A freshly prepared cold brew coffee in your home can be a delicious and refreshing treat on a hot summer day. Have you ever made one at home and found yourself disappointed by its weird taste? If so, you’re not alone.
Your cold brew tastes weird because either you’ve used too much coffee, the grind was too fine, or it could be over—or under-extracted. To fix this, try using a coarser coffee ground, a shorter brewing time—ideally 14 to 18 hours, and ensure the coffee-to-water ratio remains 1:4 or 1:5.
This article will explore some of the most common causes of weird-tasting cold brew and a few simple fixes. By the end, you’ll be an expert at making delicious cold brew that tastes just like the stuff from your favorite coffee shop.
1. Your Coffee Beans Are Over-Roasted or Under-Roasted
Could beans be the problem? When you make a cold brew coffee, you are extracting the coffee bean’s flavors and oils with water—but you’re also leaving behind certain compounds that can cause your cold brew to taste off.
Over-roasted or under-roasted beans can both produce a subpar cold brew. Over-roasted beans can make your coffee taste burnt, while under-roasted beans can make it taste watery.
How To Fix
The best way to avoid the problems of burnt and watery tastes from your cold brew is to use freshly roasted beans that you have roasted to a medium level.
If you’re unsure about your bean’s roasting level—you can always ask the barista at your local coffee shop. They should be able to tell you whether the beans are over-roasted or under-roasted and help you choose a better batch of beans for your next cold brew.
You can try out the Fresh Roasted Medium Roast Coffee (available on Amazon) for a cold brew with a perfect balance of flavors due to the notes of caramel, milk chocolate, and almond butter contained.
2. You Might Be Using Too Finely Ground or Pre-Ground Coffee
It might be the grind if you’re cold brewing coffee and not getting the desired results. Is your grind too coarse or too fine?
The coarseness of your grind will directly impact the flavor of your cold brew. If you find that your cold brew tastes weak and watery, it’s likely because you’re using a too-coarse grind.
On the other hand, if your cold brew tastes bitter and over-extracted, you’re probably using a too-fine grind. The grind should be somewhere in between those two extremes.
How To Fix
Luckily, using a medium coarse grind is an easy fix for both problems. Here’s why:
- Medium coarse ground coffee beans have more oils and acids than other grinds. These qualities mean they’ll extract more flavor from the beans when brewed, resulting in a tastier cup of coffee.
- In addition, medium coarse grinds are less likely to clog up your cold brew machine or french press than finer grinds. These medium grinds can save you a lot of headaches (and wasted coffee) down the line.
I recommend using a medium-coarse grind for the best cold brewing experience, like the Bizzy Organic Cold Brew Coffee (available on Amazon). Its 100% coarse ground, medium roasted Arabica beans are optimized for cold brewing to give you that consistent, extra smooth cup of coffee.
If you’re grinding your beans, make sure you use a consistent grind size, preferably made in an electric burr coffee grinder. Even a minor variation can make a difference in the taste of your cold brew.
For instance, you can use the KRUPS Precision Grinder, which lets you grind 8 ounces (226g)) of whole coffee beans for around 30 cups.
Now you can easily make that Starbucks-style cold brew at home!
3. You Might Be Leaving Your Cold Brew for Too Long
Did you brew your cold brew too long or too short? When it comes to cold brew, the brewing process plays a key role.
Brewing for too long will result in a coffee that is over-extracted and bitter because barristers typically brew cold brew coffee for longer than hot brews.
On the other hand, if you don’t brew for long enough, you’ll end up with a thin coffee-colored dilution. The shorter brewing time results in a less flavorful cup of coffee.
How To Fix
Don’t chug that cold brew in the morning that’s been brewing for only 10-12 hours.
Make sure to brew your cold brew for at least 14 hours. Ideally, I recommend that you brew for 14-18 hours inside a refrigerator.
The longer you brew your cold brew, the more coffee flavors and oils will enhance the flavor—resulting in a strong and flavorful coffee.
4. Incorrect Ratio of Coffee to Water Is the Cause
You’ve been grinding your beans fresh and using the proper amount of coffee for your recipe, yet you’re still unhappy with the flavor. See if the coffee-to-water ratio is off.
If your cold brew coffee tastes terrible, it might be because the ratio of coffee to water is off—which can happen if you use too much or too little coffee.
How To Fix
Try adjusting the ratio of coffee to water until you find a taste you like.
The ideal ratio is 1:5, but if you’re using more or less coffee, it can affect the taste.
Here’s how you can make that perfect cold brew coffee that doesn’t taste too watery by watching this 4-min YouTube video:
5. Use Filtered Water for Your Cold Brew
Not all water is created equal, and that goes for coffee too. The water you use to brew your cold can impact the final flavor. What type of water are you using for your cold brew?
If you’ve ever made cold brew at home and found that it lacks sweetness, it could be because you were using tap water. Tap water has chlorine and other chemicals that can strip away some of the natural sweetness of the coffee beans, giving your coffee a weird flavor.
At the same time, hard water can cause your cold brew to turn metallic in taste.
How To Fix
If you want your cold brew to be as flavorful and sweet as possible, use filtered water instead of tap water. Filtered water will help ensure that your cold brew tastes clean and tasty.
You can also use bottled spring water if you don’t have a filter. It’s best to avoid distilled water, as it can make your coffee taste flat.
If you’re not using filtered water, your cold brew might taste weird. That’s because coffee is 99% water, so the water quality going into your brew matters. If your water tastes bad, your coffee will too.
Unlike regular brews, cold brew coffee is made in cold water and tastes much smoother and less acidic. The health benefits are also higher as you get equal amounts of caffeine at no extra cost. Hence, water quality is crucial in removing that weird taste in your cold brew.
6. Expired or Old Coffee Beans Can Affect Your Brew
If you’re using expired or old coffee beans, your cold brew will go off. The coffee will start to taste sour and have an unpleasant smell. That means even if you’re using high-quality coffee, you might not be getting the complete flavor profile if it’s been sitting on the shelf for weeks or months.
How To Fix
Over time, coffee beans lose their flavor and become stale. To avoid this, use fresh coffee beans roasted within the last few weeks.
If you’re unsure how old your beans are, try brewing a small batch with a new bag to see if it makes a difference.
Pro Tip: If you have already made a cold brew with old beans, there’s no need to toss it out. Just add a bit of sugar or milk to help mask the sourness. And next time, be sure to use fresher beans!
7. You Might Be Using the Wrong Storage Container
The container you use for storage can make all the difference in taste when it comes to cold brew. If you’ve been using the same container for storage and your cold brew has been tasting weird, it might be time to switch things up. So, how are you storing your cold brew concentrate?
Oxygen is one of the main enemies of coffee freshness. And when you’re going to make your cold brews in large batches, it’s obvious to store them in a proper container to avoid the oxidation process.
How To Fix
Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a storage container for your cold brew:
- Glass is the best material for storing cold brews because it doesn’t interact with coffee like other materials.
- Make sure to choose a big container to hold all your cold brews, so you don’t have to worry about running out.
- Lastly, select an opaque container, as this will keep light out, which can affect the taste of your coffee.
I recommend using the County Line Kitchen Mason Jar (available on Amazon). This high-quality glass brew maker comes with a stainless steel filter and a leakproof, easy-to-use pouring lid.
For coffee enthusiasts, there’s nothing quite like a cold brew. If your cold brew is tasting weird, don’t despair! There are a few possible causes and fixes.
If you’re using too much coffee or not enough water, it can throw off the flavor balance.
A coarse dark roast grind will produce a more intense flavor, while a medium grind will be milder.
Stale coffee beans can also cause that weird taste.
You can make a delicious cold brew that rivals your favorite coffee shop—with some educated troubleshooting!