Giorgio Milos, the U.S.-based master barista for illy, has a lot of experience making next-level cups of coffee. And he has some hacks you can use at home to make anything that comes out of your Keurig taste like it was brewed at a coffee shop.
How to make Keurig coffee taste better
1. Choose quality coffee
Just like any other coffee you buy, not all K-Cups are created equal. Whether you're using the cups or adding your own coffee into a reusable coffee filter ($15), there's a simple swap you can make to make your brew instantly taste better. "The best way to upgrade your coffee experience is to choose a quality 100 percent Arabica coffee," says Milos. "Typically, you'll have smoother, less bitter taste notes with Arabica." He recommends the illy Intenso Roast ($15) for daily drinking. "It provides a balanced and complex taste profile with strong notes of chocolate, caramel, and toasted bread.
Also, look for high-quality, single-origin coffees. "These coffees come from the best regions of a particular country—like Columbia and Brazil, among others," he says. "The taste profile is singular representing the terroir (like wine) from the origin."
2. Use the right water
Using the right water can play a big role in how your coffee turns out. "Water is up to 99 percent percent of your coffee (depending on your method of extraction), so using good water can make your coffee much better," says Milos. "Tap water is okay if it tastes good and is free of chlorine, filtered water is better (unless it’s soft in minerals), and spring—aka bottled—water is best unless it’s very hard in minerals and tastes slightly salted."
3. And don't use too much water
When you're making coffee with a Keurig, following the instructions on how much water to use is important. "Don’t try and get more volume out of one single K-Cup than possible; you'll just end up with a watery cup of coffee," he says. "For example, an illy K-Cup should yield an 8 oz. cup of coffee; if you wanted 16 oz, use two K-Cups."
4. Clean your Keurig frequently
Be honest. How often do you really clean your Keurig? If you're not doing so regularly, your coffee won't taste nearly as good. "Again, water is so important to the taste of your coffee," says Milos. "Clean the water reservoir and pod holder weekly to ensure you have quality water. You can use the Keurig rinse pods. For any cleaning method, always refer to your machine manual for proper direction."
While a weekly deep-clean is important, you can do a quickie clean on the daily for top-notch coffee, too. "Coffee becomes rancid when left exposed to air overtime, so you should clean the parts that touch coffee as much as possible to ensure the best tasting coffee," he says. "A daily cleaning routine should include a couple of water rinses and running an 8 oz. brew without the pod so the hot water can clean the brewing chamber."
5. Replace the filter
Aside from cleaning, replacing the filter is another important Keurig maintenance task that can play a role in how your coffee tastes. "Your machine has a filter in the water tank that helps to eliminate some chlorine and reduce the hardness (mineral content) of your water when using tap water," says Milos. "Replace it every two months, or after about 60 tank refills."
6. Add fresh spices
One of the best ways to up the taste of your Keurig coffee—or any coffee, for that matter!—is to add spices. "To help spruce up your coffee, use a small amount of fresh spice rather than syrups or creamers which tend to have lots of sugar," says Milos. "Freshly-ground spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom (used in Turkish coffee) pair well with coffee and can give it some added warmth and help your overall health."
7. Keep it hot
While Milos says this might sound simple (and obvious!), it's crucial for the taste. "Hot coffee cools quickly when it’s in a cold cup, causing it to lose its aromatic profile. It can also become more acidic," he says. "I like to use an insulated cup. Or, warm up your favorite ceramic cup with hot water just before preparing your K-Cup."
How to make creamy, dairy-free coffee:
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