Why is my Coffee Bitter and How to Fix it?

Why is my Coffee Bitter and How to Fix it?

10 Ways to Kick the Bitterness Out of Your Coffee

Hello, coffee lovers! Fancy a cup of joe without that biting bitterness? We're spilling the beans today on how to subtract that sharp edge from your beloved brew! 

For many of us, a morning cup of coffee is a MUST. Along with giving an energy boost, it also provides a unique experience to our taste buds. But have you ever experienced a bitter taste in your coffee? In this blog post, we will be answering all the questions related to this issue, and help you fix it. So, let’s dive right in embark on a flavorful journey and transform your coffee experience!

1. Is Coffee Bitter?

This seemingly simple question delves into the intricate interplay of roast levels, origins, and personal taste preferences. To fully understand the bitterness in your cup of joe, let's explore the fascinating world of coffee roasting.

Roast level, or the amount of time and heat coffee beans are exposed to during roasting, is a key factor in determining the bitterness of your brew

This balance is what coffee Roasters, those chemists of coffee, chase. Imagine it like a test kitchen baker—Finding the right time, heat, and process is a science, and that obsession quickly become a lifelong quest for people who roast coffee, and it’s turned many a  casual curiosity into hobbyists and fanatics, thankfully—as the world of coffee has expanded so much over the past decade alone. 

The laymen’s explanation is that Lighter roasts are roasted briefly at lower temperatures, retaining the beans' natural flavors and acidity while minimizing bitterness. Think of these roasts as vibrant and lively, with a pleasant tang that dances on your palate.

Conversely, darker roasts undergo a longer roasting process at higher temperatures. This extended roast caramelizes the sugars within the beans, creating deep, rich flavors that coffee lovers crave. However, this transformation can also introduce more bitterness, as the prolonged roast time breaks down compounds that contribute to this taste sensation.

The relationship between roast level and bitterness isn't always straightforward. Bean origin, processing methods, and brewing techniques further influence the overall flavor profile. For instance, certain beans from regions like Africa boast bright acidity and floral notes, which can beautifully balance bitterness. Meanwhile, Central and South American coffees may offer nutty, chocolatey, or fruity undertones that harmonize with the bitterness. And if you want to further blow your mind— the seasons, rain and heat patterns change every year— making the recipe moot and starting from scratch year after year, something more like a wine vinter, each year has its own changes to the beans. 

Ultimately, the question "Is coffee bitter?" is a nuanced one. Coffee's bitterness is a complex symphony orchestrated by roast levels, origins, and the preferences of your taste buds. As you embark on your coffee journey, consider experimenting with different roast levels and origins to uncover the perfect blend that suits your palate. Whether you savor the vibrant notes of a light roast or the robust depth of a dark roast, understanding the relationship between roast and bitterness adds a new layer of appreciation to your daily cup of joe.

Cupping a freshly roasted coffee

Why Does My Coffee Taste Bitter?

The primary reason behind coffee’s bitterness is over-extraction. Over-extraction means that too many chemicals from the coffee beans have been extracted into the water. This occurs when coffee is brewed too long, too hot, or is ground too finely. Using water that is too hot can also cause bitterness because it can cause over-extraction.

To fix this, try a few things, applying the scientific method. First—Grind the coffee more coarse, and exactly brew like you did the last one. Better? Great. Not better, or not better enough? Try less hot water— allow it to cool for at least ½ a minute longer than you did, continuing to add time until you get a cup you like. Lastly, try not letting it brew for as long. With these three steps, you’ll fix anything that can be corrected that isn’t roast or bean related. 

If it didn’t fix it to you liking— you may just not like that particular coffee! Which is fine—you’ll just need a new coffee.  Try lighter roasts or different regions to find what you do actually like— our flavor profile quiz can help you with that. 
However, so you don’t waste this one, read on for a few tricks to salvage this bag. 

If your coffee is too bitter, Your water may too hot.

What Makes Coffee Bitter?

Coffee bitterness is usually attributed to two chemicals, caffeine and chlorogenic acid. Our taste buds are not particularly fond of these chemicals, and they can make the coffee taste bitter. 

A great roast matches the beans’ levels of these things to counteract and blend the bitterness away, by bringing the different flavors forward. It’s why your same single origin can be so different from various roasters. 

Additionally, if the coffee beans are of low quality or past their expiration date, they can also contribute to bitterness. It’s a reason we only roast on order— your coffee is so fresh, as if you hand roasted your own. 

How to Fix Bitter Espresso?

A bitter espresso shot is a common problem, and thankfully, it can be fixed. Firstly, check the temperature of the machine. If it is too hot, it can cause over-extraction, leading to bitterness. Next, make sure that your espresso shot is not being pulled too long. The ideal time for an espresso shot is approximately 25 seconds.

If your espresso is consistently bitter, even after trying the above solutions, there might be something wrong with your machine. It could be that your espresso machine is not calibrated correctly or that your grouphead needs cleaning. In this case, it’s best to seek professional help rather than attempting to fix the machine on your own.

Lastly, a bad-quality coffee bean can also cause bitterness. Make sure you are using fresh, high-quality beans like the beans we offer, which are small batch roasted on order.

How to Make Espresso Less Bitter?

A simple trick to making your espresso less bitter is to add milk or cream to it. 
But adding sugar, honey, or flavored syrups is a more popular fix for bitter coffee, but can ruin the flavor pro balance…These sweeteners can help counteract the bitterness of coffee. But, it’s not the only way, especially if you are more savory lover versus sweet.


Salt! We know it sounds crazy, but a small dash of salt in the grounds before brewing can make a huge difference.

2. Kick the bitterness out of your coffee

Congratulations, you've taken the first step towards enhancing your coffee experience! In the previous section, we unraveled the intricate connection between roast levels, origin, and the enigmatic bitterness that sometimes graces our beloved cup of coffee. 

Now, armed with this newfound knowledge, it's time to delve into a realm of solutions and strategies that will transform your bitter brew into a harmonious symphony of flavors. Get ready to embark on a journey of discovery as we explore an array of tips and tricks designed to rescue your coffee from the clutches of bitterness, unveiling a world of delightful tastes and aromas that will elevate your daily ritual to new heights. 

Blooming Your Grounds

Blooming your grounds isn't just coffee lingo! It's a fantastic trick to alleviate those bitter flavors. Just pour a small amount of hot water onto your grounds, all wet but not swimming, to let them 'bloom' before brewing. Leave for 45 seconds. This process releases gases and allows the coffee to absorb water, leading to a smoother, less bitter taste. Coffee magic happening right before your eyes!

Water Temperature Matters

Ever thought your water could be the culprit behind your bitter brew? Ideally, your water should be heated between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Too hot, and it over-extracts the coffee leading to bitterness; too cool, and it under-extracts, leading to a flat, sour flavor. So, keep an eye on that water temperature!

A Pinch of Salt

Ever heard of adding a dash of salt to your coffee? Sounds odd, right? But trust me, it's a game-changer! This unlikely hero can combat bitterness like no other. Just a tiny pinch added to your grounds before brewing can help cut through the bitterness and even enhance the other flavors in your coffee!

Right Coffee-to-Water Ratio

Now, this one's a no-brainer, but it's often overlooked! The ideal coffee-to-water ratio is generally 1:15 - 1:18, but feel free to adjust based on your taste. Too much coffee and too little water will definitely give you a bitter brew. So, find your sweet spot!

Freshly Ground Coffee

Using freshly ground coffee can make a world of difference. Why? Because coffee begins to oxidize and lose flavor as soon as it's ground. So, for a fresher, less bitter coffee, grind your beans right before you brew!

The Right Water Temperature

Ever thought your water could be the culprit behind your bitter brew? Ideally, your water should be heated between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Too hot, and it over-extracts the coffee leading to bitterness; too cool, and it under-extracts, leading to a flat, sour flavor. So, keep an eye on that water temperature!

Choose the Right Beans

Not all beans are created equal! The type and roast of the bean can significantly affect the taste of your coffee. Lighter roasts tend to be less bitter than darker ones. So, don't be afraid to experiment!

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