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In a pickle: How to fix a bad cup of coffee

Ever brew a bad pot of coffee? Don’t fret — we all have. Instead of dumping it out, learn how to salvage it!

Woman drinking a bad cup of coffee

How do you take your coffee? For me, I like it iced with flavored creamer (current favorite is pumpkin pie spice) and no added sugar.

If I’m at Starbucks, though, I order iced coffee sweetened with cream. And if I’m treating myself at Starbucks, I get an iced white mocha with nonfat milk and no whip cream. Funny how particular we all are about our coffee, isn’t it? But it’s what gets us going in the morning and keeps us going in the afternoon. We need coffee. And we need it to be good! I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s brewed a bad pot or two, am I? Here’s how to fix it!

Too bitter

Bitter coffee can be caused by a few different things — the water is too hot, the machine isn’t completely clean, the beans are no good or the coffee’s been sitting too long on a hot plate. Once the coffee’s bitter, though, you can’t go back in time and clean your machine or cool down the water. Instead, add a little salt to your coffee (yes, salt). Seems strange, but give it a try! If your coffee is consistently bitter (assuming the machine is clean, the water’s not too hot and the beans are fresh), add a dash to the water before brewing your coffee.

Too weak

Tip: Correct temperature of the water is 195 to 205 degrees F.

For me, this is the worst. In the morning, I’m after one thing and one thing alone — caffeine! If my coffee’s bitter or “too strong,” I can handle that, but weak? No thanks. Weak coffee is caused by the water not being hot enough (apparently coffee is picky, just like its drinkers), the coffee-to-water ratio being off or the coffee not being ground properly. To fix weak coffee, add a little instant coffee to the cup and next time make sure you added enough coffee grinds to the filter!

Too strong

I cringe at those words, because to me there’s no such thing as coffee that’s “too strong,” but some may beg to differ. Luckily, for strong coffee, the solution is rather simple. Add some hot water until it’s your desired strength and consistency. You could also try adding some nonfat milk, a little more creamer than usual or an extra packet of sugar.

Coffee brewing tips

  • Grind your beans at home, just before you brew your coffee.
  • Always use filtered or bottled water.
  • Use the correct coffee to water ratio (2 tablespoons ground coffee for 6 ounces water).
  • Clean your coffee maker after each use with hot water.
  • Drink your coffee immediately (letting it sit on the hot plate may make it bitter).

Iced coffee tips

  • Brew coffee extra strong if you won’t have time to refrigerate it.
  • Make “coffee ice cubes” in advance to prevent your iced coffee from watering down.
  • Use good ice — no one wants their coffee tasting like freezer burn.
  • Cold brew your coffee with a Toddy or French press to enhance the flavors.

Excuse me while I go grab another cup…

More on coffee

Homemade coffee creamers in fall flavors
4 Low-fat homemade coffee drinks
Iced raspberry cafe mocha

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