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Why does my coffee taste bitter?


Why does my coffee taste bitter?

Posted by Pumphreys Coffee ,6th Jan 2023
Why does my coffee taste bitter?

There’s nothing worse than going to brew a cup of coffee in the morning and it’s so bitter that you can’t taste any of the other delicious flavours. It’s too severe on your taste buds and brings down the overall mood, not a great way to start your day. However, if your coffee is bitter you don’t have to just accept that’s how your coffee will always be, there are some simple fixes you can do to achieve the perfect taste you want with none of the bitterness. Before we get to that though we first need to explore why your coffee tastes bitter…

Why is your coffee bitter?

The cause of bitter coffee comes down to two key factors: bad beans and bad brewing. If you purchase low-grade, robusta species, or especially dark roast beans, there’s nothing really that can be done about the bitterness. Lower quality coffee naturally has a more bitter taste, so if that’s not what you want it is recommended that you go for specialty-grade fresh roasted coffee beans from a reputable seller like Pumphreys.

If you’re already using high quality beans though, the problem is down to your brewing technique. The bitterness often comes from over-extracted coffee, which means the beans get over-brewed and start to release the extra flavours you didn’t want in your cup. Let’s take a closer look at how over-extracted coffee normally occurs.

The beans are ground too finely

The smaller your coffee ground, the quicker the water extracts flavours from it, whereas the bigger the ground, the longer it will take. Therefore, if you’re using coffee grounds that are too fine, they will release all their balanced flavours and then start giving off the stuff you don’t want quite quickly.

You brewed the grounds for too long

There’s a perfect sweet spot where the coffee tastes exactly how you want it, but if you exceed that, you will start to get the extra bitter flavours coming through. This is particularly common when using a French press as it’s easy to end up waiting too long to press the filter down. If you’re using a pour over cone, it might be that your grounds are so fine that the water took too long to drain (lengthening the brew time to beyond the perfect spot).

The water is too hot for the coffee

Water that is at a temperature of between 90 and 95 degrees is supposedly the best for making a balanced coffee. If you go any hotter than this, you can easily over-extract all the bitter flavours before they are meant to release.

You have used too much water

If you went straight past a balanced coffee to water ratio and used too much water, each coffee ground had access to more water than it needed – so it was able to extract more than is ideal which includes the bitterness.

How can you fix bitter coffee?

It’s important to remember that coffee beans are a natural product, they’re not produced in a factory, they’re part of agriculture. So, it’s normal if one bag of coffee tastes a bit different from the next. Even if you make your coffee the exact same way every time, your new bag might not taste the same as your last bag of beans, that’s not a problem though it’s simply the process of having fresh food.

To fix the bitterness of your coffee, you will need to make some small changes to your technique to bring it back into balance. Bitter coffee is over-extracted, so the goal is to extract less when brewing. Below are four key ways you can extract less to make your perfect coffee at home:

  • Alter grind size more coarsely – bigger grounds won’t extract as quickly, and they make it easier for water to drain in pour over brewing (which shortens the total brew time by a few seconds).
  • Reduce the brew time – this can be done in different ways. If using an immersion brewer like a French press, you can just press down on the filter 20 seconds earlier and see if that helps. For pour over brewing, you can pour your water in quicker, or use a coarser grind for faster water draining.
  • Allow your water to cool down slightly – water often boils too hot for delicate coffee grounds. Leave it to cool for 1-2 minutes and a few degrees to see if your brew is balanced in flavours again.
  • Use less water – by using less water, each coffee ground won’t have as much access to water to extract into. If you’re using a pour over cone, having less water will also mean you reduce the brewing time as it won’t take as long to pour your water.

It might take more than one change to find the right balance, but it will require less and less attempts as you become more comfortable with the process.

Where to buy coffee beans

If you’re looking to buy high quality coffee beans, then Pumphreys Coffee can help. We offer a wide range of fresh roasted coffee beans that can suit various tastes and preferences, so you’re sure to find your new go-to coffee with us. Contact us today if you have any questions, we’re here to help.