Does a Finer Grind Make Coffee More Bitter?


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Does a Finer Grind Make Coffee More Bitter?

Choosing the right coffee grind is essential when making the perfect cup. The level of grind you use in your machine dramatically affects how the end result tastes. Does a finer grind make coffee more bitter?

A finer grind does make coffee more bitter when used in most standard coffee brewing machines. When the grind is too fine, the coffee has to steep in the water longer, which can cause the flavor to be over-extracted and taste bitter. 

This article will explore in further detail why a finer grind can result in a bitter flavor. It will also explain the importance of grind size depending on the type of machine you use to brew your coffee. Lastly, it will look at other factors that can cause your coffee to taste bitter in addition to the fineness of the grind. 

Why Does a Finer Grind Make Coffee More Bitter?

There are many variables that affect each kind of coffee and give it its unique flavor profile, and the size of the grounds is one such variable. Coffee beans that are ground coarsely can taste astronomically different from the same exact coffee beans ground finely. 

The size of the grind affecting how your coffee tastes has everything to do with the way the water interacts with the coffee while it is brewing. When water is poured over coffee grounds, it takes in all of the oils and flavor packed into the beans before it flows into your cup. 

When coffee is more finely ground, the water takes a while to percolate through the thick layer of sediment and extract all of the flavors. The more time spent passing through the beans at a slower rate, the longer the water is in contact with the coffee’s oils. 

Once the water has passed through all the grounds and is poured out into your cup, it will have spent so much time soaking in the beans that the flavors are over-extracted, and the coffee tastes bitter because of it. Over-extraction can even lead to an almost burnt aftertaste due to the hot water mixing with the grounds. 

A Finer Grind Also Affects the Coffee’s Consistency

Coffee that is too finely ground does not just affect the flavor, either. It can also have a significant effect on the consistency of the brew. Depending on what type of preparation method you are using to make your coffee, the feeling of your drink when it enters your mouth can come out one of two ways. 

When coffee beans are too finely ground, some of the sediment can get mixed into the water and end up being poured into your cup. In this case, you would likely experience a gritty texture and feel the bits of coffee beans between your teeth while you drink.

The other potential outcome is that the fine grind develops a thick consistency when mixing with the water and pours into your cup like sludge, leaving you with an almost muddy feeling in your mouth after drinking. 

Overall, it is crucial to consider what method of preparation you are using to brew your coffee since that will play a prominent role in ensuring your drink has the perfect consistency. 

Why the Machine You Use To Brew Your Coffee Matters

When it comes to what size grind your coffee beans should be to get that perfect cup, it is necessary to consider what machine you are using. Some coffeemakers are purposefully built with the intention that you use a finer grind, while others work better with more coarsely ground beans. 

In order to make a high-quality cup of coffee, the water has to have time to steep so it can extract enough flavor oil from the beans to make the final product taste right. Depending on what kind of machine you use, that process can take a very short or very long time. 

Take an espresso maker, for example. The ground coffee beans and water do not need to spend more than a few seconds combining with each other because of the amount of pressure coming from the machine.

In this setting, it makes sense to use a finely ground coffee blend. The water does not need to spend a long period of time steeping to extract all of the flavors, and the fine grind makes it easier for the water to soak in the coffee oils, so you are able to achieve a great cup of espresso quite quickly.

On the other hand, if you make your coffee using a drip coffeemaker, a French press, or another similar method that requires the water and coffee grounds to spend more time mixing together, it is not a good idea to use a fine grind. 

In this instance, the water is in direct contact with beans for a more extended amount of time since it takes a while for the liquid to pass through the beans. During that process, the water may sit and steep in the grounds for too long, causing an over-extraction of the coffee oils and a bitter taste in your cup. 

The easiest way to prevent your coffee from accidentally coming out too bitter is to find out what size grind is best for the preparation method you use and purchase accordingly.

Other Reasons Your Coffee Might Taste Bitter

The fineness of the grind you choose to use in a specific type of machine certainly plays a prominent role in whether your coffee will taste bitter or not. However, a finer grind can also affect the amount of caffeine that goes into your final cup, which could enhance the already bitter flavor. 

When water mixes with coffee grounds and the coffee oils are released into the liquid, caffeine is extracted along with them. The finer the grind is, the more time the water will spend mixing with the beans, and the more caffeine will end up in the final product. 

It is important to note that only about 10-15% of coffee bitterness actually comes from the caffeine in the drink. If you are using the correct size grind in the appropriate machine and your coffee still has a bitter flavor, there are a few other potential reasons why it tastes that way. 

The Ratio of Coffee Grounds to Water Is Incorrect

One reason you may be experiencing bitter coffee is the amount of water you pour in compared to the amount of grounds in your machine. 

The primary purpose of the water having time to combine with the coffee beans is to grab all the delicious flavors before being poured into your cup. However, it is important to measure out the correct amount of water before adding it to the grounds. 

If you put in too much water, too much of the flavor from the beans will be extracted, and you could end up with a highly bitter taste. To ensure that does not happen to you, keep an eye on how much water you are adding to your grounds. Getting the appropriate ratio of coffee grounds to water will help you achieve a tasty cup of coffee. 

The Water Being Used Is Too Hot

This reason may seem surprising because it does take boiling water to extract the coffee oils and completely brew the drink properly. However, there is actually a point where the water is too hot and has a negative effect on the way the coffee ends up.

The best temperature for water being used to brew coffee is between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit (90 to 96 degrees Celsius). Keeping the water in this temperature range will ensure that the right amount of flavors are extracted, and your cup of coffee tastes great.

If the water gets any hotter than that before being poured over the grounds, the flavors can quickly become over-extracted, and your coffee can turn out too bitter. To prevent that from happening, keep an eye on how hot your water gets when it is initially boiling. 

Your Coffee Machine Is Dirty

If you are very careful about how much water you add to your grounds and how hot the water is, have already eliminated the other potential reasons from this list, and your coffee is still coming out bitter, it could be that your machine just needs a good cleaning.

Coffee oils can build up very quickly in a machine that is not cleaned regularly and thoroughly, and they have the ability to restrict the flow of water through the coffeemaker. When this happens, the flavors will be unevenly extracted from the fresh grounds and may even mix with the old, leftover oils coating the machine, resulting in bitter coffee. 

Cleaning your coffeemaker on a consistent basis will help eliminate this issue and keep your brews tasting fresh and delicious. 

Final Thoughts

A finer grind can absolutely make your coffee taste more bitter, especially if there are other contributing factors too. Using the right size of ground coffee beans for your machine, adding in the correct amount and temperature of the water, and keeping your coffeemaker clean will allow you to brew the perfect cup of coffee every time.