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Life-Changing Hacks for Ultimate Coffee

Coffee: it’s a part of everyday life for millions upon millions of people. For many, an invigorating beverage is all coffee is. For others, this daily ritual can provide surprising utility in some unexpected spheres of life.

This is a guide to coffee hacks, coffee benefits, and uses for coffee grounds. If you know, you know, and if you don’t know, it can’t hurt to learn!

Coffee is a wonderfully complicated substance containing thousands of compounds, some aromatic and responsible for flavour, some psychoactive and responsible for the mind-sharpening coffee boost. We want to help you to understand the depths of what coffee can offer and the best way to access and make use of these coffee benefits!

First, we will look at some simple coffee hacks to make your coffee-making and coffee-drinking ritual effortless. After that, we will look at some of the ultimate coffee benefits - health advantages and lifestyle advantages to coffee consumption - before finishing up with a look at some uses for coffee grounds. We hope you come away from this blog a more knowledgeable coffee lover! 

Life-Changing Coffee Hacks

Here are some handy coffee hacks to cover preparation, brewing, drinking, and cleaning.

Coffee Ice Cubes

Coffee Ice Cubes

Create coffee ice cubes by freezing coffee once it has gone cold or by freezing cold brew coffee. Use the ice cubes to chill your iced coffee drinks without any fear of dilution as the ice cube melts! Genius!

To make those homemade iced lattes extra special, you can also do the same trick by dissolving sugar or sweetener into your vegan milk alternative and freezing it as ice cubes!

Drink it with a Pinch of Salt

If you’ve over-extracted a brew or just don’t like the bitterness of the coffee you are drinking, you can add a small pinch of salt to the cup to remove the bitterness. 

This practice became popular in the USA during the Great Depression when only very low-quality coffee was available. The coffee available today is much higher quality - the finest coffee there has ever been by some margin - and yet, for some, many varieties of coffee are still too bitter for their taste. Use this salty hack to solve that problem!

Remove Coffee Stains with Baking Soda

Scrub the insides of your coffee cups with baking soda to quickly and easily remove coffee stains and residue buildup.

Drink Coffee BEFORE a Nap!

Drink Coffee BEFORE a Nap!

Drinking a cup of coffee before taking a nap is surprisingly invigorating! It takes the caffeine a while to release into the body after drinking and getting a little rest right before the spike is a fantastic way to prepare your body and mind to make the most of the boost!

Preparing your Brew - Presses, Espresso, Pour-Over

Preparing your Brew - Presses, Espresso, Pour-Over

There are many different ways of brewing and enjoying the benefits of coffee but they all have a few things in common. One of these things is, of course, the grounds! We’ll look at what you can do with the grounds after brewing them later in this blog, but right now we’re thinking about getting the best brew possible out of them.

Distribution is key when you’re brewing in an espresso machine, an Aeropress, a pour-over setup, or any other brewing method where hot water passes or is pressed through coffee grounds. The water will take the path of least resistance when passing through the cake or puck of coffee grounds. Any over-dense areas within the grounds will not be properly saturated and will not have good contact time with water while under-dense areas allow for a rapid passage which can result in an under-extracted cup of warm disappointment. 

For this reason, you should use a puck rake, a puck distribution tool, or a wire brush to evenly distribute the coffee grounds in the cake or puck before pouring or pressing the water and brewing the coffee.

Preparing your Brew - French Press and Immersion Brewing

Preparing your Brew - French Press and Immersion Brewing

The above is not as useful for certain brewing methods, however, there are some hacks for french press users too. Rather than pressing the coffee grounds down with the plunger, try removing the topmost grounds from the layer that forms at the top during brewing. Simply use a spoon to scoop the grounds from the top of the french press before plunging it. 

Not only will this remove most of the grounds from the pot, so you can leave it to stand without further brewing and over-extraction ruining the flavour, but it will make it easier to press the plunger and clear the remaining grounds and oils from the fresh coffee you’ve brewed!

Water Temperature

The ideal temperature for brewing coffee is generally considered to be between 92 and 96 degrees celsius. There is debate on this matter, as with all things in coffee! 

Water that is at or very near boiling point (98+ degrees celsius) will extract the full profile of aromatic compounds from the coffee grounds, but will also extract high-boiling point compounds with undesirable flavours. Coffee with high-temperature extracted compounds is often described as “burnt” in flavour.

Water that is too cold - below 92-ish degrees Celsius - will not extract a full profile of aromatic compounds from the coffee grounds. The coffee will taste weak and flavourless; such coffee is referred to as “flat”. 

Always take into account the thermal energy that will be lost to the air and heating the coffee and brewing device during pouring; aim for a temperature slightly above your target temperature so that the cooling water is at the correct temperature when in contact with the coffee grounds.

Grind Size

Grind Size

Get the right grind size! 

Espresso coffee requires a very fine grind - often called a ‘fine’ grind. This is to give resistance to the water as the espresso machine presses the water through the coffee puck at 9 bars of pressure. This resistance slows the water, increasing the contact time between the hot, pressurized water and the coffee grounds in the puck (most espresso shots are pulled in 25 to 30 seconds). 

Too coarse of a grind in an espresso machine will result in channeling, which is when water follows the path of least resistance and drains through the puck by passing through areas of lower density, decreasing contact time and ruining the shot by under-extraction. 

A coarser grind than espresso, called a ‘medium-fine’ grind, is optimized for pour-over brewing, Moka pot brewing, Aeropresses, and siphon brewing.

The finest grind used in coffee-making is a ‘medium’ grind, which is coarser than the other two grinds mentioned and is optimized for certain styles of pour-over, Chemex, and drip brewing methods.

Coffee Storage

Coffee Storage

Coffee tastes best when it is fresh - and that’s a fact! It’s important to store your coffee beans so that they remain fresh for as long as possible.

There are many options available when it comes to coffee storage canisters, but they all fall into three broad categories. Coffee storage is less of a traditional coffee hack, but it certainly is useful!

First, airtight coffee storage canisters are, as implied by the name, airtight. They seal the coffee beans in with the air that is inside and they do not let any new air in or any air out. The coffee beans are still exposed to oxygen so the benefits of airtight containers are mostly in cost and in ease of use.

Displacement coffee storage canisters work by shrinking their internal volume, excluding air from the coffee beans. Displacement canisters usually work by the depression of the lid or other mechanical operation to decrease the space inside and vent the expelled air. Displacement containers expose the coffee beans to less oxygen than airtight-only containers, meaning that the shelf-life of your coffee beans will be extended!

Vacuum containers are the most effective, and priciest, coffee storage canisters. Vacuum canisters pump the air out of the container once sealed, reducing air pressure and oxygen levels far lower than the other types of canisters. The only time the beans will be exposed to non-negligible quantities of oxygenating air is when you re-pressurize the container to remove a dose of beans to make coffee. This means that vacuum canisters offer the best extension to the shelf-life of your coffee beans!

Ultimate Coffee Benefits

Learn about the benefits you will enjoy when practicing the coffee hacks that you’ve learned so far.

Proposed Health Benefits

Proposed Health Benefits

Studies have shown that coffee can help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease when consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet. 

Coffee has also been shown to help the body process sugar more efficiently, making it potentially useful in the prevention and mitigation of diabetes. There is also some evidence that it might help prevent Parkinson's disease.

Antioxidant compounds in coffee are thought to help protect against various cancers, including the deadly prostate cancer, and this has been demonstrated in multiple cancer studies.

That’s a lot of bang for your buck! The most important coffee hack is: drink coffee in moderation (two or three cups a day) for a whole host of health benefits as well as mental energy boosts and clarity of mind!

Understanding Caffeine

Caffeine is the main active ingredient in coffee. Unlike the majority of the compounds in coffee, caffeine is psychoactive. It stimulates the hormonal system to increase the energy available in the blood and it stimulates brain activity. In the right amounts, it can aid with concentration and energy levels - the primary benefits of coffee. Overdosing can lead to caffeine crashes, irritability, hyperactivity, and insomnia.

The benefits of coffee and caffeine have been enjoyed for centuries. So long as you use caffeine wisely as part of a healthy diet, you will reap endless coffee benefits!

Endless Flavour, Endless Experience

Endless Flavour, Endless Experience

Coffee is consumed for two main reasons: caffeine and flavour. We’ve already covered the caffeine, but what about the flavour?

It’s hard to call to mind any other beverage with the wealth, depth, and complexity of flavours, textures, and experiences offered by coffee. Even without adding any non-coffee ingredients, the possibilities range between dozens of brewing methods producing differing drinks in their end results to the tens of thousands of possible sources, origins, roasting methods, climate peculiarities… The list of variables is endless.

A specialty coffee habit feeds the soul and the mind as well as nourishes the body and invigorates the blood. You will learn about places, people, coffee plants, methods, and thought processes, all while enjoying the most flavourful and varied beverage in the world.

Uses for Coffee Grounds

There are many potential uses for coffee grounds. Let’s explore some of the most exciting and surprising ones!

Using Coffee Grounds as Plant Fertilizer

Using Coffee Grounds as Plant Fertilizer

First off, did you know that you can use coffee grounds as garden plant or house plant fertilizer? This is because of the bioactive micronutrients that slide right into the existing soil system of a potted or garden plant. 

Coffee grounds are also thought to contribute to the amelioration of heavy metals in plant soil and water - vital for plant health, as heavy metals can be very poisonous for plants. 

You can use your spent coffee grounds in your potted plants, both indoors and outdoors, and with your garden plants and flower beds! Simply sprinkle the spent coffee grounds evenly over the soil and let nature do the rest!

Using Coffee Grounds in Composting

Using Coffee Grounds in Composting

Coffee can be a miracle for your compost bin! It has been shown to be useful in the composting of green waste, supplying a range of bioavailable nutrients for the bacteria, small organisms, and insects that break down the green biowaste and produce better fertilizer more quickly. 

Spent coffee grounds are also useful in vermicomposting (composting using earthworms) as they provide bioactive nutrition and fibrous material for the earthworms to make use of in their eating and digestion processes. The resulting vermicompost is a fantastic fertilizer, rich in a wide range of critical plant nutrients.

Composting processes that involve spent coffee grounds are useful for reducing greenhouse gas production as a byproduct of the composting process, as the chemicals in the coffee grounds will react with the greenhouse gases before they can outgas from the composting container.

Using Coffee Grounds in Cleaning

The carbon in spent coffee grounds can eliminate bad odours by reacting with sulfurous compounds in the air, pulling them into compounds within the coffee grounds rather than floating around offending your olfactories. 

You can use the rough spent coffee grounds to scour pots and pans and to clean fireplaces and ovens. Simply rub the spent coffee grounds on the surface you wish to clean and scrub!

Using Coffee Grounds for Anti-Aging Benefits

Using Coffee Grounds for Anti-Aging Benefits

Coffee grounds are also believed to be effective as an anti-aging agent, especially for under the eyes. Care should be taken not to get coffee grounds in the eyes themselves, as this could be extremely painful and irritating! Gently and carefully rub your used coffee grounds into the skin under your eyes, or mix them with your moisturizer cream or coconut oil and apply as a salve, leaving to rest for forty minutes before washing off.

Rubbing spent coffee grounds into the scalp can aid hair growth by stimulating the follicles and counteracting the suppressive effect that testosterone has on hair growth. This is a particularly effective treatment for men with male pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia.

Exfoliation of the skin (with coconut oil) and scalp (after washing to remove shampoo residue) with coffee grounds can help gently remove dead skin without damaging healthy skin. It acts as a detergent to lift old grease and oil buildup by both chemical and mechanical cleaning actions.

You can also mix coffee grounds with moisturizer or coconut oil to make poultices and salves. Just apply to the desired area to help reduce the appearance of cellulite by stimulating the skin cells and nourishing them. 

Scrubbing the skin with coffee grounds will also have this effect, and will have other youth-preserving, skin-tightening effects elsewhere - though care should be taken around the eyes. Coffee grounds, like sand, do not make good friends for eyes! If applying to the eyes, do so in a salve or mask.

Using Coffee Grounds to Repel Insects

Using Coffee Grounds to Repel Insects

Some of the compounds in coffee grounds, including caffeine, have insecticidal properties and are known to work as natural pesticides. This is thought to be a defense mechanism against insects in the coffea genus of plants. 

The insecticidal properties also mean that coffee grounds are great for removing ticks and fleas from your pets! You can also use coffee grounds to dissuade pests from plant leaves! Strain and dry them in muslin and hang them up to repel biting insects, midges, and mosquitoes.

Use Coffee Grounds as a Natural Dye

You can also use spent coffee grounds as a natural dye! Just steep your spent coffee grounds in hot water before submerging the clothing for a dark stained look. You can also scatter the wet coffee grounds on the clothing you wish to dye and allow it to dry before removing it for a mottled effect. Repeat this process to layer dying patterns.

Tenderising Meat-Alternatives

Meat-Alternatives

Tannins are a family of bitter, astringent polyphenols that give unique flavour to many beverages and substances including tea, wine, and coffee. The tannins in coffee act much like the tannins in wine when vegan meat alternatives are exposed to them. The acidity of the coffee grounds brings out the rich and fatty flavours of the meat alternative in the same way that cooking the meat alternative in wine does!

Simply rub your spent coffee grounds into the surface of the meat alternative after oiling it and before cooking it. The spent coffee grounds will tenderize the meat alternative and bring out its unique flavours!

Restore Scratched Wooden Furniture

You can use spent coffee grounds to restore scratched, nicked, and chipped wooden furniture! Mix your used coffee grounds with water and vinegar in a 1:1:1 mixture by volume (cups), shake the mixture, and allow the mixture to steep for an hour.

You will have created a rub stain that should help disguise scratches on varnished wooden furniture and surfaces! Simply rub the steeped mixture into the scratches and watch them vanish. Wait to dry and reapply until completely satisfied! 

Recommended Coffees to Try Out These Coffee Hacks!

Try one of these beautiful, expertly grown, and roasted single-origin coffees from Portfolio Coffee

The Equilibrio blend Brazilian Nicaraguan Coffee is grown in the Alta Mogiana region of Brazil and blended with excellent Nicaraguan coffee. Notes of chocolate, caramel, and cashew with a light floral finish; a medium roast through-and-through with a note in every part of the taste chart.

With honey and floral notes on a base of creamy coconut, the Jamaican Blue Mountain Single-Origin Coffee is a great medium-light roast for everyday drinking. It is grown in Jamaica’s famous Blue Mountain region.

The Inga Aponte Single-Origin Colombian Coffee is a sweet and pleasant dark roast coffee with low acidity and notes of plum and cane sugar with a cocoa finish. It is grown on the Colombian farm known as Inga Aponte.

Summing Up Coffee Hacks

Summing Up Coffee Hacks

Now that we have looked at the best coffee hacks, some uses for coffee grounds, and the most useful coffee benefits, you can start to level up your coffee habits today! It’s time to let your favourite beverage solve problems in other areas of your life.

This guide has told you all you need to know about the health benefits of coffee; heart, brain, blood, kidneys, skin (from exfoliation), and so on. You now also know some great coffee hacks to improve your morning brew!

In addition to all of these useful coffee benefits, we have also told you all about how to use your coffee grounds to restore furniture, fertilize flower beds, repel insects, exfoliate, clean, and compost!

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