If you’re not a coffee addict, you may be wondering why your home brew tastes so bitter. Even those who have succumbed and purchased premium whole coffee beans to brew at home with a complete home setup — perhaps a great grinder, pour-over or drip apparatus, and a nice kettle — may be perplexed as to what’s going wrong. How did their diligence, superior equipment, and meticulous attention to detail result in a bitter brew?
The reality is that everything comes down to timing and temperature.
When brewing coffee at home, it’s important to understand that hotter water does not necessarily equal a better cup of coffee. Indeed, according to the Atlas Coffee Club, this is one of the primary reasons coffee tastes bitter. Water boils at a temperature of approximately 212 degrees Fahrenheit. According to La Colombe, this is at least six degrees too hot for making coffee.
Thus, you may have gone a little too far in terms of preparing hot water for coffee. How can you finally resolve the issue?
While you could always invest in a nice, accurate kettle that allows you to precisely heat water, there is a much simpler solution. Allow the water to sit after it boils to prevent your coffee from becoming bitter. Even 30 seconds can be sufficient to temper the temperature before pouring the water over the coffee grounds (via La Colombe). That is not, however, all. Even if you allow enough time for your hot water to cool sufficiently to make great coffee, you should consider the timing of the pour as well.
Even when water is heated to the ideal temperature, allowing coffee to brew or steep for an extended period of time results in bitter flavours, according to the Atlas Coffee Club. Therefore, monitor your setup and avoid allowing the coffee grounds to soak up the hot water for an extended period of time. If this occurs, the bitter compounds contained in the coffee grounds will be detected in the cup.