Coffee Tastes Bad? Here’s How to Fix It
Updated: Jul 30
When coffee tastes bad, it can start your whole morning off on the wrong foot. Not a great way to start the day, huh? Check out some of the common reasons coffee tastes sour or just plain bad. Then put our fixes to work for you.
Why Does My Coffee Taste Sour?
If beans aren’t fresh, it will affect the quality of the coffee you drink. Beans that are fresh produce a ton of carbon dioxide which is good for coffee beans because it’s still in the degassing phase.
It’s oxygen that’s the foe because it steals the flavor. If beans aren’t fresh, your cup of joe will suffer.
Think about it this way. For every 24-hour period you leave your beans exposed to room temperature air, it loses 10% of its shelf life.
That means poor, sour flavor. So, what is fresh coffee? Coffee that's between four days and two weeks old.
A Bad Roast
If you roast your own beans, this could be a culprit for your coffee tasting bad. Coffee roasting is a finicky process requiring consistent heat applied throughout.
While home coffee roasting is rewarding, it can also be challenging because you need an environment similar to a professional roaster. That said, roasters, too, make mistakes.
And, if you’re buying your coffee from the grocery store, watch out. There’s a good chance the quality of your beans is not consistent. If the batch of coffee you bought is bad, try a different batch of the same coffee beans or switch to another type of coffee.
Just don’t be afraid to change up your coffee routine especially if you continue to be disappointed. Everyone has different tastes. Find the one that was meant for you!
Coffee Tastes Bad: Think Low Quality Coffee
Who doesn’t love a good deal? But when it comes to coffee, don’t pinch pennies because they'll pinch back.
While Robusta coffee is considered to be lower quality, that’s more about flavor than the bean quality.
It has a less complex and less flavorful taste than Arabica. If you find your Robusta beans just aren’t cutting it, switch to the more complex bean.
One of the easiest ways to avoid bad tasting coffee is to avoid pre-ground coffee. It has been exposed to the open air and the flavors and aromas are lost which makes for a flat-tasting cup of coffee.
What Size is Your Coffee Grind?
Coffee that tastes bad in a coffee maker could be the grind.
Coffee grounds have to be water-soluble enough to impart the flavor you crave in the morning. But it also has to be insoluble enough to stay out of the coffee maker’s filter system.
Under extracted coffee will taste sour and weak because the bad taste comes from acids in
the beans dissolving early on in the process. A larger coffee grind can cause this because they have more surface area to cover and don’t dissolve.
Over extracted coffee will taste very bitter. Mostly this happens when the grind is too fine. Adjust the size of the grind with the type of coffee you’re brewing.
For example, if you’re using a French Press or Chemex, the coffee grind will be extremely coarse. If you’re preparing Turkish coffee, the grind can be as fine as powdered sugar!
Bottom line: Know what grind goes with which brewing method. But hold on. There’s more to this sour story than just beans.
Water Temperature Has to Be Just Right
Think Goldilocks here. Seriously. The water temperature needs to be just right, around 205 F. You want water hot but not boiling. Why? Water that’s extremely hot can destroy the subtle flavors of the beans and its volatile oils.
If you’re unsure of the sweet spot for hot water, just buy a thermometer until you get the feel of it.
Water, Yes. Tap, No.
If coffee tastes metallic or bad and you’ve ruled out the other suspects, look to your water source. Tap water for coffee isn’t ideal.
As you can imagine, water has a big impact on the flavor of your brew. For a fresher flavor, opt for filtered water.
Dirty Equipment Makes Coffee Taste Bad
No, a quick rinse of your equipment isn’t enough. Clean your coffee maker! If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned it, it’s time to get cracking. It will make a world of difference in the taste of your coffee.
If you want to make sure your beans are always fresh, stop by The Coffee Cave. We buy our beans from roasters who roast in small batches. The flavor is always spot on!