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Coffe grounds in compost

Vashon, WA(Zone 8b)

Hi All, I have a question about composting coffee grounds for anyone who might know. I collect the compost several times a week from a coffee shop. I add most of it to my compost heap after using the first few loads I got to mulch blueberry bushes. I also put kitchen scraps in the compost bin. This seems to be a very wet, heavy mixture of stuff at the moment, and I know I should try to achieve some kind of balance between 'brown' and 'green' materials according to various sources on successful composting.
So...are coffee grounds considered a 'brown' or a 'green' ingredient of compost?
What kinds of additional materials can be added to the coffee grounds to make a good compost mix?

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

It might be better to consider low nitrogen high carbon and low carbon and high nitrogen mixes. Things like twigs, leaves, sawdust, straw, etc. are high in carbon and low in nitrogen(browns), things that are high in nitrogen are grass clippings, alfalfa, kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, etc. (greens)

Provo, UT(Zone 5a)

hi maury..youre not alone in collecting tons of coffee grounds..and adding
them to all things gardening..:)
i would think of coffee as a green.. theres a very slight amount of N in them..
but they wont "heat"up your compost like a high N source.. manure,blood meal..etc...
i think youre right on with thinking of adding more carbon ( browns) to your compost..
will slow things down..but youre end volume of compost will be greater..
end of growing season..i throw them all over the dug up gardens here..vegy and flower areas.. the vegy garden gets dug in (because of alot of shredded leaves/straw/manue).. but the coffee grounds always get worked in to other areas
i put them.. also including the lawns..
good luck to ya!!!!

Vashon, WA(Zone 8b)

Thanks for the information. So--- coffee grounds are 'green' for compost purposes, even if they are dark brown in actual color. I'll need to search out some sources of carbon material for my pile, since I currently have so much green material coming in.

Provo, UT(Zone 5a)

way to go maury...
your plants and soil will appreciate all the compost u give them..
my neighbours think im nuts with all the composting i do..and hauling in
of leaves and manure.. i just tell now high ground in the neighbourhood..
so if we sellin tickets.. LOL :)
this fall dont miss the opportunity to collect bagged leaves in the neighbourhood..
mow them down.. leaves are one of the best things for composting...
and better yet.. theyre free !!!!!!! :)
good luck to ya....

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

By-the-way, maury, worms really love coffee grounds.

When I don't have a lot of other browns to add to my compost, I'll dump the shreddings from my paper shredder Just be sure to stir them in a bit so they don't pack down.

Sawdust is also great to use, but generally it's better if it's allowed to rot a little first, although I have sometimes added it directly to my compost. My husband enjoys woodworking so he dumps his sawdust collector into big plastic bags. Now we have a fenced-in pile of sawdust in the back of the yard that's breaking down. Once it rots some more I'll be able to add it a little at a time to the compost.

I found this article about coffee grounds kind of interesting. It's from Washington State University about some experimenting they did.

Vashon, WA(Zone 8b)

I just got a pick-up load of bedding straw mixed with some manure from a dairy. I have a source of shredded paper. Hopefully the worms will find my compost heap soon.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

maury - build it and they will come ^_^

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

welcome maury!
I don't need to add anything to the good advice already. Well, but I will bear in mind that coffee grounds arrive very moist. Lack of aeration is a possible problem with a lot of moist and/or finely ground material. Coffee and kitchen waste would be a very moist 'green' mix. (Been there done that, yuck) Suggest you stir more frequently, do not pile it too high.
Fall leaves are a great balance to coffee grounds. Straw too if its cheap. Leaves and straw have the natural coarseness that helps keep if fluffy.

Or you can stir the grounds directly into the top of garden soil.

Vashon, WA(Zone 8b)

It will be a lot easier to achieve a good compost balance in the fall when I can get leaves. The straw I got isn't exactly fluffy, since it has been trodden on and, well, pooped on by cows. However, it seems to be helping.

Provo, UT(Zone 5a)

everything seems to be pricey anymore..
im lucky i know a couple people that keep horses..and they let me
collect rotted broke bales of straw..
leaves..i collect alot every fall..only time we compost nuts can get them..
:) so... :)
every yr..i think omg..what am i gonna do with all those bags of leaves..
and..come summer.. the next yr.. there almost all gone..using in compost,mulching...
i tend to turn my compost more often.. i let it go in last "cook" longer..hoping to
let it get real hot..and kill any weed seeds..

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

by the way- black soldier fly larvae are super good in compost, and they love coffee grounds.

Vashon, WA(Zone 8b)

Here's a picture of my compost pile in progress. I've been layering the coffee grounds and kitchen waste with the straw and cow manure mixture.

Thumbnail by mauryhillfarm
Helena, MT

maaury, I collect two to four five gallon buckets of coffee grounds each week from one of the small drive through coffee shops. I use them in my indoor and out door compost bins as well as mixing them with two year old cow manure to till into my drop rows before planting in the spring.

One thing I have noticed about coffee grounds is they do tend to compact the compost media and hold water so I have to use them sparingly in the compost bins, however I have noticed that mixing grounds in with the cow manure has made a big difference in the water holding capacity of my porous garden soil.

I plan on setting up my six raised beds with a mix of coffee grounds. cow manure and compost worms this fall and leaving them set until spring. I cover these beds with a layer of straw and black plastic mulch. Them I cover the tops of the raise beds with old window panes. Since these beds are dug down about four feet below the 18" side walls there is enough heat for the worms to survive until spring.

Dallas, TX

Does it matter if the grounds are from regular or decaf? I know that sounds silly. But I promised to get some coffee grounds for someone and am just anticipating what I might be asked when I go to a local coffee shop.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Does not matter.

Virginia Beach, VA

I am impress with your preparation. I had not read the whole thread, did you buy your worms somewhere. Been planning to buy some but I have tons of them enough to give to the kois.

Good job!!!!


Helena, MT

bellieg, my worms originally came from a neighbor.s leaf pile back in the early 60's. I experimented with purchasing some European night crawlers several years ago, but they didn't fare well so I dumped them in a raise bed where they migrated out into the garden and other places. I occasionally find one digging in the garden or traveling across the yard after a rain.. I now have what I call the fraken worm in my garden after ten years of trying to establish some kind of worm there.They are a creamy color with a vivid pink ring and the size of a night crawler. No one seems to know what they are. I tried fishing with a couple and they were just too soft. Lasted only one cast and nothing would stirke them. I do use Canadian night crawlers for fishing and I only use the tail section. The head with ring goes into the outdoor compost bin and when I turn that bin I see a few along with the red wigglers. Tried to put some of the franken worms in that bin as well.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Those sound like a(the) rare giant earthworm , creamy with large red or pink band ,
I use have some , have seen two types of them ,
I know in 1978 , The ones I had were on the endangered list , (strange place for a worm )
Their still around though .

Lets see if the links work for me , I'm not good at this;

Like said ; none of those worked .
AS is Giant Palouse Earthworm (Driloleirus americanus) this will have to do .

This message was edited Oct 1, 2013 11:21 PM

Helena, MT

Will give it a try juhur. I was thinking since these worms seemed to come out of nowhere that possibly they were a hybrid of those which I had introduced to the garden.

I did some digging of what was left of the potatoes in my garden two days ago and found a few more of these worms, only they have darkened up somewhat, but still the same worm. I thought about taking some to the local county extension office here for identification, but my previous dealing with them have been disappointing.

You have given me an idea though juhur. There may be some place where I can send these worms for identification. I will look into that after reviewing your source here.

Virginia Beach, VA

Now I am curious, what are the measurement of these worms?


Helena, MT

Typical approximately ten inch night crawler size. I did email Idaho University to ask for assistance in identifying. Haven't heard any thing back from them yet.

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