Everyone knows for sure that a good number of Americans drink coffee as a routine. In fact, statistically, about 54% of Americans take coffee as part of their daily activity.
Nobody is born with a love for coffee. It's an acquired taste, much like fine wine. Coffee is normally bitter, but after drinking a new brew, your face may wrinkle up because it is too bitter.
What causes coffee to be bitter? We're about to look at the reasons for that bitter taste, as well as how to fix these problems.
1. You added too much coffee
Using too much coffee in comparison to the amount of water you use is a simple way to make your coffee taste excessively strong and, in many instances, bitter. Although you may think it is a solution to weak-tasting coffee, you end up extracting less flavor when you use too much at once.
To fix this:
Try 1 to 1.5 Tbsp of coffee grounds for every 6oz of water in an automatic drip machine. Try 1.5 – 2 Tbsp for other brewing methods such as the French press or pour-over.
We strongly advise using a scale if you want to get it down to a science.
2. Your roast is bad
A bad roast can invariably lead to a very bad-tasting coffee. Roasting requires steady heating throughout the whole process, and this might only be possible if you have the environment or you use a professional’s equipment.
If your roasted coffee tastes like you’re bitting on a chunk of charcoal straight from the grill, then you should switch to a milder roast. The only definition of "great coffee" that matters is coffee that you like.
It’s not simply ground size that may lead to a bitter cup; roasting is also an important factor. Instead of dark and medium-dark roasts, look for light and medium roasts. Some roasters include a scale on the bag to indicate how light or dark the coffee is. Aside from coffee color, various roasts have distinct flavors. The lighter the roast, the less bitter the coffee. Attempt a few different roasts until you hit the sweet spot.
To fix this:
If you want to avoid bitterness, consider light-roasted coffee, such as Half City or Cinnamon; medium roasts are commonly referred to as American or Breakfast. The most well-known dark roasts include the French, Italian, Espresso, the Continental varieties, and the Viennese. If dark roasts give you goosebumps, avoid these last few.
3. Over-steeping your brew
Steeping is a method of brewing coffee in which the grinds are immediately mixed with water (instead of passing it through a filter). It's prevalent in most 'press' coffee machines, such as the French Press or the AeroPress.
The risk lies in understanding how long to steep for because over-steeping your coffee can result in an unpleasant, bitter flavor. This is due to excessive extraction. If you extract too much, the coffee will taste bitter. If you extract too little, the coffee will be weak and sour. If the extraction is done correctly, all of the delicious tastes and oils contained inside the coffee grounds will end up in your cup. Think about it in the same way as tea: you wouldn't leave a tea bag sitting in the cup for hours, right?
To fix this:
Decrease your steeping time. If you've been making French press coffee for six minutes, try reducing it to four minutes to see if the flavor improves.
Steeping is basically only applicable to a few types of coffee brewing techniques. When you use an automated espresso machine or a drip coffee maker, there is nearly no risk of over-steeping your brew.
However, if you use a French press or an AeroPress, you'll want to be prepared when it's time to plunge.
4. The source and type of beans is the problem
Coffee is cultivated from two distinct plant species: Robusta and Arabica. Robusta is considerably more bitter than Arabica and contains more caffeine; it also grows faster and is resistant to coffee pests, so it is less expensive. You may commonly find Robusta in instant coffees and those from the grocery store.
Arabica produces more flavored beans, but the plants demand more care, which increases the cost. If you're sensitive to bitterness, though, go for Arabica beans. It shouldn't be difficult; most quality coffee bean dealers specialize in Arabica, as stated on the label or on their website.
The next step in bean selection is learning about the characteristics of beans produced in various regions of the world. Here are a few particular suggestions: Beans from the Kona region, Brazil, or Costa Rica.
To fix this:
Go for Arabica beans and do your research around the best beans growing regions to get exactly what you're looking for.
5. Your equipment is dirty
You might think you don’t need to clean out your equipment after every use, right? Well, this isn’t ideal. Even a quick rinse isn’t fine.
If you use an automatic drip coffee maker, you should run clean, fresh water through it at least once a week to ensure that the smelly "coffee-from-yesterday" flavor is removed.
Aside from health considerations, water quality is critical if you want to make good-tasting coffee. Don't be lazy. Spend time cleaning the machine.
To fix this:
Use a little baking soda to scrape down your filter cone to neutralize the acidity (a primary cause of bitterness) and keep it clean. This is especially important if your filter cone has grooves and ridges inside to help with drawdown.
A glass carafe may also be made to sparkle using a long-handled brush and a little baking soda. This method works with any coffee maker, whether a French press, a pour-over, or a drip coffee maker.
6. Your beans are not fresh
Your coffee beans do not last forever. The beans themselves might be the cause for the bitter coffee. Most serious coffee lovers are aware that coffee beans do not remain fresh forever, but did you realize that stale beans may really contribute to the bitterness of your coffee? There are several points at which beans start to "go bad." Once you've been used to the flavor of extremely fresh coffee beans, you'll notice the "off" or "stale" smell even before you brew with them. While there are ways to avoid this, once your beans have gone bad, there is no way back.
Some companies, however, beg to differ. These green bean lovers usually restrict their green bean storage to 5-6 months after getting them in the United States. To be honest, not all companies will stick to such strict requirements.
Aside from green coffee beans, once a coffee bean is roasted, it generally takes a few hours to a few days for the beans to lose their full flavor. After the beans have been roasted, and especially after they have been ground, factors like oxidation, CO2 depletion, and moisture begin to play a role, quickly adding a "staleness" to their taste.
To fix this:
Buy whole bean, only what you can use in the next week or two, and only as many beans as you intend to use in the coffee you're brewing right now.
7. Your temperature and water is wrong
We're all aware that coffee should be served hot. But did you know that water type and temperature play an important part in brewing the ideal cup of coffee? You must be very careful with the water you use!
When using unfiltered water, it's rather easy to spoil a perfectly good cup of coffee. Distilled water is also not recommended due to its lack of mineral content. Bottled spring water is the best option because it has no noticeable taste.
Next, you must pay rapt attention to the temperature of your water. It should be between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. The closer it is to 205 F, the better because bitterness is more pronounced in cold water. If you use a drip coffee maker, you may not have much control over temperature, but if you use a pour-over, a French press, or any other machine that lets you add water from a kettle, a decent rule of thumb is to allow your water come to a full boil, then remove from heat and brew after waiting for 30 seconds.
To fix this:
Ensure you use bottled spring water or a water filter, and pay attention to the brewing temperature. If you prefer cold coffee without bitterness, you still stand a chance. If you haven't heard of cold brew coffee, you should because it has been shown to lessen the bitterness.
Remember that coffee is naturally bitter, which gives it its 'kick.' But, if your coffee is too bitter, you may want to check your equipment and ensure it is clean always, be sure you are not over-steeping, use only clean and moderate temperature water, switch to a lighter roast, or maybe the source of your bean is where the problem is.
If you have found any of these reasons to be true, you are one step away from changing the bitter taste of your coffees.