How to Make Cheap Coffee Taste Good, Real Good

How to Make Cheap Coffee Taste Good

We Americans love our coffee. About two-thirds of adults in the U.S. drink coffee every day, according to a recent Gallup poll, with the average coffee drinker consuming about three cups per day. It is a safe bet most people are not giving up their coffee habits any time soon.

Many of us are looking for ways to save a little cash on those daily cups of coffee.

For 3 cups a day, even brewing at home can run into an expense in the weekly budget. However, not all inexpensive coffee is necessarily bad coffee.

Aldi Foods carries some delightful Fair Trade coffees as well as the German Roasted Regular Ground Coffee that is not expensive and is also very good.

If you have an Aldi Food store in your area, you are set. But Aldi commercial aside, there are several ways to make a less expensive coffee tastes better.

How to Make Cheap Coffee Better Tasting

  1. Use more coffee than the package or pod says to use. This will make up for a cheaper blend being less flavorful and will help it to be stronger and more robust.
  2. Mix hot chocolate into the cup with the coffee – Pour it into the cup after brewing and add milk.
  3. Use a flavored creamer or a heavy regular creamer. Half and Half or even a non-dairy option.
  4. Use filtered water when brewing. This may take some of the bitterness off. Some people even recommend boiling the water for a better taste.
  5. Sprinkle a pinch of salt in with the coffee before you brew. A pinch means just a pinch in the coffee. Not the coffee cup, but in the grounds. The jury is out on this one. Some people swear by it and others say the coffee just tastes salty.
  6. Buy beans and grind them yourself. Watch for sales at your local grocery. Grinding your own beans will make sure your coffee is fresh and flavorful even if it is less expensive.
  7. Use a French Press and press your coffee instead of brewing it. A French press is a glass cylinder that has a lid with a piston style rod attached to a circular screen. Grind your coffee beans. Then put a few scoops in the bottom of the press. Pour nearly boiling water over the grounds and wait about 4 minutes. Press the plunger down to push the grounds down. One of the top benefits of making coffee in a French press over the regular drip pot is that more of the coffee oils end up in your cup instead of in the machine’s filter. More oil in the cup equals better taste. What also adds to the attractiveness of the French press is the cost. Coffee drinkers can purchase a quality French press for $25 or less where ever small appliances are sold.

But what if your bad coffee isn’t cheap, maybe it’s just old and/or stale.

Can You Make Stale Coffee Taste Fresh Again?

There is a long answer and a short answer to this question.

The short answer is really and truly no. You can’t make coffee beans that have gone stale taste fresh again.

Once the gasses of the roasting process have been released there is no way to produce these same flavors again.

The oils in coffee that oxidize when exposed to air change in chemical composition under this process, truly changing your coffee in flavor and chemical makeup from what it once was.

This doesn’t mean your coffee is bad, or that there’s nothing to be done to revitalize it to taste better than it currently does.

However, the only thing that can be done is attempt to tone down the bitter flavors and try to make the coffee taste better by adding flavors to change and mask the bitterness that has developed in the beans.

Methods of Refreshing Stale Beans

  • Flavor Extracts More commonly used in baking, you can put flavor extracts such a vanilla, almond, or rum to use on your stale coffee beans. Add a teaspoon of flavor extract to one cup of whole beans and stir or shake well. Leave the beans to sit overnight or longer to absorb the oil and flavor offered.
  • Dry Spices Another great choice to bring flavor back to your bitter beans can be through the addition of dry spices, such a cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger to bring additional flavor notes to the coffee beans. Experiment with individual or mixing spices to make different flavors.
    • Pumpkin Spice – ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp each of nutmeg, ginger clove
  • Chicory Root Chicory can be prepared and added to coffee to tone down bitter and dark flavors, which may be especially helpful to stale coffee.
  • Sea Salt Though a strange addition, sea salt can also help to tone down the bitter flavors that a stale coffee tends to produce as the main note. You can try adding ¼ tsp of sea salt to the grounds of a 12oz brew. Table salt may be used in slightly lower quantities.
  • Flavored Creams and Sweeteners These can certainly assist a bitter coffee up from its darkness if beans need to be saved.

Is Old or Stale Coffee Bad for You?

Does coffee even go bad?

Yes, coffee can and will go bad. Coffee has a low moisture content, so it can take years to truly expire.

Stale coffee or bad coffee?

First your coffee will lose freshness and become stale. At this stage it is not “bad”, but it is not optimal.

Like a best before date on grocery items, your coffee is always best when fresh. The flavors of a fresh coffee will always be better than those of an older bean.

What is stale coffee?

When exposed to air, the oil in the beans begins to oxidize and evaporate, changing the flavor and chemical composition over time.

How does coffee go stale?

Heat, moisture, light and air can all contribute to your coffee going stale before its time.

How do you know when your coffee is stale?

  • Flavor – the flavors are bitter and single-note, there is less complexity. Acid and sour notes are harder to detect.
  • Scent – the smell of the coffee will be mainly bitter and much less fragrant than fresh beans.
  • Age – beans that have passed their optimal freshness time will begin to lose flavor.

Can you drink stale coffee?

Yes, you can drink stale coffee. Stale coffee is only impacted in its flavor. It is still safe to enjoy.

What does stale coffee taste like?

It will not taste the way it did when it was fresh.

The flavor profile will become more bitter and single-note than it may have been when the beans were fresh.

How long is coffee fresh for?

Fresh coffee beans are only truly fresh for about two to three weeks!

Once your coffee has been ground, it’s only fresh for about 30 minutes! Make sure you’re grinding your coffee just as you’re ready to pour the water in for best results!

How do you know when your coffee is bad?

Especially fresh beans can be susceptible to grow mold eventually, as the oil from the beans (that makes fresh coffee so delicious) can encourage bacteria and mold spores to grow.

Can you drink bad coffee?

Do not drink bad coffee.

If the oils have gone rancid, or if the coffee has gone moldy, it is no longer fit for consumption.

What’s In Your Coffee Cup?

Most of us need to make sure we are frugal with what we spend on our coffee habits every day. But at the same time, we do not want to sacrifice taste for our wallets.

Fortunately there are ways to make a good cup of coffee and save some cash as well, just don’t let it get too old.

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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