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How To: Stop Brewing Bitter Coffee

Why Your Coffee Tastes Bitter

One of the worst ways to start your day is brewing a cup of coffee only to find out that your coffee is bitter. This is a terrible way to start your day, and the solution can be quite simple. 

Why is my coffee bitter? Your coffee is bitter because of the brewing process, coffee bean quality, and water temperature.

Each of these reasons have their own significance. This post will explore these in detail to help you put an end to bitter coffee once and for all. 

How Your Coffee Bean Impacts Taste

One of the leading causes of bitter coffee is the type of bean you are using. When you go to the store or purchase online there are so many different choices. These are some of the tips we have that will help you avoid bitter coffee. 

  • Avoid Robusta beans - Robusta beans tend to have a bitter taste to them but are often used by large retailers because they are much cheaper than Arabica. Arabica beans tend to have a much better flavor and can often be the change you need to keep your coffee from being bitter. Just make sure you buy from a company that uses 100% arabica beans in their blends.  
  • Buy freshly roasted beans - Coffee bean quality starts to degrade as soon as the beans are roasted. If you are brewing bitter coffee this age of your beans could be the culprit. Most whole bean coffee should be consumed within 30 days of roasting. Once your coffee beans have been ground the lifespan of your coffee is reduced significantly. It is always better to buy whole beans and grind as you brew.
  • Roast Level - The roast level spectrum consists of light, medium and dark. Every roast falls somewhere on that scale, and it is important to know how that roast can result in your coffee being bitter. 
    • Light - A light roast coffee tends to be more acidic (sour) and will almost never taste bitter. the lighter the roast the more likely you are to taste the natural earthy tasting notes. If you want to avoid bitter coffee at all costs, a light roast might be for you. 
    • Medium - A medium roast is a will usually have some of the natural earthy notes as well as notes from the actual roasting process. People who are just starting to drink coffee often prefer medium roasts because of the balance between acidity and bitterness. When you brew a medium roast there is a chance for bitter coffee. However, this is where you just need to slightly tweak your brewing process to ensure the taste is exactly what you are looking for. 
    • Dark - A dark roast is going to be the most likely of the three to make your cup of coffee bitter. Often times when someone thinks their coffee is not "strong" enough it is because they are used to drinking a darker roast. The longer the bean is roasted the more natural flavors are lost, and the roast begins to embody the roasting process. If you found this article and you don't like your coffee bitter, we highly suggest you try a lighter roast. This will often fix your issue immediately. 

After reading about the different roast levels if you are still on the fence about what roast you need check out our Triple Dripper. These are our three house blends consisting of a light, and two different medium roasts. This will be perfect if you don't want a bitter cup of coffee. 

The Brewing Process

  • Grind Size - I previously mentioned the importance of grinding your own beans, and ensuring you have the correct grind size for how you are brewing is also very important. The finer the grind the more coffee that will extract potentially leading to an over-extraction in a finer grind. 
  • Brewing Method - The brewing method you choose completely changes the flavor of coffee you consume. These are some of the most common brewing methods and the grind size.
    • French Press/Cold Brew - Coarse
    • Pour Over - Medium Coarse
    • Drip Coffee (coffee pot) - Medium
    • AeroPress - Medium Fine
    • Espresso - Fine
  • Clean Equipment - In some cases letting a pan or skillet become seasoned with left over residue can enhance the taste of your food and functionality of your utensils. Coffee is the exact opposite. Any left-over residue will significantly impact the taste of your coffee, so you want to make sure your equipment is always clean. 

The Impact of Water

  • Temperature - Coffee should be brewed between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. Water that is too cold can result in the coffee being under extracted and water that is too hot can lead to the coffee being over extracted. When coffee is under extracted it can taste sour and when it is over extracted the coffee is bitter. We suggest a kettle where you can set the exact temperature of water, so you never have to guess the temperature
  • Quality - Believe it or not the quality of water you are using is very important. A cup of coffee is made up of almost 99% water, so you should always use filtered water. If you really want to maximize the quality of your water, there is a company called Third Wave Coffee that produces packets that will enhance the minerals in your water leading to an even better flavor profile for your coffee
  • Ratio - The water to coffee ratio is widely debated among the coffee industry. The two most widely accepted ratios are 1:16 and 1:17. This means for every 1 gram of coffee grounds you should have 16 or 17 grams of water. Our suggestion would be to try both methods and see which taste you prefer. If you are already using 16 grams of water per 1 gram of coffee and your coffee is bitter then try increasing to 17 grams of water. 

Final Take - How Do I Stop My Coffee From Being Bitter?

At this point you might find yourself thinking this is all way too complicated and bitter coffee is never going to leave your life. There are so many different factors that can change the way your coffee tastes, but just following these 5 simple steps can be a good start in making sure bitter coffee is a thing of the past:

  1. Reduce your brewing time.
  2. Use slightly cooler water.
  3. Use a slightly coarser grind size. 
  4. Use 100% Arabica Beans/Lighter Roast
  5. Follow the 1:16 or 1:17 coffee to water ratio.
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