The 8 Ways To Make Cheap Coffee Taste Better (Helpful Guide)

Last Updated on April 15, 2022 by John Moretti

Every coffee lover has been there. You find yourself buying a new brand of coffee that you have never used before based on a low price and hope that the coffee will be drinkable. However, this gamble rarely ever pays off, and cheap coffee usually tastes quite bad. How do you make cheap coffee taste better?

Cheap coffee can be improved by diluting the coffee, adding milk, sugar, or cream, brewing with more coffee, adding chocolate or flavored syrups, or altering the overall brew method. Cheap coffee is inferior to good coffee, but its flavor can be improved by following simple methods.

Making cheap coffee taste better is possible, but it will never be as good as you would like it to be. However, better is still an improvement, so let’s explore the different ways to improve the taste of cheap coffee and make your morning a little brighter overall.

how to make cheap coffee taste better

8 Ways To Improve Cheap Coffee

If you have found yourself with a cheap, poor-tasting bag of coffee, taking action to make the coffee taste better can be all that you need to enjoy your morning that much more. Fortunately, there are several different ways to accomplish this.

Every method mentioned here works better in different situations, which means that the list is in no particular order. This also means that if one method does not work for your coffee, try something else and measure the difference.

Always remember that some coffee is beyond saving and will taste bad regardless of how you try to improve it. Turning cheap tasting coffee into something better is a challenge, but these methods work well if you have the patience to implement them.

Here are the 8 ways to make cheap coffee taste better:

1. Dilute The Coffee

dilute the coffee

Cheap coffee often tastes poorly because it consists of inferior tasting coffee, coffee that is poorly processed, or coffee types that taste more bitter such as Robusta coffee beans

If you brew coffee that is very strong, or if you use methods that produce strong coffee, especially small strong coffee drinks such as espresso, a Moka Pot, or an AeroPress, then diluting the brewed coffee can help improve the flavor.

Diluting the coffee will help to mute some of the very harsh or bitter flavors in the coffee, making it easier to drink. Be sure to use hot water and try not to dilute it too much. Add a small amount of water, taste the coffee, and repeat until you can taste a difference in the brew.

2. Milk, Sugar, Cream

coffee milk

A tried-and-true method for improving the taste of cheap coffee is to add dairy and sugar. The fat in the dairy and the sweetness of the sugar serve to mask and alter the natural flavors of the coffee.

Milk and cream have a natural, complex sweetness to them, and the fat in the dairy alters the flavor of the drink, making it taste milder and sweeter overall. Add sugar to the mix, and the bitter, undesirable flavors of cheap coffee will be almost nonexistent. 

However, if you want to improve the taste rather than alter it, this may not be the method for you. If you want to mask the flavor entirely, this is the best option overall, as this method changes the taste of coffee more than anything else on this list.

3. Brew Stronger Coffee

brew strong coffee

One of the issues with cheaper coffee is that it often tastes very weak and lackluster. This is typically due to poor processing, or staleness, as the coffee is likely to have sat for a long time in its packaging. This is especially true for pre-ground coffee.

One way to improve this coffee is to brew a stronger batch. Making the coffee stronger will help to increase the intensity of the brew and add more flavor. This coffee will always have a stale flavor, but brewing more coffee will ultimately increase the flavor strength of the brew.

4. Add Chocolate

add chocolate

Something else to try is adding chocolate. The Mocha is a popular coffee drink that involves mixing coffee with some form of chocolate. Chocolate is usually added to the drink in the form of a syrup, a powder, or even by melting blocks of real chocolate into the coffee.

Adding chocolate to a poor-tasting cup of coffee will add more richness, more intensity of flavor, and more sweetness to the brew. The flavor of chocolate compliments the flavor of coffee well and tends to bring out the more pleasant flavors from the drink while simultaneously masking the harsher and more bitter flavors.

5. Use Flavored Syrup

use coffee syrups

If you have access to it, be it from baking or cooking, the flavored syrup is an excellent way to elevate a cup of coffee. This trick is used by large coffee chains such as Starbucks to make cheap coffee taste more appealing.

Using caramel, vanilla, or even cinnamon flavored syrup can add a dimension of flavor to the drink that hides the poor flavors of the cheap or stale coffee. Take the drink to another level by adding some whipped cream or by pouring the drink over ice to create your own custom flavored coffee drink.

6. Try A Different Brew Method

brewing coffee with aeropress

Few things make coffee taste worse than poor brewing. One way to make your coffee taste better overall is to try a different brewing method or to use a different brewing technique.

Changing the way you brew coffee can improve the extraction that you get from the coffee, which will increase the flavor profile as well. Using a different brew method, for example, switching from a drip brewer to an AeroPress, can also improve the coffee, simply because the coffee may lend itself to a different brew method.

7. Use Hotter Water

use hot water

Using hot water is one way to improve the extraction of your coffee. This is especially true for lighter roasts that are less developed. Using higher heat will draw more flavor and soluble material from this type of coffee, improving its flavor drastically.

This will work for dark and medium roasts too, but darker roasted coffee may be made worse by using extremely hot water for brewing, as it will also highlight some of the ash-like flavor notes present in this coffee.

8. Brew For A Longer Time

brew french press coffee

Cheaper coffee may not be evenly roasted, and it may not have been processed well. This can lead to poor flavors.

The last method on this list for improving it is to brew for longer, especially when using an immersion brew method such as a French press. This will give the coffee more time to extract, resulting in a better-tasting brew from an unevenly roasted o unevenly ground coffee.


At the end of it, cheap coffee will never taste as good quality coffee, but there are ways to broadly improve its taste.

It is always best to buy the best coffee that you can, roasted as freshly as possible and ground right before brewing for the very best tasting cup of coffee.