The 5 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Brewing Coffee

A few people seem to make great coffee with little effort. Yet, many of us seem to make horrible coffee. They buy better beans, but still make bad coffee. Then they try a variety of brewing methods; still their coffee sucks. Even after multiple experiments, they still seem to make coffee fit only for pigs. What are they doing wrong? Here at Lake City Coffee we've worked with thousands of people and help them to fix their coffee brewing mistakes. Let's start by examining the 5 biggest mistakes people make when brewing coffee.

Making coffee for the wrong reason

Mistake #1 – Making Coffee For The Wrong Reason

Of all the mistakes people make when brewing coffee, most unsatisfied coffee drinkers are unsatisfied because they're making coffee for the wrong reason. Why do you drink coffee? Is it for the caffeine jolt? Are you just trying to wake up? Do you just want to satisfy that sweet-tooth? Maybe, you just want to fit in with the hip liberal Charbucks crowd?

It’s not that there’s a right or wrong answer here. The issue is this. If you want to be satisfied with your coffee, you need to know why you drink coffee and what you like. Once you know what you want and like, then it’s simply a matter matching your coffee brewing technique with the kind of coffee experience that you want and like.

Mistake #2 – Buying Bad Beans

Coffee lovers outside of the U.S.A. think that Americans love bad coffee. And truthfully, they’re pretty much right. Let’s face it, the number one hamburger chain in the world, McDonalds, also makes one of the worst hamburgers on the planet. Why? Because, they buy the lowest grade and cheapest hamburger that money can buy.

Likewise, the world’s largest coffee retailer, Charbucks, also makes some of the worst coffee on the planet. Why? Well, like McDonalds, Charbucks buys the lowest grade and cheapest coffee beans that money can buy. Don’t let their slick marketing fool you. Below is a list of beans to stay away from.

buying bad beans
Robusta Coffee Beans

Robusta Beans

There are only two varieties of coffee plants, Robusta and Arabica. Robusta beans suck. They produce bitter and nasty coffee. But Robusta beans do have two things going for them. They are dirt cheap and they have more caffeine than Arabica.

The number one producer of Robusta beans is Vietnam. Their number one customer is the good old U.S.of A. Pick any large industrial coffee company, for instance Charbucks, Folgers, Hills Brothers, Yuban, Kirkland, etc. and you’ll find that they are the largest purchasers of Robusta beans in the world. Ya think, that maybe, just maybe, their beans are predominantly Robusta beans?


One of the biggest mistakes people make when brewing coffee is that they select blends instead of single origin beans. Often, when one sees the word “blend”, it’s very likely that part, if not most, of that blend of beans includes Robusta beans. The word blend is marketing speak for “we purchased the cheapest damn beans that we could find and blended them together”.

The whole idea of bends is meld together the best attributes of a variety of beans. For example, a blender may pick a bean with strong chocolate notes. Then he may pick a bean with strong cherry notes. Finally, he’ll blend them together, hoping to end up with coffee that has notes of chocolate and cherry. That’s the theory. It’s my experience, blends of different beans, produce a muddled mess of the beans’ worst attributes, not their best attributes. This is why choosing a blend is usually a bad idea.

coffee blends
How Long Is Coffee Good For

Quality to Price Ratio (QPR)

Considering price and quality of any product is wise. You may want the best steak in the world and pay $200 per pound. But is it worth it? Or you many pay $200 for a bottle of French Boudreaux vs. a $40 bottle from the same region, yet the quality is 99% the same. It all comes down to QPR.

QPR is also essential when talking about coffee beans. For example, I wrote an article “Best Kona Coffee vs. Best Costa Rican Coffee”. In this article I compared a $75 / pound bag of Kona against a $20 / pound bag of Costa Rican. Both were spectacular, but the QPR for the Costa Rican was much better than the Kona coffee.

The point is this. One of the biggest mistakes people make when brewing coffee is that they buy poor quality beans. The better the beans, the better the coffee. And the difference isn’t small. Great beans make great coffee. Yet, you need to keep in mind the cost.

Burnt Beans

As stated above, the large industrial coffee companies buy cheap beans. Because these beans are so inferior, the large industrial coffee companies burn the living snot out of these beans. That way, you won’t notice how bad the coffee really is.

The heart of the flavor of all coffee resides in the bean’s oils. Burn off those oils and there’s little left worth drinking. Italian Roast, French Roast, Continental Roast, City Roast, etc. are all just pretty marketing terms for burnt. Black burnt coffee sucks. If someone wants burnt coffee, then they might as well buy a bag of Kingsford charcoal and drink that!

fresh coffee beans
Industrial Decaf Coffee
how long does coffee really last

Old, Spoiled, Bitter Beans

The fresher the roasted beans, the better the coffee. Typically, the rule of thumb is 30 days. Unfortunately, a vast majority of roasted coffee beans in the U.S.A. have been sitting in warehouses or on store shelves for months if not years. No wonder American coffee has such a bad reputation.

The absolute biggest mistakes people make when brewing coffee is that they buy old stale coffee. Optimally, you want coffee that was roasted today or yesterday, or at worst a few days ago. That’s why here at Lake City Coffee, we roast and ship our beans the same day.

Here’s the rub. If you buy 3 bags, you want that 3rd bag to taste as good as the first bag. That’s why we at Lake City Coffee double heat seal our air-tight bags and include an oxygen absorber in the bag, thus guaranteeing that 3rd bag will be 99% as fresh as the first bag. To learn more about how this works, read my article “How to Keep Coffee Fresh”.

Mistake #3 – Convenient Brewing Methods

My good buddy Tim absolutely loves great coffee. When he comes to our house, I make a single handmade cup of coffee for him. He sips it like it was $200 bottle of scotch. The sounds he makes, while drinking his coffee, you’d think he was having an epileptic fit. YET, the knucklehead is too lazy to make good coffee at home! I find this true with most coffee drinkers. They will sacrifice the enjoyment of a great cup of coffee on the altar of convenience.

I once went to friend’s house, who’s also a customer of mine. Bill asked me if he could make me a cup of coffee. He was so enthusiastic to show off his coffee making skills. I couldn't believe it. Bill took a Keurig reusable K cup and put some of my coffee in it. OMG! A minute later, I sipped perhaps the worst cup of coffee that I had had in a very long time.

If time is of the essence, or if some’s just lazy, then there are a dozen great ways to make great coffee in less than 5 minutes. And if you don’t want to spend any time making coffee, then for God’s sake, use a decent coffee drip machine with a timer.

Worst coffee ever
Don't Add Sugar to your coffee

Mistake #4 – Adding Stuff To Your Coffee

Most people add stuff to their coffee in order to mask the taste of the coffee. I mean, call me crazy, but that seems nuts to me. If the coffee is so bad that you need to add cream, sugar, chocolate, caramel, whipped cream, and sprinkles, then something’s amiss.

  1. You might be buying the wrong beans.
  2. You might be buying the wrong roast.
  3. You might be brewing your coffee with a system that doesn’t match your tastebuds.
  4. You might be grinding your beans too fine or too course.
  5. You might be using too many grounds.

Good coffee doesn’t need anything in it. Buy good fresh roasted coffee and experiment to find the best brewing method that’s right for you. Trust me, with the right beans, you’ll figure out how to make good coffee in a week.

Mistake #5 – Drinking Your Coffee Too Hot

I used to drink my coffee at about 200 degrees. Here’s the rub. With really hot coffee, you literally can’t taste half of the flavor of the coffee. Typical vacuum insulated coffee mugs will keep your coffee at 180 degrees for a few hours. If you really want to taste your coffee, that's way too hot.

Professional taste testers sip their coffee at 140 degrees. How do they maintain this 140 degree temperature? I can tell you what I do. I use the BurnOut Mug. This mug maintains your coffee at 140 degrees for hours. If you want it a little hotter, say 150 degrees, then you just pre-heat the mug with hot water. For more information, click this link Insulated Coffee Mugs Made In USA or see our Recommended Equipment page.

BurnOut Coffee Mug Made In USA
Russell and Alisha Volz
Good Coffee Blends vs. Bad Coffee Blends
Lake City Coffee Roaster

Lake City Coffee

At Lake City Coffee, the only thing that we sell and ship is fresh roasted coffee beans. But our mission doesn’t stop there. First, we have to select the highest QPR beans that money can buy. In my experience, that’s usually beans from the Tarrazu Region of Costa Rica. That’s where we source 100% of our beans.

Each Tuesday morning, I consolidate orders for the week, then I roast and ship exactly that much coffee. We carry zero inventory. My goal is to have our fresh roasted coffee from our roaster to your table in 24-72 hours. If you’ve never had coffee this fresh, be prepared to have your socks blown off. It’s crazy good.

Lastly, our mission is to teach people how to make awesome coffee. That’s why we have nearly 300 articles on this site. We also realize that we and our coffee aren’t for everyone. If you’re hell bent on buying burnt and bitter coffee from flaming liberals, then we and our coffee may not be for you. On the other hand, if you’re a patriot with discerning tastes, then you’re in the right place with the right people.

biggest mistakes when brewing coffee


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