How to Reduce Bitterness in Your Coffee

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how to reduce bitterness in coffee

Bitterness is common in coffee and coffee-related drinks because coffee’s flavor profile depends on bitterness, and sometimes, it just gets overdone. Many things can be the culprit of a poorly brewed cup, as coffee can be pretty picky. In this article, we’ll examine ways to make your coffee less bitter and troubleshoot the problem after the coffee has already been brewed. Maybe you need a different coffee bean, brewing process, or local coffee shop, but we’ve got you covered, whatever the issue.

Top 6 Ways to Reduce Bitterness in Coffee:

1. Adjust Brewing Time

Have you gotten coffee at a local café that wasn’t worth the long wait? The problem might be how long it took for the coffee to be made! The back end of a coffee brew is typically where all the bitter notes come from, so if you leave a coffee brewing for too long, you’re mainly extracting bitter flavors. This is why there’s a trend in specialty coffee where baristas will let a shot of espresso continue to pull but will move the glass into which the espresso is being pulled to avoid getting any of the bitter profile.

So, the solution is simple: If your cup of coffee is too bitter, brew it for less time. If this happens at your favorite coffee shop, maybe it’s time to explore the neighborhood.

coffee time
coffee time

2. Clean Up!

When we make a cup of coffee, sitting back with the finished product is easy and relaxing. After all, you went through quite the process: You had to buy the beans and grind them, then heat water. It’s so much, and in this busy world, who can afford an extra step?

The bad news is that coffee requires the cleanest environments to be brewed at its best. This is evident in its sponge-like qualities, which affect the beans from storage to brewing. Not only does coffee give off intense flavors, but it also absorbs them.

Fixing this problem is easy: Clean your equipment after every single use! Every aspect of the brewing mechanism will affect the taste later on.

3. Change Your Water Temperature

Many coffee drinkers like their coffee hot. Like, hot hot. That is part of the appeal, but you should be warned that the desire for really hot coffee could affect the flavor for the worse.

Coffee drinkers who make instant coffee, French presses, or pour-overs tend to boil the water before introducing it to the coffee grinds. This makes sense, as generally, when we need hot water, we boil it. With coffee, however, that’s no good. It burns the grinds as it goes through. Therefore, it is most commonly recommended only to heat your water to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (the boiling point is 212 degrees, so yes, it’s playing it close!)

pouring coffee into cup
pouring coffee into cup

4. Perfect Your Coffee Grind Size

As mentioned, coffee is a persnickety culinary pursuit. Each detail of making coffee can affect how bitter it is in the end, and this is not limited to the size of the grind. That might be one of the most important aspects of coffee regarding flavor. A fine grind can lead to bitterness because it causes over-extraction to happen more quickly, and as we’ve learned, that means you are extracting the bitter elements since those come at the end of the brew.

So, don’t forget: If you don’t grind too fine, then you’ll be fine with your grind!

5. Be Blessed With Less (Coffee)

A common misconception is that adding more coffee to your brewing will strengthen your cup of coffee, giving you maximum amounts of caffeine. Not only is this false, but it can also make your cup taste worse! The same principle applies here as it does with a finer grind and a longer brew: The more coffee there is, the more that the water has to travel, and the more that the water has to travel, the longer it takes. The longer it takes, the higher chance you have of over-extraction!

So, even if you are a fiend for caffeine, adding more coffee won’t suit your needs. It’ll only leave both you and your cup with bitter disappointment.

gourmet coffee beans

6. Splurge On Better Beans

One life saying that often comes to mind is the classic, “You get what you pay for.” Granted, in the world of coffee, you can find decent beans at low prices, but they are few and far between. Beans that cost less are cheaper for a reason. They could have been grown and picked at low altitudes, not cared for very well, roasted poorly to cover up mistakes, etc. There are so many reasons that cheap coffee is cheap, and if you like the taste, that’s great, but here’s the thing: There’s a good chance that a cup of cheap coffee will be bitter.

There are so many different types of coffee drinkers worldwide, but if you want a less bitter cup, it may be time to ditch the tin can and go for the specialty stuff.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to reduce the bitterness of your favorite drink! Why not try a few for yourself?

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