Whether you like the bitterness of coffee, or are trying to avoid it, it's always good to know where the bitterness is coming from so you can adjust according to your personal taste.
Bitterness can come from a few different things.
If you grind your coffee too fine, the hot water will over extract your coffee and pull out the negative compounds in the beans, and make your coffee bitter. If the grind is too coarse, it will have less flavor and taste watery. You have not extracted the good stuff. A burr grinderis 100% imperative to getting good results. Otherwise your coffee may turn out great one day, then the next day be gutter-worthy. Invest in a burr grinder today.
You have to practice your brewing method for a while to get it perfect. Don't be discouraged if it takes a few tries. With fresh coffee beans, once you get your measurements, grind and water temperature down, you should never have bitterness in your cup. You can get amazing coffee with many brewing methods. My personal favorite is the Aero Press. I love the pour over but it does take a lot more practice!
Proper Coffee / Water Ratio
Be sure to use the right water to coffee ratio. Start with 11 grams (apx. 2 TBSP) of coffee per 6 oz. of water. It’s better to make your coffee strong and dilute it to your liking than run more water through the coffee grounds (which will cause bitterness).
We include this handy card in our coffee subscriptions for free. Sign up today for our fresh hot air roasted coffee subscription service to get this and other tips on proper brewing!
1. If your water sits on your coffee grounds for too long (for your brewing method) it will begin to extract the bitter compounds of the coffee, even if it’s ground properly. This is over-extracting and will cause bitterness.
2. If your water is too hot (like boiling) it could cause bitterness also. Try to use water at about 205 degrees, which is about 30 seconds off-boil.
3. Use enough coffee! I can't say this enough. If you don't use enough coffee grounds for the amount of water you're using, the water will start to extract the bad elements of the coffee, even if it's high quality coffee. If you get bitter coffee and know you're grinding properly, try adding a scoop (or a half scoop). Sounds counter-intuitive, but trust me on this.
Check out this video talking about the coffee to water ratio by yours truly.
When using fresh k-cup pods, start with 6 oz. of water if your brewer is adjustable, and adjust from there to taste. Add water after the fact if it's too strong. The biggest culprit of bitter coffee in single serve brewers is that people want a 12 or 16 oz. mug, but the amount of grounds in the pod is only enough to brew about 6 – 6.5 ounces of coffee. You may need to brew two pods, or get a regular coffee brewing device. We recommend the Aero Press or a French Press for quick, easy one cup options.
Most importantly: FRESH COFFEE
If you don't want bitter coffee, you must start with FRESH coffee, and I mean coffee that has been roasted within the last couple of weeks. It make all the different in the world. I'm pretty sure you know where you can findthat by now.
QUALITY IS KEY - freshly roasted specialty coffee will ensure your coffee is not bitter, if brewed properly. YES, IT COSTS MORE, BUT WITH GOOD REASONS.... CHECK OUT THE ARTICLE ABOUTWHY SPECIALTY COFFEE IS EXPENSIVE....
Very Dark Roasting
The darkest roasts like French Roast and Italian roast will typically have the most bitterness. This is due to the actual charring of the beans. However with the hot air roasting method you should be able to taste deep dark smoky flavors, but less bitterness than drum roasters.
What about medium/dark roasts?
Many people believe that all dark roasts are bitter and light roasts are smoother. While this may be more accurate (not always) with drum roasting methods it may surprise you to discover that when you get fresh beans roasted properly, a medium-dark roast will be rich, complex, heavy and flavorful, but absolutely not bitter (if brewed properly). With the hot air roasting process, we are able to remove the bitterness of the darker roasts, leaving them clean, rich and delicious.
When roasting coffee, the less smoke that is created, the less bitter flavor you will find in your brewed coffee. Smoke can come from burning chaff (outer parchment on the bean) after it pops off of the bean and falls on the heating element. Also from the beans touching the heating element within the drum roaster.
Luckily a hot air roaster more thoroughly removes the chaff from the roasting chamber. It also moves the beans using hot air, so the beans never rest on the heating element. These factors greatly reduce any bitterness you may taste. It also makes it better for you because there are less carcinogens in your coffee.
Ready to try something different?
Sign up today to get fresh Bean Hoppershot air roasted coffee shipped right to your door within one day of roasting! See the difference it makes today.
With hot air roasted coffee, you can feel good about doing just a little something positive for your health and our environment. Say goodbye to bitterness!
- The Coffee Bean Queen