From grinding your own beans to upgrading your equipment, there are plenty of tips out there on how to brew a better cup of coffee. But the biggest culprit behind your subpar joe may have nothing to do with the quality of the product. If your coffee tastes weak, acrid, or just plain off, it may be time to clean your coffee maker.
As The New York Times reports, most people don't clean their coffee makers as often as they should. When these machines aren't sanitized regularly, they can foster mold and yeast growth. But even if your coffee maker's water reservoir isn't teeming with bacteria, there may be other factors affecting the flavor. Coffee grounds contain oils that are hard to wash away with plain water. Over time, these old oils build up on your equipment and make your coffee taste bitter.
The minerals in your tap water may also be at fault. When those mineral deposits are left to build up and clog the machinery, your coffee machine has a harder time heating up and brewing your coffee. This results in a weaker drink.
Fortunately, you don't need to go to the local café to get a decent cup of coffee. All you need to do to improve the quality of your brew is establish a regular cleaning routine. To stop oils from building up, you should clean your brewing basket and carafe after each use. This means scrubbing them with soap and hot water or cleaning them in the dishwasher if they're dishwasher safe. Opening the lid of the water reservoir after making coffee will also help it air-dry and prevent bacteria growth.
You only need to decalcify the machine once a month, but this process requires a little more work. Fill the water reservoir with a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar and run the coffee maker. Brewing a few batches of this vinegar solution will remove built-up mineral deposits from the machine. To avoid your next pot of coffee tasting like vinegar, finish by brewing a few cycles of plain tap water.
Your coffee maker is one of many home appliances that you may be neglecting. Here are more household items you're probably not cleaning enough.
[h/t The New York Times]