6 Reasons Why Coffee Is Bitter and How To Fix It

Many people find coffee to be quite bitter, especially if they don't add any sugar or cream. In this blog post, we will discuss six reasons why coffee is bitter - and how to fix it!
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What is bitterness?

Bitterness is the primary taste sensation that is present in any taste, either situationally or in the aftertaste. This is the sensation that you experience at the root of the tongue, or in the soft palate. Bitterness is one of the five tastes that there are. Bitterness, acidity, sweetness, saltiness and umami. Bitterness is often perceived as a negative component in coffee, especially among baristas, but bitterness can be both positive and negative.

Characteristics of bitterness

Here it is very important to understand what bitterness in coffee is formed from and how to describe it. Bitterness can be both positive and negative. If positive, then we describe it as chocolate, berry, viburnum, mountain ash, cranberry, or it is fruity: - grapefruit bitterness, apple pits, apricot, or it is bitterness from spices.

It can also be negative, for example, if we over-extracted coffee, then we get burntness, burning, coal, smoke, wood, earth. Such components, they are no longer very positive and they will greatly drown out the overall bouquet of the drink.

Balance of bitterness and acidity

Bitterness in coffee appears due to the fact that coffee is roasted, the caramelization of sugars occurs, and bitterness occurs. If we have a light roast, then the coffee will have less bitterness, if the roast is darker, then we will have more bitterness and less acidity. Hence, when we talk about balance, we, in fact, mean the balance between acidity and bitterness. But a balance or a balanced cup does not mean that we have the same bitterness or acidity.

A balanced cup can be different for everyone, for someone a balanced cup is when there is more acidity and less bitterness, which means that a person likes more acidic coffee. Or, if a person likes more bitter coffee, then for him a balanced cup will be when there is more bitterness and less acidity.

Bitterness in coffee extraction

If we are talking about the extraction process, then the bitterness in the drink develops much longer than all other components: acidity, salinity or sweetness. But at the same time, if we lengthen the extraction too much, then our bitterness can develop very strongly and suppress all other components. Bitterness is essentially either caffeine or a final compound. If we develop the extraction too long, then we have too many phenolic compounds, caffeine in the drink, and they can drown out all other components.

6 reasons why coffee is bitter

Let's look at the main reasons why negative bitterness comes from in a drink:
Overroasted coffee
If you roast coffee very hard, sugars begin to burn out and there is already burntness in the taste of the grain itself, and here we can no longer do anything, these will already be such properties of the grain itself and they will be transferred to any drink.
Time of contact of coffee with water
The longer coffee is in contact with water, the more caffeine and phenolic compounds are extracted. So if we are talking about espresso, over-extracted espresso, when we cook it too long, when we prepare, for example, a full-flowing Americano, then we will have excessive bitterness.
High water temperature
Excessively high water temperature above 95 degrees when water comes into contact with coffee, sugars burn, essential oils burn, and we get bitterness unusual for coffee. That is, it was not in the coffee when the roaster roasted it, when he laid down a certain roasting profile, but we developed this bitterness precisely through the very high temperature of the water.
Fine grinding
Too fine grinding for a specific cooking method. For the Turks, it will not work here, the grinding is too fine, there, so, the finest grinding. If we use too fine grinding for express and we have water correspondingly longer in contact with coffee under the filter or for any other method, excessive fine grinding can make the drink more bitter.
Old coffee
Over time, after roasting, coffee begins to age, essential oils oxidize, it will have less sweetness and more bitterness. Therefore, when buying coffee in a store, if it has a roast date of 3-6 months or more, then this grain will have more bitterness than it was originally when it was freshly roasted. Therefore, I always recommend: - Buy freshly roasted coffee.
Composition of coffee beans
And of course this is the composition of the grain itself. That is, is it Arabica or Robusta? Arabica has a lower caffeine content, so it will initially have less bitterness. Robusta has 4-5 times the caffeine content, so Robusta will always have much more bitterness and very little acidity. Therefore, any mixture of Arabica with Robusta, they will always have high bitterness and low acidity. The nature of bitterness here will be wooden, earthy, coal.

If we are talking about Arabica, then the intensity of bitterness can also vary there. For example, in Central America, bitterness is usually more. If we take Colombia, Brazil, Peru, El Salvador and so on, all these countries, they have more bitterness than, for example, African coffee. In African coffee, Ethiopia, Yemen, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and so on, they are all characterized by very high acidity and fairly low bitterness.

Best light roasted coffee

How to reduce bitterness in coffee drink.

There are a lot of algorithms for how to reduce bitterness. Here you must first of all answer the first question for yourself: - was he always bitter or did he become bitter?
If coffee has always been bitter for you, then it is quite possible that your grain, in itself, has a high bitterness. Here it could be:
The first is the composition of Arabica - Robusta.

The second is the country of origin of coffee Central America, or is it Africa.
The third is the degree of roast, light or dark.
If there was no bitterness, and then it appeared:
Here pay attention to the cleanliness of your equipment, that is, how clean your equipment is, this can also increase bitterness.

Pay attention to grinding, to the time of preparation of coffee.

Decrease the time if it is excessive for more than 30 seconds.

Pay attention to the temperature of the water in your coffee machine or another method you are using, as the temperature may need to be lowered. This will help you reduce the bitterness if you don't like it.

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