Hey, I was given a used coffee grounds label this morning. Evidently larger volume Starbucks stores are experiencing such a demand for their coffee grounds that they don't just hand over a 15# bag to just one person in favor of splitting the grounds up into 3# and 5# bags so they can be spread out amongst more gardeners. Makes sense for a larger volume store as they can spread more good will. The Starbucks I've been going to only has a few gardeners coming in regularly to ask for their grounds so they don't bother packaging it in favor of just handing over a whole tall kitchen garbage bag to which ever one of us gets there first. Starbucks corporate provides locations with sticky labels that have basic info about the coffee they use as well as basic composting direction. I guess it's up to the individual location manager whether or not to use them or not. The location I go to doesn't use them but when I asked why no decaffeinated grounds should go in a composter this morning as well as what the pH of their coffee grounds was, I was given a label to take home.
Here's what the label says-
Used Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds are a nutritional additive for your soil. During the brewing process most of the acidity is removed, leaving used grounds with an average oH of 6.9 and a carbon-nitrogen ratio of 20-1.
Add grounds directly to your garden...
Apply this "green" material as a side dressing of nitrogen loving plants, including most perennials and Allium plants. Balance the nutrition of your soil with "brown" materials such as leaves and dried grass.
Or to your compost...
Combine with "brown" materials in your compost pile. Use grounds within 2-3 weeks of brewing to capture the most nutritional value.
This is just for Starbucks coffees. Regarding the decaffeination process, the manager claimed that they were using chemicals that they didn't believe should be added to a composter in their process for all but one of their special blends. He could not name the chemicals but stated it is their hope to continue eliminating chemicals from the decaffeination process of all of their coffees in favor of natural decaffeination in the near future.
Being the curious person I am and being that we use Folgers and Maxwell House over here depending on which one is on sale, I contacted both of them because I want grounds that are acidic for some of my acid lovers. This is the content of my e-mail to Folgers-
I use coffee grounds in my composter but I also use them directly in garden beds. What is the average pH of Folgers' used coffee grounds?
Next question- other than your one brand of coffee 'Simply Smooth' which states no chemicals are used processing this coffee... what chemicals are used in the decaffeination process of your other brands?
The reference number for my question is '080501-001228'.
Then I contacted Maxwell House-
When I asked what chemicals were used in the decaffeination process, the gal read from a script which claimed no harsh chemicals were used. I asked her to define harsh. She couldn't do that. I asked her to provide me with the names of the not-harsh chemicals they were using, she couldn't do that.
Average pH of their Medium Dark coffee grounds is stated as being acidic not slightly acidic.
Here's my e-mail to Kraft Foods-
I use coffee grounds in my composter but I also use them directly in garden beds. What is the average pH of Maxwell House's coffee grounds as in after they have been brewed?
These are the brands we use at home-
sometimes Slow Roast
I'm sort of hoping used coffee grounds are slightly acidic as I have some plants that are acid lovers. The gal from customer service stated the coffee had a pH of 4.0 which I have difficulty believing but would be thoroughly ecstatic were it true. Remember, I am inquiring about the average pH of coffee grounds not the actual cup of coffee.
Next question- when I contacted your customer service department regarding what chemicals are used decaffeinating your coffee, I was told that no harsh chemicals were used in the process. I then asked her to provide me with the names of the non-harsh chemicals used in the decaffeination process and she was not able to do so. Please provide me with the actual chemicals being used in your decaffeination process.
I'm just trying to determine whether or not I can use coffee grounds from decaffeinated coffee in my composter.
Thanks so much,
Bottom line, I think I'm going to toss coffee that hasn't been brewed around the bases of some of my plants! 4.0, which I suspect would be a similar pH for Folgers coffee in the cup, works for me because the longer it sits around in a cup... the lower the pH! Would probably be a nice slow release acid for around the base of at least some of my plants.
So now I know more about coffee grounds than I ever wanted or needed to know and that's without receiving replies to my inquiries. I think I'll just toss the decaffeinated coffee grounds in my wormless composter along with the other coffee grounds per doccat.