Bitterness in coffee - Basic Barista How to reduce bitterness in coffee - what is bitterness - what does bitterness taste like?

How to Remove Bitterness from Coffee

Bitterness in coffee is often misunderstood and is primarily caused by the presence of certain compounds such as caffeine and Chlorogenic acid lactones.

In this article we want to discuss the nature of bitterness in coffee, exploring its origins, the factors affecting its intensity, and practical methods for managing it in brewing. Lower bitternes in coffee and adjust your variables to dial in coffee exactly how you like it.


Bitterness in coffee - brew gear - pour over coffee - Basic Barista Australia Melbourne


What is Bitterness?

Bitterness is one of the basic tastes perceived by the taste buds on the back of the tongue. Bitterness in coffee, it's a natural sensation that arises from compounds such as caffeine and certain chlorogenic acid lactones. While often considered undesirable, a balanced level of bitterness can add depth and complexity to your cup. 

Some people prefer bitter tasting coffees and others do not, understanding what bitterness is is the first step into working out if you want to increase or decrease your coffees bitterness. This comes down to personal preference.

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Is All Coffee Bitter?

Contrary to popular belief, not all coffee is inherently bitter. The perceived bitterness of coffee can vary greatly depending on several factors, including the coffee bean variety, growing conditions, quality of the coffee, roast profile, processing methods, and, most crucially, brewing techniques.
Some coffee varieties are naturally less bitter, offering a smoother, more balanced profile. 

Bitter - Sour Confusion

The line between bitterness and sourness in coffee can often blur. Sourness, experienced on the sides of the tongue, is usually a result of under-extraction or the use of overly acidic beans. Distinguishing between the two can enhance your ability to fine-tune your brewing process, leading to a more tailored coffee experience.

Sourness is sharp and pungent but different to acidity, having a high acidity coffee will taste vibrant and bright.

Bitterness can be described more like 'unsweet' or 'tart'.

How to Make Your Coffee Less Bitter

Reducing bitterness begins with selecting the right beans. Opt for high-quality beans known for their smoother profiles. Adjusting your brewing method and parameters can also significantly impact bitterness. Here are some key strategies:

Grind Size:
A coarser grind can reduce bitterness by slowing extraction.
Brewing Time:
Shortening the brewing time prevents over-extraction, a common cause of bitterness.
Water Temperature:
Brewing with cooler water around 90-95°C can reduce the perceived bitterness in your coffee.
Coffee Ratio:
If all else fails try adjusting your water - coffee ratio, if your coffee is tasting bitter and you have tried all other variables using a shorter ratio will help to lower bitterness in your coffee.

Does The Roasting Affect Bitterness?

Roasting plays a vital role in the development of coffee's flavour and can effect how bitter your coffee tastes. Dark roasts are typically more bitter due to the longer roasting process, which emphasises smoky flavours. On the other hand, light roasts tend to preserve the bean's inherent characteristics, typically with more acidity and highlighting sweetness, with less perceived bitterness.

How To Taste Bitterness In Coffee

The best way to experience bitter tasting coffees is to taste bitter coffee and familiarise yourself with it. I highly recommend doing this exercise to taste the difference. 

Brew 2 coffees side by side, alternatively you can cup these coffees but if you are lacking the coffee cupping equipment brewing will give you a similar result. Grind 1 sample extra fine and the other sample extra coarse.

Taste the two coffees and the difference will be like day and night. 

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