Coffee from a Keurig coffee maker is very easy but it’s not always the best tasting cup. There are a few things you can try to make your coffee taste a little better.
If your Keurig coffee is too bitter, adding a tiny pinch of salt can take the harsh bitter edge off. In case your coffee is too sour and acidic, adding a tiny pinch of baking soda will reduce this. Adjusting the amount of coffee brewed and water temperature can also help.
Below we’ll take a look at what you can do to make your already brewed cup taste better and some things you can try to make your next brew better.
How To Brew Better Keurig Coffee
If you get consistently bad coffee from your Keurig machine, adding things to every cup gets old quickly. It’s better to solve the problem and brew better-tasting coffee in the first place.
It really depends on what you’re used to and what you think good coffee is if you can get ‘good’ coffee from a Keurig. ‘Good’ is not the same for everyone but if you’re happy with the taste, it’s good for you. Don’t expect the same quality of coffee from a Keurig as you would get from a good coffee shop but there are some things you can do to change the taste of Keurig coffee by using the available settings on the machine.
Here are some things you can do to brew coffee with a Keurig machine that’s more to your taste.
1. Use better K-cups
A good thing about Keurig cups is that there are tons of different K-cups available. There are tons of different coffees you can get. Trying some different ones might yield something you like better. There are some variety packs available with a lot of different cups so you can try many different coffees without having to buy a big pack of something you don’t like.
After you find one you like, you can buy a bigger pack of them. However, before you start trying different cups, it’s a good idea to play around with the settings on your machine to see if you can brew better-tasting coffee with the cups you have. That way you can use the few cups you have of one type in the variety pack to make the coffee you like the best.
2. Reusable cups with fresh coffee
An even better option might be to use reusable K-cups with fresh coffee. This way you can’t only use freshly ground coffee beans (if you have a grinder), you have less plastic waste and you can control the amount of grounds in the cup.
This way you can pick a coffee you like, grind it properly (pre-ground works too), and fill the cup with the correct amount of coffee for the amount of coffee you want to brew. That will result in better coffee than using the ‘one-size-fits-all’ K-cups.
However, if you’re going through the lengths of grinding your own coffee and putting in the correct amount for the size cup you want to brew and understanding how to get to the correct amount, you might as well use another brewing method. That’s because if you understand how all of that works and want to go through the effort of grinding your own coffee, you can brew better coffee by making a pour-over. At that point, the difference in effort isn’t actually all that different.
Keurig machines don’t have too many settings, some only have a start button. However, many models have a size and strong button. Both those settings can impact the taste of the coffee.
The amount of coffee grounds in the cups doesn’t change depending on the setting you choose but the amount of water that flows through it and how it flows through it does change the taste. You can just try different settings and see what the difference in taste is and what you like.
While K-cups are all about convenience, it does pay to know a little bit about how coffee brewing works. Very simply said, coffee grounds have a certain amount of soluble material in them. The water extracts those compounds from the grounds. Those dissolved compounds in water is what coffee is.
However, not all those different compounds dissolve into water at the same rate and not all of those compounds taste the same. In general, the sour/acidic compounds extract first and the bitter ones extract last. You want to be in the middle where the taste of your cup of coffee is balanced.
In a Keurig machine, the factors that impact how much the coffee is extracted are:
- Amount of water used: The more water that flows through the K-cup/coffee grounds, the more extraction there is. In a Keurig, you can control this by selecting the cup size. So if your coffee is too bitter, try brewing a smaller cup. If it’s too sour, try a larger size.
- The way the water is pushed through the coffee: The ‘strong’ button on a Keurig machine changes the water flow from a constant flow to pulsing. This means the brew process takes a bit longer and the water has more contact time with the coffee grounds which increases extraction which means more bitterness.
4. Temperature & Pre-Heating
This is a setting only a few Keurig machines have but if your machine has one it’s worth finding and playing around with it. Most people think it just impacts the temperature of the coffee that ends up in your cup but it can also impact the taste of your coffee.
Just like when you’re washing clothes, hotter water gets things out better. The same is true for coffee grounds. Hotter water extracts coffee grounds faster. Using very hot water can lead to extracting some of the really bitter compounds from the coffee grounds.
So if your coffee is too bitter, check if your Keurig machine has a temperature setting and lower it. If it’s too sour, see if it’s possible to raise the temperature.
Something you can do on any Keurig machine is a pre-heating cycle. Just brew the smallest cup size without a K-cup in the machine. This heats up all the internal components of the machine which then delivers hotter water to the coffee in the ‘real’ brew cycle.
5. Water filter
Most Keurig machines come with a water filter that goes into the reservoir. This filter helps keep the machine clean on the inside and reduces scaling. However, the filter can become saturated at which time it should be replaced. if the filter is saturated it’ll let more things and tastes in the water into the machine and into your cup. That impacts the taste of your brew.
Also, try using filtered water to fill your Keurig reservoir instead of tap water. The water you use can actually make a difference.
Make Keurig Coffee Taste Better After Brewing
You already have a cup of coffee and it just doesn’t taste very good. What can you do now to make it so that cup is drinkable? Here are three things you can try:
6. Add Salt
The biggest problem most people have with Keurig coffee is that it’s too bitter. If your Keurig coffee is bitter and hollow tasting, you can add a tiny (really tiny) pinch of salt. This will take that harsh bitter edge of the coffee. It won’t fix the hollow taste but at least it means you can drink it without feeling you’re being punched in the tongue.
You don’t want the coffee to actually taste salty. You just want to bring down the bitterness and enhance the other tastes in coffee so it tastes more balanced. In most cases, 0.5 grams per 330 ml is enough. This can actually be difficult to do with grains of salt, it’s really easy to overdo it. So if you want to do this often, make a saline solution in a bottle with a pipet so you can easily measure the salt that goes into your coffee.
6. Add Baking soda
It’s unlikely your Keurig coffee is sour but it’s possible. If you feel there is an overwhelming, unpleasant sourness or acidity to your cup, try adding some baking soda. This might seem weird but it works really well at alleviating the acidity in coffee. It can even help if you get an upset stomach because of the sourness of coffee.
Just like with salt, don’t overdo it. Start with a small amount and add little by little. A ¼ teaspoon is enough for a 1.5 liter pot of coffee so a single cup needs very little. So just start with a small pinch and add more later if you need to.
7. Add dairy
Dairy has been a proven solution to making coffee taste better. That’s because the bitter taste in some coffees is dampened by creamy dairy. They play very well together and since most coffees are actually more bitter than people like, so adding dairy is a great solution. Adding dairy to bitter coffee brings the bitterness down to a good level. At the same time, the thicker creamy texture helps to fill out the taste of a ‘hollow’ tasting coffee.
Of course, you have to like coffee with dairy otherwise it’s not going to help you drink the resulting beverage. Any type of creamy dairy or dairy replacement will work so you can try any dairy replacement if you don’t like real dairy.
Recommended Keurig Equipment
- Simple and Cheap: Just want a Keurig machine that brews coffee and does it without a confusing amount of buttons or taking up a lot of space? The Keurig K-Slim (Amazon) is the one you’re looking for.
- Feature Rich: If you want more features like brewing more different sizes and over ice, the K-Elite (Amazon) is a better choice.
- K-cups: Good coffee is always important but tastes are different. Try this variety pack (Amazon) with tons of different K-cups so you can figure out what you like.
- Reusable K-cups: Prefer to use your own coffee? Filling reusable K-cups (amazon) with your own freshly ground coffee is the way to go and will likely brew even better coffee than pre-made cups.