• Joe Brewer

12 Quick Fixes If Your Coffee Tastes Bad

Updated: Nov 24

This guide will help you solve the problems you might experience if your coffee tastes bad when brewing at home.

Remember that the basic specs need to be tweaked from time to time to get your coffee to taste exactly the way you like it.

What works one day may not work the next. What works for one type of bean might not work for another.

When adjusting your specifications, make only one modification at a time. Otherwise, you won't be able to distinguish which adjustment caused which result!

Too Weak (Thin/Watery)

This is most likely due to an incorrect brew ratio—too much water and not enough coffee, which causes the coffee's body to feel thin or watery in your mouth. Consider this:


1. Increase the dose

Technically, you can remedy this problem by decreasing the quantity of water in your brew ratio, but you want to avoid ending up with less coffee.

As a result, adding extra coffee to your intake is simpler. If you're using my brew ratios, raise your dose by half a gram at a time, as you should be close to the proper dose now.

2. Adjust the grind.

This should only be done if the coffee is thin and has a sour taste, which means the grind is too coarse.

Too Strong (Thick or Heavy)

This is most likely due to an incorrect brew ratio—too much coffee and not enough water, which causes the coffee's body to feel overly thick or heavy in your mouth.

Consider this:

1. Reduce the dosage.

Technically, you can remedy this problem by increasing the quantity of water in your brew ratio, but I'm assuming you want to avoid ending up with more coffee.

As a result, it's simpler to use less coffee in your dose. If you're using my brew ratios, reduce your dose by half a gram at a time, as you should be near to the proper dose now.


Too Acidic (Sour)

This is most likely due to under-extraction—the water did not spend enough time with the coffee to extract all its flavor components.

(It could also signify that your coffee is well-brewed but has a bright acidity that you dislike.)

If that's the case, the only thing you can do is record it for future reference.

You will learn as you go! Remember that some people confuse sourness with bitterness, a separate issue that these methods cannot address. If you think this is the case, use our tasting tip to learn to tell if something is acidic.


 

Tasting tip

Having trouble discerning acidity in your coffee? You’re not alone! Try tasting something you know is acidic, like a lemon.

Pay close attention to the parts of your mouth that react to it and how they react.

Then drink some coffee and see whether your mouth reacts similarly.

It also helps to take a sip of coffee, hold it in your mouth, and move your tongue around before swallowing it.

Everyone is different, but the acidity in coffee feels like a tart tingle on the tip of my tongue and a mouthwatering sensation on the walls of my cheeks, which is the same feeling I get when drinking orange juice.

Otherwise, let's make that brew a little less sour. Try one or more of the following:

 

1. Reduce the dosage

Using less coffee allows the water to evaporate more effectively. However, this will dilute the coffee's body.

If you already like how the coffee tastes in your mouth (not too watery or heavy), you may skip this step.

If you need to reduce your dose, do so in half-gram increments.

2. Tighten the grind

Only do this if your physique is in good shape and you don't want to change it.

If so, tighten the grind in tiny increments because this adjustment improves contact time while producing finer particles that are easier to extract.

You don't want to dirty the texture by accident!

3. Reduce the bloom weight.

Only use this adjustment for pour-over procedures.

Reduced bloom weight lets less water drip into your brewing pot. Remember to start with the most acidic areas of the coffee extract.

When the bloom weight is reduced, less acidity enters the cup. Reduce it by half a gram at a time.


4. Extend the contact time.

More extraction means more interaction time. This is a better chance to make with immersion methods than pour-over methods because pouring more slowly doesn't just increase contact time (brewing time); it can have different effects and make the results harder to predict.

5. Boost the agitation.

Coffee extract benefits from agitation. In immersion methods, more agitation may imply more stirring.

Adding another interval of rest to your pulse method may be necessary for pour-over methods.

Continuous pouring makes it more challenging to increase agitation. Also, motion can mix flavors, making the cup appear dirty (i.e., more robust).

6. Raise the thermostat

If you're using particularly thick (high-grown) light-roasted beans and/or a lower-temperature method, raise the water temperature. Both situations make it more difficult for coffee solids to dissolve, and extra heat can help.

Too Bitter

This likely signifies your brew is over-extracted—the water spent too much time removing the flavor molecules from the coffee.

All coffee is bitter, but this bitterness is particularly terrible. Let's make the brew a little less bitter. Consider this:

1. Raise the dose

Using more coffee allows the waterless extract to work for longer. This, however, will increase the body of the coffee. If you already like how the coffee tastes in your mouth (not too watery or heavy), you may skip this step. If you need to increase your dose, do so in half-gram increments.


2. Relax the grind

Only do this if the body is in a good spot and you don't want to change it. If so, loosen the grind in tiny increments because doing so reduces contact time and creates coarser particles that are more difficult to retrieve. You want to avoid overcompensating and winding up with under-extracted coffee!

3. Boost the bloom weight.

Only use this adjustment for pour-over brewing methods. Increasing the bloom weight allows more water to enter the brewing vessel. Remember to start with the most acidic parts of the coffee extract.

Increasing the bloom weight allows more acidity into the cup, which helps to balance the bitterness. Increase it in half-gram increments.

4. Reduce the contact time

Less extraction implies less interaction time. This is a better modification to make with immersion methods (pouring faster doesn't merely lessen contact time; it can have various impacts and make results more difficult to anticipate with pour-over methods).

5. Extend the flowering time

If your coffee is remarkably fresh, it contains a lot of carbon dioxide, which is harsh. This implies you should increase the bloom period because a longer bloom time ensures that the gas escapes into the air rather than your cup. Increase the bloom time by at most five seconds at a time. When in doubt, look for the bubbling in the bloom.

6. Reduce the agitation

Coffee extract benefits from agitation. In the case of immersion methods, less agitation may imply less stirring. It may be necessary to remove a pulse from pour-over pulse procedures. Pour more gently if you're pouring continuously.

7. Reduce the temperature.

You can try lowering the water temperature if you use less dense (low-grown) medium- to dark-roast beans and/or a higher-temperature method. Both conditions make it simpler for coffee solids to dissolve, while the lack of heat slows extraction.


Astringent Quality

Astringency, or the drying sensation on your tongue caused by eating underripe fruit, is a sign of over-extraction. See the Too Bitter section for further information (previous page).

Filmy Quality

The coffee has an oily, mouth-coating flavor. It shows that the body is overburdened. To put it another way, the coffee is too strong. See the Too Strong section for more information (page 252).

Powder quality

You can notice a powdered appearance on your cheekbones (not on your tongue).

This is a sign of bitterness and indicates that your grind is too fine. In this instance, consider loosening the grind before increasing the dose.

More information can be found in the Too Bitter section.

Burnt Quality

This indicates that the coffee has been over-extracted. More information can be found in the Too Bitter section. It could also be a characteristic of a darker-roasted coffee that you dislike. There is nothing you can do but record your selection for future reference. If you choose a method that involves boiling the coffee with water, your coffee may burn.

Muted Flavors

This is an indication that your coffee is too strong. Sometimes coffee with a heavy body mutates flavors, even if the coffee doesn't feel heavy in your mouth. The body can cover up flavors that you would otherwise perceive. Your coffee is also too strong if the flavors seem fleeting or if you find you can taste something but not really.

If your coffee tastes flat and lacks complexity, it could also be old and stale.

If it doesn't bubble very much (or at all) when you bloom, then it's likely stale.


Muddy Coffee Bed

This is an indication that your grind is too fine. Your coffee is most likely over-extracted.

More information can be found in the Too Bitter section. If you keep having this problem while utilizing the same tried-and-true method, the burrs in your burr grinder may be dull.



Drawdown Too Slow

Drawdown too slow is primarily true for pour-over procedures. If drawing your coffee through the bed takes forever, your grind is probably too fine.

Try adjusting your grind. Alternatively, your filter could be clogged with particles.

If the sides of your filter are naked in spots (a condition known as "balding"), you are most likely striking the sides of the device and washing particulates to the bottom, resulting in a clog.

To avoid this, aim your pour as far away from the sides of the gadget as possible.

Too Fast Drawdown

This is primarily true for pour-over procedures. If you're pouring as carefully as possible, but your coffee is still pulling too quickly through the bed, your grind is probably too coarse.

Drawdown Too Fast

This primarily applies to pour-over methods. If you pour as slowly as possible and your coffee draws through the bed too quickly, your grind is likely too coarse. Try tightening your grind.

Tighten up your grind.


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