Why Does My Coffee Taste Bitter? How to Get Your Coffee to Taste Better

Why Does My Coffee Taste Bitter? How to Get Your Coffee to Taste Better

No one is born a coffee lover – like fine wine its an acquired taste – however there are times when your face may scrunch up after trying a new brew as a result of the bitterness. But what makes coffee bitter?​

Reasons Your Coffee is Bitter

Are you over-steeping your coffee (allowing it to brew for too long?) Steeping is a term that we use to describe a method of brewing coffee where you directly mix your grinds with water (as opposed to passing it through a filter). It’s common in most types of ‘press’ coffee makers, for example, the French press or the Aeropress.

The danger lies in your ability to know how long to steep for, because if you over-steep your coffee you’ll be left with a harsh, bitter mess. When you use an automatic espresso machine, or a filter coffee maker, there is a low chance of over-steeping your brew, in-fact, it’s almost impossible. Use a French press or an Aeropress however, and you’ll want to be on point when it comes time to plunge.​

Are you keeping it clean? Rinsing your French press after every use is fine, however if you are using a machine you should be running fresh water through it at least once a week to make sure to get rid of the “coffee-from-yesterday” taste. This way, when you brew coffee, you only get to savour the coffee from today.

Are you grinding your beans properly?

  • Grind coarse for French Press and Percolator machines.
  • Grind medium for typical household coffee machines with flat filters.
  • Grind fine for coffee machines with cone-shaped filters.
  • Grind extra-fine for pump and steam espresso machines.

How to Make Coffee Less Bitter

There are many different methods that you can use to make the bitterness of your coffee disappear. You probably know about a few of them – adding milk, cream or sugar.

  • Add some salt

The sodium chloride, also known as regular table salt, enhances the taste of the sodium naturally contained in the coffee. This basically cancels-out the bitterness while also not making your coffee taste salty or ruining the inherent flavour.

  • Keep it clean, really.

Leftover grinds can pile up over time, and they will make all the cups of coffee you’re making taste bitter. Even if your gear looks perfectly clean, it is still a good idea to give a thorough scrubbing since you never know what residue might be hiding in there.

  • Maybe, change your beans?

If your coffee is still too bitter – it might just be the roast. Sure, it sounds nice to say you drink and incredibly dark roast but if it just tastes bad for you, there’s no shame in switching to a lighter roast that will be easier on your taste buds.

There’s a good reason why medium and light roasts exist, and you should try some of them out and see if they fit you better. You never know – you might just find your new favourite when you’re least expecting it.


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