You probably already know this story. You’re at work. Staring down at that miserable coffee maker and brewing what seems to be the same tub of frozen Folger’s. All you can think about is how badly you want to go Office Space on this thing. “I don’t know who’s making this sludge, but I just can’t do this anymore.”

Before you decide to break up with your coffee maker, let me remind you of something: you can change this. And yes, your old coffee maker still has potential.

“But Chris, I’m no barista! I’m not going to start French Pressing cups for everyone.”

That’s OK, because 1. That would be absolutely insane you’d never get any work done pressing all those cups please don’t do that (please don’t do that) and 2. All you need to do is give your coffee maker the proper love it deserves.

Let’s step up your coffee game.

1. Buy whole beans and grind them yourself.

Kick things off right. Buying whole beans means quality. Buying them ground is just going to detract from the flavor. So, grind them yourself right before you brew.

Go the extra step and find your closest coffee shop. A coffee shop almost guarantees them to be fresh. If you have to go to the grocery store, check for a roasting date. Experiment with the beans you buy and try something new. At this point, any kind of variety will help wash away that stale taste you’ve been living with. If you have any local roasters nearby, buy from them and support their craft.

For grinders, I suggest a burr grinder. You can easily choose how fine or coarse you’d like your beans with the reassurance that every last bean will be nicely ground. Here are some options to get you started:

2. Use filtered water.

Remember that your cup of joe is mostly water. Using filtered water keeps any unwanted tastes out of your cup and lets the coffee bean shine.

Personal tip: If you’re using a 12-cup coffee maker, I find that 10 – 11 cups of water is the right amount per brew. 12 cups will water it down too much, causing the coffee to lose flavor. 

3. Warm the pot.

As hot as your coffee seems to be when you drink it, almost all auto drip machines really stink at getting the temperature high enough to brew a proper cup. This can cause your coffee to taste bitter. The best way to help this problem is to pre-run the coffee maker with just water and no coffee grounds. Once it’s done running, pour the hot water back into the water basin and brew your coffee. Now you have both a warm pot and warmed water to help you get closer to a proper brew.

4. Take the pot off the warming plate.

If your coffee-starved office mates aren’t emptying the pot right away, avoid letting the coffee sit on the warming plate for too long. You’ll actually begin to burn the coffee by letting it sit there, giving the coffee a bitter taste. Once you’re done brewing, put the coffee into a pourable thermos.

5. Clean the coffee machine.

That residue staining the coffee pot? Yeah, that’s gross. More importantly, you need to clean the water basin you pour the water into. Mold will absolutely grow back there and let me tell you – from personal experience – it is not fun realizing you’ve been drinking moldy water for the past who-knows-how-long. Make sure to clean the pot every day. Clean using a vinegar mix at least once a month.

There you go! Fall in love with your coffee maker again. You co-workers and tastebuds will thank you.

Shameless plug: If you’re interested in learning more about other ways to brew but feel like you don’t know where to start, check out this great coffee app I helped build: