Why Your Coffee Tastes Bad and How to Make It Better

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We all rely on that first cup of coffee of the day to wake us up, give us energy and set us on the right course for the day ahead. But what happens when your coffee tastes bad? Well, you fix it, of course, by checking on these issues below.

The last thing I need in the morning when I make my coffee and have that first, delicious, eye-opening sip is to realize that my coffee tastes bad. That kind of thing can throw the rest of my day out of its own axis. I might sound like I’m overreacting, but there’s really no hyperbole for me when it comes to coffee. I think about it all the time.

One of my favorite jokes (that is funny because it’s true) is that it’s tough to make coffee when you haven’t had coffee yet. Sometimes I’m so dizzy in the morning that I would not even find my head if it wasn’t safely attached to my neck. So yeah, there are times when I make bad coffee, do a spit take, and then try to figure out what is wrong. This is my checklist, below. Read through all of the times and fix yourself a better cup of coffee. And here’s how you can use coffee in recipes.

10 reasons why your morning coffee tastes bad

1. You used stale coffee beans

If your lovely coffee beans have been exposed to light, moisture, heat, or even the ubiquitous oxygen, then odds are that they’re stale now. When exposed to oxygen, roasted coffee beans tend to oxidize, and then you can be sure that you’ll feel it in the taste. How can you prevent that? Keep your beans in a cool, dry, and dark place. A pantry will do just fine.

2. You bought ground coffee

You have no guarantee over when the coffee beans were ground and how they were kept. So, buying ready ground coffee might be a true gamble. The best way to circumvent that issue is to buy beans and then grind them yourself. It doesn’t take too long and the smell you feel during the process is truly heavenly. To my coffee-loving nostrils, anyway.

3. You bought badly roasted beans

This is maybe the worst news you can get when you wake up, stagger like a zombie to the kitchen and try to make coffee. But if your beans were roasted improperly, then you have to throw out the whole batch and start over. Next time make sure the beans weren’t over roasted. When that happens, they taste bitter and have a burnt flavor, which has no place in your morning mug.

Experiment with multiple types of beans and see which ones you fancy and which ones you’re better off without.

Why Your Coffee Tastes Bad and How to Make It Better
If your beans were roasted improperly, then you have to throw out the whole batch.

4. Your beans are too fresh

Yeah, that can happen, too. When beans are roasted, they start to emit carbon dioxide, a process called ‘gassing’. And the coffee beans need about four days for the degassing because after that the oils in it start to develop their flavor.

5. You used dirty equipment

This is one that sometimes happens to me when I’m patient or too busy to adequately take care of my coffee making equipment. Don’t be like me. A dirty coffee maker, espresso machine, or French press can really alter the flavor of the coffee. So clean everything properly before you brew. If you’re not following this rule, it’s probably the reason your coffee tastes bad.

Why Your Coffee Tastes Bad and How to Make It Better
A dirty coffee maker, espresso machine, or French press can really alter the flavor of the brew.

6. You used bad water

It depends on where you are, but it’s not a very good idea to use municipal water for your coffee. A lot of it tastes too chlorinated or have other substances in it. What to use? Well, properly filtered water, of course, or bottled water. The idea here is to use the kind of water that you have no problem drinking to quench your thirst. Only the best for your coffee!

7. Your grind is the wrong size

If you’re grinding your own coffee, then you should experiment with the size of the grind. Here’s why: the grounds need to be soluble enough to spread the good flavor, but also insoluble enough to not ruin your filtering system.

Check out your coffee’s taste. If it’s weak or sour, then it might be under-extracted. That means that the acids in the bean dissolved early in the brewing process. This, in turn, means that you ground your coffee too large. But if your coffee is too bitter, it might be over extracted, and that means it was too finely ground.

If you’re using a French press, then the beans have to be on the coarse side of things. On the other extreme, if you’re making Turkish coffee, you’ll need the finest possible ground. After you’ve brewed the coffee, don’t throw out the ground. Use it in these homemade scrub recipes.

8. You brewed too much coffee

Unless you have guests over and you’re all going to have coffee at the same time, brewing too much coffee isn’t the best of ideas. So don’t make too much coffee for yourself, because it will taste so much worse once it loses its freshness.

And if you drink too much coffee and want to cut back, you can find out how to deal with the withdrawal right here. And also, there are plenty of other cool things to do with leftover coffee.

Why Your Coffee Tastes Bad and How to Make It Better
Make just as much coffee as you want to drink because your brew is only tasty when fresh.

9. That is so not your brand

You know that you can find coffee with a variety of flavors and degrees of robustness. So maybe the one you’re having just isn’t the one for you. Experiment with multiple brands and flavors and find the right ones for you!

10. Something is off in your process

If you always feel like your coffee tastes bad, then probably, somewhere along the process, you’re doing something wrong. Or you made a mistake just one morning because you were too sleepy. Making coffee is all about chemistry, so being precise is important. Maybe you used the wrong ratio of water to coffee, or maybe you brewed it for too long or not enough. Research your method thoroughly and check in on every step of the process. And then experiment with it and make sure you like it.

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