Guess what? You don’t need to buy a new espresso maker or splurge on coffee-shop drinks to get more out of your morning brew. If you can’t live without coffee or find joy in discovering new tricks for old gear, you’ll love these coffee life hacks for your existing machine. Find ways to brew a more delicious cup of coffee (and make it hotter, too), blend new beverages, clean your coffee maker with ease and more.
Need a new coffee maker altogether?
For Drip and Pod Coffee Makers
1Add a timer to your coffee maker.
Wake up in the morning to a fresh pot of coffee with this neat trick to automate your standard coffee maker.
- Buy an inexpensive timer (or use a smart outlet that’s rated for the power consumption of your machine).
- Plug the appliance timer or smart outlet into the power outlet; plug the coffee maker into the appliance timer.
- Set a morning brew time as well as a time for the machine to turn off.
2Descale your coffee maker with denture tablets.
Coffee residue is notoriously tricky to clean. Here’s an effortless and effective coffee life hack to make your drip-style or pod coffee maker sparkle—no elbow grease necessary.
- Drip coffee maker: Fill the coffee tank with warm water and two denture tablets. Run the coffee maker until the tank is empty. Fill the tank with warm water again and run it one more time. Repeat every month.
- Pod coffee maker: Fill the reservoir with warm water, add two denture tablets and let them dissolve. Run the machine a few times until the reservoir is completely empty. Fill the reservoir again with warm water and run until empty. Repeat every three to six months.
3Make coffee-and-cream ice cubes.
No one likes a watered-down iced coffee, but you can’t always drink your coffee faster than the ice cubes melt. That’s where coffee ice cubes come in. As they melt, your coffee gets diluted with…more coffee. Brilliant, right?
For Drip Coffee Makers Only
4Heat milk in the carafe while brewing your coffee.
If you like your coffee hot, why pour cold milk into it? You can do so much better with this coffee life hack.
- Pour the desired amount of milk into the empty carafe before brewing.
- As the coffee drips in, the warming plate of the carafe will heat up the milk.
5Reuse the coffee grounds.
Don’t throw away your used coffee grounds. Put them to work instead!
- Fertilize plants: Pack coffee grounds into the soil. They contain key minerals for plant growth such as nitrogen, calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and chromium.
- Remove odours: Place a bowl of coffee grounds in your fridge or freezer to neutralize odours. You can even keep coffee grounds by the sink and use them to scrub your hands after chopping garlic or onions.
- Scrub surfaces: Coffee grounds are coarse and can help remove buildup on hard-to-clean areas. Dump the grounds on your kitchen sink or grill and scrub away.
6Make hot chocolate.
Who knew your coffee machine can make other delicious beverages besides coffee?
- For about four cups of creamy hot chocolate, fill the decanter with two cups of heavy cream or milk.
- Throw in some chocolate chips (go as chocolatey as you like!) or three to four packs of hot chocolate mix.
- Fill the coffee maker tank with two cups of water and let it run.
- Stir it all together to combine the chocolate chips or powder.
- Add marshmallows and enjoy.
7Add spices to your coffee before you brew it.
- Add powdered spices or vanilla extract to the coffee grounds before brewing.
- For a full pot of coffee, start with two teaspoons of spice and adjust from there.
For Pod Coffee Makers Only
8If you like your coffee *really* hot, run a water cycle first.
If your pod coffee maker doesn’t seem to make your coffee hot enough for you, run a cycle of water before brewing. Coffee enthusiasts say this step preps the machine and can make the next water cycle a few degrees warmer.
9Make “Keurig noodles.”
Put your kettle away because your pod coffee maker brews just the right amount of hot water for some of our favourite quickie snacks. The eight-ounce setting of a Keurig coffee maker is perfect for a cup of instant ramen noodles and many other surprising foods.
- Peel back the lid and place the cup of noodles where you would put the coffee cup.
- Fill the cup to the water line.
- Wait for three minutes for the noodles to soften.
10Buy reusable pods and grind your own coffee.
The plastic components of your coffee pods may be recyclable or you can send them back to the company through a take-back program, but it’s hard to ensure they won’t still end up in a landfill. If you’re committed to reducing waste, consider reusable coffee pods that you can fill with your favourite coffee. You can even use coffee beans or coffee grounds you buy on vacation or from your local coffee shop.
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