Drinking Bitter Coffee? Find out why your coffee sucks and how to fix it.

Coffee Better Brewing

Are you drinking bitter coffee?

I know you’ve had one of those cups.

You know the cups I’m talking about.

Those eye squinting, mouth puckering, add a few more shots of cream and sugar kind of cups.

I know I’ve made a few of those at home.

Heck, I’ve even paid good money to have a bitter flavored black water to “enjoy” in the morning.

Can anybody take a guess where I got that coffee from? 😉

How do we fix this bitter coffee problem?

We first must know the why.

Why Is coffee bitter?

You’ve had a great cup of coffee before so what separates a garbage cup from that soul warming nectar of the gods?

The two most probable things are:

  • Over-extraction
  • Bean Quality

Over Extraction

Over extraction happens when:

  • Grind size is wrong
  • Brew time is too long
  • Your brewing with too much coffee

An easy mistake, one that I’m sure even the best home barista has done.

Over extraction happens when your water has been in contact with the grounds for too long.

There are simple changes you can make to adjust your brew time.

There are a few things that you can control to make sure you get that perfect energy and mood enhancing boost in the morning.

Grind size

Regardless of your coffee brewing method, If your coffee is turning out too bitter try changing your grind size. The finer your coffee, the more flavors you are able to extract.

You may be taking too much flavor. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Everybody’s preferred grind size will change. There is nobody that can tell you what the perfect grind size is but there are some guidelines that you can follow that will get you pointed in the right direction.

Coarse – French Press, cold brew

Medium – Drip machines, pour over, aeropress

Fine – espresso

If your coffee is bitter make your grind more coarse.You will know when you’ve found your own perfect grind size.

For a more in depth dive on grind types click the picture below:


Brew Time

If you are brewing your coffee with pour over methods(drip machiens, v60, chemex etc..) then grind size and brew time go hand in hand.

They are like mac n cheese or Peas and carrots(Like Jenny and Forrest)

Brew time and grind size like peas and carrots

The finer your grind the slower the water is able to make it’s way through the grounds.

Increasing brew time.

If you are brewing with immersion methods(french press, aeropress) then you have complete control over brew time. Simply choose to shorten the brew time mushing the plunger lightly.

Coffee ratio


If your coffee is bitter maybe you are just brewing with too much coffee.

A pro tip is to start measuring your coffee and water in grams instead of volume.

You can get a super cheap kitchen scale to help you out.

It’s easier to convert things to ratios this way.

This makes it really easy to get repeatable results.

I prefer to start with a ratio of coffee to water of 16:1.

That means 16 parts of water to 1 part of coffee.


Breaking in the new #javapresse #pourover brewer! 18g/288g/2:40 brew time. It’s a lot larger than my last #coffeebrewer.

A post shared by Better Coffee At Home (@better_coffee_at_home) on

This doesn’t mean that a ratio of 16:1 will be perfect, adjust for your taste.

Coffee too bitter? Brew with less coffee, try an 18:1 ratio.

Bean Quality

Maybe your beans just suck.

That’s a little harsh but it’s a possibility.

There are two types of coffee.

Commodity coffee and specialty coffee.


In a nutshell commodity coffee is grown and roasted for profit only.

Specialty coffee is grown with the intent of making a high-quality product.

If you’re into the specialty coffee community you know the kind of love, care, and compassion that goes into making the beans at every step of the way.

Roast Level

Everybody has their own preferred roast level.

But I have noticed that the darker the roast the more bitterness you will pick up in your cup.

Lots of good roasters will only roast high-quality coffee to a light roast because a lighter roast brings out the beans natural flavors.

The darker the roast the more flavor that is added to your coffee.

This added flavor isn’t always a good thing, depending on your taste.

Roast flavor comes through as toasty or smokey which some people will recognize as bitter.

Fixing Bitter Coffee

If you have one of those nasty cups that you want to pour down the drain and ask yourself “why is coffee bitter?”

you should now have the tools to change that.

Start by making sure you’re using a good ratio of coffee. My preferred starting point is 16:1.

If that still doesn’t do the trick you can try upping the ratio to 18:1 OR adjusting your grind size.

The finer your grind the more flavor you can extract. Coarsen your grind up.With pour over methods, a coarser grind will mean a quicker brew time.

Quicker brew times means less extraction.

Lastly, make sure you’re getting really good quality beans. Coffee is just like any other agricultural commodity.

Coffee is just like any other agricultural commodity.

There are fresh, grown with love, heads of lettuce.

And then there are the other ones.The pale yellow, slightly wilted leaves that you would walk right past.  

Coffee is no different. 

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