pour over coffee bitter

Is your pour over coffee tasting bitter and unpleasant? Our in-depth guide has got you covered! We'll explore the common causes of bitter pour over coffee and provide you with expert tips and techniques to fix the issue. Say goodbye to disappointing cups of coffee and hello to a delicious and satisfying pour over brew.

Why Is My Pour Over Coffee Bitter?

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Pour-over coffee is a popular brewing method that provides control over the extraction process, but sometimes the outcome might not be as expected, and the coffee can turn out bitter. In this section, we'll examine the common reasons for bitterness and how the brewing technique can influence the taste of your pour-over coffee.

Common Reasons for Bitterness

There are several factors that can contribute to bitterness in pour-over coffee:

  • Over-extraction: When coffee grounds are in contact with water for too long or the water temperature is too high, it can result in over-extraction, which causes bitterness. Optimal water temperature is around 85C/185F.
  • Grind size: If the coffee grounds are too fine, it can lead to over-extraction as well. A medium-coarse grind is recommended for pour-over brewing.
  • Bean quality: Stale or poor-quality coffee beans can also result in a bitter taste. Fresh and high-quality beans are essential for a great-tasting cup of coffee.
  • Brew ratio: Using an incorrect ratio of water to coffee can lead to over-extraction and bitterness. A good starting point is a 1:15 ratio of coffee to water.
  • Unclean equipment: Residue buildup in your brewing equipment can affect the taste of your coffee. Regular cleaning is essential to maintain the quality of your pour-over coffee.

Influence of Brewing Technique

The brewing technique plays a significant role in determining the taste of pour-over coffee. To avoid bitterness, pay attention to the following:

  1. Bloom time: Allow the coffee grounds to properly bloom, ensuring the release of carbon dioxide, which can negatively impact the taste. A 30-45 second bloom time is recommended.
  2. Pouring technique: Pour the water slowly and consistently over the grounds, making sure all grounds are soaked evenly. This can help prevent over-extraction and bitterness in the final brew.
  3. Water quality: The quality of water used in brewing can greatly impact the taste of coffee. Use filtered or bottled water for better-tasting pour-over coffee.

By paying attention to these factors and adjusting your brewing technique, you can reduce the bitterness in your pour-over coffee and enjoy a well-balanced and flavorful brew.

Factors Affecting Bitterness

coffee bitter

Coffee Bean Quality

One factor that can lead to bitterness in pour-over coffee is the quality of the coffee beans used. Stale, poor quality, or too dark beans can result in a bitter taste. Opting for fresh, high-quality beans with a suitable roast level for your preferences is essential for avoiding bitterness.

Grind Size

The size of the coffee grounds can also impact the flavor of your coffee. If the grounds are too fine, this can lead to over-extraction, and subsequently, bitterness. When brewing pour-over coffee, adjust the grind size to a medium coarseness to ensure proper extraction and reduce the risk of bitterness in your cup.

Water Temperature

Water temperature plays a crucial role in coffee extraction. If the water used for brewing is boiling or too hot, it can lead to over-extraction and a bitter taste. Ideally, the brewing temperature should be between 195°F to 205°F (90°C to 96°C) for optimal extraction and balanced flavors. A good practice is allowing the boiling water to cool for a minute before pouring it over the coffee grounds.

Brewing Time

Another contributing factor to bitterness in pour-over coffee is the brewing time. Over-brewing allows the bitter compounds to be released from the coffee grounds, resulting in a bitter taste. To minimize bitterness, be mindful of the brewing time and avoid steeping the coffee for too long. Following the recommended brewing time for your specific pour-over method can help prevent over-extraction and ensure a more pleasant flavor profile.

Adjusting Your Brewing Technique

pour over coffee

Achieving a delicious cup of pour-over coffee involves making several adjustments to your brewing technique. This section will provide you with essential tips for selecting the right coffee beans for pour-over, finding the perfect grind size, optimizing water temperature, and mastering the brewing time.

Choosing the Right Coffee Beans

The quality and freshness of your coffee beans play a crucial role in the final taste of your pour-over. Avoid using stale or poor-quality beans, as they could be the root cause of your bitter coffee. Instead, opt for freshly roasted, high-quality beans with a roast profile that suits your taste preferences. Light to medium roasts are typically recommended for pour-over, as they allow the natural flavors and complexity of the beans to shine through.

Dialing in the Perfect Grind Size

When brewing pour-over coffee, the grind size of your coffee beans can significantly impact the extraction process. If the grounds are too fine, it can lead to over-extraction and result in a bitter taste. Conversely, too coarse of a grind may result in under-extracted, sour coffee. Aim for a medium-coarse grind, which promotes proper extraction and a well-balanced flavor profile. You might need to experiment with a few different grind settings on your grinder to find the optimal size for your brewing technique.

Optimizing Water Temperature

An often overlooked factor that affects the taste of pour-over coffee is water temperature. Using excessively hot or boiling water can cause over-extraction and result in a bitter brew. It is recommended to use water at around 85°C (185°F) to achieve a balanced extraction. This slightly cooler temperature allows for a smooth flavor profile, accentuating the fruity acidity and aroma of the coffee without bitterness.

Mastering the Brewing Time

The duration of your pour-over brewing process also impacts the final taste of your coffee. If you brew the coffee for too long, it can cause over-extraction and increase bitterness. The ideal brewing time will vary depending on your specific pour-over method and equipment, but a general guideline for a pour-over is to finish brewing in approximately 2 - 3 minutes. Experiment with different pour timings and sequences, such as pouring 100g of water over the coffee for the initial 20 seconds and adding the remaining water in later stages, to find a brewing time that produces the desired flavor profile and minimizes bitterness.

Additional Tips and Tricks

pour over coffee

Coffee to Water Ratio

Finding the optimal coffee-to-water ratio is crucial for brewing a well-balanced pour-over coffee. Generally, a ratio of 1:15 to 1:18 (coffee to water) is recommended for pour-over coffee. You can experiment within this range to find the perfect balance for your taste buds. To ensure consistency, use a digital scale and measure the coffee and water in grams.

A common issue is using too much coffee compared to the water, which can lead to bitter flavors. Adjust your coffee-to-water ratio to reduce bitterness and achieve a more balanced and pleasant taste.

Pouring Technique

The pouring technique also plays a crucial role in the flavor of your pour-over coffee. The water temperature should be around 85°C (185°F), as excessively hot water can over-extract the coffee, leading to bitterness. Start with a pre-wetting step, also known as blooming, by pouring a small amount of water over the coffee grounds to degas and saturate them. Wait for about 30 seconds before continuing with the main pour.

While pouring, use a slow and steady spiral motion, starting from the center and moving outwards to cover all the coffee grounds evenly. This ensures proper extraction and helps prevent clumping of the grounds. Avoid aggressive stirring or creating turbulence, as that can disturb the coffee bed and lead to over-extraction, which causes bitterness.

By practicing and refining your pouring technique, you can significantly improve the taste of your pour-over coffee and reduce bitterness.

Remember these tips to minimize bitterness in your pour-over coffee:

  • Grind your coffee at least as coarse as table salt
  • Ensure the water temperature is around 85°C (185°F)
  • Experiment with coffee-to-water ratios within 1:15 to 1:18 range
  • Utilize a proper pouring technique and pre-wetting step (blooming)
  • Keep your brewing equipment clean


pour over coffee

In conclusion, the bitterness in your pour-over coffee can be attributed to several factors. One common reason is over-extraction, which occurs when the coffee is brewed for too long, resulting in the release of unwanted bitter flavors. Controlling the brewing time and making sure it is within the appropriate range can help address this issue.

Another contributing factor is the water temperature. Using water that is too hot or boiling can extract bitter compounds from the coffee beans earlier than desired. To prevent this, ensure the water temperature is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, the brewing equipment should be kept clean to avoid imparting any unpleasant flavors to the coffee.

The quality of the coffee beans used can also impact the taste. Using fresh, high-quality beans and avoiding stale or over-roasted ones can greatly improve the flavor of your pour-over coffee. Similarly, the grind size of the beans plays a role; if the beans are too finely ground, they can lead to over-extraction and bitterness. Finding the right grind size may require some experimentation, but will ultimately yield a better-tasting coffee.

The correct brew ratio is essential for achieving a well-balanced coffee. Using too little coffee and too much water can cause the water to extract the bitter compounds quickly. Following a consistent ratio, such as using 13 to 18 grams of water per gram of coffee, can help avoid bitterness and achieve a delicious pour-over coffee experience.

By addressing these common factors, you can improve the taste of your pour-over coffee and reduce any unwanted bitterness. With some attention to detail and practice, a delicious and well-balanced cup of coffee can be achieved, and enjoyed.

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Tony Barlow

Tony Barlow

Majesty Coffee Technical Sales Expert - Meet the Team

Tony Barlow, with over a decade of experience in the coffee industry, is the go-to technical sales expert at Majesty Coffee. He's passionate about helping businesses find the right espresso equipment for their needs.

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