Chances are, if you're using a Keurig coffee maker, it's because you have no other choice. It's either the main source of caffeine in your office, or you were gifted one and don't know what else to do with it.
Whether you love it or hate it, there's no denying the coffee it makes could use a little improving. Below you'll find 10 tricks to get a superior morning beverage, while minimizing that instant coffee taste. Bottoms up.
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The easiest way to combat weak Keurig coffee is by using two pods on the lowest ounce setting your machine offers. Avoid the eight-ounce option whenever you can. You're essentially just watering down your coffee, since it's the same amount of grounds regardless of how much liquid you use. (If you're feeling guilty about all the waste, Keurig offers a K-Cup recycling program).
2. Add a pinch of salt
A cup of joe from a Keurig can be notoriously bitter. The tiniest bit (seriously, just a pinch) creates a chemical reaction and mellows out the acidity and makes for a noticeably smoother taste.
3. Use your own beans
The selection of ready-made Keurig pods leaves a lot to be desired. Get yourself a My K-Cup reusable filter, where you can use freshly ground or pre-ground beans of your choosing with the same instant gratification you've become dependent on. Got a 2.0 that, in a brazen move of corporate greed, won't take your reusable filter? This genius tutorial shows you how to get around that.
4. Hack the K-Cup
Okay, you bought a My K-Cup. Things are starting to look up, but you still want a bolder brew. You can take your reusable filter even further by inserting the body of a used K-Cup into it. Creating a double chamber keeps the water in longer and enhances the extraction process. It's gonna take a bit of effort, but you can read a step-by-step guide right here.
Another way to get around Keurig's pesky DRM-reader (which, in newer machines, will only brew authorized Keurig pods printed with a specialized ink) is with the Freedom Clip, which attaches inside and effectively tricks your Keurig into thinking every pod is the real deal. Because coffee should be about the people, damnit!
6. Keep it clean
Some of the unpleasant flavors in Keurig coffee are the result of bacteria build up. Keep your machine in tip-top shape by running white vinegar through it. Fill the entire chamber with vinegar, and continue to brew cups until it runs out. Then, run some plain water through it to remove any vinegary taste, and you're good to go.
7. Heat things up
The biggest issue coffee enthusiasts have pin-pointed about a Keurig is that the temperature of the water isn't really hot enough for how fast the process is. To account for this, run a cycle of water before brewing if you haven't used the Keurig in a couple hours. This heats up the machine and can make the water a few degrees warmer, giving you a slightly stronger-pick-me up.
8. Always pull out
This is just good advice in general. The last few seconds of the coffee flow are usually the least potent. Don't wait around for them to water down your beverage even further; sneak the mug out toward the end of the cycle. The machine has a reservoir to collect any overflow—just remember to empty and clean it out from time to time.
Because the hot water in a Keurig spends way less time actually touching the grounds, any light roasts turn out like coffee-flavored water. If you're buying Keurig's ready-made pods, pick something that's a dark roast or extra bold. Our friends at Thrillist got a coffee expert to rank the best, and Green Mountain Kenyan AA came out on top.
10. Save your money, skip the tea
If tea is your caffeinated beverage of choice, do yourself a favor and don't buy the tea K-cups. Get your fix just as quick by selecting the hot water function and using a tea bag, which you can buy in bulk for a fraction of the cost.
11. Make something you'll actually enjoy
If all else fails, your Keurig is still good for something. The eight-ounce setting brews just enough water for a perfect cup of noodles. Guess it's not totally useless after all.
Ali Drucker is a staff writer for Supercompressor. She's still twitching from all the coffee she tasted to write this story. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.