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My Coffee Is Always Too Bitter – How Do I Fix It?

My Coffee Is Always Too Bitter – How Do I Fix It?

You make a cup of coffee and it just doesn’t taste right. It’s causing your morning to start on the wrong footing because it’s so bitter.

While you’ll succeed at making your coffee taste less bitter by adding some sugar, milk, and/or cream to it, this is not always ideal – you might want to drink your coffee black.

Shouldn’t your coffee be bitter, though?

Of course, a bit of bitterness in coffee is a good thing otherwise it will either be too sweet or acidic. However, you don’t want the bitterness to overwhelm the coffee’s flavor so it needs to be balanced.

To ensure you make a more balanced cuppa, we’ve got you covered! Ditch the bitterness and make your coffee taste better with these tips.

Top Reasons Why Your Coffee Tastes Bitter

There are many reasons why your coffee can come out tasting really bitter, from how you prepare it to how you maintain your coffee equipment! Let’s look at the most common reasons for a bitter brew.

You’re Over-Steeping Your Coffee


If you’re making French press coffee, or you’re using an AeroPress, you might be guilty of leaving the coffee in the press after you’ve plunged it.

Don’t do that – it causes the coffee to continue extracting and this is what results in it becoming bitter because it’s over-extracted.

A better idea is to transfer the coffee to a carafe once you’re done plunging it. For how long should you steep your coffee? Aim for approximately four minutes, but opt for a few minutes longer than that if you’re using coarse coffee grounds.

You’re Using Too Fine Coffee Grounds

If your coffee grounds are too fine, this can cause your coffee to taste too bitter. Again, this is because it’s been extracted too much.

It’s good to choose a coarser type of coffee in future. However, it’s worth knowing that how fine or coarse your coffee grounds should be to make the perfect cup depends on the type of coffee you wish to make. Here’s a general guideline for choosing the correct sizes:

  • Coarse grounds are best for percolators and French presses, while medium rounds are useful for a household coffee maker that has flat filters. 
  • On the other hand, if you have a coffee maker that has a cone-shaped filter, you should choose fine granules. 
  • Extra-fine granules are ideal for steam and pump espresso machines, as Home Grounds reports.

You’re Using Water That’s Too Hot

You might think that you need to use piping-hot water to make the perfect cup of coffee, but that’s a myth. If the water is too hot, it will make the coffee bitter.

You should aim to heat the water to around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, since water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, you will prevent that from happening.

Let the hot water rest for a minute before you pour it over your coffee grounds. It’s also worth investing in a kettle that has temperature control so that you don’t over boil the water and compromise your cup quality. 

You’re Using Too Much Coffee

You might want to use a lot of coffee, but a general rule is to avoid using too much as this will cause your cup to be too bitter. How much is ideal?

According to The Specialty Coffee Association of America (via Home Grounds), their ratio for the best balance between water and coffee beans is 55g of coffee for every liter of water. Now you know.  

You’re Using Cheap Coffee Beans


If you purchase low-cost coffee, you might be saving money but you won’t be happy with the quality of your cup so it’s not worth it.

What’s often the case is that cheap coffee is roasted too much – this is done to conceal any flaws in the coffee as a result of issues such as mass harvesting – and that can cause the coffee to take on a bitter taste.

To prevent this from happening in future, invest in a high-quality bag of coffee.

It’s worth noting that Arabica beans tend to produce coffee that’s less bitter than Robusta beans, but they are a bit more expensive.

Here are some important things to look for when buying coffee.

  • Where does the coffee originate from? This is important because various factors, such as climate and humidity, will impact the coffee that’s produced. You’ll have to think about what type of coffee you like so that you can choose the best coffee origin. For example, if you like sweet and clean coffee flavors, you’ll want to choose South American coffee brands, while Asian coffees have wonderful earthy flavors.
  • Was it grown in high altitudes? When coffee is grown in higher altitudes, this means that lower temperatures are used to produce it. The result? The coffee will grow and mature at a slower pace, and this will cause it to have more complex flavors.
  • How was it processed? Coffee beans undergo one of two processing types: washed or natural. Natural processing is better because the whole cherry of the coffee is dried before its outer layer of fruit is removed. This means that it will taste fruitier and tastier. Washed coffee processing, on the other hand, means that the fruit is removed before it’s dried. The result is coffee that tastes cleaner but has a more acidic taste.

Your Coffee Isn’t Fresh Anymore

If you’re not storing your coffee correctly, you could cause it to become stale. Coffee loses up to 10 percent of its shelf life for every day that it’s exposed to air, as the Journal Of Food Engineering reports. Yikes!

If your coffee beans just aren’t tasting right and you think it could be because they’re becoming stale, it’s time to throw them out.

In future, make sure you store your coffee beans in a dry, cool place, in an airtight container, and only purchase the amount of coffee that you need so that the rest doesn’t spoil over time. 

You Haven’t Cleaned Your Coffee Machine Lately 

Keeping your coffee machine clean also contributes to coffee that’s full of flavor and doesn’t taste bitter.

If there are some coffee granules that are left behind in the machine from the last time you made coffee, these will get in the way of the quality and taste of the coffee you want to make. So, make sure you always clean your coffee machine

What Makes Coffee Bitter? The Compounds That Result In Bitterness 

You now know what can cause you coffee to taste bitter and be undrinkable, but what actually makes coffee bitter from a science point of view?

While you might think that caffeine in coffee is what makes it bitter, that’s a myth. According to research via Live Science, coffee contains two compounds that result in its bitterness.

These are found in roasted coffee beans. One of them is chlorogenic acid lactones, which is found in light and medium roast brews. Phenylindanes, on the other hand, are found in darker roasts (think espresso) and these form when the lactones disintegrate. The result?


The study found that roasting coffee is what causes bitterness to form, but how the coffee is brewed also plays a role.

Basically, the high temperature and pressure that’s used to brew some coffees, such as espressos, produce the most bitter compounds. This is why choosing drip coffee or pour-over coffee methods tend to produce less bitter-tasting coffee.

Related Questions

Can you use salt to make your coffee taste less bitter?

Salt can effectively reduce coffee bitterness because it prevents sour and bitter flavors, but just add a pinch of salt so you don’t end up with an unpleasant taste. 

Does decaffeinated coffee taste less bitter?

When coffee is decaffeinated, this decreases its bitterness so this is a good choice to consider if you want to enjoy the taste of coffee without any bitterness, as long as you don’t mind not having any caffeine.

What causes coffee to have a burnt taste?

This is usually as a result of the coffee beans being roasted too much or brewing the coffee with water that’s too hot. Avoid using boiling water when making your cup of coffee to prevent this from happening in future.


If you’re battling with bitter cups of coffee, you’re wasting precious coffee grounds.

But now you don’t have to deal with bitter coffee anymore. After reading this article, you have a better idea as to why your coffee is coming out bitter and what you can do about it. Life’s too short to make do with a bitter cup of coffee in the morning!

Last Updated on May 15, 2021

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