Why Your Coffee Tastes Bad (and How to Fix It)

Commercial coffee bean roaster

Coffee connoisseurs swear there’s nothing better than a cup of the dark, aromatic beverage — but not everyone shares that experience. If you’re brewing your coffee at home every morning, you may be doing it more for the caffeine jolt than for the taste. If your perception of coffee is as a bitter, acrid liquid that you either gulp down or try to make more palatable with flavored sweeteners, though, it’s very possible you’re making your coffee wrong. Here are five mistakes you might be falling into:

  1. You’re Buying From the Wrong Roaster

    If you’re buying your beans from a commercial coffee roaster — or worse, pre-ground from the supermarket shelves — you’re sabotaging yourself from the start. It’s worth spending a little more to buy from a local coffee roasting business using a small batch coffee roaster machine to make sure the roast is right every single time, never over-roasted for consistency’s sake. If you’re really dedicated to getting better coffee, you can even buy a small batch coffee roaster of your own and roast at home.

  2. Your Beans Are Old/Improperly Stored

    Even if you’re buying top-quality beans from an artisan coffee roaster, you still need to store them properly and use them promptly. Try to buy only what you’ll use in a few weeks (a month at the most), and store in a dry, dark area. It’s important that the container be airtight, and you should never store beans in the freezer. It should go without saying, but you should also grind your coffee fresh each morning.

  3. You’re Using Dirty Brewing Equipment

    If you’re using a traditional coffee pot, think about the last time you honestly took it apart and cleaned it. Do you use dirty dishes to cook any of your other food? Use the same knife to mince garlic and cut an apple the next day? Probably not, so take the time to clean on a regular basis.

  4. You’re Forgetting About Water Quality

    Municipal water has quite a few additives that make sure it remains contaminant-free (such as chlorine). These chemicals don’t harm your body, but they can change the taste of your coffee. That means it’s best to use filtered water. You should also make sure you’re not using water that’s too hot, especially if you’re brewing with a pour-over method; the water should be a little cooler than boiling, right around 200 degrees.

  5. You’re Letting Your Coffee Oversteep

    This is particularly easy if you’re using a French press brewing method; your coffee will continue to steep if you leave it in the press, pouring new cups as you make your way through the morning. As soon as your coffee has been brewed, move it to a carafe for the best flavor.

Would you go so far as buying your own small batch coffee roaster, or will you stick to some of these simpler fixes? Discuss in the comments.

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