Can you burn coffee? (3 Steps to Take)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you burn coffee? We will discuss the cause of coffee getting burnt and some measures to take to prevent it from happening. We will also shed light on ways to tell if the coffee is burnt.

Can you burn coffee?

You can burn coffee. Coffee burns as a result of heating coffee for long or overroasting the beans. To prevent your coffee from getting burnt, use water that is below the boiling temperature. If you boil water, let it cook down for at least 30 seconds before you add to the coffee, as freeze-dried ground beans become over-steeped.

If you make brewed coffee instead of adding hot water, then make sure to avoid heating the coffee for long to prevent it from burning. 

 Not only can you burn coffee as you prepare it, but over-roasted beans also make coffee that seems burnt. 

How do overroasted or stale coffee beans make burnt coffee?

Over Roasted or stale coffee beans can cause coffee to have a burnt taste. 

Over roasted coffee beans have a dark brown or black color. While dark roasted coffee beans make excellent coffee, overroasting can diminish the experience greatly.

Overroasting can be a result of poor quality control. If you buy low-grade coffee, there is a chance that the roasting would be either insufficient or excessive. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to make your beans revert to a less or ideally roasted state.   

Over Roasted coffee beans have black burn marks on them and have an unusually dark color. 

Old or stale beans lose their flavor and aromatic compounds causing them to have a bad, burnt taste. Therefore, it is important to store the beans in an airtight container and prevent oxidation reactions from occurring and causing rancidity. Also, remember to use your coffee beans well within the expiration date.

If you roast your own coffee, then there are certain measures you could take to prevent it from overroasting. As the beans are roasted lightly, you hear a crack as a sign that the beans have started to roast. 

You could even use a thermometer to keep track of the temperature that the roast has attained. Cook the beans and let the second crack happen to medium-roast. As the temperature approaches 430-450°F, you get a dark roast.

How to prevent your coffee from tasting burnt?

When you make coffee, aim for a temperature that lies between 202-206 F. Making coffee at a temperature that exceeds the 206 Fahrenheit mark, could cause the coffee beans to be over-extracted and taste burnt and bitter. The higher the temperature you expose the coffee to, expect it to taste more bitter.

High heat and overcooking cause the compounds called tannins to leach out faster. The tannins are responsible for causing the bitter taste in coffee.

To prevent your coffee from burning, the first thing would be not to heat, or cook for long periods. Do not leave the pot sitting on the stove or warmer. Also, try to make small batches of coffee instead of making one large and storing it for long. 

Keep the leftover brew covered and inside a refrigerator. Try to use the brew within a week and make fresh batches as soon as possible. 

Clean your coffee pot regularly. Leaving residue of coffee and stains would also over-extract the coffee and cause the bitter compounds to linger in your fresh coffee.

Keep the coffee on the heat source for no more than five hours. If you would like the coffee to last longer than that, you can make batches and store them separately.

Aim for the coffee plate to be at 165 Fahrenheit. While it is impossible to heat your coffee below that temperature, sticking to the number mentioned above will help to prevent the coffee from burning. If you notice incoherency or abnormality in the temperature setting of your coffee machine, then get it fixed otherwise it will mess with the quality of the coffee. 

How to tell if your coffee has burnt?

The taste and smell of burnt coffee become prominent after the coffee has cooled down to a milder temperature. 

Besides the assessment of the color and texture of the coffee beans, the coffee drink can also tell you whether the coffee is burnt. 

The smells and texture are also good indicators. Burnt coffee has a bitter and sharp smell that would reminisce you of something catching fire. 

In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you burn coffee? We discussed the cause of coffee getting burnt and some measures to take to prevent it from happening. We also shed light on ways to tell if the coffee is burnt.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.