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13 Factors for Bad Coffee Taste and How to Fix It


We all tend to have days when everything seems to be going downhill. There can be days when even our supposedly delightful cup of morning joe just does not taste right and we wonder if can do anything right in our lives or not! But while being driven away by the train of our own emotions, we fail to realize that something has gone horribly wrong in the brewing process which has resulted in such a despicable taste.

Things like that happen and we are here to help you avoid such mistakes in the future or whenever you do, you know how to resolve it immediately.

Brewing coffee is an incredible blend of art as well as science and once you get acquainted with the common errors associated with coffee beans, water and the brewing gear, you can fix them sooner rather than later and get to enjoy your spectacular cup of coffee.

It’s all about the beans!

It is needless to emphasize the significance of coffee beans when brewing coffee. We always recommend our readers and followers to grind their coffee beans but more often than not good quality coffee beans can be the primary reason your coffee tastes really bad.

1 – Beans are getting staler

Coffee is not meant to last forever regardless of the appearance of the beans and their aroma. The moment the tiny bundles of joy are pulled out of their airtight sealed container, they begin to lose flavor with every passing second.

Lots of carbon dioxide is generated in coffee beans during the roasting process. When the same beans leak this carbon dioxide, the process is known as degassing and the longer this process continues, the likelier it is that you will be losing out on their flavor. If you are using coffee beans that have resided forlorn in your kitchen cabinet for about a year or so or they have not been stored appropriately, then the flimsy taste of the coffee is probably due to the beans getting staler by the day.

Here is a fact to remember: for every 24 hours coffee is left exposed to air at room temperature, it tends to lose about 10% of its shelf life. This means a massive loss in flavor every 24 hours. Even if you ensure that the coffee beans have been stored appropriately, the continuous escape of carbon dioxide and oxidation of coffee oils tends to impact the overall flavor.

Here’s how to fix it! It can always be a terrible experience to discard those pockets of deliciousness, but it is the right thing to do! Never endeavor to hoard coffee beans and always store in a proper manner. Coffee always tastes good when it is fresh so it is always advisable to make regular trips to the super market and purchase coffee that is sufficient to last for a week or two. And always keep an out for the roast date rather than the date of expiry on the label.

By fresh, we refer to coffee beans that are between four days and two weeks old. Even the freshest of coffees undergoes rapid degassing and does not have enough time to develop oils that are responsible for its flavors.

2 – Roasting is not done in the right way

If you are roasting your beans, then it could be another one of many reasons your coffee tastes bad. Roasting is a tricky process that requires uniform heat to be applied throughout the process. You can always roast coffee beans at home but you also have to take care that you cultivate an atmosphere that resembles the one you see at a professional roaster’s place.

But there can be occasions when the quality of the roast is just beyond your control. Even roasters, being humans, are likely to commit errors. And if you are getting coffee from the super market, then there is a probability that you are not getting hands on the best quality of beans.

A research found out inconsistencies in protein and sugar contents across brands and roasts by 15 different manufacturers. The truth is that even industrial roasters can transgress so there is no point getting spooked out by your roasts if they ended up in bad shape.

Here’s how to fix it! If your roast at home is continuously coming out bad, then it is advisable that you look out for a better recipe or plan to replace your roasting gear. If you believe that the beans are responsible for the poor roast, then you can get a different batch of the same brand or even make a move to a newer brand.

Keep in mind that personal taste is all that matters when it comes to coffee. If you are not getting desired results from a brand of beans or a roaster is just not being able to live up to your expectations, do not get freaked out! Just because someone recommended it to you and it did not suit your taste buds, it does not mean you cannot change it!

3 – Coffee is of lackluster quality

We all love to save some money up our sleeves but to compromise on the quality of coffee in a bid to save a few bucks can come back to haunt you big time. Robusta coffee is considered inferior in quality and that is predominantly in terms of the flavor rather than the quality of the bean.

Robusta coffee is lesser complex and flavorful in contrast to the Arabica coffee so you should definitely keep this mind if robusta coffee beans have not quite lived up to your expectations.

Other the types of coffee beans, the specific bean quality and roast also have a major role to play. If you are getting your hands on a low cost coffee, there is a probability that you are going to get what you have paid for.

Here’s how to fix it! It can be really great to know how to purchase the best coffee beans. If you can stay adrift of pre-ground coffee with incomprehensible labels, you are probably on your way to getting your hands on high quality coffee.

4 – Grind is of inappropriate size

The grind of beans can be a massive factor in the flavor of the coffee. Coffee grounds should be soluble enough to unleash their goodness but also should remain unable to be dissolved simultaneously so that they can be filtered out by your filtration equipment.

If your coffee tastes weak or sour, then there is a likelihood that you are drinking it under extracted. The lackluster taste originates from the acids in the beans dissolving early in the brewing process than when they actually ought to. Large sized coffee grounds tend to cover larger surface area and remain insoluble and hence make the coffee taste really bad.

Extraneously bitter coffee is probably due to over extraction which means that the grind is way too fine!

The size of the grounds has to be adjusted in accordance with the kind of coffee that is being brewed. The way coffee beans are ground for making espresso is different from that used for preparing a conventional drip coffee.

Here’s how to fix it! Firstly, you have to be familiar with the kind of grind that suits a particular brewing technique. Coffee beans need to be extremely coarse if coffee is being brewed with French Press. On the contrary, coffee beans have to be in powdered sugar form if you are preparing Turkish coffee.

Again, it is really important to keep in mind that grinding your own coffee beans is crucial for a spectacular cup of coffee. It can be a cumbersome process in the absence of a burr grinder but as soon as you incorporate it into your coffee brewing paraphernalia, you will be in safer hands!

Water could be an issue!

Water could be another reason for a poorly tasting coffee. Even if you drink tap water and it tastes fine to you, it could be the thing responsible for the bad coffee taste.

5 – Temperature isn’t right!

This may seem a bit of a non-issue to most of you but believe us the right water temperature is absolutely critical for brewing coffee. We recommend about 205 degrees F or 96 degrees C for any cup of coffee.

Water needs to be hot but not boiling hot. If the water is too hot, there is a risk of the volatile oils and their refined flavors getting released looming around in the corner. Coffee will remain under extracted in cooler water and the eventual taste will be weak and sour.

Here’s how to fix it! You just have to get a thermometer which may be a conventional one or a nifty laser one!

And if you do not have a thermometer, get the water to boiling and remove it from heat for about 30 seconds before brewing.

6 – Tap water is causing the problem

The contents of your tap water can greatly impact the coffee flavor. Brewing coffee is as much an art as it is a science. You can destroy the entire process even if one of the ingredients does not respond well to the conditions.

Here’s how to fix it! Get the water filtered that is to be used in brewing. Keep in mind that numerous tap water filters need to run cold for optimum performance.

Brewing equipment could be responsible!

So, now you know that your beans and water are up to the mark but something still seems to be going awry. If that is the case, then your brewing gear could be responsible for the bad coffee taste.

7 – Gear is dirty

You may not feel it appropriate to clean the equipment every time your make coffee so you prefer a little rinse!

This could be a serious issue! Much more serious than you ever anticipated it! You should know how to clean a coffee maker because the coffee pot and the filter area are of prime significance in the brewing process.

Just try and remember the last time you cleaned the reservoir of your drip coffee maker? If it has been a long, long time, then it is probably the time to do so!

Here’s how to fix it! Get your coffee maker cleaned up in a proper manner. Believe us, your taste buds and immune system will definitely feel the difference!

8 – Gear needs to be replaced

Of course, your coffee equipment has been serving you for a really long time. It was responsible for cheering you up when you felt down and out. But aging comes like a fearsome warrior and conquers anything that gets in its way.

This can be quite an obvious reason if your coffee’s taste has gone for the worst when everything seems to be in place. The beans are pretty good, water is heated and filtered, and the gear has been cleaned of late. If you find yourself in this part of the maze, then it is probably the time to get your equipment replaced with a new one.

Here’s how to fix it! If your coffee brewing gear begins to show signs of aging, there is nothing much that can be done other than looking out for a new coffee maker or grinder!

9 – Right equipment is not used

We can make great espresso without using a dedicated espresso machine but you won’t be getting consistent results as you would if you made it with a machine.

If you are marred by budgetary constraints, we would urge you to look for alternative compatible techniques but there will come a time in your coffee brewing journey, when you will feel that you need to get your hands on an expensive machine.

You also need to keep an eye out for what you are drinking your coffee out from. A plastic cup is a big No, No so glass and ceramic mugs are the best way to go about it at home. Mugs made of stainless steel could be ideal when you are travelling.

Here’s how to fix it! Always try using the appropriate gear for the type of coffee that you make.

Something just does not feel right!

So there is nothing wrong with the beans, water and the gear. That is fine! Brewing coffee can be finicky so there can be other factors at play.

10 – Timing is not right

Even if the herbal tea steeps a little longer, it won’t matter. But that is certainly not the case with coffee. If the timing goes off even by a few minutes, you could end up with either under or over extracted beverage.

For instance, percolated coffee can be prepared in between six and ten minutes. If you are trying out imaginative brews, then a bit of experimentation may be necessary to find out the sweet spot.

Here’s how to fix it! Fine tune your timing to what really suits your taste buds!

11 – Excessive brewing

Similar to purchasing coffee beans in bulk, brewing coffee in excessive quantities could be a terrible idea. It may appear that you will have your time cut down, but coffee tastes the best when it is fresh out of the pot.

Here’s how to fix it! When at home, always brew less coffee. If you brew for yourself or for your guests, it should be not be prepared in excessive quantity.

12 – You are the culprit

Errors occur! If you can figure out your folly, that’s commendable! If you cannot, just go through all what you did in the brewing process. Perhaps water was not measured appropriately. Presumably you missed a step or two! It is still okay if you cannot figure out what really went wrong!

Here’s how to fix it! Take notes next time when you brew coffee. Get each step noted down including the quantity of water and coffee grounds used and the temperature to which the water was heated. If the coffee still tastes bad, fine tune the brewing process until you get it right!

13 – You are not made for this kind of coffee

As we said earlier, coffee is all about personal tastes. If you do not like a certain coffee, there is no harm in letting it go and trying something different.

Here’s how to fix it! Modify the recipe, check out different beans and explore what really tickles your taste buds!

The Wrap Up

Now, you may have cracked the code of brewing a splendid cup of morning joe. Of course, there can be some complicated coffee puzzles that may not be encompassed by our list of reasons responsible for the coffee’s bad taste. If that is the case, fret not my friends!

Just analyze your brewing process, assess the quality of your beans and even think of getting your old aging gear replaced. Just keep on chopping and changing until you get the equation right.

You won’t become an expert home barista in the blink of an eye. It will take some hard work, dedication and resilience to stick to your guns even when the odds are stacked against you.

Happy brewing!


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