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What To Do with an Old Coffee Maker

The aroma of freshly brewed coffee has a charm that few can resist. But over time, even the best coffee makers might see the end of their lifespan in your kitchen.

Whether it’s due to technological advancements, aesthetic reasons, or the machine simply wearing out, the day will come when you’ll consider parting ways with your trusty coffee maker. So, what do you do with an old coffee maker? The answer isn’t as simple as tossing it in the trash, and that’s precisely what we’re diving into today.

tl;dr: Before sending your old coffee maker to its final resting place, consider repurposing, donating, recycling, or upcycling it. Your choices not only affect the environment but also how much value you can extract from the appliance.

The Environmental Aspect

Coffee makers, especially the electronic ones, contain components that can harm the environment when thrown into landfills. The accumulation of e-waste is an alarming concern. A study from the United Nations reported that globally, about 50 million tons of e-waste is generated annually.

Note: Proper disposal of electronic items is crucial for the well-being of our planet.

Repurposing the Old Coffee Maker

Before you decide to discard your coffee maker, think of ways you might reuse parts of it:

  1. Water Heater: You can still use the coffee maker to heat water for instant noodles, oatmeal, or tea.
  2. Herb Garden: The coffee pot can serve as a quirky container for a small herb garden.
  3. Storage: Store knick-knacks or office supplies in the carafe.

Donating: Give It A Second Life

If the coffee maker is still functional but just isn’t your favorite anymore, why not give it a second life?

  • Local Charities: Places like Goodwill or the Salvation Army often accept working appliances.
  • Schools or Offices: They might appreciate a backup coffee maker for their break rooms.

Recycling the Right Way

If the coffee maker has truly reached the end of its life, recycling is the way to go. Many components inside, such as metals and plastics, can be recycled.

I recommend contacting your local waste management office or searching online for e-waste recycling facilities. They often provide guidelines on preparing electronic items for recycling.

Upcycling: Crafting A New Destiny

Upcycling is about transforming an item into something more valuable or aesthetically pleasing. Here are some creative ideas:

  • Lamp Base: With a bit of electrical work, your old coffee maker could become a funky lamp.
  • Vase: The carafe can be a unique vase for flowers.
  • Bird Feeder: Especially for drip coffee makers, the design can be intriguing for birds.

Note: Upcycling requires creativity, but the results are often stunning and personal.

Earning a Buck: Selling Parts

You’d be surprised at the market for parts. Certain components, especially from high-end machines, can fetch a good price.

  • Online Platforms: Websites like eBay or Craigslist are great places to list parts.
  • Repair Shops: They might be interested in salvaging parts.

Extend the Life of Your Coffee Maker

Often, before looking at disposal or repurposing, it’s worth considering if the coffee maker’s life can be extended. Regular maintenance and occasional repairs might give your machine a second wind.

Maintenance Tips:

  1. Regular Cleaning: Over time, coffee oils and minerals from water build up in the machine, which can affect performance. I recommend cleaning your coffee maker at least once a month with a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar. This not only cleans but also descales the machine.
  2. Change Filters: If your machine uses filters, ensure they’re changed regularly. A clogged or overused filter doesn’t only affect the taste but can also strain the machine.
  3. Inspect Cords and Plugs: Wear and tear, especially around cords and plugs, can lead to reduced efficiency or safety hazards. Regularly inspect and replace if necessary.

Repair Before Replacement

Before deciding that your coffee maker has brewed its last cup, check if it can be repaired. Sometimes, a simple component replacement can get it back in working order.

  • Local Repair Shops: Seek out local electronic repair shops. Often, they can diagnose issues and offer solutions. Plus, supporting local businesses is always a win-win.
  • DIY: If you’re the handy type, numerous online resources provide guidance on common coffee maker issues. Replacing a faulty heating element or a malfunctioning switch could be easier than you think.

Environmental and Economic Impacts

It’s essential to consider the broader consequences of our choices. Reusing, repurposing, or recycling not only has environmental benefits but can also impact local economies.

Job Creation in Recycling

Recycling isn’t just about saving the environment; it’s also an industry that provides jobs. According to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recycling and reusing activities in the U.S. accounted for over 750,000 jobs in a year. This number underlines the importance of choosing to recycle, not just for environmental reasons but also for economic ones.

Energy Savings

Producing new products from raw materials consumes more energy than from recycled materials. For instance, producing metals from recycled materials uses up to 95% less energy than from raw materials.

By choosing to recycle components of your old coffee maker, you contribute to significant energy savings.

Reducing Carbon Footprint

Manufacturing processes, especially those involving metals and plastics, release a significant amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Recycling reduces the need for such processes, thereby directly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This is a compelling reason to recycle parts of your old coffee maker rather than tossing it in the trash.

Swapping or Trading

In the era of community sharing and a circular economy, another brilliant way to handle an old coffee maker is by swapping or trading it.

  • Community Swaps: Many communities organize swap meets, where you can exchange items you no longer need for something else.
  • Online Platforms: Websites like Freecycle or Swapz are platforms designed for such exchanges.

Remember, one person’s old coffee maker might be another person’s treasure. Before discarding, consider if there’s someone out there who might find value in what you no longer need.

Aesthetic Upgrades

Sometimes, the issue isn’t with the functionality but the aesthetics. Instead of replacing the entire coffee maker:

  1. Paint Job: High-temperature appliance paint can give your coffee machine a fresh, modern look.
  2. Replace Components: Things like handles or buttons might be available in different styles and can be easily swapped out to change the look of your machine.

Note: When painting or altering your coffee maker, ensure the materials used are safe and appropriate for an appliance that heats up.


As we’ve seen, old coffee makers can have a world of potential even after they’ve brewed their last cup. It’s about viewing the machine as a sum of its parts, rather than a singular, expired entity.

By repurposing, donating, recycling, upcycling, or even selling, you’re ensuring that your beloved coffee maker lives on, in one form or another.


Can I dispose of my coffee maker in regular trash?

While it’s technically possible, it’s not environmentally friendly due to the electronic components. It’s always best to consider recycling.

Are all parts of a coffee maker recyclable?

Not all, but many parts are. Metals, some plastics, and glass carafes can be recycled. Check with your local recycling center for specifics.

Is there a way to refurbish an old coffee maker for better coffee?

Absolutely! Sometimes, a deep clean or descaling can enhance its performance. Alternatively, consider changing filters or consulting a local repair shop for advice.

Remember, every choice we make has an impact. By thoughtfully deciding on what to do with an old coffee maker, we make choices that benefit ourselves, our communities, and our planet. Happy brewing!


  • Chris Chamberlan

    Chris Chamberlan, passionate animal welfare activist and USC graduate, conducted undercover RSPCA missions exposing slaughterhouse malpractices. A vegan and advocate for humane treatment, Chris has spoken at international conferences, been involved in vegan outreach, and founded Solarpunk Solutions for sustainability. His blending of animal welfare with eco-living principles for a compassionate future.

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