How to fix bitter tasting coffee

Water Temperature!

Let me begin by explaining the two different roasts and their tasting notes.

This will help you better understand why certain water temps are going to yield different flavors in different levels of a roast.

Dark roasted coffee is PRETTY limited on the tasting notes you can get out of it.

Typically you will ALWAYS find a hand full of these tasting notes in a dark roast: chocolate/dark chocolate, cocoa, nutty, smoky, earthy.

Light roasts are much more adventurous in their flavors. Depending on the origin you’ll have a WIDE variety of tasting notes, but, I’ll list a few common ones: citrus, berry, red wine, sweet chocolate, caramel, cinnamon, and honey. These are a VERY small and broad list of tasting notes.

When you’re brewing coffee keep in mind the roast and temp you’ll want to use.
My rule of thumb is this. Water temperature should be between 195 and 205. (assuming you have a thermometer)

Dark roasts you’ll want to use water closer to 195 degree F

Light roasts you’ll want to use water closer to 205 degree F

If you’re brewing a dark roast, don’t use water right off of a boil, it’s much more likely to extract those bitter and burnt flavors.

If you’re brewing a light or medium roast, don’t use water that has sat a few minutes off of boil, it won’t extract enough and will leave you with sour tasting coffee.

Here is a video by James Hoffman that explains in great detail. Water temperature.

Grind size!

This is going to vary depending on how you brew and what kind of device you’re using.

How long the water is in contact with the coffee as well as filter thickness plays a factor into grind size as well.

Here are some basic things to look out for and how to correct them.

Does the coffee look muddy after you’re done brewing? This is a sign that your grind is too fine for the style of brewing that you’re doing. Make it a little coarser and it should clean things up!

If you time your coffee brewing and (for the sake of example) find you’re done brewing 21 ounces of coffee in 2 minutes and it tastes extremely watery and sour. This is a sign that your grind size is too coarse! Dial the grind size in a little finer and it should slow down the process and yield better tasting coffee.

Here are some examples of grind settings to use depending on how you’re brewing your coffee.

Cold brew and French Press = Coarse grind. (sea salt or coarser.)

Chemex = medium coarse grind.

Drip = medium grind (little coarser than table salt.)

V60, Maleta, kalita wave = medium fine grind (almost like table salt.)

Moka pot = fine grind

Espresso = very fine

Ratio is also very important! This comes down to personal preference so you’ll have to play around with it.

Personally I use and always recommend a 1/15 ratio

1 part coffee to 15 parts water. For example.

40 grams of coffee x 15 = 600 grams of water

Back to blog