Introduction: Improve the Flavor of Coffee Using This Method

Picture of Improve the Flavor of Coffee Using This Method

My husband has been drinking ready made coffee from the corner store. I started making coffee for him using tap water to save money. He said the homemade coffee tasted better than the store bought, but not significantly better. I decided that the problem must be our hard tap water.

My son mentioned that I could improve the flavor of the coffee without purchasing filtered water. I have been using his method as well as another method that has been used by our ancestors for many centuries.

This instructable will share how I improved the flavor of coffee without purchasing filtered water, using a few ingredients that I normally have on-hand and one one ingredient that I use for mulching the garden.

Follow through and let's make some tasty coffee.

Step 1: Ingredients and Utensils

Picture of Ingredients and Utensils

This is what you will need:

Coffee of your choice

10 Cups Tap Water or filtered water I used tap water

1 Crushed egg shell from boiled egg ( You could sanitize the egg shells by boiling them if you won't be making boiled eggs.)

1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed Lemon Juice ( add or reduce depending on how much coffee you make)

1 Pinch of salt I use Pink salt

Coffee maker, filters, cup, and spoon

Step 2: Procedure

Picture of Procedure

Pour water into coffee pot

Add pinch of pink salt

Add lemon juice


Place filter into the filter attachment and add coffee grounds

Top the coffee grounds with the santized crushed egg shells


Step 3: Sunshiine's Final Thoughts

Picture of Sunshiine's Final Thoughts

I have used this method for Folgers coffee and Organic coffee. I don't drink coffee but according to my husband the salt, lemon juice, and egg shells have greatly improved the coffee's flavor. If you would like to improve the flavor even more, instead of using tap water, try filtered water and organic coffee using these techniques. I don't think it will disappoint you. The egg shells reduce the bitterness in the coffee. The lemon juice and salt improve the flavor of the water.

Thanks for stopping by and do have a safe and "Happy New Year~"



lbrewer42 (author)2016-01-19

I know it sounds crazy, but its true, I have a disability where it is recommended I drink coffee (P.O.T.S. - google if interested). The problem is I HATE coffee ("coughy" as I spell it). Personally I think mud would be a good additive to improve the flavor (only slightly kidding - mud MUST taste better!).

So I appreciate your instructable. I am going to try this to see if I can get rid of some of the bitterness. I have tried everything else anyone ever told me to try. I think there is just something wrong with my palate as I cannot understand how many people love this drink.

As it is I use half coughy, half milk, a tablespoon of corn syrup (seems to cut bitterness), and two powdered, wintergreen Altoids stirred in to mask the flavor.

tylernator (author)lbrewer422016-01-22

Look up Cold Brew coffee. You mix about a cup of coffee grounds to 6 cups of water. Then allow to steep for 12-24 hours in the fridge. The result is highly caffinated and very low acidity.

FlorinJ (author)lbrewer422016-01-21

Try roasting coffee yourself, and using light roasts - less bitter by default. As a sweetener, I find that extremely dark maple syrup works best, when mixing coffee and milk.

ILykMakin (author)lbrewer422016-01-20

Try honey as a sweetner. Unless you REALLY want obesity and diabetes in your life.

Corn Syrup is THE worst.

greenman48 (author)ILykMakin2016-01-20

Better yet, try Organic Agave Nectar. It has a lower hypoglycemic index rating and is just as sweet, from a Type II Diabetic.

I use the bullet proof coffee recipe for my wife that I make with my own coffee. They sell a brand named coffee but it costs way to much. A web search will get the bulletproof recipes that taste very smooth with no bitter flavor to my wife and me but I like to try all kinds of coffee. It is a tea spoonful MCT (red palm or coconut ) oil,and one of unsalted butter plus a little cream I think but it is worth trying but i haven't made any for awhile so I'm not sure about the recipe.

cdzsj (author)lbrewer422016-01-19

I google POTS and read in Wikipedia that people with this condition should avoid caffeine drinks. Please double check with your Dr.

ToddN1 (author)cdzsj2016-01-19

I looked too. Your doctor's advice MIGHT be ok, as it is recommended that a person with POTS avoid EXCESSIVE caffeine intake. It doesn't sound like ibrewer42 is consuming as much coughy as, well, I do. He's probably fine. Still, it wouldn't hurt to double check.

bluegillfly (author)lbrewer422016-01-19

What everybody else said WRT water temperature. Boiling water is way too hot for making coffee.

Secondly, black coffee is not supposed to be bitter. If it is, there's something wrong with one or more of: your brewing equipment, your water temp (already mentioned), or the coffee you're using. The water itself is actually the least critical of these. I live in San Diego, which has about the hardest water in the entire USA, and I make non-bitter coffee with filtered tap water. Even unfiltered tap water isn't too bad, though, if the other stuff is right.

Next up: brewing equipment. Unless you're willing to spend about $300 on a Technivorm, don't drip brew your coffee. Even then, you can do better with other brewing methods, IMO. No H, this is not a humble opinion :)

I highly recommend French press. If that's not your thing and you like pour-over, get a Clever Coffee Dripper. It combines the best aspects of pour-over and French press. Either will be in the 30 to 50 dollar range. Tip on the French press: just get a stainless steel one. You'll do it eventually anyway, after breaking a few glass ones :)

You'll also want a decent burr grinder to go with it. By decent, I mean if it sells for less than $100, it's not decent. A Capresso Infinity is good enough for most uses. I got a used one off Craigslist for 50 bucks in like-new condition. Last I looked, $100-$120 was a common price range for new.

As for the coffee itself, pretty much anything you get at a store is going to be garbage. It's going to low-quality beans, which were roasted a long time ago (4 weeks is a long time, in this context) and are stale in the package. Plus, they will almost always have been over-roasted. Starbucks is garbage, too. Never buy coffee there, unless it's some sugary, coffee-based drink in which you can't actually taste their coffee, such as a pumpkin spice latte.

Where to go, then? Coffee shops that sell their own roast are great. If you're in the greater San Francisco area, there are tons of choices. There's also Sweet Maria's coffee, which is where I buy my green beans (I'm a home roaster). You can get roasted beans from them, and they're excellent, but unless you join their subscription program, it's hard to get them before they sell out.

Ultimately, of course, you could home roast. I started out using a popcorn popper (air pop type) which I modded and modded until I blew it up :-) Then I bought a Hot Top drum roaster. Home roasting will get you the freshest possible beans and is lots of fun. Of course, it's more fun if you do it because you love coffee, I suppose, than if you just do it because you have to drink coffee. OTOH, you could get to love it if you find out how good it can actually taste. If you hating coffee because you've only ever had bad coffee, that's kind of like hating wine because you've only ever had two buck Chuck (which I do drink, but it's not very good) or, I dunno, Thunderbird.

I used to hate black coffee until I started home roasting, at which point I found out, "Wow! This stuff isn't supposed to be bitter, and it tastes great!" Now, except for the odd Vietnamese coffee (my wife is VNese, so I've learned to be pretty good at making that, too), black coffee is all I drink.

Finally, you can try making cold brew coffee. Even with lower-quality beans, it's less bitter than hot-brewed coffee. Of course, when made with high-quality beans, it tastes much better.

There's a whole great world of good coffee out there for you to explore :)

bluegillfly (author)bluegillfly2016-01-19

Oh, I forgot to mention cleanliness of equipment. Your brewing equipment must be utterly clean or your coffee won't taste good. Thanks to those who mentioned this.

If you're using a drip machine, nothing will probably make it good, but you can make it better by making sure the spray head and everything around it is spotless. These areas typically get splashed by coffee and become really dirty, really quickly.

jenniferpag (author)lbrewer422016-01-19

Make your coffee with water no hotter than 80C. A regular hit of a tablespoon of corn syrup will whammy your insulin. It is an enormous amount of sugar. Try leaving out the sugar and adding evaporated milk or fresh double cream if you can get it instead. A pot will keep for 7 to 10 days in fridge. Use mild roast Arabica coffee not Robusta beans which makes very bitter coarse flavoured coffee. Skim milk is useless as it is basically water. Or make a mocha by adding cocoa powder. Delicious.

greenman48 (author)2016-01-20

Never, ever use Tap Water to make your Coffee or Tea (way too many chemicals and other nasty stuff in treated water)! Use Spring Water or Distilled Water and don't buy into the "Decaf" hype as you really don't want to know how its processed to make it Decaf! I buy roasted Organic Coffee Beans and grind them myself and add a teaspoon of Roasted Chickory per 12 cup pot. The chickory neutralizes much of the natural acids that occur when brewing.

FlorinJ (author)greenman482016-01-21

It all depends. I recently analyzed water from two local wells, distilled water from a supermarket and tap water, for fitness for being used in an aquarium. Tap water proved to be the best: extremely low Cl2 content, virtually no NO2 or NO3, perfectly neutral pH and moderate total and carbonate hardness. Well waters had both carbonate and total hardness through the roof, while the so-called distilled water had pretty high levels of NO2 and NO3 (for aquarium use at least).

I rarely drink coffee, but I roast it myself. I like very light roasts, so light I most often can't get them commercially. These have a very low caffeine content, and yield (IMO) a more pleasant coffee, with a richer flavor and less of the burned, charcoal-like bitterness you often experience especially in cheaper coffees.

jwaktins672003 (author)2016-01-20

Not sure anyone else has had this experience. With inexpensive coffee's my nephew and I have both been subject to heart palpitations. When I switched to high quality coffee (regardless of brand) I stopped having them. My nephew only experienced this after having inexpensive coffee at a Christmas party. I plan on doing an experiment to record the growth of mold on fresh, exposed coffee grounds from inexpensive and expensive coffees, because the inexpensive used grounds get a green mold on them very quickly, while the expensive ones take a long time, weeks/months, before mold starts to appear. Searching the internet I found at least one study in Europe pointing to how some coffees contain higher amounts of mold toxins. Given both have similar caffeine amounts it seems like a strong correlation between these molds and the heart palpitations. Personally, I love the bitterness of coffee, but know that a basic thing such as keeping the coffee maker clean makes a huge difference. Note that I use a French press to extract loads of bitter, cause I can control the brew time.

FlorinJ (author)jwaktins6720032016-01-21

Typically, the less chemically treated a food is, the faster it catches mold. Sun-ripened tomatoes take a lot less to mold than the ones plucked green and forcefully ripened with ethylene (that's what you more often than not get from supermarkets). Oranges or lemons with their zest untreated with pesticides will rot a lot faster than what you find in supermarkets.

Once coffee is roasted then brewed, the time it takes to catch mold only tells you how much anti-mold chemicals are in the grounds - the longer it takes to mold, the more anti-mold chemicals.

Coffee that contains mold toxins before being roasted and sold must have caught mold before being roasted and packaged - surely there's no mold formation in vacuumed packages.

Caffeine content of brewed coffee depends on many factors: coffee variety (Robusta vs. Arabica, or the ratio between them), grain size, water temperature, brewing time. It's not just the caffeine that messes with your heart rhythm.

emachine56 (author)2016-01-21

Well, this is a very good suggestion and it is well taken. When I worked with a large group of men who were all coffee swillers, the garage man (formal title for janitor) made coffee in a 50 cup urn twice a day; we had hot coffee in the am and at night when we came in from work. He used 3/4 cheap coffee and 1/4 Luzianne (coffee-chickory mix) and 1 tablespoon of salt and a lemon hull for every pot. If you were in the coffee club you were REQUIRED to bring egg shells from home. He washed them under hot water and then crushed a hand full to cover the grounds. The lemon hull was just cut up and thrown on top. All of us swore it was among the best coffee around 30 years ago. We still fondly reminisce about it to this day. Way better than the burned over roasted muck Starbucks peddles as coffee. Oh, by the way, he used distilled water that was intended to replenish battery electrolyte as our tap water is way too hard. Good idea, keep it up!

JeffM62 (author)2016-01-19

not sure what you can do to improve Folgers coffee.

jtharkness (author)JeffM622016-01-20

I concur. The brand of coffee matters greatly. Even the smell of Folgers is sickening to me. Compare the smell of Folgers ground coffee beans (or instant) with Nescafe Classico, and you will notice a huge difference. I concur with others that "good" coffee should not be bitter. If it's just a little bitter or acidic, then a little cream and/or a little cane sugar will ameliorate the bitterness, and might even improve it.

PeterL30 (author)JeffM622016-01-19

You could use Nabob, it's even organic and tons better than Folgers.

fatgnat (author)2015-12-28

I use a pinch of salt on the grounds in every pot of coffee I make. Have done it for years and it takes the bitterness out. Will try this method too to see how it works.


rafununu (author)fatgnat2015-12-29

Good coffee isn't bitter.

letterformn (author)rafununu2016-01-19

I agree. Arabic hand picked organic, shade grown, sun cured, slow roasted and slow brewed coffee won't be bitter. But then again this coffee will cost $15/lb. Be advised though, if you ever have coffee of this quality you will forever be ruined and you will spend the rest of your days in search of coffee that tastes as good. :)

clewis21 (author)letterformn2016-01-20

Actually that is not correct. It took a lot of trial and error for someone that never drank coffee most of my life. I have found decent 100% Arabica at independent Spartan stores, Spartan brand and Sav-a-lots 28-34 oz only $8-$10. That will brew a lot of coffee.

Hi letterformn, I'd like to add buy your beans green & roast them yourself. This way you can afford decent Arabica beans with the characteristics & qualities you desire, as in acidity, fruitiness, aftertaste, whatnot. I bought a popcorn roaster for 2 bucks from a secondhand store allowing me to roast beans. Dark roast, French roast, etc. Then grind the roasted beans to suit your brew method. I like the bodum or French press which allows the freshly roasted & ground coffee beans to steep for roughly 3 minutes resulting in an excellent tasting cup of coffee.

I've tried the egg shells & a pinch of salt but neither results in a better tasting brew to me. Great post Sunshine, one of my favourite topics!

bluegillfly (author)letterformn2016-01-19

Only $15/pound? You don't live in California, do you? ;)

tinydancer (author)rafununu2016-01-19

I agree. Then, why is Starbucks so busy? They have the most bitter/burnt coffee I've had.

GeoffE2 (author)tinydancer 2016-01-20

Get the blond roast.

grumblenz (author)tinydancer 2016-01-20

Marketing. Great marketers - could sell snow to penguins.

sunshiine (author)fatgnat2015-12-29

Thanks so much for taking a peek and I hope it works for you~ Have a great 2016~


sunshiine (author)fatgnat2015-12-28

Hello fatnat, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing. I hope you like it as much as my husband does. Have a safe and happy New year~


t.rohner (author)2016-01-19

Sounds interesting, although i don't drink coffee...

One thing, that you should clarify is "pink salt".

I think you refer to himalayan salt. But the name "pink salt" is also used for meat curing salt containing sodium nitrite.

I just saw the picture of your salt... so it's the himalayan then ;-)

graydog111 (author)2016-01-19

As always, Sunshiine, great 'ible. As a retired firefighter, I found that the worst thing you can do is make the coffee, and then leave it to near boiling temperature for a long period. It's better when you turn it off as soon as it finishes brewing and warm it in the microwave a cup at a time before drinking each cup. We have a distiller at home and using the distilled water improves the flavor dramatically.

jenniferpag (author)2016-01-19

No need for eggshells or lemon etc. Keep a jug of cold water in a kettle or non plastic jug that has stood for an hour to evaporate chlorine etc. Use this. Use Arabica fresh ground coffee, pour on water not hotter than 80C - use cooking thermometer if you need to. Boiling water makes coffee bitter.

MarshaS4 (author)2016-01-19

I sometimes add a very small pinch of cinnamon to the grounds. It seems to help with the bitterness. If you can taste the cinnamon, you have used too much. Why does coffee sometimes cause me to have a "sour stomach"?

nanaverm (author)MarshaS42016-01-19

Could it be the coffee's acidity? If so, add a tiny bit of baking soda and stir to buffer it, raising the pH. That's what I do when using tomato sauce.

spark master (author)2016-01-19

try using 100 % columbian coffee with medium toast rate (brown, not dark brown) . I buy BJ's columbian grind it myself the NOGHT BEFORE I want it, I get mellow brown coffee. The darker the roast the more bitter it is. Beans are toasted to specific colors espresso being the darkest, or maybe it is french roast , (truly bitter crap waste of coffee beans, to me). Since I grind 3 days worth I also stire up the beans in my container so all the lumps break up and blend in. If you use ground "a la minute" beans it will be more bitter and taste different as well. It is oxidation, like when you open a bottle of a good red wine. 1/2 hour opened makes it open up and it can be profoundly different in flavor. Organic beans do not taste any diff. then regular ones (to me), but I try to only use filtered water. I would think you could also break up a calcium tablet, (chewable kind) and add to the beans it will do the same as the shells. Tums comes to mind. I take my coffee seriously enough to have a travel pot and alky/prope stove to make it on the road.

I do not do Starbucks, it is weak and bitter

I do not use Keurig Machines as they are weak, and expensive, and can also be bitter. In a pinch at peoples homes I take 2 pods set the machine on demitasse(sp?).

Also if you don't wish to grind your own beans try folgers 100% columbian medium roast.

cazrcon (author)2016-01-19

I tried something completely different. I bought some garlic frozen cubes at Walmart and droped one cube into my cup of coffee. was great!! but you gotta love garlic! lol but ya try other things and spices you like to change up the basic flavour. coffee is a great base but changing it up with other flavours to accent it is like trying different foods to experience a fuller taste experience

trainslayer (author)2016-01-19

I have gone to cold brewing my coffee to tame the bitterness. Also if your husband is an employee of the Union Pacific then the mug could be causing his bitterness!

schabanow (author)2016-01-19

I knew a man used pure orange juice instead of water to make coffee. He claimed his variant to be delicious but I haven't test it. ))

rsinton (author)2016-01-04

Ok, my girlfriend and I have done a variety of tests with the Illy coffee we normally drink to evaluate your Instructable, which we found very fun! We both drink coffee regularly and have degrees in food science and while we had heard of the lemon juice and salt we hadn't heard about the eggs and we had never really sat down to determine our preferences! We both liked the salt, she liked the lemon too, we both thought the lemon cut the bitterness, but for me I lost some of the flavor, but I like black tarry coffee. We both felt as though the eggshells, even in small amounts, added an "animal" or musk smell and flavor to the coffee, but it was less bitter.

In winemaking egg whites are often used as a fining agent to remove bitter flavors, very dosage dependent, and you don't drink wine that's been immediately treated because it stinks!

Great Instructable! Thanks for the fun experiments!

jimmie.c.boswell (author)rsinton2016-01-19

i have never made any wine that stinks, because i avoid using sulfites. many wineries use sulfites, to speed up the brewing process to save time and money.

wine takes longer to brew, without using sulfites. but it, makes a much better tasting wine more naturally. nor would i add eggs to wine, since eggs have a high sulfur content that also can produce toxic hydrogen sulfide.

at most i add calcium hydroxide, if the acid content is too high - which will precipitate out. and scorched oak chips, for aging if not using my oak cask.

but you can also speed up brewing time, by adding three different layer yeasts. a top layer yeast, as mid layer yeast, and a bottom layer yeast. also by agitating, to release CO2 at intervals. since CO2 buildup, will slow down the yeast action and eventually cause it to stop at 14%.

generally the sugar content of the fruit juice, will not allow you to go beyond 12 to 18% alcohol volume. but at around 20% the alcohol concentration, begins to kill the yeast. but can be further concentrated, by the freezing method and removing the ice to make a liquer.

mlm_1950 (author)rsinton2016-01-13

Years, and I mean YEARS ago, I used to make coffee on the farm using our hard water and mixing the coffee grounds with a raw egg. It was a bit messy, but the coffee was clear and it still had flavor. I got this idea from some of the older women who would make coffee for their Church meals. There is one drawback to using raw egg. It has the tendency to slow down one's digestion, if you know what I mean.

Thank you for the information on wine and the use of egg shells. I have been toying with the idea of making wine one day, so this is good to know.

Hey MLM, I highly recommend making your own wine. Note the specification of egg whites for wine fining, not the shell. There are other options to egg whites as well such as isinglass, bentonite, and the best one, time... I wish you the best of luck with your adventures, its very worth the time and effort :-)

sunshiine (author)rsinton2016-01-05

Hello rsinton, I enjoyed reading your comment about your experiment. I embrace your compliment and thank you~ Hope 2016 is good to you and your girlfriend~


Veridical_Angel (author)2016-01-19

I add one quarter teaspoon of baking soda to the pot or to the grounds. Smooth as silk....

Prof. A. Z. O_Trope (author)2016-01-19

A few thoughts . . .

Fresh lemon juice will have some suspended solids, even "pulp" depending on how you handle it after squeezing, and these solids can deposit on the heating element in your coffee maker over time. The citric acid in lemon juice will "chelate" hard-water ions (calcium, iron, etc.), but these can also (re-)deposit on the heating element. The salt aids this process by "softening" the water with sodium ions. Citric acid (or the acetic acid in vinegar) is better as a periodic cleaning agent than in regular use. The "flavor" compounds in lemon juice may or may not make it into the coffee. The eggshells, I'd guess, serve to adsorb certain things in the water, including perhaps the chelated ions. "Cowboy Coffee" often included eggshells or even a whole egg cracked into the pot along with the water and coffee grounds. A pinch of salt was also added sometimes. You might try the eggshells UNDER the grounds, to see if that makes a difference. The coffee also serves as an adsorbent. While some things are being extracted FROM the coffee grounds, other things may be adsorbed ONTO those grounds.

Overall, there is a lot of physics and chemistry going on in the brewing of a cup of coffee by any method. Except for occasional cleaning, I would tend to recommend against adding things to the water when using a drip coffee maker, and instead trying them on or mixed with the coffee grounds themselves. In a French Press, you can add everything together. Personally, I use distilled water (very cheap by the gallon), and that seems to be a minor improvement over my tap water, although my tap water tastes very good and is not especially hard. I clean periodically with a pot of full-strength white vinegar (add, wait 10 minutes, brew) , followed by two pots of plain water to flush the system. I haven't tried adding anything, but after reading this article, I'm going to experiment with lemon, vanilla, and eggshells.

namora (author)2016-01-19

Cowboy or coffee grounds put into a metal pitcher and brought to a boil used egg shells to settle the grounds. A bit of added vanilla extract is a nice change now and then.

MacyW (author)2016-01-19

Well, as a self-proclaimed "coffee snoot", I can tell y'all that a clean pot and machine is the most important part of brewing Cafe Americaine. There is a commercially available coffee machine cleaner named something like Dippit. It works great!! I have had good success with both a mild bleach solution and mild acid solutions. I generally flush a couple of pots of water thru the machine after a treatment like this. I actually prefer vinegar or lemon juice as opposed to bleach, as they scour out the kitchen sink drain too, when I dump the pot, and they are not toxic to all life like bleach is!

As fir cleaning the pot itself, do an old restaurant waitress trick: small ice cubes, and a cup of salt. Swirl it around in the pot, it will scour the brown crud off!

MacTGR (author)2016-01-19

I have found that the best thing to do to make sure your coffee is as good as it can be is to regularly clean your machine. I put about 1/2 cup of white vinegar into the pot then fill the rest with water. I then brew it , pour out the water, fill again with only water and brew again. Usually takes only one full water brew after the first vinegar/water brew to get rid of any vinegar taste.

Also, my wife makes my coffee and it is the best because it's made with love, and Dunkin Donuts coffee...which helps.

Jollyriffic (author)MacTGR2016-01-19

Vinegar will eat away at the rubber gaskets inside your machine. It's also pretty ineffective at removing buildup on the heating elements. What industrial coffee makers and other sites suggest is citric acid. you can find large granulated bags on amazon or other places pretty cheap. it's food grade, has no odor, and if you don't get it all cleaned out, it just taste like unsweetened lemonade. Also citric acid is much better at removing buildup of both water deposits and left over coffee. :D enjoy

About This Instructable




Bio: I am married with two children. Spring, summer, and fall are my very favorite times of the year. I love the sunshine thus the reason ... More »
More by sunshiine:Skirting Washing Picking Dyeing  and Carding Wool Score Shape Color and Stencil Bread for Bread LoversCreative Pickled  Blueberry Recipe for Foodies
Add instructable to: