What Makes Coffee Bitter and How to Avoid It

Coffee, naturally, has a bitter taste. In some instances, its bitterness can be too much for some people to bear. In the rest of this post, we will discuss what makes coffee bitter. We will take a look at the chemical composition of coffee that is responsible for the way it tastes. More importantly, we will give you some quick tips on how you can lessen the bitterness of your coffee, which will be effective in making it smoother and easier to drink. With a little effort and knowledge, you will find it easier to make the perfect cup all the time.

what makes coffee bitter

What Makes Coffee Bitter

The chemical composition of coffee is basically the one that can be blamed for its bitterness. Some of these chemicals include acetic acid, aromatic ketones, peptides, proteins, alicyclic ketones, caffeine, quinic, furfuryl alcohol, malic acid, citric acid, and lactic acid. The concentration of such chemicals will depend on the specific variety of coffee that is used, as well as the brewing technique.

The extent of the extraction of coffee is another reason for its bitterness. Over-extraction, which happens when you let too much water pass through the coffee grounds, will result into being bitter. With this, you should be mindful of how long you need to extract your coffee, which, again, will be dependent on the specific variety that you are using.

When the water that is used is too hot, it is also inevitable that you are going to end up with coffee that is too bitter for your preference. If you ask trained baristas, they will most probably tell you that the temperature of coffee plays a key role in its bitterness. With this, it is easy to understand why they are too conscious about the hotness of the water that is being used when preparing coffee.

If you have dirty equipment, you will also most likely going to end up with bitter coffee. This is basically because there can be coffee residues from the last time that you have used your equipment for brewing.

Another reason for the bitterness of coffee is the use of the wrong grind size. If the coffee is too fine, this can lead into over-extraction, which, as it has been earlier mentioned, can make your coffee taste bitter.

Best Ways to Minimize Bitterness of your Coffee

Aside from knowing what makes coffee bitter, it will also be good to know the different ways by which it will be possible to make it smoother. With this, the following are some of the things that can be taken into account.

Best Ways to Minimize Bitterness of your Coffee
  • Choose the right variety: For the uneducated, this can be one thing that is complicated. With this, do not be afraid to ask. Let the barista know that you prefer coffee that is not bitter. Do your research so that you will know the different types of beans that are less bitter than all others. In some cases, this will also entail the need for experimentation. Buy small quantities of different beans and see which one has the taste that you like.
  • Do not steep for too long: This is especially common for people who are making French Press coffee. If you leave it longer, it will continue extracting. The end result is over-extraction, which is one factor that is responsible for the bitterness of coffee.
  • Clean your equipment: The maintenance of your machine and grinder is one thing that requires thorough attention. Follow the instructions from the manufacturer to be sure that you are doing the right thing to maintain its cleanliness. After every use or before storing your coffeemaker inside the cabinet, have it cleaned properly. This will reduce the likelihood that coffee deposits will harden overtime.
  • Use a coffee grinder: The finer the grounds are, the more bitter the coffee will taste. On the other hand, if it is too coarse, you are at risk of making the coffee taste sour. With this, to be assured of ending up with the right grinds, you should invest in a high-quality grinder. A burr grinder will be a good thing to have to be assured of consistency.
  • Ensure the right temperature of water: When making coffee, one of the principles is that the water should be hot, but it should not be boiling. According to experts, the best temperature of water would be at a range of 200 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Opt for decaf coffee: Caffeine is one of the chemical compounds that you can find in coffee and is also responsible for its bitterness. With this, you might want to brew a decaffeinated coffee. If you have a coffee or espresso maker at home, this is easy as many of the high-end models have a button that will allow you to serve a decaf coffee. Under this process, almost 97% of caffeine will be removed from the coffee.
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