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10 Ways to Make Coffee Less Bitter

Posted by Bean & Bean on
10 Ways to Make Coffee Less Bitter

No one wants a bad cup of coffee, but sometimes, homemade coffee can turn out bitter. Whether you just messed up your usual brew or don't know what you did wrong, we're here to help you out. Here are 10 ways to make your coffee less bitter by changing your approach, or by adding to your current coffee making methods! 

5 Things to Change in Your Brew

Here are 5 things you can change with your next brew that can help make better coffee:

1. Choosing Your Coffee Beans

Over-extracted coffee leads to bitter coffee. If you are consistently getting bitter coffee, maybe it's time to change your grind size. Your grind may be too small causing over-extraction. Too large of a grind size leads to under-extraction and sour coffee. 

2. Changing Coffee Grind Size

Over-extracted coffee leads to bitter coffee. If you are consistently getting bitter coffee, maybe it's time to change your grind size. Your grind may be too small if it's getting over-extracted and at the same time. Too large of a grind size leads to under-extraction and sour coffee. 

10 Ways to Make Coffee Less Bitter

3. Changing Brewing Time

Following the same logic for coffee grind size, you might be brewing your coffee for too long if you're consistently getting bitter coffee. Experiment and brew your coffee for less time until you've brewed a cup of coffee that is just the way you like it.

4. Check for Stale Beans

Stale coffee beans won't taste as fresh or flavorful compared to freshly roasted beans. They may impart more bitter flavors too. Generally, coffee beans that have been roasted 3-4 weeks ago will be stale. You want to buy coffee that was roasted 2 weeks ago, or try using any of these preservation methods. 

5. Checking Coffee to Water Ratio

Too much water makes for a very diluted coffee, while too little will make a very strong and concentrated coffee. A very common ratio in coffee brewing is 1 part coffee to 15 parts water - known as the golden ratio. Start there and then experiment with different ratios and measurements until you've achieved your desired taste. 

5 Things to Add to Your Brew

Here are 5 things you can add to your brew that might help it taste less bitter:

1. Add a Fat

Fats help counteract the bitterness in coffee. Adding milk, almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, cream, ice cream, or even butter will reduce bitterness and round out other flavors in your cup of coffee. Experiment with the many available options here to find the one that speaks to your tastebuds!

10 Ways to Make Coffee Less Bitter

2. Add Salt

Adding a small amount of salt to your coffee helps reduce the bitterness, and it also helps revive stale tasting coffee. Research has shown that salt is a better compound than sugar to reduce bitterness (who knew?). (Source)

Don't believe us? Watch this video:

3. Add Sugar

That being said, sugar is also a great additive for reducing the amount of bitterness in your coffee. You'll taste more of the pleasant sweetness rather than the bitterness. This is one of the most common additions.

4. Add Cinnamon

Adding spices like cinnamon, which are often paired with sweet desserts will help reduce bitterness in coffee. Your taste buds will associate the spice with something sweet and mentally trick you into thinking your coffee isn't as bitter as you thought.

5. Add Citrus

Adding a little acid can also help counteract bitterness. If a squeeze of lemon is too much, you can put orange or lemon rind in the pot. If you have ever had coffee served with a wedge of citrus, this is probably the reason why.

Different Brew Methods

Brewing methods also have different ways to control the bitterness in your coffee. 


Unlike manual brews, the only component you can really control with a Keurig is the type of coffee you choose and what you add into your brew.

French Press

You can control almost all the variables in a French press brew, from water temperature, steeping time, ratio, and coffee beans. This makes for a very flexible approach to achieving great tasting coffee. 

10 Ways to Make Coffee Less Bitter

Pour Over Coffee

Like the French press, you can control every variable. So if you are getting bitter coffee, start by tweaking one factor at a time. Since pour overs are heavily reliant on grind size and water pouring, you should start looking at those variables first.

One of our favorite pour over coffee makers is the Hario V60

Cold Brew

Cold brew is the best when it comes to coffee that doesn’t taste bitter. This is because of the way it's brewed with cold water instead of hot. It's virtually impossible to get bitter cold brew unless you over steep it (steeping it for 24 hours +). We recommend our Downtown Blend for smooth and sweet cold brew every time. 

Drip Coffee Maker

Like the Keurig, this is an automatic coffee brewer so the only things you can really control are the coffee beans you use and the water to coffee ratio.

Final Thoughts

We hope these tips help you brew a delicious cup of coffee that will energize you before the start of your day. Like we mentioned, it's important to first pinpoint what exactly is making your coffee bitter. Once you have identified the problem, you can go about effectively solving it by following these tips to make a delicious cup of coffee.  

One last way to up your coffee game is by investing in stronger equipment. Shop our brew gear section to find a curated selection of best-in-class grinders, coffee makers, and more.

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