Category • Blog articles

Why Does My Coffee Taste Bad?

Alex | July 24, 2022

Ever gone to your pour-over coffee machine to grab a cup in the office only to realise it tastes really bad? It’s one of the worst ways to start your working day, so we’re sharing the reasons why this can happen, and how to avoid it happening again.

Sharp or bitter?

If your coffee tastes sharp or sour, your filter coffee has likely been under-extracted. This may occur when the contact time between the water and coffee is too small, meaning you’ve not brewed it for long enough. Brew your coffee so it has time for the water’s heat to bring out its complex flavours and balance its acidity. Alternatively, you may have used too much coffee in proportion to water. Aim for the golden ratio of between 5-7g coffee per 100ml.

Brewing your coffee for too long will result in tannins that make your coffee bitter. This is over-extraction. Tannins spread through the coffee and make it increasingly bitter over time. It’s important to keep your coffee fresh and not leave it sitting in the pot on the hotplate for hours, as it will continue to brew. Yuk! The exception to this is where you’re using a thermal flask to store the coffee, such as with the Bunn SmartWAVE or Bunn ICB. These clever vacuum flasks hold the temperature of the coffee without continuing the brewing process, meaning it still tastes delicious several hours after it’s been brewed.

You can also over-extract coffee by using too little coffee in relation to water. Try experimenting with the ratios, within the parameters we’ve recommended above. This will help you find that sweet spot where it tastes just right.

The grind

Freshly ground coffee is always going to offer a superior taste. Coffee beans start breaking down when they’re exposed to air and light which affects their natural flavour and aroma. This process gets slightly accelerated when coffee is pre-ground which can affect the taste.

A one size fits all approach doesn’t apply when it comes to coffee brewing and grind size. The ideal size will depend heavily on the brewing method. If your grounds are too coarse, the water will filter through too quickly and lead to an under-extracted cup. Too fine a grind, and you’ll get an uneven and bitter over-extracted cup because the water has taken too long to filter. For pour-over filter coffee, you’ll want to opt for a medium grind size for the optimum taste. We’ve ground our FreshGround filter coffee range to the perfect grind size for most filter applications, so you can’t go wrong!

Also, remember that no matter how brilliant your beans or how great your grounds are, they don’t have an infinite shelf life. So make sure the coffee you’re using is fresh and in date. And finally, water quality has its own really important role to play. You can find out more in our water quality blog post.

Our machines

Of course, if you opt for one of FreshGround’s range of coffee machines, you can be confident in getting a delicious cup of coffee, every time. Each of our drink settings has been developed by a Specialty Coffee Association-trained expert. And you’ll find that all our office filter coffee machines are set up for the perfect extraction. Simply pour the correct-size pack of coffee into the filter – and the machine will do the rest. Please contact our team and we’ll advise you on the perfect machine for your office.