has been stopping by his local ‘Bucks every day to pick up around 20 lbs. of used coffee grounds for use at his sons’ farms and which he also feeds to worms he raises.

According to the workers at this Starbucks, there are a few other people who come by on a weekly basis to get some free coffee grounds for their own compost heaps.

Have any of you ever tried this?

94-year-old makes a different kind of Starbucks run []


Edit Your Comment

  1. ShruggingGalt says:

    Known about it for years, but haven’t asked for any. We make our own coffee grounds for compost at home.

    Side note: Hopefully he’ll avoid going over the speed limit and getting tasered on his daily journey……

  2. cosmic.charlie says:

    The starbucks in the tri-state tollway oasis in Illinois has a bin sitting in front of the counter with the bags of used grounds.

    All you have to do is go in and grab them.

  3. JollyJumjuck says:

    Once it becomes popular, they’ll charge for it. Corporations have to commoditize everything.

    • strathmeyer says:

      Not until people figure out they can make their own used coffee grounds at home???

      • Anonymously says:

        You can do both. Make yours at home and get some for free at Starbucks.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Except maybe you don’t drink coffee, but still want grounds because it benefits your compost heap.

      • MaxPower says:

        You can also make coffee at home and yet they have still made billions of dollars selling it.

    • zifnab0 says:

      That’s because everything is a commodity, including garbage.

      This is a great example of recycling, and I applaud Starbucks for trying to create a market (although inadvertently) to exploit their refuse.

      I’m still not going to pay $4 for a cup of coffee, however.

      • johnmc says:

        The largest cup of regular coffee that Starbucks sells is $2 (at least in CA, YMMV elsewhere). Sure, their espresso drinks are more, but this whole “$4 for a cup of coffee” is a little old.

  4. AnonymousCoward says:

    This has been going on for years. Most stores have a bin somewhere near the door with the bags of grounds. If you ask, they’ll save them for you, too.

    The bags of wet, used grounds are damn, heavy, though. Go to a Starbucks where you can park near the door. And there might be a little coffee on the outside of the bags. Don’t wear your best white linen skirt.

  5. aja175 says:

    I tried that compost thing… It’s illegal in Buffalo NY.

  6. ssaoi says:

    Also works wonders for getting rid of fire ants!

  7. chiieddy says:

    A few years ago, my husband’s Starbucks had a sign out they could take grounds, and no one did, so they took down the sign. All you have to do is ask, however. I’m more ‘in the know’ than most people about Starbucks, so I’m not really a fair gauge.

    Coffee grounds scattered in your garden will keep pests away as well.

  8. ExtraCelestial says:

    They were doing this at the Starbucks I worked at 8 years ago. It was mostly just hippies taking advantage of it back then.

  9. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    a lot of local places do it too, not just starbucks. here’s one i know about

    Company: Counter Culture Coffee
    Material Name: coffee grounds and coffee chaff
    Sustainability and Producer Relations Manager
    Frequency available: continuous
    Future quantities of material: 30 gallons,week

  10. JulesNoctambule says:

    I used to work in a coffee bar, and we had a few regulars who would pick up our grounds to use in compost. I liked it — less to be hauled out to the dumpster!

  11. chaesar says:

    yeah but your vegetables will come out tasting burnt

  12. Bob LeDrew says:

    The Bridgehead chain here in Ottawa does this. The coffee grounds are super for the compost. Little known and tangentially related fact — once malted barley is used to make the “beer” (liquid used to begin the distilling process), the spent barley, known as draff, is used as cattle feed. Happy Highland cows!

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      You probably won’t find a brewery that doesn’t do this. Spent barley is really good for the cows, and the brewery has to get rid of it somehow.

  13. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    I could have swore you composted Chris, judging by the quality of your pos…..ies. Yes, I heard you have very nice nosegays.

  14. nyCecilia says:

    Was doing it up until last year. This year, all the Starbucks near me seem to have stopped :(

  15. Miz_Ivy says:

    They’ve been doing this for years. A lot of them even have a big basket on the floor near the register, with grounds all bagged up and ready to take free of charge.

    Even if you don’t compost, coffee grounds make excellent rose fertilizer on their own.

  16. Taliskan says:

    Also good to spread around your tomatoes, hydrangeas, and rhododendrons.

    • Hoss says:

      On the hydrangeas, only if you like blue since the coffee will lower soil PH

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Mmmmm, Tomafienne. Just slightly better than Tomacco.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      i’ve been told it’s a good repellent against the worm things that like to eat tomatoes and tobacco plants

  17. stormbird says:

    Coffee trees evolved caffeine as an insecticide. There should be enough left over in the grounds to repel some bugs.

  18. evnmorlo says:

    I would try to make coffee with the grounds first

  19. janeslogin says:

    Old news but useful information as far as it goes I suppose. Not all Starbucks do it. A few places it is not legal.

  20. operator207 says:

    Done this for years. Unfortunately I have not done this for at least a year. Apparently someone started talking about this, and now everyone is grabbing them up before I can get to the 3 starbucks in my area to grab a couple bags. Oh well.

  21. PhineasNanerpuss says:

    most/all Starbucks stores will provide used grounds from the bars/brewers during the summer (when there’s a demand) or upon request. I can’t speak for every Starbucks employee but I know I bristle when someone I’ve never seen before walks in without making a purchase and demands grounds. I know they’re free, but have you no shame?

  22. kutsuwamushi says:

    It’s not just Starbucks. If you want grounds, it’s worth asking at the counter at your local shop too. Just offer to bring your own bucket. Most stores will just have to throw away the grounds, and it can actually save them some trouble if you take them away for them. (Having to empty the trash less often!)

    Make it a smaller bucket, though, because wet grounds are heavy.

  23. clatko says:

    Yes, the Starbucks my wife works at does this as well.

  24. mommiest says:

    Actually, any friendly coffee shop will do this for you. Just ask.

  25. Snaptastic says:

    Yup, I’ve done it before. Earwigs HATE the stuff.

    I realized after the fact though that my neighbors must think the worst of me one day as I spread out the grounds. I’m reaching into the bag, pulling out espresso grounds (they are shaped like hockey pucks because of the press), and sniffing them to try and determine which type of coffee was used.

    …All my neighbors saw was me reaching into a bag of brown stuff, pulling out clumps, sniffing them deeply, then grinding them up and working them into the dirt.

  26. phead says:


    Round here we use coffee grounds as a slug repellent, and they work really well. I wouldn’t waste them on a compost heap.

  27. Bohemian says:

    Starbucks and Caribou Coffee around here will do this for you. They usually set out the bags to grab in the spring. We generate enough grounds in a day to keep our compost bin busy.