Do you have a can of instant coffee sitting in your cupboard that you hardly ever touch? It makes sense — though it might take a little longer than stirring in crystalized grounds, most of us prefer the richer flavor of brewing up a pot of regular coffee. But instant coffee isn’t without its own perks, and most of them have nothing to do with your morning pick-me-up.
You can add it in when baking sweets like cookies, cakes, and ice cream to get that coffee flavor, but you might be surprised to know it works in savory recipes, too. Plus, you can benefit from sprinkling some around the garden or using in your beauty routine.
Take a look to see all the amazing ways you can get more use out of instant coffee than just drinking it.
Make a Savory Steak Rub
Don't worry, the meat won't suddenly taste like your morning brew. All you need is a small dash (about a teaspoon) to liven up the overall flavor. Take a look at our recipe for coffee-rubbed rib-eye steak!
Add to Spaghetti Bolognese
This sounds like another pretty strange food combination, but people swear by it. When a British grocery store promoted the trick in 2015 it caused quite a stir on Twitter. But once people started trying it, most were pleasantly surprised by how it elevated the depth of flavor in the Italian dish. Again, you just need a dash in the sauce.
Perk Up Your Plants
According to the experts at HGTV, coffee can release beneficial minerals like nitrogen, potassium, and magnesium as it breaks down in your plants' soil. It can also help balance the alkaline and pH levels. Because instant coffee is a crystalized version of already-brewed coffee, you can skip the step making a pot and use this as a ready-made option.
Keep Pests Away
Keeping critters at bay is another benefit of putting coffee in your garden soil, but it can also be used around the house. According to a 2004 study, an oily substance found in the grounds called diterpenes, is toxic to bugs like mosquitos and fruit flies. You can sprinkle them around areas prone to buggy invasion, including your outdoor patio, to avoid infestation.
Bonus: You can also use instant coffee grounds to get rid of fleas in your pets' fur. Scrub them down with the grounds, then rinse them and the icky critters away.
Boost Hair Growth
Instant coffee works great as a gentle exfoliant to get rid of any build-up stunting your strands' ability to grow. You can use the dry grounds on your scalp after shampooing to make sure you really get all the grime off. They'll dissolve, but still have time to gently exfoliate before you rinse.
The caffeine has also been proven to stimulate hair growth, according to a 2007 study. You can go a step further than the exfoliation by mixing the coffee with water (which will be quicker than brewing a pot and waiting for it to cool down) before stepping into the shower, then shampoo your hair before soaking your strands and scalp with the coffee mixture. If you have a shower cap, you can gather your strands and let it sit for about 10 to 20 minutes to really make sure it's getting absorbed.
Warning: This is best for people who already have dark hair, since the coffee might discolor lighter shades.
Soothe Under-Eye Circles
The caffeine in coffee can also help get rid of dark circles and puffiness under your eyes, according to a 2016 study. You can use regular coffee grounds or instant coffee to create a topical treatment by mixing it with aloe vera or coconut oil and letting it sit on your under-eye for 10 to 20 minutes.