Some mornings are brutal! Maybe you’ve overslept because your alarm didn't go off, you had a crick in your neck, and you even burned your coffee. As weird as the last one may sound, it's actually possible! But even if you “burn” your coffee, what does that actually mean?
Over-roasted coffee beans
While it’s a rare occurrence, sometimes roasters do end up over-roasting the beans. And while this isn't something you can control, it is good to recognize if they are burnt and spare yourself from using them.
Take a nice hard look at the beans, if they are very dark brown to the point of almost being black, then you’re dealing with over-roasted beans which will give your coffee an unpleasant burnt taste.
Using stale coffee
Stale coffee also has a burnt taste. This has nothing to do with the beans or your brewing technique, it's just the taste of stale beans when ground and brewed. Avoid using expired beans.
Heating the coffee pot for too long
In certain establishments like diners or gas stations, a coffee pot left on the heat source for too long is the most common reason for burnt coffee. Either the pot is on the burner for so long that the coffee dries up, or the coffee was heated to an unacceptable temperature.
Is your coffee burnt?
So how do we know if our coffee is burnt? One method as mentioned above is to take a look at the color of the beans/grounds, if they have a very dark brown appearance, they’re likely burnt. Another method is to taste your coffee grounds just before you put them in the machine. Burnt coffee grounds will taste slightly bitter with harsh tones varying from burnt toast, to burnt potatoes.
Side effects of consuming burnt coffee
So what happens when you DO get that cup of burnt coffee, and you’re either short of time or short of resources, is it OK to drink the burnt coffee?
Yes, you could drink it, but you shouldn’t. Not only will it taste terrible, but mostly because burnt coffee contains a chemical called acrylamide, which is a known carcinogen. As a general rule, it’s best to avoid burnt coffee. In addition, it can have adverse effects on your nervous system when consumed in large quantities.
Let's take a look at some ways we can protect ourselves from burnt coffee, and what to do with over-roasted or stale beans.
- Use freshly roasted coffee beans
- Check the roast date and expiry date before using
- Avoid over-roasting
- Use filtered water
- Avoid pre-ground coffee
- Use them as fertilizer
- Make compost
- Make coffee ice cubes
- Use them as an odor neutralizer
- Use them as an insect repellant