Food & Nutrition

14 Ways You’re Using Your Coffee Machine Wrong

On mornings when you can barely pop open your eyes, you can know that your morning joe will be waiting for you. But could your right-hand appliance be making you a better cuppa? It seems the answer is yes, according to experts.

You’re using a sub-par grinder

close up on an electric coffee grinder with fresh coffeec12/Shutterstock

Coffee grinders come in two styles: burr and blade. Blade grinders work like mini food processors: its blade whacks the beans over and over until they’re chopped finely. “Usually the user has to time the grind, shake the grinder periodically to distribute the beans, and visually inspect the coffee to see if it’s reached the desired consistency,” says Lauren Savoie, senior editor with America’s Test Kitchen. Burr grinders, by contrast, do all of the work for you and have less chance for user error. “A burr grinder is like a pepper mill; it has two sets of gear-like pieces called burrs that spin against each other to grind the coffee. You put whole beans in the top, select your desired grind size, turn the machine on, and perfectly ground beans come out the bottom,” Savoie says. “If your goal is a consistent cup of coffee, you absolutely want a burr grinder,” Savoie says. While you’re sipping on a superior cup of coffee, read these 8 important coffee questions and myths.

You don’t clean your machine well

Espresso pouring from coffee machine into coffee cup.hedgehog94/Shutterstock

“The pot isn’t usually the culprit if your coffee is tasting funky,” says Savoie. “It’s usually all the unseen inner parts of the machine that never get washed or cleaned.” Even if you regularly wash the pot and grounds basket, you’re missing a major component; Savoie says many people do not know that they need to descale their drip coffee machine, “but it’s the key to the health of your machine and the taste of your coffee,” she adds. That’s because your tap water is filled with minerals—calcium, magnesium, limestone—and over time, they can build up in the inner workings of your coffee machine. They not only make your coffee taste off, they can also ruin your machine. “Some machines have lights that tell you if a descale is needed, but a quick descale twice a year is a pretty safe bet for most coffee makers,” Savoie says.

You leave wet grounds in the machine too long

Brewed coffee from steaming filter with beans and organic rice grain on matWanwalit Tongted/Shutterstock

As soon as your pot has finished brewing, lift the lid, then toss or rinse the filter and spent grounds. “Always clean out the wet coffee grinds as soon as you’re done brewing,” says Dan Scalco, creator of Food Box HQ. “The warm or damp conditions create a prime environment for mold and bacteria to collect.” That translates to bacteria-laden coffee the next day, which could taste funny—or worse, make you sick.

You use that handy morning auto-brew function


While it may seem convenient to wake up to freshly brewed coffee, your java will be lose a ton of flavor. Ground coffee starts to lose its aroma and flavor in a matter of minutes, Scalco says, so the few hours your beans will sit from the evening when you grind them to when your machine brews them the next morning may take all the delicious flavor out of the coffee. Adding this one ingredient to your coffee could change how you drink your joe.

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