Coffee snobs turn their nose up at the Keurig, and not for no reason either: while fast and convenient, Keurig-made coffee doesn’t quite pack the punch that it should. Does this mean it’s time to throw away your Keurig and go back to traditional pour-overs or coffee drips?
If you’re willing to put in the extra effort, it’s not impossible to brew delicious, bold cups of coffee with your Keurig machine. Read on for our top tips and tricks to maximizing your Keurig for better, stronger brews.
Clean And Maintain Your Keurig Regularly
If your Keurig used to make decent coffee but is now getting worse and less efficient with every cup, the first thing you should do is clean your machine. We recommend cleaning your Keurig at least once a month or more if you use it heavily.
Remove the K-Cup holder, wash it out, and clean around the area to get rid of coffee grounds, dirt, and other debris. Use a soft brush or paper towel to scrub it thoroughly and remove oil and bacteria build-up. Finally, to sanitize the Keurig, run vinegar through it for one or two cycles. Make sure to run a few water cycles to rinse it out right after so that you don’t get vinegary-tasting coffee.
Buy a Universal My K-Cup
For all of its convenience, the K-Cups have been heavily criticized for the kind of coffee it brews. Coffees often come out weak, almost like glorified (and expensive) coffee-flavored water. Do away with K-Cups altogether and take control over your coffee with the Universal My K-Cup.
This Keurig product is basically a reusable coffee filter in the shape of a regular K-Cup, except you can fill it with your own coffee of choice. You can choose your own roasts, especially gourmet or specialty ones that boast better and stronger flavors. You can also decide on how coarse to grind it and how much to pack into the cup. Regular K-Cups usually have between 10 and 12 grams of coffee, while a My K-Cup can hold up to 17g.
Grind Your Own Beans
If you’ve made the switch to the reusable My K-Cup and you’re still getting weak coffee, try grinding your own beans. The ground level is important because the more coffee that the water comes into contact with during the extraction process, the stronger your resulting coffee will be.
You want a grind that is not too coarse that it comes out watery but also not too fine that it clogs up the machine and takes forever to brew. Experiment with different grind levels, and find the one that strikes the perfect balance between flavor and convenience.
Brew Two K-Cups Instead of One
Want to stick to the pre-packaged K-Cups? Don’t worry, you’re not doomed to weak coffee for the rest of your life. There’s a simple hack – just brew two K-Cups at the lowest ounce setting instead of one at a higher ounce setting. Avoid the 8 or 10oz brews as much as possible, and just double up on extra-strong 6oz cups.
It’s not the cheapest or most environmentally-friendly way to get stronger coffee, since you’re using and disposing of twice the number of K-Cups. But it’s easy, and you don’t need to splurge on any extra accessories.
Double Up Your K-Cup Before You Brew
Did you know that you can combine your used K-Cups and your reusable coffee filter for stronger, bolder, more flavorful brews? This works because you keep the water trapped into the filter for longer, which enhances the extraction process.
All you have to do is get a used K-Cup, clean it out, and then fit it into your My K-Cup. Fill up the filter with coffee grounds, and voila! You’ll have a significantly tastier cup of coffee.
Choose Darker or Stronger Coffees
Hacking your Keurig kind of defeats the purpose of its ease and convenience. While the tricks we’ve mentioned today can boost your coffee’s body and flavor, it does require some work. Is there a way to make the most out of your Keurig without all the extra effort?
The short answer is: yes. It’s as simple as buying darker roasts than what you’d normally go for. Since the Keurig dilutes the strength a little bit, an extra-strong coffee will still come out lighter and smoother than you’d expect. There are dozens of Keurig-compatible brands that offer bold roasts, so you’ll never have a hard time finding one.
Turn the Heat Up On Your Keurig
The reason your Keurig machines don’t produce strong brews is two-fold: one, the super fast brewing process means that the water has less contact with the coffee grounds; two, the water doesn’t get hot enough to extract most of the flavor from the coffee. While you can’t control the duration of the extraction process, you can at least get the Keurig to brew at a hotter temperature.
The Keurig 2.0 series of brewers lets you choose the temperature. It doesn’t reach the ideal brewing temp of 205F, but the closer you can get, the better. You can also pre-heat the Keurig (just like you would an oven) by running a hot water cycle right before brewing.
Pull Out Before the Last Drops
The last few seconds of coffee flow are mostly watered-down drops that will just dilute your coffee. Pull out the mug before this happens, and just let the drip tray catch the rest. Just remember to dump it out and clean it, so that it doesn’t overflow.
Stronger, Better Coffee With Keurig
Pod-based coffee makers aren’t the top choice for optimal flavor, but they are incredibly convenient. You don’t have to trade your Keurig for a more complex, powerful coffee maker just to get the kind of coffee you want. A few tweaks are all it takes to significantly improve the body and flavor of your coffees.
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.