Try These Ingenious Coffee Hacks To Get Your Buzz On

How to clean coffee stains with rice and make a cappuccino in a mason jar.

America's Test Kitchen is like a 2,500-square-foot gift from Boston to the world. And it just keeps giving.

But rather than six-course dinners, their chefs produce "Cook's Illustrated" and "Cook's Country" magazines (as well as their eponymous public television show), and test recipes to understand the way food and kitchen equipment works best.

They get paid to to play with food, and everybody wins.

For their latest book, "Kitchen Hacks: How Clever Cooks Get Things Done," out Nov. 10, the intrepid chefs anthologized more than 1,000 solutions to kitchen dilemmas -- some common, many we didn't even know we needed to fix.

For example, potato chips make great kindling for lighting your charcoal grill (place a handful of chips on a paper coffee filter at the bottom of the grill and set it on fire under a chimney. The oily chips will burn slowly, making sure your charcoal gets fiery hot).

The editors categorized their tips into groups for the lazy, for recycling, for single people, and for home bartenders. While all the hacks are great, we were mostly excited about the coffee tricks: Here are their selections, presented with illustrations by John Burgoyne, for getting that early morning jolt of caffeine into your face faster and with more ease.

Use An Appliance Timer For Your Coffee Maker
Courtesy Cook's Illustrated
"Wake up to a fresh pot of coffee even if your coffee maker lacks a built-in timer," the editors of America's Test Kitchen write. "Rather than spring for a new model, purchase an inexpensive appliance timer (the kind that turns lights on and off when you go on vacation) at the local hardware store. You can set the brewing time before you go to bed and also set a time for the machine to turn off, so you'll never worry that you left it on."
How To Make A Soundproof Grinder
Courtesy Cook's Illustrated
"Nothing better than waking up to the smell of fresh-brewed coffee, but no one likes to be jolted from sleep by the loud whirring of the coffee grinder. To muffle the noise, place an oven mitt over the grinder before turning it on."
Use A Percolator? Make It Mess-Free
Courtesy Cook's Illustrated
"1. Snip a small hole in the center of a small (4- to 6-cup) basket-style coffee filter."
Courtesy Cook's Illustrated
"2. Fit the filter over the percolator tube and into the basket. Fill the filter-lined basket with ground coffee and brew as directed."
Courtesy Cook's Illustrated
"3. When it's time to clean up, just dump out the filter with the grounds."
How To Steam Milk In A Mason Jar
Courtesy Cook's Illustrated
"1. To steam milk for cappuccino in the microwave, fill a mason jar no more than halfway, put on the lid, and shake the jar vigorously for 30 seconds."
Courtesy Cook's Illustrated
"2. Remove the lid and microwave the milk for 30 seconds at high power to both warm and stabilize the foam."Watch America's Test Kitchen show you how to do this here.
How To Keep Your Filters From Falling
Courtesy Cook's Illustrated
"When using a manual drip coffee maker, the grounds can spill down into the pot because the paper filter folds over on itself when the water is poured into it. To avoid this problem, dampen the paper filter just a little bit and press it against the sides of the plastic cone. When you add the coffee and pour the water through, the filter adheres to the cone."
How To Remove Stubborn Coffee Stains
Courtesy Cook's Illustrated
"If you're unable to adequately scrub the inside of your thermal coffee carafe, try this clever trick.1. Fill a carafe with a handful of rice and a cup of hot water."
Courtesy Cook's Illustrated
"2. Cover, then swirl and shake the carafe vigorously. Once the inside is clean, discard the rice and water. Rinse several times with hot water to remove any remaining residue."
Clean A French Press Without Stress
Courtesy Cook's Illustrated
"French presses are hard to clean; the spent grounds cling to the bottom of the carafe and collect between the plates ands screen of the plunger. To easily get rid of the grounds without any going down the disposal (usually considered inadvisable), fill the carafe with water, pour its contents into a fine-mesh strainer over the sink and dump the grounds into the trash. "To clean the whole press if you have anything left behind, fill the empty carafe halfway with soapy water. Then insert the plunger and rapidly move it up and down a few times. The force of the water dislodges any stuck grounds -- and scrubs the sides of the carafe."
Courtesy Cook's Illustrated
You can read many more tips like these in "Kitchen Hacks: How Clever Cooks Get Things Done," out Nov. 10 from America's Test Kitchen.

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