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10 Easy coffee hacks for a better brew

Justina Huddleston is an editor and the head writer for TDmonthly Magazine. She has been a freelance writer for several years, though her real passion is cooking. You can see the recipes she creates on her vegan food blog, A Life of Litt...

Making the perfect cup of coffee just got easier thanks to these 10 effortless hacks

If you're like me, brewing coffee at home can produce some very strange results. After drinking a funky-tasting cup of sludge at home, it's hard not to just throw your hands up and run to the nearest Starbucks.

Luckily there are some very simple steps you can take when you make coffee at home that will vastly improve the resulting cup o' joe. From adding a pinch of salt to rinsing paper coffee filters before use, these hacks will help you brew coffee so good, soon you'll be saying, "Starbucks who?"

1. Make cold brew coffee in the blender

For an iced coffee that's smoother than hot coffee you leave in the fridge to cool, blend 4.5 ounces of whole coffee beans until coarsely ground. Add 3 cups of cold water, and let steep in the fridge for 12 hours. Then, strain through a fine mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter, and you're left with a cold-brewed coffee concentrate you can dilute with water to your preferred strength.

2. Use cinnamon, not sugar

If you're trying to cut back on sugar, then adding a dash of cinnamon to your coffee is a good way to liven up its flavor while eliminating or reducing the need for any sweetener.

3. Use canned coconut milk as a rich, nondairy creamer

Nondairy creamers tend to be loaded with sketchy preservatives and artificial ingredients. Instead, try full-fat, canned coconut milk. It will give you the same rich, decadent texture as real dairy cream (unlike the thinner coconut milk that comes in a carton). Try to find a brand with the least amount of ingredients (just coconut and water, if possible) for the best texture and purest coconut flavor.

4. Freeze coffee for ice cubes

If you're a fan of homemade iced coffee, then try this trick. Next time you have leftover coffee, pour it into an ice cube tray, and freeze it. The cubes will be able to keep your next batch of iced coffee cold without watering it down.

5. Coffee too bitter? Add salt.

A dash of salt can help counteract bitter or off flavors in your coffee, making it more palatable. As long as you use a small amount, your coffee won't be noticeably saltier, especially if you drink it with cream and sugar.

6. Use flavor extracts instead of splurging on fancy fake creamers

Craving a vanilla or almond coffee but trying to cut back on expensive, overly sweetened, processed creamers? Simply add half-and-half or cream to your coffee with a drop or two of your favorite flavor extract. You can even mix and match to create fun flavor creations, like vanilla-maple and buttered rum.

7. Use filtered water for a more pure coffee flavor

If you have hard water, can taste the chlorine in your tap or just don't enjoy the flavor of the water you get from the sink, you shouldn't brew your coffee with it. Off flavors in the water you brew with aren't masked by the coffee and can end up ruining it altogether. Use filtered water or spring water instead so you know you're starting off with a clean-tasting base.

8. Clean your coffeemaker

Just because you use it only for coffee doesn't mean you don't have to clean it. Coffee residue can build up inside your machine after prolonged use, imparting off flavors to your brew. For best results, once a month, fill the reservoir chamber with half white vinegar and half water, run it through the machine, and then run a few cycles with plain water to rinse (using fresh water each time). Don't forget to wash the carafe between each batch of coffee you make too.

9. Rinse your coffee filters before each brew

For the purest coffee, you should rinse your filters each time you brew a pot. Flush paper filters with hot water to remove any woody, chemical flavors, and pour hot water through reusable filters to remove any residue. This will help you achieve a cleaner-tasting pot of coffee with minimal effort.

10. Reuse old coffee grounds

Hate throwing away all those coffee grounds? You can reuse them in plenty of ways. Scatter them in your flower beds to give a fertilizing boost to your garden, keep them in the back of your fridge as a deodorizer, or mix them with olive oil to create a luxurious body scrub.

More coffee tips

How to oven-roast your own coffee
Coffee tips from a master taster
Coffee gadgets for the caffeine fiend

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