Causes of Bitter Coffee and Remedies for Better Coffee

Causes of Bitter Coffee and Remedies for Better Coffee

Some bitterness in things we consume is expected and often enjoyed, such as dark chocolate or some fruits, like pineapple. Coffee should be no different. Many people associate bitterness with coffee, but it shouldn’t be too bitter.

There are some main reasons why your coffee may be too bitter. The main reason is that you could be using lower quality coffee. Sand and Sea Coffee is all specialty grade coffee, the highest grade of coffee, so the amount of bitterness in our coffee is minimal.

Below are four of the major factors that cause bitterness in your coffee. We also provide some remedies to help you create the best cup of coffee to suit your tastes. So, experiment away and enjoy your java journey!


1. Over Extraction

A major cause of bitterness is over-extraction or over-brewing. When we brew coffee we are actually “extracting” the acids, sugars, oils and other flavors that are in the coffee by dissolving the coffee in hot water, or “brewing” coffee.

Over-extraction is when the coffee is in contact with the water for too long and too much of the coffee’s components have been extracted, causing the bitterness in the coffee.

More Time = More Extraction

You can reduce the amount of extraction by reducing the brew time. If you are using a French press or pour over, you can change how quickly you press down on the press or pour the water on your coffee. On an espresso machine, you can adjust the brew time on most machines as well.


2. Low Quality Water or Water Temp is Too High

You should use filtered water or spring water for your coffee. Non-filtered water may contain minerals or other contaminants that could alter the taste of your coffee.

The optimal temperature of the water should be between 195-205F degrees when it makes contact with the coffee. This water temp is known to be the sweet spot for the water to effectively extract the flavors from your coffee to yield a better cup of coffee.


3. Coffee is Ground too Fine

When coffee beans are ground to a fine grind, water passes through quicker, extracting the coffee components quicker. If the coffee beans are ground more coarse or larger, water passes through slower, extracting the coffee components slower.

Try increasing the grind size of your coffee, maybe an intermediate, or less fine grind, for your coffee to help reduce the bitterness of your coffee. This will help slow down the extraction and your coffee will have less of the coffee components in it.


4. Too Much Water/Not Enough Coffee

There has been extensive scientific research on coffee and brewing the perfect cup of coffee. According to the Coffee Brewing Handbook recommended by the Specialty Coffee Association, there is a recommended water to coffee ratio that provides the optimum flavor.

The recommended ratio is 9-11 grams of coffee per 6 fluid ounces of water for single cup brewers; or 6.25 - 7.75 grams of coffee per 4.25 ounces of water for European (125 ml) size cups. You can adjust this ratio to fit personal tastes, but this should give you a good baseline to start from.


As with any problem solving or trouble shooting scenario, only change one thing at a time to help you narrow down the issue causing the bitterness in your coffee. If you make sweeping changes, you won’t know what worked or didn’t work to help address your problem.

Thanks for joining us on this amazing journey. We hope this information is helpful and feel free to let us know how this helped you out in any way.

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