Why Does My Coffee Taste Bad? (8 Reasons and How to Fix)

Why Does My Coffee Taste Bad

As a coffee-lover, you will always look forward to that morning cup as it is the fuel that gives you the energy you need to face the day ahead. And so there is nothing more disappointing than waking up to a bad cup of coffee.

If you have been drinking coffee long enough, the chances are that you have already perfected the technique for making your favorite coffee type. Nevertheless, you can still end up with some bad-tasting brews that have the potential to ruin your day.

But, instead of wasting a lot of time complaining of just how bad your coffee is, you should instead focus your energy on trying to find out what makes your coffee taste bad and the possible ways to fix it.

Reasons Your Coffee Tastes Bad and Their Fix

Given the different methods used to make coffee and differences in other things like the coffee beans types, roast, and grinds, it is hard to narrow down to one thing that makes coffee taste bad. But, here are the most common reasons why your coffee tastes bad.

1. Poor Coffee Bean Selection

Coffee bean selection is one of the first steps in coffee-making, and if you go wrong here, you can end up with some bad tasting brew. Arabica beans that grow in high altitude regions like Ethiopia, Kenya, and Brazil will be highly flavorful and will result in great tasting coffee.

On the other hand, coffee that is grown in low altitudes and coffee varietals like Robusta which is produced in large volumes in Vietnam tends to be lower quality and can hence give you some bad tasting coffee.

Read More: Arabica vs. Robusta Coffee Bean

The Fix: To ensure you do not end up with some low quality coffee beans that will produce bad-tasting coffee, you need to make sure you know where the beans you are buying come from. Sticking with Arabica beans from well-known high altitude coffee growing regions increase the likelihood of ending up with some flavorful coffee.

2. Using Stale Beans

Using Stale Beans


Even if you get things right with your beans selection, you can still end up with bad tasting coffee, if you leave them to go stale or you buy stale ones with poor packaging.

Coffee beans, just like any other type of food will not have an infinite shelf life and this is more so when they are roasted because degassing causes them to lose some of their flavors. Hence, the longer you expose the coffee beans to the air the more the flavor they lose and the higher the likelihood of producing bad tasting coffee.

The Fix: If you have any beans that have been on your shelf for a little too long, you should throw them away and buy another batch as they might be the reason why your coffee does not taste good. Also, try to buy your coffee in small batches to ensure you always use fresh beans to make your coffee and store any leftovers in vacuum-sealed packs or airtight containers.

3. Brewing with Improperly Roasted Beans

If the coffee beans you are using to make your coffee are not properly roasted, they can also give your cup of Java a bad taste. Roasting is how the coffee beans will lock in the flavors, and if not done properly, it will ruin the coffee taste.

The problem with roasting is usually either under or over-roasting the beans which can result in bad coffee tastes and flavors.

The Fix: If you roast the coffee at home, make sure you have a good coffee roaster and know how to do it properly. If you cannot seem to get the hang of it, the wise idea is to buy pre-roasted coffee beans in your preferred roast.

4. Bad Water Quality

The reason every barista and coffee connoisseur will always recommend that you use filtered water to make your coffee is because the quality of water greatly affects the coffee taste.

Hence, using bad quality water can such as municipal water that is too hard or with lots of foreign substances can result in bad tasting coffee.

The Fix: To ensure that poor water quality does not give you bad tasting brews, you should make a habit of always using filtered water to make your cup of java. If you find filtered water too expensive, you can save some cash by buying a home water filtration system or a coffee maker with a built-in water filter.

5. Using Too Big/Small Grind

Using Too Big/Small Grind

Photo: Unsplash

Different grind sizes are ideal for different methods of making coffee. For example, a coarse grind is perfect for French press while a fine grind will be the best for Espresso. Using the wrong grind size when making coffee can give you bad tasting coffee as a result of over or under extraction.

The Fix: Make sure you know the ideal grind size for your preferred brewing method. Also, you should try and experiment with different grind sizes and settle on the size that gives you the best-tasting coffee. By investing in a burr grinder, you will be better off as you will have more control over the grind size you use.

6. Wrong Water Temperature

With coffee, it is all about getting everything precisely right, and the water temperature is one of those elements that you cannot afford to mess up with as it will ruin your coffee's taste and overall quality.

For most coffee brewing methods, the temperature should be between 190 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit and using anything lower or higher than this can lead to under extraction and burnt coffee.

The Fix: Invest in a kitchen thermometer and use it to measure your water temperature before brewing to ensure it is within this range. Another trick that ensures you get the temperature right entails boiling the water and leaving it to sit for around 30 seconds to get to this temperature.

7. Making Coffee with Dirty Equipment

You might get everything right from the coffee beans selection to the grind size and also have the best quality water and still get some bad tasting coffee.

When this happens, one of the most probable reason is the equipment you are using. If your coffee making equipment is dirty, it can add some foreign taste to your brew and hence giving it a bad taste.

The Fix: Always make sure that you clean up your coffee making equipment after making coffee and rinse it out before you start brewing again to get rid of any dirt and stench that can affect the coffee taste you get. And make sure you give your coffee maker a deep cleaning now and then as this helps prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.

8. Leaving Coffee to Seat on the Hot Plate Too Long

Many coffee lovers prefer to make a full pot of coffee in the morning so that they will have enough to last the entire day. But while this might save you time as you will not need to make more coffee later, it can also result in bad-tasting coffee.

You will probably end up leaving the coffee sitting on the warm plate to keep it warm but what you might not know is that this burns the brew and gives it a bad taste.

The Fix: Making coffee does not take a lot of time, and so to ensure you get great-tasting brews you should make a habit of brewing your coffee in small batches. Just brew what you want to consume at that particular time and you can brew some later on if you need some extra cups.


The only thing worse than not having coffee in the morning for a true coffee fanatic is having bad quality coffee. But for most people, a bad coffee day is bound to happen at some point.

However, knowing some of the things that can give you bad tasting coffee should help you know how to fix them so that you can always enjoy some refreshing Java when you want it.

But, the good news is that all of these bad coffee taste causes are easy to fix whether it is poor quality beans or dirty equipment. Hence, you can easily ensure you consistently make refreshing coffee with a little effort.


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