P Pat Cotter

Why Does My Coffee Taste Bad?

Apr 24, 2024 · cleaning · coffee · culture · educational
Why Does My Coffee Taste Bad?

It’s happened to all of us - bad tasting coffee. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint the issue, so we wanted to look at some of the things that can lead to flat, bland, or straight up funky coffee!

Sour/Bitter Coffee

You’ve probably seen talk of sour or bitter coffee before. This is usually talked about in terms of espresso, but the same principles apply to slow brewed coffee as well. Essentially, a sour cup of coffee means the coffee was under-extracted. In more complicated terms, this means the water wasn’t given proper time or means to fully saturate and bond with the coffee molecules as it passed through the filter. With bitter coffee you’re dealing with the opposite problem, the coffee is over-extracted, meaning it took too long to pass through the grounds and filter. The result is too much bonding with the coffee, and a bitter cup. So what’s the fix? Usually adjusting your grind setting. If you’ve got under-extracted coffee, tightening up the grind will help create a slower brewing process for better taste. On the flip side, a bitter cup can be aided by a coarser grind that offers less resistance to the water passing through. All of this applies to espresso and slow brewing, but for espresso you’ll also want to ensure your tamp is consistently around 30 lbs. of pressure as well.

Flat/Stale Coffee

This one’s a little less offensive than the sour/bitter problem. Sometimes you’ll brew up a pot and it’s just… blah. Not a lot of flavor, kind of watery, and generally just flat tasting. This can be caused by a few factors, but the biggest one is the freshness of your coffee, and grinding it fresh as well. It’s also true that some coffee is just a little bland. We do our best to make sure every coffee we carry will be one you love, but everyone’s taste buds are different! Obviously the solution here is to use fresh coffee roasted within the last month or two and to store it in a solid airtight container (after it has time to degas!). This is also why for best flavor you’ll want to grind your coffee fresh!

Funky Coffee

The last one on our list is pretty broad. Sometimes you’ll just get a funky taste in your coffee that’s very off. From vinegary flavors to funkier tastes, usually this all comes down to a cleaning issue. Limescale buildup can create a metallic, minerally flavor. If you’ve cleaned your equipment with vinegar that flavor can subsist for a long time, and if you haven’t cleaned your equipment at all then mold can get into the works and really ruin the taste of your coffee. The solution in all of these cases is cleaning your equipment regularly and with the right kind of cleaner. We carry a range of cleaning products that can help here! Hopefully this has helped you work out why your coffee isn’t always up to par. Let us know if you’ve got other weird coffee flavors you need help diagnosing!

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