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14 Reasons Your Coffee Tastes Bad and How to Fix it

coffee tastes bad

There is nothing worse than morning started with a bland-tasting, bad cup of coffee. That kind of mornings can simply ruin your day.

And when you come to work, instead of taking a break with a full-flavor, powerful cup of your favorite caffeinated beverage, you are forced to drink even worse instant coffee tastes bad, like all the chemicals it has been made of.

There are many reasons your “java” tastes bad, and we’ll try to enumerate the most frequent ones. Also, there are some serious mistakes people make when brewing coffee, and we’ll try to briefly explain some of them.

Needless to say, there are countless ways you can make mistakes when coffee-brewing. We’ve only mentioned the most important mistakes.

Bad Tasting Coffee? Most Frequent Mistakes:

1 Bad Roasting

Nowadays, more and more people roast their own beans. This may be a good thing (you can find the type of roast you like the most). But, you can completely ruin favorite batch or Arabica or Robusta if you don’t waste your beans properly. And we all know that a pound of good batch costs a lot. The way you roast is actually one of the most frequent mistakes that coffee-lovers make.

It’s important to note that there are many roast types. Even if everything went well, you may dislike the taste of a particular roast level. So, if you roast your own beans, you should be ready to manipulate the roasting method and find the one you like the most.

Starting from the fresh beans, there is a lot of different stages beans go through while roasting.

1.  First, they will change their color to yellow and will begin to exude a herbal scent.

2.  If you keep increasing the temperature, the beans will crack- this is normal as the sugars inside the beans will start reacting to heat. Stopping the heat in this phase is perhaps one of the worst mistakes that can be made while coffee-brewing.

3.  The following phase is sometimes called City Roast. Up until now, beans were essentially unsuitable for grinding and brewing.

4.  City Plus Roast is the phase that ensues. The beans swell and oils react to the increasing heat. This type of roast is pretty easy to find in most coffee shops.

5.  In the Full City Roast phase, the beans get even darker, and they come close to the second cracking stage.

6.  With Full City Plus Roast, we are slowly exhausting the remaining aromas, oils, and scents of coffee beans. If you don’t like a full dark roast, it will be best to stop increasing the heat after you hear the second crack. This crack will be more intensive than the first one, so it will be easy to notice it.

7.  French Roast (Dark Roast)- this phase is marked by an intensive, sharp smell. It’s pretty hard not to notice this smell, and we would advise you to stop with roasting if you notice this smell. Because in this stage, the beans begin to slowly break down, and if you are not careful you might completely burn your coffee beans. In this phase, mistakes that will make your caffeinated drink absolutely horrible, are likely to appear.

We’ll now give a brief review of the most essential characteristics of the 3 main types of the roast- Light, Medium, and Dark. Not being able to differentiate the three is a common mistake.

  • Light roast – will result in a more acidic flavor. 378. 5 °F (192.5 °C) is the temperature most suitable for this level. Beans are still rather dry and hard at this point. Most lighter roast beans went through the first cracking stage, the ones that didn’t will be particularly dense and hard to grind.
  • Medium roast – is a bit darker than lighter variants. These beans will result in a moderately acidic coffee, compared with the aforementioned roast type. As you keep increasing the temperature towards and beyond 200°C (or 418° F) mark, the beans will approach the medium-dark roast stage.
  • Dark Roast – starts at about 464°F mark. These beans are used for French and Italian styled coffees and espressos. Dark Roast is marked by low acidity and oily surface. As we’ve mentioned, you’ll be able to identify this phase by the characteristic smell.

2 You are Using Wrong Grind Type

There are many methods of coffee brewing, and each uses a different grind style. If you are buying your own beans, chances are that you will also grind them on your own, and here are some things you need to know. Bad grinding is a common coffee-related mistake that is easy to oversee.

French Press technique works the best with coarse grind type. If your ground is too fine, the particles will get into your drink and this will result in a coffee with lots of residues. And we all know how this tastes bad – bitter and acidic.

On the other hand, fine grind type is most suitable for espresso machines and Turkish coffee. As no filters are used in the Turkish brewing method, try not to stir your beverage as this will also stir up the residue that will otherwise fall on the bottom of the mug.

So pay attention to grind type to get the best cup of your java. To make it easier for you, we have chosen our favorite bean grinder. This product can also be used for grinding herbs and spices, but you’d better avoid this as you don’t want spices in your coffee.

Buying a bad batch of coffee in the first place will further aggravate this mistake (wrong grind type).

3 Bad Timing

Once again we’ll emphasize that the brewing technique is essential. French press, for instance, is a slower method, so you’ll have to wait a bit (3 minutes). Some people may get impatient, and this will most certainly ruin the taste and aroma. Percolated coffee is also a slower method (between 6 and 10 minutes), so be patient and don’t rush it (but also keep an eye on the time!). Cold brew coffee is perhaps one of the slowest techniques (as the coffee needs to sit for a long time in the refrigerator), so patience is the key with this one also. The only mistake you can make when you cold brew your coffee is to forget about it!

Espressos will be ready much faster, so be careful not to overdo it. If you wait too much, you will end up with a bitter, bad-tasting caffeine beverage. Lack of attention is the most common source of this mistake, so try not to be distracted while you’re brewing your coffee. This mistake will completely ruin the taste of your espresso, latte macchiato, cappuccino, or any other caffeine drink you prefer.

4 You are making too much coffee

Yes, this comes in handy when you there’s a lot of people around, but those last few cups are inevitably bland-tasting and “thin”. Even in office settings, drip coffee makers are replaced by more and more popular K-Cup makers, that make only one “caffeine dose” at a time. 

Made by Keurig, K-Cup makers are fast, easy to use, and efficient. This is why we’ll recommend you to by Keurig K-Café Single Serve Maker. On the other hand, buying a K-Cup product for home might be a mistake. When you’re home, you have the time necessary to prepare a good “dose” of everyone’s favorite drink with caffeine.

A problem with K-Cup makers is that you simply don’t have that feeling you get when a true barista makes you a good cappuccino, mocha, or latte.

5 You Didn’t Find your Favorite Type of Coffee

We usually say it in singular form (e.g. “coffee) but it would be better if we said “coffees”. For example, there are two main variants of this plant- Arabica and Robusta. By far, the most popular one is Arabica, and chances are that you’ve been drinking Arabica for your whole life. So don’t hesitate to try other, Robusta-based products, maybe you’ll like them better. Bear in mind that Robusta is a stronger variant of the plant, and has a lot more caffeine. In other words, it may not be suitable for people who are sensitive to caffeine, or for individuals with cardiovascular problems.

Instant coffees are a big no-no, at least when it comes to taste and quality. Sure, they are rather convenient but are also full of chemicals and unnecessary sugars.

Arabica strains are practically innumerable, so even if you don’t like Robusta you will most certainly find the one you like among these Arabica strains. For example, Colombian coffee is one of the most popular in the world, with its full body flavor and moderately high acidity. Mexico Maragogype, on the other hand, has a nice smooth taste with a chocolate aftertaste. Hawaiian coffee is special because it grows in volcanic soil. It has a sweet, spicy, and caramel flavor.

Indonesian coffee is absolutely gorgeous, which is why we highly recommend this product, and there are no mistakes with this variant of java.

6 Equipment you are Using is Bad

There are many different categories of coffee and espresso machines on the market. Some are rather good and robust, while others tend to break after a first few months of use. This is why we’ve made a series of text on how to find the best product. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is budget. Super automatic, double boiler machines with a lot of accessories that cost less than $1000 are probably a scam. Don’t make this mistake when buying an espresso maker.

On the other hand, some beautiful products will last a long time- for instance, flair espresso makers, which usually go for less than $200. Yes, you will need to work a bit if you are using this method of espresso brewing, but at least you will feel like a true barista.

So, in our opinion at least- you have two choices. If you are confident about your coffee brewing skills, go with some less-expensive machine that will allow you to truly express your craft – like flair or lever espresso makers. Of course, always bear in mind that even the best baristas make mistakes. On the other hand, if you don’t want to mess around and just want to get a nice fresh cup of coffee whenever you want it, buy a well-made super automatic machine that will do everything for you. These are our personal choices:

7 Letting the Coffee Steep for too Long

French and Aero presses rely on the steeping method for coffee brewing. But you don’t want to over-steep your drink. If you extract too much coffee (and caffeine) you’ll end up with a bitter, harsh beverage.

This mistake can be avoided by simply paying attention to the steeping time. As mentioned, French press coffee makers will deliver you a drink in about 3 minutes. Turkish coffee, on the other hand, shouldn’t steep for more than 10 seconds. So you’ll need to be a bit more careful if you are employing this technique.

8 Bad water to coffee ratio

This part is sometimes tricky, but there are some general rules you should stick to. 50-60 g of ground coffee is enough for one liter of java. It is also difficult to give a more exact estimate, as tastes vary. Some people love a bit lighter taste, and they obviously prefer a smaller coffee to water ratio.

On the other hand, there’s a lot of caffeine enthusiasts who just can’t get enough of that dark, strong beverage. If you still haven’t found your golden ratio, you’ll simply have to experiment a bit. Just try all the variants in only one day- try to avoid ingesting more than 500mg of caffeine per day. Besides, coffee affects practically all organs (digestive system, kidneys, etc.), so it’s better to stick to 2-3 cups (daily dose). Drinking 10 cups per day is a big mistake.

If you keep repeating this common mistake, you will end up with a diluted, light latte, cappuccino, or espresso. Inversely, you may end up with a dense, thick drink with a lot of coffee residue.

9 You Didn’t Adjust Your Grinder

If you are making coffee from different sorts of beans, you may need to adjust the grinding style whenever you change the bean type you’re drinking. Arabica has many sub-species and variants, and they differ in many aspects- density, humidity, roast (Light, Medium, Dark- French and Italian). Forgetting to adjust your grinder is a common mistake.

10 You aren’t drinking whole-bean coffee

Various sorts of fungi and other organisms might completely ruin these products that hang around for long periods before being sold.

This advice also stands even if you are roasting and grinding your own beans. In other words, try to be reasonable when planning how much beans you should roast and grind. In our opinion at least, it is much better to avoid this mistake by having a small amount of coffee that’s ready to be brewed, but not too much.

11 Improper Cleaning

Improper cleaning this one is entirely up to you. Pay attention to the product description (that is, if you are using automatic espresso machines, or, for instance, French press). French press makers can sometimes be cleaned in a dishwasher, but there are French presses that have parts that cannot be washed in a dishwasher. The same goes with automatic espresso machines- some have automatic cleaning systems, others have to be cleaned manually. Moreover, accessories like milk frothers sometimes have the auto-purging option, but be sure to check this in the product description. Not being lazy is an easy way to avoid this mistake.

12 Your Cup Simply Doesn’t Work

This is not the point. But the material your cups are made of does matter. At all costs, avoid plastic. Even food-grade plastic (that doesn’t have Bisphenol A) isn’t that safe, as some studies have shown.

Borosilicate glass or ceramic are your best options. With ceramics, you’re good to go, but pay attention when you’re buying glass cups. They have to be made from borosilicate glass. Normal glass cups will crack when you pour high-temperature drinks in them.

After all, your espressos, cappuccinos, latte macchiato, mocha, Americana, will look much better when you serve them in appropriate cups.

13 Using a Cold Cup

Most of the people like a good cup of hot coffee, but they forget that pouring their favorite drink in a cold cup is a big mistake.

It will be simple to fix this little mistake. Simply pour hot water into the cup a few minutes before the main brewing. Before pouring your java, make sure that you have emptied the cup and voila! You’re good to go.

14 You are not Changing / Cleaning the Filters

For most, you don’t need to change filters, but you do need to clean them from time to time. Old residues that stay in your filter will most surely ruin your drink.

If you are using some other methods (drip and percolating techniques), you’d want to change filters. Paper filters are good because they are very good at stopping grounds, but they will need to be changed frequently.