Six Reasons Your Coffee Tastes Gross

And what you can do about it.

So your coffee tastes like old tires. It happens to the best of us!

Sometimes it seems like we just can’t unlock the beauty within the bean, and instead end up with a cup that is less that delicious. We’ve pulled together a list of the most common reasons that your coffee may be tasting gross!

There are two main strains of coffee: Robusta and Arabica.

Robusta is more, ah, robust; with greater resistance to insects, lower tending needs and higher yield it’s far easier to produce in massive quantities. However, the taste is far inferior to Arabica, with a higher caffeine contest (lending it a more bitter tang) and half as much naturally occurring sugar, Robusta tends to be a bland-to-bitter with none of the subtle accompanying flavors that we love to experience in our cup.

Arabica has smaller, sweeter beans, with a dense concentration of flavor. Roughly twice as expensive as Robusta, Arabica beans require more careful maintenance both during growth and post-harvest processes, but the eventual flavor payoff has made them increasingly in demand.

If your coffee tastes nasty now matter WHAT you do to it, treat yo’ self and invest in something worth drinking!

Browse our 100% Arabica specialty coffees here.

The roast level dramatically affects the ultimate flavor. While most specialty coffees are roasted with great attention to what best compliments the flavors, sometimes it may just be too dark or too light for your preference. Too subtle? Pick a darker roast. Too smoky? Go lighter.

(Robusta blends tend to be roasted extremely dark to cover woody flavors.)

Your beans may be old! Coffee oxidizes in a matter of days after roasting, leaving the beans tasting flat and dull. For our full guide on the importance of freshness, check out this post.

There are two ways that brewing method can affect the ultimate deliciousness:

If you’re doing the method wrong, or if the method is wrong for you.

We’re not going to break down every single brew approach here today — for three to get you started check out these posts on the Chemex, V60 and Aeropress — but we do encourage you to do some exploring! Each device has a mountain of resources behind it to help you ensure that you’re getting the most out of the experience.

Each method also produces a slightly different interpretation of the beans. Devices that employ a filter are going to brew a lighter, fruitier cup, and the thicker the filter, the lighter the result. Filterless approaches — such as the French Press or Turkish coffee — will be considerably more full-bodied. Your personal taste is your guide here! A perfect way to experience multiple brewing methods is to pay a visit to your local specialty cafe, where the baristas will be able to guide you through the differences and give you a cup of the result.

Each brewing method will have an ideal range of grind size, so the first step is to check guidelines for whichever one you’re using! (Automatic drip machines tend to fall in the medium to medium-fine category.) Grind size affects the level of coffee extraction from the beans, and the ideal is a goldilocks balance between not-too-little (which produces a sour taste) and not-too-much (which leaves the cup overly bitter.) Tweak the grind size until you find that sweet spot!

For our guide to grinders check here!

I mean, you guys. Coffee that’s been sitting out is never going to compare! Coffee oxidizes rapidly after being brewed, and will grow bitter within the first hour. We recommend exploring brew methods that give you exactly how much coffee you want to drink in a sitting. The Chemex is the exception, as it can be re-heated on a stovetop without damaging the flavors in your brew.

As with everything in coffee, the ultimate goal is to enjoy something that you find delicious. We hope that this gives you a solid place to start as you search for the perfect cup!