Why Is My Coffee Bitter

I detest bitter coffee, yet people drink it by the gallon. Go figure! Often, I’m asked, “I just wanted to know why is my coffee bitter”. Then they want to know how to make a perfectly smooth cup of coffee.

How To Make Coffee Less Bitter
Heaven In A Cup

I had the same problem many years ago. I hated coffee, but while visiting a friend, I told him I made horrible coffee.

He jumped up, walked into the kitchen, and after a few minutes came back with a cup of black coffee and said, “Taste this.” 

One tentative sip later I exclaimed, “Holy Mother of God”! I was thinking that this couldn’t possibly be coffee because it was naturally sweet with hints of chocolate and nut.

This was heaven in a cup.

Today, I’m going to show you why American coffee is almost always bitter and how you too can make coffee heavenly enough to convert Satin himself.

American Revolutionary Coffee

Why Is My Coffee Bitter

Prior to the American Revolution, Americans drank English tea. Then came the Boston Tea Party. From that point on, Americans learned to drink coffee. Interestingly enough, not only were the Revolutionaries thumbing their noses at the British by drinking coffee, unbeknownst to them, they were starting a truly American tradition.

We can learn an important lesson from Martha Washington and her revolutionary sisters. None of the ladies purchased roasted coffee beans. Why you may ask? Because all roasted coffee beans start to go stale and thus bitter in about a month. So, they always purchased green beans, which will last for years. Then every couple of weeks, they would roast the green beans on a skillet or in an oven, thus having fresh roasted coffee all the time.

So, what’s the big deal about fresh (less than 30 days) roasted coffee? Martha knew that fresh roasted coffee was naturally sweet and was not in the least bit bitter. Additionally, Martha knew that burnt coffee was bitter. That’s why she roasted her coffee to a medium or dark brown, but never ever black.

Why Does My Coffee Taste Bitter

how to make coffee not bitter

The blame for bitter coffee started with the U.S. Army during WWI (For you Millenials, that would be World War One).  As the story goes, when Uncle Sam (U.S. Government) sent his doughboys (soldiers) across the ocean to Europe, he wanted them to take roasted coffee with them. The problem was roasted coffee spoiled so quickly. They needed a solution to make roasted coffee last for months if not years.

The U.S. Army came up with two solutions. First of all, they’d burn the snot out of the beans and secondly they vacuum sealed the roasted coffee in cans. And voila! We now had coffee that would last for months if not years. The big problem was the coffee tasted bitter and burnt. But our doughboys drank it by the gallon and came home wanting more burnt and bitter coffee, which the coffee industry was more than happy to accommodate.

Why is My Coffee Bitter

Bitter Coffee

Here’s a sad truth. As I said, all coffee starts turning stale and bitter in about 30 days.

Yet, a vast majority of coffee sold in the U.S. has been sitting in warehouses and on store shelves for months if not years.

Secondly, to help preserve coffee, and to satisfy the American desire for burnt and bitter coffee, the coffee industry is more than happy to burn the snot out of their beans.

Unfortunately, even small specialty coffee shops, wanting to be the next Starbucks, follow suite by burning their beans.

In a nutshell, that is exactly why your coffee is bitter.

How to Make Coffee Not Bitter

how do you make coffee less bitter

Below is one simple list of how to make coffee less bitter. You’ll notice below this list is a quick description of why this is so important.

  1. Smooth Coffee Beans
  2. Fresh Roasted Coffee Beans
  3. Gently Roasted Coffee Beans
  4. Coffee Brewing Techniques

Smooth Coffee Beans

Not all beans are created equal. Some coffee growing regions are known for bold-in-your-face beans. On the other end of the spectrum, you might find beans that are naturally sweet with little or no bitterness.

I prefer beans that are naturally sweet with zero bitterness. Even beans that are slightly bitter, I’ll shy away from.  I taste test coffee from all over the world. Since I love super smooth coffee with hints of chocolate and nut, I always source all of my beans from the Tarrazu region of Costa Rica. In my humble opinion, I believe these beans to meet my criteria better than any other bean on Earth.

Fresh Roasted Coffee Beans

how long does cold brew last

Start by buying fresh roasted coffee, which isn’t as easy as you’d expect. Go to any coffee shop or grocery store or even online and look for a roast date. Chances are, you won’t find a roast date on the package.

But by chance if you do; keeping in mind that coffee is fresh for only 30 days; you’re going to want a roast date that’s only a few days old.

That way you can take your truly fresh roasted coffee home and enjoy it for 3-4 weeks before it starts going stale.

Gently Roasted Coffee Beans

Coffee Humor

Do not buy burnt coffee. If it’s black, then leave it on the shelf. At Lake City Coffee, even my dark roast is barely dark, i.e., very dark brown, but not black. This will give you only a slight hint of that burnt taste that American’s are used to.

Better yet, the best roast, IMHO, is a good medium roast. A medium roast will preserve more of the oils that God put into that bean.

Those oils are the magic which contain the bioflavonoids, antioxidants, caffeine, and flavor.

Coffee Brewing Techniques or How To Make Coffee Not Bitter

Best Whole Bean Coffee

Picking the right beans, roasting, and freshness is only half of the perfect-cup-of-coffee equation. The other half is in the brewing coffee techniques. Some brewing techniques create bitter coffee, where the ones that we’ll focus on here, produce the smoothest coffee that you’re likely to find anywhere.

I’ve found that any brewing technique that allows the coffee grounds to steep (like tea) in the hot water, will make the coffee taste smoother and you won’t be asking “Why is my coffee bitter”. 

Drip systems or pressure brewing systems almost always produces bitter coffee. IMHO.

Three Best Brewing Techniques

I know that there are many other ways to make coffee. If you’ve found something that you love, then stick with it. I’m just saying, if you want smooth coffee that is not bitter, then this is it. So, here is a list of my top three brewing methods on how to make coffee not bitter.

Cold Press Brewed Coffee

best coffee beans for cold brew

If you want to learn how to make coffee less bitter, Cold Brew is by far your best choice. 

Not only is Cold Brew smooth as silk and naturally sweet, it’s also super easy and fast. 

And if you want your coffee hot, then don’t hesitate to heat your Cold Brew in a microwave.

Even after heating, Cold Brew is still smooth and sweet.

Check out this (LINK) for a video that I did on How To Cold Brew. Just scroll down to the right section and watch the video.



The AeroPress is basically a large 12 ounce syringe. Not only is this method super simple and fast, but also it’s also very inexpensive. At $29, for the best hot coffee that anyone can make, it’s the best deal in town.

All you have to do is drop a paper filter in the bottom, add coffee grounds, pour in hot water, mix, place the plunger in the syringe, and press down. Easy-Peasy.

Just watch my video on this (LINK). Just scroll down to the right section and watch the video.

French Press

french press

The French Press is perhaps the purest way to make coffee. Just toss in the grounds, stir in hot water, press the plunger, and pour into your cup. Done. The down side to the French Press is also the upside.

The French Press hides nothing. In fact, the French Press seems to magnify everything. If you start with shitty beans, you end up with horrible coffee. If you start with old stale beans, you end up with horrible coffee. If you start with bold beans, you get super bold coffee.

BUT! If you start with super smooth, naturally sweet beans, then you’re going to end up with a G-R-E-A-T cup of smooth and naturally sweet coffee. My suggestion is to not allow the coffee grounds to steep for more than 2 minutes. Any longer than that and the coffee starts getting bitter.


conservative coffee roaster
Russell Roasting

As you can see, making coffee that’s not bitter is pretty easy. You just have to have the right beans, right roast, fresh roasted beans, and good brewing techniques.

At Lake City Coffee we create the smoothest coffee that you’re likely to find anywhere. Start with my coffee and you can’t go wrong.

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fresh whole bean coffee
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