Fire Department Coffee
Bitter coffe

6 Reasons Your Coffee Tastes Bitter — And How To Fix It

July 11, 2021

Coffee is life, so why should you settle for anything less than the perfect cup? 

If you realized that your morning brew has been nothing more than bitter coffee, we can help you change that. After all, just because you’re in a rush, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make a better cup!

Here’s what causes bitter coffee and, most importantly, a bitter coffee fix for any unfortunate situation.

What causes bitter coffee?

There are several factors that can cause bitter coffee, but it’s almost always synonymous with over-extraction. 

This is because the coffee’s compounds aren’t all extracted at the same time. The last ones, however, are those responsible for bitterness, so if you prolong the extraction… that’s exactly what you get an overload of.

How to fix bitter coffee: 6 reasons your coffee tastes bitter

There are some shortcuts like adding a pinch of salt to your grounds, but we think that, to fix bitter coffee, it’s better to tackle the problem that causes it rather than tricking your taste buds.

Here are the most common ones.

1. You’re using the wrong grind size

Coffee beans in a grinder

Grind size influences the extraction process, so it’s important to buy the right grounds or grind the beans correctly for your brewing method:

  • Coarse for French press
  • Medium or medium-fine for most pour overs
  • Fine for espresso

SOLUTION: use the right grind for your coffee maker and consider a slightly coarser size than what you’re currently using in order to slow down extraction.

2. Your water is too hot

Gooseneck kettle and a pour over dripper

Shocking news: coffee shouldn’t be made with boiling water!

The sweet spot is between 195 and 205°F. 

SOLUTION: switch to a temperature control kettle to set it correctly, use a thermometer, or wait around 30 seconds after boiling it. If you’re using an old automatic dripper, it might be time to replace it with a more reliable model.

3. You’re letting it steep in that French press for too long

Bitter coffee in a French press

With immersion brewing methods like the timeless French press, bitter coffee is a common result because many caffeinated friends leave it for too long. 

SOLUTION: set yourself a timer and press the plunger after 4 minutes.

4. Your brewing equipment is dirty

Dirty coffee equipment leading to bitter coffee

‘You mean I can’t just keep using the same coffee maker every single day without washing or descaling it?’

Sorry, buddy.

A buildup of grounds and coffee oils will lead to a bitter coffee as well as reducing the lifespan of your coffee maker.

SOLUTION: clean your coffee maker regularly. You can rinse your French press every day but you must dismantle the filter for a proper scrub at least once a week. Here’s how to descale your coffee machine.

5. You’re not using the right roast for your taste buds

Hey, maybe you’re actually already brewing an evenly extracted cup of joe, but you’re not used to the roast you’ve chosen… and that’s why it tastes bitter to you.

SOLUTION: try the more vibrant light roasts, which have higher acidity and lower bitterness.

6. You’re using stale coffee

If you’re still buying any random type of pre-ground coffee from the store, you can tweak those variables however you like but the result will still be the same: a bitter coffee.

This is because roasting and grinding the beans leads to slowly losing the volatile compounds that are responsible for their flavor and aroma nuances.

Can you imagine how long that coffee has been sitting there for?

SOLUTION: at Fire Dept. Coffee we always roast (and grind, if you request it) our coffee to order and usually ship it within the same day. That way, you can make the most of its fresh flavors instead of settling for bitter coffee.

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