Are you one of the 7 in 10 Americans who drink coffee every week, or maybe one of the 62% who drink it every day? If you’re a coffee lover, it’s time to up your game with these little-known coffee hacks. Find out how to brew a better-tasting cuppa, become a barista at home, and troubleshoot so you never have to go without your morning joe.
Coffee Hacks for a Better Tasting Cup
Clean your coffee grinder with rice
Coffee grinders get dirty after a while, with coffee oils and particles remaining even after a good scrub. To deep clean, put dry, white rice through your coffee grinder to help absorb coffee oils and dislodge debris.
Use filtered water
A simple way to improve the taste of your coffee is to use fresh, filtered water rather than old water or tap water.
Swap paper filters for reusable metal filters
Paper filters are popular and cheap. But the downside is, they can absorb the coffee’s oils, removing some flavor and fragrance and producing a thinner brew. A reusable metal filter not only cuts down waste but allows all those oils to pass through, resulting in a flavorful and fragrant final product.
Let grounds bloom for 30 seconds first
Pour hot water over to soak the grounds and wait about 30 seconds. If the coffee is fresh, you’ll see some bubbles pop up. That’s carbon dioxide, which can give your coffee a sour flavor and interfere with the brewing process. “Blooming” the grounds in this way is a fast and simple way to end up with a tastier brew.
Make ice cubes with coffee
Just pour leftover coffee from your morning pot into ice cube trays. Add these to your iced coffee. Your coffee won’t get diluted with water as your ice melts.
Brew a smoother cup
A smoother cup of coffee means less acid. Cold brewing your coffee is an easy way to cut down on acidity. So is choosing dark roasted beans or grounds. You can also add some clean, crushed-up eggshells to your grounds while brewing to neutralize some of the coffee’s acidity.
Coffee Hacks for Barista-Level Creations
Make your own simple syrup
Sweeten homemade iced coffee with simple syrup rather than granulated sugar, which doesn’t dissolve well in cold coffee. Simply heat up equal parts filtered water and granulated sugar on the stove and cook for a few minutes until thickened, then let cool. Add in a little extract like vanilla, peppermint, or almond to taste (around ½-1 tsp of extract for ½ cup water and ½ cup sugar syrup) for a delicious syrup that will add a little sugar kick to your next cup.
Flavor coffee with spices
Add spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cocoa, turmeric, and ginger into your grinder as you grind beans or along with grounds as you brew your coffee. This trick not only makes for great flavor, but it can have health benefits, too. Turmeric, for example, is an excellent anti-inflammatory.
Foam milk with a French press
Cappuccinos, macchiatos, and lattes are just a few of the drinks that use foamed or frothed milk. But how do you get foamed milk at home without a frother? Pour cold milk into a French press no more than halfway and vigorously pump until milk foam forms on top. Transfer to a microwave-safe container and nuke for 10-20 seconds until warm. Pour the warmed milk into your coffee, allowing the foam to float on top, or spoon the foam onto your coffee if you prefer.
Foam milk with a mason jar
You can also use a mason jar or other jar with a tight lid to foam milk. Put cold milk inside, tighten the lid, and shake vigorously for 30-40 seconds. Remove the lid and, as above, microwave at 10-second intervals to warm, then add the warmed milk and foam to your hot coffee.
Coffee Hacks to Troubleshoot
No grinder? No problem
What if you have a bag of whole beans but no coffee grinder at home? Don’t despair. Pulse in a spice grinder, use a blender, or food processor – these all work in a pinch. You can also grind beans with a mortar and pestle. Another quick hack: Put the beans in a zipped plastic bag and pound them with a heavy pan, meat tenderizer, or rolling pin to a (very) coarse grind.
No coffee filters? No problem
Use paper towels, napkins, cheesecloth, a clean handkerchief, or a bandana instead. You can really use any clean fabric that’s thin enough for the coffee to pass through – you can even use a clean sock if you really need your caffeine fix!
Or skip the filter altogether
Make “cowboy coffee” instead. Steep grounds in a pot of simmering water that’s just off the boil for 3-5 minutes (the longer you brew, the stronger it will be). Take the pot off the heat and wait a minute or two for the grounds to settle to the bottom, then carefully pour the coffee off the top, trying not to disturb the grounds at the bottom. Voila! No filter necessary.
Don’t toss stale coffee – rescue it
Even if it’s not at its freshest, stale coffee grounds can still make a decent cup of coffee in a pinch. If you have a grinder, start by grinding the beans to an even finer grind to expose more surface area. Then add in some flavoring like cinnamon or vanilla for a quick glow-up.
Resuscitate bitter, over-brewed coffee with salt
Adding salt – that’s right, salt – helps bitter coffee taste less bitter. While salt doesn’t do anything chemically to counteract the bitter-tasting compounds of over-brewed coffee, it does trick the tongue into tasting a salty rather than bitter flavor.
Whether you need a troubleshooting coffee hack to save the day, you want to become a barista in your own home, or you simply want to make better-tasting coffee, these coffee hacks should do the trick.
Erin Danly is a freelance writer whose work focuses on marketing content and verbal branding for B2B and B2C clients. Before turning to writing, she was a pastry chef and a psychology lab manager at Columbia University. Erin lives with her family in Mt. Pleasant, SC.