I have a brother that is impossible to buy a good Christmas gift for. The newest, coolest techno gadget? He got it three months ago. Tickets to the awesome concert that’s happening in his neighborhood? Saw that band before they were even cool. Twice.
So what to get for the person on your list who has everything? I brainstormed a few manly Christmas gift ideas that I thought I could manage to make. BBQ rub? He’s vegetarian. Knit beanie? Wait, he’s not into hats this year. Or was it scarves he’s boycotting? Nothing seemed to be that just right idea. And then my brainstorm landed on a homemade, straight from the heart bar of soap.
There’s something so wonderfully simple, so wonderfully personal about crafting a bar of soap specifically for someone close to you. I chose to make a soap using coffee grounds because my brother loves to cook. Coffee neutralizes those clingy garlic and fish smells. There’s also something very rugged and manly about a strong brew of coffee being turned into a bar of soap. I added olive oil to moisturize after the coffee grounds work their exfoliating magic and a little almond extract to compliment the coffee scent. I enlisted Desiree and Elizabeth to help me make the soap and it turned out perfectly!
Coffee Almond Soap
Makes six small bars
16 oz. clear glycerin soap
¼ cup coffee grinds
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 muffin tin
1 large pot
1 small pot or glass bowl
1. Boil water in a large pot. We covered the bottom of the pot with about an inch and a half of water. Be sure not to fill it too full. Once the water is boiling, add the smaller pot or glass bowl to make a double boiler.
2. Place the glycerin in the double boiler. Ours took about five minutes to start melting. Some people say making soap from glycerin is cheating. We say we don’t have four weeks to wait for our Christmas present to go through saponification.
3. Once the glycerin is completely liquid, it’s time to add the coffee grounds. We took it straight out of the office’s coffee pot after making a morning brew. Used grounds work just fine, so no need to waste fresh coffee! About a ¼ of a cup of grounds worked well for what we were going for, which was a slightly translucent, ombré effect. Add less if you want more translucency or more if you want your soap to be opaque.
4. Add the almond extract. We went a little crazy with this step. The almond just smelt so good and we couldn’t stop! But it ended up being the perfect amount. The smell will be less intense once the soap sets, so go crazy with the almond extract! We highly recommend it.
6. Once your soap is mixed to your satisfaction, it’s time to pour it in the mold. We used muffin tins for consistent, little round soaps. But the possibilities are endless! How about using small Tupperware containers for different shapes? Or the bottom of a tin can for fun ridges?
7. Let your soap set. We put our muffin tin in the freezer to expedite the process because we’re impatient. Or maybe we’re efficient. We’ll take efficient.
8. After 30 minutes in the freezer, our soap was ready to pop out of the molds. To encourage our soap to come out of the tin, we carefully ran a butter knife around the edge of each of the soaps. It worked perfectly, the soap popped right out.
We wanted to create a masculine soap, but this could just as easily be a gift for your favorite, coffee drinking gal pal. What about replacing the almond with vanilla for a more feminine feel? Or be a total soap maverick and dream up your own scents. I’ve been eyeing the pomegranate in my kitchen and wondering what it would smell like with cinnamon. What seasonal soap scents are you dying to create? -Laura