10 Surprising Things a Coffee Maker Can Do Besides Brew Coffee

You might think your coffee maker is a one-trick pony—does anything smell more wonderful than a fresh-brewed pot of coffee? But let’s think about this for a moment. That appliance heats water to about 200 F., and comes equipped with a hot plate to keep it at about 165 F. Whether you’re traveling, living in a dorm room, or or just like the idea of a kitchen tool doing more than one thing, you’re going to love knowing all the things your coffee maker can do besides brew coffee.

Coffee and Carafe

Make soup

Instant soup, especially those packets of ramen, are perfect for preparing with a coffee maker. Break up the noodles then pour the entire contents including seasoning mis into the coffee carafe. Now pour water through the machine as if you were making coffee. Let it set on the hot plate for a few minutes and you’re good to go.


You’re going to think I’m nuts, but stick with me here. You really can make mini-pancakes on a coffee maker’s hot plate. First, line the burner with foil (optional, but foil will keep it clean), and let it heat up. Now pour a small amount of batter right onto the foil. Flip it over when the edges begin to turn brown and the surface develops small bubbles. Amazing, no?

Grilled cheese

Refer back to the pancakes above. You can use this same method to make grilled cheese sandwiches. Just let the burner with foil heat up to its max, then place your buttered cheese sandwich right on top. Once it’s golden brown, give it a flip to grill the other side. Yum!

Cook oatmeal

This is such a great idea, especially if you’re traveling and holed up in a hotel room. Place the oatmeal, cinnamon, raisins—however you like it—into the carafe. Run the right amount of water (if you have a recipe or read the label on a packet of instant oatmeal) through the coffee maker. Give it a stir, then let the oatmeal “cook” accordingly. There you go, instant breakfast!

Poach fish

Perfectly poached fish is far too underrated, in my opinion. Prepared properly, it is unbelievably tender and melts in your mouth. Certain fish like salmon, trout, and halibut are ideal for poaching. Brew a pot of hot water, then add a little olive oil and seasonings. Leave it on the hot plate. Once it reaches about 140 F., slide in the pieces of fish. Allow to remain on the hot plate for 10 minutes or so, or until fish is cooked through and flaky. Carefully remove the fish from the poaching liquid using a slotted tool and serve immediately.

Boil eggs

Carefully, place a couple of eggs in the coffee carafe. Proceed as if you are brewing a pot of coffee, just leave out the coffee. Make sure you use enough water to cover the eggs completely. Allow the eggs to remain in the hot water on the warming plate for 10 minutes or so, or until the eggs are cooked to your idea of perfection.

Corn on the cob

Break the fresh corn into pieces small enough to fit into the carafe. Run a full tank of water and let it sit on the hot plate until the corn is tender crisp! Pour out the water and use tongs to remove the small cobs. Who knew, right?

Mini cupcakes

I laughed outloud when I read about this idea. Maybe I scoffed. But then I tried it. This is adorable, if not super clever. You can actually bake mini cupcakes on a coffee maker’s hot plate! I used a small metal measuring cup and small sauce pan to pull this off: Fill the “cupcake tin” (measuring cup) about half full, place on the coffee maker’s hot plate that you’ve allowed to warm up to its max and  invert the sauce pan over it to create a tiny oven. Keep your eye on it because it won’t take too long to make a tasty tiny cupcakes. Truly, if I were still in college, this would be my favorite dorm room trick.

Melt chocolate

Whether you have a hankering for fondue or need to dip a few strawberries in chocolate, your coffee maker wants to help out. Place the chocolate or items to be melted into the carafe and put it in place. The coffee maker’s hot plate will melt the chocolate and keep it at the right consistency and keep it that way for hours. Perfect for dipping marshmallows, fruit and other things I’m sure you’ve already thought of!

Warm a baby bottle

Traveling with baby? That small coffee maker in your hotel room is ideal to warm a bottle of milk or formula. Following the instructions on the machine, leave out the coffee and brew a pot of hot water. Remove the pot from the burner and set the bottle in the hot water. Check it every few minutes until it comes to the perfect temperature.

More from Mary's Everyday Cheapskate

cropped shot of young couple shopping online with credit card and laptop at christmas
bed with heated mattress pad and dual controls
You Have Been Hacked Sign illustration design over white
keychain with tools
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
9 replies
  1. Anne says:

    Interesting. But, as a generally lazy person and tea drinker (previous poster was right about the coffee taste), I really think it’s too much work to clean out the carafe. On the brighter side, we have a Keurig machine at home that I use for instant soup, instant oatmeal, instant mashed potatoes… Anything that requires boiling water! I’d LOVE more suggestions about using it….

  2. Ruth says:

    We always use ours for hot water when camping. It makes washing dishes ever so much easier when you can add a big pot of nearly boiling water to your dishbowl!

  3. kd says:

    When traveling in China, our hotel had the in-room coffee maker. We used it to heat water for our personal stainless steel water bottles rather than paying for bottled water. In the evening we would heat and fill our bottles for the next days ventures. One roommate only had a plastic bottle, so we would let the water cool in the carafe before filling hers up.

  4. Lynda says:

    This made me laugh. In the 60’s traveling with 3 kids, my parents needed to be economical. That did not include going out for 3 meals a day. Sandwiches in cooler were good for lunch. For breakfast my mom had those little one serving boxes of cereal (milk in cooler since rooms didn’t have a fridge back then. My dad got the idea he’s use the coffee pot mounted on the wall to boil eggs. The eggs expanded when hard boiled and he had to smash them up to get them out. He then cooked hot dogs in it.
    Great ideas, but I think the oatmeal would be pretty hard to clean out of the pot.

  5. Jenni says:

    I’ve gone to a lot of conventions and used a lot of in room hotel coffee makers. One thing we made were…hot dogs! Put the hot dogs in the kettle, run the hot water, and place a few opened buns on top (where the steam comes out). In a few minutes, they’re ready!

  6. Nancy says:

    These may be great ideas, but the water will taste like stale coffee, and will ruin any food you put in the water. Just ask any tea drinker given water run through a coffee maker.

  7. Cally Ross says:

    I’ve even seen (somewhere…) a photo showing a coffee carafe full of water and hot dogs, the hot dog buns were laid on top of the machine to warm…
    dorm room idea?

  8. Maria says:

    I have to agree with Annick! Who would want to deal with the fishy smell on a carafe after doing that? The time it would take to thoroughly clean it would negate any benefit of cooking it in that fashion.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *