11+ Reasons Why Your Coffee Tastes Bitter (Simple Fix)

Coffee as bitter as your Ex? We understand how frustrating that can be.

It’s disappointing how much time and effort you’ve spent only to come up with a bitter-tasting coffee.

Avoid the same dilemma again! Here are the culprits for bitter coffee and ways to fix them.

Not backflushing

Experts recommend backflushing the machine throughout the day. Using a coffee machine cleaner, you also need to backflush every group head. 

In addition, make sure that you clean the baskets and portafilters to avoid bitter and ashy tasting coffee

The Fix: You must clean these parts regularly. Soak them in hot and soapy water before you scrub, rinse, and put them back into place.

 

Too hot water

You’re probably getting bitter-tasting coffee because your water is too hot for brewing, like 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

It also results in overcooked coffee beans

The Fix: To prevent it from happening, you might want to use a kettle that features a temperature control so that you can eliminate the guesswork and ensure temperature below boiling point, ideally between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

Alternatively, you can also take the water off for 45 seconds to bring its temperature down.

So without even saying, bitter coffee is due to hotter water.

Too much extraction

Remember, the flavor of your coffee is dependent on the coffee solids’ extraction.

Together with the extraction evenness, the total dissolvable solids in your coffee can determine the goodness of your espresso.

The Fix: To avoid bitter coffee, think about the brew ratio.

Its goal is to balance primary components – the amount of water and ground coffee.

Insufficient water results in under-extracted and sour coffee, while the opposite in over-extracted and bitter coffee. 

The recommended espresso ratio is 1 part of coffee to two parts of water (1:2).

 

Dirty equipment and machine

This is quite common sense. 

If your equipment is dirty, you cannot expect good-tasting coffee from it.  

That is why you need to regularly clean the machine to remove the oil, or else it will be rancid.  

A dirty coffee maker also makes coffee with an astringent flavor.

Even if you are not using it regularly, you still need to clean it as you would with a frequently used machine. 

Why? An occasionally used coffee maker allows oil to build up in it due to the idling time and having no water passing through its components.

The Fix: If the machine’s group head and net showers are blocked with oils, it restricts water flow, resulting in uneven extraction, channeling, and bitter-tasting coffee.

Oil building up also leads to the straining of its parts, including its pump and solenoid, eventually resulting in wear and tear.

 

Wrong grind size

The coffee bean’s grind size also plays a huge role in creating a great-tasting coffee.

That’s why you need to determine the correct grind size – should not be too coarse or too fine – as it will affect the flavor of your coffee. 

Remember, if the espresso pours too fast, it will be under-extracted, and it will become stronger in flavor if it pours slower because the coffee solids will have more time to dissolve. 

On the other hand, your espresso will become bitter if the shot pours too slowly because your grind is too fine.

The Fix: To prevent the water from being restricted, make sure your coffee grinds are coarser. 

As a rule of thumb, the espresso should pour between 25 to 35 seconds.

 

The coffee maker’s programming

As a part of a daily setup, the experts recommend checking the coffee maker’s volumetrics to ensure it is dispensing the right amount of water-based on the dose you’re using.

The Fix: As a tip, you must weigh the espresso’s yield for consistency, ensuring you achieve the right brew ratio.

 

Over-steeping

Another reason for bitter-tasting coffee is over-steeping, like for people making French press coffee.

Many of them leave the coffee in the machine even if they have pushed its plunger down.

As a result, they get overly extracted coffee that tastes more bitter than what they initially had. 

The Fix: To prevent this from happening, transfer the coffee into a thermal carafe if you want to keep the coffee hot.

 

Poor quality coffee beans

Cheap coffee is not good. Most of the time, it’s too overly roasted to hide its flaws resulting from mass harvesting.

And if it is, it’s bitter and ashy.

The Fix: Choose your coffee beans wisely! Go for quality over quantity if you don’t like bitter-tasting coffee.  

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10/22/2021 12:40 am GMT

 

Old beans

Your coffee beans directly affect how your cup of coffee would taste.

They don’t have an unlimited shelf life regardless of how expensive or how fragrant they are.

They start losing flavor after leaving the roaster.

We don’t want to say this, but you need to throw or recycle them. You might want to check out our post on money-saving ways to use used beans.

The Fix: To prevent losing flavor, you should also properly store coffee beans and keep them fresh. Check out our coffee storage recommendations.

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And on the coffee bean label, you should look for its roasting instead of its expiration date.

Fresh coffee beans – four days to two weeks old. 

 

Bad roast

Roasting is a complicated process. It requires consistent heat throughout. 

So, if you want to roast your beans, make sure you have the right equipment to do it. 

However, do not freak out and feel frustrated if your roast is bad because even professional roasters make mistakes.

The Fix: To prevent this from happening, look for another recipe or use better equipment.  You might also have to switch coffee types or try another batch of coffee beans.

 

Old equipment

Your coffee pot might have been there in the best and worst moments of your life.

But just like coffee makers, they also do not have an unlimited lifespan. They also suffer from wear and tear as they age.

The Fix: Replace your old coffee equipment if it’s breaking down, period.

 

Bad tap water

The particles in your tap water directly affect the flavor of the coffee. New elements introduced into the brewing process affect the results. To prevent this from happening, use filtered water.

Having a bitter-tasting coffee after waiting is downright frustrating, but by now, you probably know how to fix it with these simple tips we have shared today. 

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Cuppabean
Charles is the author and managing editor of Cuppabean.com. A self-admitted coffee addict, he drinks 2-4 cups of coffee a day to get his fix. Read more about the site here.

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