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Among non-coffee enthusiasts, a common complaint is that coffee is bitter. Sadly, this opinion generally happens because they’ve had coffee that wasn’t brewed correctly. Because the truth is, while coffee can have some bitter notes, your brewed cup shouldn’t be overwhelmingly bitter.

At Equiano Coffee, we love roasting and brewing perfect cups of coffee for you. Grab your next bag today, online or in the tasting room. 

Your Coffee Is Bitter? Let’s Fix That For You

We may be biased, but we think coffee is the most fabulous beverage available. The tremendous variety of flavors that exist in the beans is fascinating. 

Everything from notes of spices to chocolate to fruit can be waiting in an excellent bag of coffee beans. Typically, the varietal and growing region will have the biggest impact on the taste of your coffee.

With all of these delicious flavors and aromas, bitterness should not take center stage in your cup of coffee. Yet, “Why is my coffee bitter?” is an extremely common question. In fact, it’s probably the question that led you to this article.

Five big culprits are often responsible for bitter-tasting coffee. Here are the offenders and suggestions for fixing the problem.

1. Steeping Too Long

We get it. Life is busy and hectic, and you probably always feel like you’re racing the clock to get things done. So it’s easy to forget about the coffee sitting in your French press on the counter.

French press

Steeping the coffee grounds longer than the optimal time will over-extract the flavors, bringing out the bitterness. To solve this problem, it’s important to know how long each brewing method requires. 

The following guidelines should help address the problem if your coffee is bitter:

  • French Press: 4 Minutes
  • Pour-over: 3-4 Minutes
  • Aeropress®: 2 Minutes

2. The Wrong Grind

If adjusting the time doesn’t work, or if your drip coffee is bitter, the size of your grounds may be the problem. Each coffee brewing method has an ideal size for grinding your beans, and if you over grind, you are likely to get bitter coffee.

A general rule of thumb is that the longer the water contacts the grounds, the more coarse of a grind you need. So, cold brew requires a very coarse grind, while you need a fine grind for espresso. For your drip coffee maker, aim for grinding to about the size of sea salt.

3. Your Water’s Too Hot

A common mistake for those who use a French press or pour-over system is to use boiling water. It’s an easy habit to fall into as you make your coffee. You hear the kettle whistling and start to pour.

Water boils at 212°F, but that is too hot for brewing an excellent cup of coffee. Ideally, you should use water that is 195 – 205°F because excessive heat quickly extracts the bitter flavors in your grounds. 

If your coffee is bitter, you may be using water that is too hot.

It’s best to let the boiling water sit for 30-40 seconds so that the temperature drops a bit before pouring. Or, to be more precise, you can use a variable temperature electric kettle to avoid reaching a full boil.

4. Your Equipment Needs Attention

Making coffee is kind of a messy job. And all the parts of your brewing equipment need occasional cleaning to work well. 

Old residue is one of the biggest contributors to bitter-tasting coffee. So be sure to keep your coffee maker nice and clean to enjoy the most delicious brew possible. White vinegar is one of your best friends for this job.

5. Bad Beans

Let’s be honest. You can’t make inferior coffee beans taste great. Poor-quality roasts almost always have a bitter flavor before you ever make a cup of coffee with them. When the beans are low-grade, companies have to over-roast to try to hide imperfections. This almost guarantees that you will have bitter coffee to drink.

Buying gourmet coffee beans is the first crucial step to making sure you have a delicious brew. High-quality beans will carry flavorful notes of vanilla, caramel, chocolate, or citrus for you to enjoy. 

Starting with excellent gourmet coffee is the key to a great cup.

Once you have your favorite coffee beans, pay attention to your brewing ratio. Many people use too many grounds for their water, leading to bitter coffee. Aim for about 1 – 1.5 tablespoons of grounds for 6 oz. of water in your drip coffeemaker. Other brewing methods will need a little more, up to 2 tablespoons.

A Perfect Cup Every Time

Equiano offers only the highest-quality beans possible for our customers. You can shop with confidence and brew a delicious cup every time with our gourmet coffee choices.

Or, if you’re in town, stop into our Eugene, Oregon, tasting room. We love seeing new and old friends here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.