Why is my coffee bitter?

Why is my coffee bitter?

I get this question all the time believe it or not, and there seems to be some confusion amongst coffee drinkers about just what acidity is and what it isn’t. Most people seem to believe coffee’s acidity is a negative characteristic when quite the opposite can be true. Acidity is what makes coffee, well, coffee. You wouldn’t want coffee to pretend to be any other type of drink, would you? Can a zebra change it’s black lines? This read might HELP you change your mind about acidity as it relates to coffee and be able to better articulate to your family and friends what it is, and why this matters.

Coffee Acidity Levels

Coffee is acidic by nature. Most coffee varieties are acidic, with an average pH value of 4.85 to 5.10 . Among the countless compounds in this beverage, the brewing process releases nine major acids that contribute to its unique flavor profile.

Just because coffee is acidic doesn’t automatically make it bitter or overly sharp. The acidity in coffee is oftentimes where the nuanced flavor comes from and can be one of the characteristics that sets apart a rather bland cup from a more memorable cup. In general, a more acidic coffee will tend to be more exciting than a less acidic cup of coffee. We have several coffees from Ethiopia and they do tend to be on the more acidic end of the spectrum, but that’s also where a lot of the excitement comes in. Only in these more acidic coffees can you taste surprising flavors like watermelon, berry, citrus notes, and the list goes on. This is where so much of that interesting flavor profile shines.

  • Factors Affecting Acidity

There are several factors that can affect acidity in a coffee. Everything from the region and soil it’s grown in, the elevation where it’s grown, the roast level, and other factors can all affect acidity. In general, a darker roast is going to be less acidic than a lighter roast since the roasting process itself tends to relieve coffee of some of it’s acidic characteristics. You’ll notice that darker coffees are often more earthy, rich, and muted than coffees that are roasted lighter.


The Beans you choose, and the way you brew are key!

While you can’t avoid acids in coffee, you can choose coffees that aren’t overwhelmingly acidic and brewing them properly are the biggest contributors.

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