WHAT CAUSES COFFEE TO BECOME BITTER?
- Extraction Time: brewing the coffee for too long
- Temperature: water that’s too hot
- Quality: stale or poor-quality beans
- Ratio: too much coffee for the amount of water
- Grind: coffee grounds that are too small
- Cleanliness: dirty brewing equipment
Let’s take a look at all of these issues and what can be done to fix them.
Over-cooking your coffee is one of the most common ways to get a bitter tasting cup of coffee. Coffee, much like tea, gets its flavor from steeping in hot water. If you let it steep for too long, too much of the bitter flavors come through and your coffee will taste burnt.
THE SOLUTION: Know how long you need to brew for the brewing method and set a timer so you don’t forget!
THE WATER IS TOO HOT
Lots of people bring their water to boil and get right to brewing. That’s a problem because 212 degrees is too hot for coffee brewing and will actually over cook your beans into releasing bitterness.
THE SOLUTION: Patience. We know how bad you want your coffee in the morning! Taking the water off of the boil for 30-45 seconds is all it takes to bring the temperature down to the 195-205 degree range ideal for coffee brewing magic. Hotter water = Bitter Coffee. Too cold of water = Weak Coffee. Other options include using a pour over kettle with a thermometer or using a handy food thermometer to determine water temperature.
POOR QUALITY COFFEE
It’s a sad fact of life – not all coffee is created equal. The problem with cheap coffee? They over-roast it to cover up imperfections that exist because of the way the coffee is mass produced and grown in poor growing standards. When coffee is over-roasted it gives off a very bitter taste and there is nothing that can really be done to make it taste better.
Buy better beans! It may seem expensive to pay ~$16 for a 12oz bag of premium coffee, but when you realize that it comes out to a measly $.30 a cup (compared to $2.50 / cup at Starbucks) and you taste the drastic quality difference, you’ll never want to go back to the world of bitter beans EVER AGAIN.
Sign yourself up for a coffee subscription and you’ll be able to try fresh roasted premium coffee at home without having to leave the house for it. If you’re not ready to commit to a subscription just yet, but still want to see how big an improvement in taste you’ll find with freshly roasted, specialty grade coffee, you can order single bags without a subscription.
For a great full-bodied tasting coffee without the bitterness I recommend using a french press.
THERE CAN BE TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING
Don’t get too carried away with the good stuff. Adding too much coffee relative to the amount of water you use is an easy way to make your coffee taste too strong and in many cases bitter.
Stick to the script. For automatic drip machines try 1 to 1.5 Tbsps of coffee grinds for every 6 oz of water used. For other brew methods such as french press or pour overs try 1.5 – 2 Tbsps.
Sometimes when you use too fine of a grind (especially in combination with boiling water) you can over extract and expose the coffee in the process. This can lead to some bitter vibes that the brew will send your way. Also, inconsistent grinding leads to varying extraction time for the grind, over-extracting flavor on smaller grounds and under extracting on larger grounds.
Make sure that you use the correct grind level for the brew method you plan on using and use a burr grinder that creates an even grind.
KEEP YOUR STUFF CLEAN
The leftovers from your last few brews can add up and the math isn’t always pretty. The old coffee residue often adds bitterness and makes the coffee taste less fresh.