Every day, we communicate with you to provide a better coffee experience & support with coffee brewing troubleshooting. The two most common concerns we hear are ''coffee is too bitter" & "coffee is too sour."
This article will give you some tips on avoiding those two extremes.
Most often, excessive bitterness occurs as a result of over-extraction. However, sometimes it arises due to under-extraction as well. And here, it is essential to distinguish between this two.
Over-extract bitterness usually is heavy, acrid, stinging the tongue (think of black pepper), with charcoal, tobacco, and Panadol-like notes.
Under-extract bitterness feels astringent, vegetal, woody & zesty. The taste usually reminds unripe lemon with peel, over-brewed green tea & corn.
There is one more tip on how to evaluate these two cases: if in the first case there is usually no acidity, the under-extraction is very often accompanied by sharp, usually citric, unpleasant acidity.
Since you have already learned how to identify the nature of bitterness, let's move forward.
When your coffee tastes excessively bitter
- Adjust the grind level.
You can fix over-extraction bitterness by grinding coarser. And bitterness from under-extraction - by decreasing grind level.
- Check your water chemical composition.
Water with a total hardness of 50-175 ppm CaCO3 & pH of 6-8 is perfect for coffee brewing. The water won't extract anything from the coffee but bitterness if this number is higher. The coffee will taste rough and flat.
It is excellent if you have a good water filtration system in your kitchen. If not, there are plenty of water brands on the market. I found that for sweeter, balanced brews, Mai Dubai & Arwa are the best. However, if you like to achieve a bright, juicy & fruity cup of coffee, Al Ain, Al Shalal, Romana are your best companions.
Please write in the comments below, which water do you prefer for coffee brewing?
- Use less coffee to water ratio.
By reducing the proportion of coffee to water, you will achieve a smoother, more delicate taste. I recommend starting with these ratios:
Aeropress: 1:12- 1:14
French press: 1:14- 1:16
In general, if the coffee tastes bitter, try taking a little fewer beans for the same amount of water next time.
- Reduce brewing time.
Sometimes bitterness arises from too long brewing time.
In the case of pour-over methods, the total brewing time determines by the grind level. Too fine coffee grounds lead to longer brew time & excessive bitterness in the cup.
For immersion methods like Clever Dripper & French Press, reduce the brewing (steeping) time to avoid unpleasant bitterness.
By adding water to the brewed coffee, we reduce the total dissolved solubles achieving a nice, drinkable cup.
Let's imagine that your V60 takes way longer to drip than expected. Most probably, the final cup will be dull, bitter & drying. But bypass is a fix - stop extraction without waiting for the water to drain entirely & add some hot water to balance the brew. And, voila! How much water to bypass depends on your personal preference. Start with adding 20-25g & taste. Still bitter & dry? Bypass a little more water & try it again.
When your coffee is too sour
- Grind your coffee finer.
Week body, astringent mouthfeel, low sweetness & sharp acidity are signs of under-extraction. Grinding coffee finer will allow you to extract more sweetness & balance the acidity.
- Increase the water temperature.
Low water temperature is the enemy of a delicious coffee cup (we don't consider dark roast coffee).
We often hear from our dear customers that too high water temperature might damage the coffee, burn it & kill the taste. But it is not the case, trust me. Next time you prepare filter coffee, use water at 94-96° C & you will be surprised with the result.
If you do not have a teapot with temperature control, you can purchase Brewista Artisan Gooseneck Kettle on Falconroasters.com. Or use your standard kettle & wait for 1-2 minutes after boiling, then start brewing.
- Try medium - medium+ roast profiles.
If you prefer balanced coffees with low acidity, I suggest you try a slightly darker roast profile. For example, you might want to choose our Ethiopia Hambela Lot 0714 espresso for filter coffee.
Avoid coffees with naturally rich acidity for espresso & consider mild coffees like Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador & Panama.
- Increase the brewing time.
Longer brew time - sweeter cup with lower acidity. Steep your French Press a couple of minutes extra or lower the flame while brewing Turkish Coffee to stretch the coffee & water contact time.
I hope these tips will be helpful & your coffee will never be too sour or bitter, but only sweet, smooth & flavorful)