Coffee Brewing

Wondering Why Your Coffee Tastes Bitter? Here are a Few Possible Reasons and Solutions

Written by

Erica Cervenkova

Coffee Holli Top Pick

Imagine this:

You overhear your friend gushing about how good coffee is and how it gives them a boost throughout the day.

So, you decide to give it a shot!

But one sip in, and you can’t go any further because of its overwhelming bitterness.

What could be the problem?

Well, bitter coffee can be disappointing and a huge turn-off; for both first-timers and seasoned coffee lovers.

But don’t fret.

That’s what this post is all about. Below, I’ll show you how to sidestep it and still enjoy your coffee.

In summary, I’ll go into great detail about the bitterness of coffee, its causes, and how to make it a little less bitter.

So, let’s get to it then…

Is the Bitterness of Coffee Bad?

Imagine this:

You pop a fresh brew from the coffee maker. As you pour it into your favorite mug, everything smells fabulous


When you take a sip, the coffee that previously seemed great suddenly greets you with a bitter and awful surprise.

What gives?

Realistically, your coffee should have a slight bitterness or sourness. Therefore, No – bitter coffee isn’t a bad thing.

However, the naturally bitter taste should not be the predominant flavor.


If this happens most of the time, you may want to know more about why your coffee tends to be bitter, right?

If so, this next topic is for you.

Why Does Your Coffee Taste Bitter?


Your coffee tastes bitter, and it’s ruining your morning. And that probably makes getting to work upbeat that much harder.

But why? Why does coffee often taste bitter?

Well, here are a few reasons:

1. Coffee Beans

Let’s face it:

The quality of your coffee is only as good as the ingredients you use.

Everything begins with selecting your beans. You can choose the pre-ground bags of coffee or buy whole beans and then grind/brew them on your own.

Neither is necessarily bad.

But either way, using low-cost, low-quality coffee beans can result in a harsh, overwhelming flavor.

In addition, roasting your coffee beans for a long time leaves them with a burnt taste; making the coffee particularly bitter.

2. Water

Another potential cause of bitter coffee is that the water you’re using water isn’t suitable for the brew.

Yes, your choice of water is crucial as it makes up over 97% of the cup.

Get this:

When your water isn’t up to par, is unclean, or isn’t the appropriate temperature for coffee, it can leave a bitter aftertaste.


Preparing coffee requires the correct proportion of water to coffee. Adding too much coffee can make the end product bitter.

3. Ground Size


The bitterness in your coffee is also greatly determined by the size and texture of the coffee grind.

For instance, finely ground coffee beans release more of the strong flavor in coffee, sometimes resulting in a bitter taste.

Additionally, grinding your coffee for too long may cause it to become stale and harsh as the beans lose their flavor.

4. Over-Extraction


Over-extraction occurs when you pull too much extract from the coffee beans; resulting in a bitter-ish flavor.

While the taste may still be full and rich, it may not be so enjoyable after a few sips.

It can also be due to improper grinding, tamping of the coffee grounds, or poor brewing temperature.


You can easily remedy this by changing your grind size or not tamping the grounds.

5. Bad Timing

I’m pretty sure all coffee lovers are aware of how important timing is; especially, when it comes to making the perfect cup.


You can wind up with bitter coffee if you brew for either too long or too short of the required brewing time.

6. Equipment Type and State


The condition of your coffee maker can also affect the flavor of your coffee.

Suppose that you use premium beans, the right water temperature, and a precise brewing technique. If your coffee still tastes bitter, the problem could be with your coffee maker.

Get this:

If your coffee maker is old, worn out, or dirty, you will likely get a bitter and tangy cup of coffee.

In addition:

Keep in mind that different coffee equipment are required to brew the various kinds of coffee.

Thus, if you wish to prepare espresso with a French press coffee maker, for example, the output could be bitter.

How to Reduce Bitterness in Coffee?


If you end up with bitter coffee, don’t fret. There are a few workarounds you can use. Below are a few solid tricks to mitigate the bitterness in coffee:

1. Add Salt

Yes – you’ve read that right.

I know this might sound strange, but many seasoned baristas recommend adding a pinch of salt to reduce the bitterness of the coffee.


Since salt contains sodium, it effectively counteracts bitterness, making your coffee more palatable.

2. Add Sugar & Spices

Like in all other things, the sweetness of sugar triumphs over the bitterness of coffee.

However, you should only use a small amount of sweetener so that your coffee retains its original flavor.


If you’re watching your sugar intake or wish to avoid it entirely, spices like cinnamon and cardamom can be used as substitutes.

3. Add Milk or Cream


You can eliminate the bitter taste of coffee by adding milk, cream, or another delectable fat to it. This also enhances the flavor of your coffee.

So, it’s a win-win solution.

How to Prepare Coffee So That It is Not Bitter?

Here are a few quick tips on avoiding bitter coffee:

  • Always prepare your brew with high-quality, freshly ground coffee beans
  • Keep your equipment clean and use the appropriate tools for the coffee type you’re making
  • Make sure the coffee isn’t over-extracted
  • Always use clean water and keep the brewing temperature between 200 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Minimize the harshness of your coffee by diluting it with more water, adding a pinch of salt, using sweeteners, or adding a little milk/cream. This may cause your coffee’s flavor to be weak, but less bitter.



The good news is that caffeine only accounts for a minor portion of the bitterness in coffee. A significant part of the harsh taste is often caused by other easily avoidable factors.

Therefore, it will be a job well done if you can make your coffee drinking experience a little less bitter.

That said:

Do you have any questions? Or would you like to share your thoughts and tips on this? If so, feel free to say something in the comments below.

I’d love to hear from you.

Frequently Asked Questions about Bitter Coffee

Why Does My Coffee Taste Bitter?

Several factors contribute to the bitterness of coffee, but you can boil it down to four essential points. These include the quality of coffee beans, the amount of water used to brew it, the equipment used, and your brewing process.

Why Does My Drip Coffee Taste Bitter?

It’s primarily the extraction method you use that makes your drip coffee taste bitter, but there are other factors as well. For example, your drip coffee will taste bitter if the beans are ground too finely or the extraction period is too long.

How Do You Reduce Bitterness in Coffee?

You can minimize the bitterness by adding a flavoring element to your coffee; such as sugar or cream. You can also pair your coffee with a tasty dessert to distract from the harsh taste.

Why is Roasted Coffee Bitter?

When you roast coffee beans for too long and they burn, it often results in bitter-tasting coffee. The longer you roast your coffee beans, the more they lose their flavor and sweetness. The result is a bitter-tasting cup of coffee with a burnt aftertaste.

Erica Cervenkova
Coffee Connoisseur, SCA Member

As a coffee connoisseur and member of the Specialty Coffee Association, I am dedicated to understanding the sustainability of coffee pods and the impact it has on the environment. My expertise lies in the realm of capsule coffee machines, from the likes of Keurig and Nespresso to other well-known US brands. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and helping others make informed decisions about their coffee choices. Whether you're a coffee enthusiast or just looking for a new way to enjoy your morning cup, I'm here to help.


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