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.
5 Things to Change in Your Brew
Here are 5 things you can change with your next brew that might help make better coffee:
1. Choosing Your Coffee Beans
Good coffee starts with good beans! There are so many different varieties and flavors of coffee beans, and it matters which one you choose. Certain kinds of coffee beans lean towards more sweet and fruity and others lean towards the nutty and chocolatey side. With roasts, lighter roasts tend to preserve more of the coffee beans natural flavors while dark roasts tend to have a more roasty and bitter taste.
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.
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. It may be imparting more bitter flavors too. Generally, coffee beans that have been roasted 3-4 weeks ago is stale. You want to buy coffee that was roasted 2 weeks ago, or any of these preservation methods.
5. Checking Coffee to Water Ratio
Too much water may make 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. Experiment with different ratios and measurements until you've gotten your desired taste.
5 Things to Add to Your Brew
Here are 5 things you can add to your brew that might help make it taste less bitter:
1. Add a Fat
Fats help counteract the bitterness in coffee! Adding milk, cream, ice cream, or butter even are good to reduce bitterness and round out other flavors in your cup of coffee.
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. (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.
4. Add Cinnamon
Adding spices like cinnamon that are often paired with sweet desserts also 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.
You can control almost all the variables in a French press brew, from water temperature, steeping time, coffee beans, and etcetera.
Pour Over Coffee
Like the French Press, you can control all the variables, so if you are getting bitter coffee, start by tweaking one variable 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 is the best when it comes to not bitter coffee because of the way its brewed, it's less bitter by default. 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.
We hope these tips help you brew a delicious cup of coffee that will energize you before you start 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. Then, you can refer to our tips with intention and make a delicious cup of coffee.
You can up your coffee game by investing in stronger equipment. Shop our brew gear section to find a curated selection of best-in-class grinders, coffee makers, and more.