Why is coffee so bitter?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “why is coffee so bitter,” and discuss how to make coffee less bitter without sugar, and whether over-steeping makes coffee bitter.

Why is coffee so bitter?

The bitter taste in coffee is caused by the presence of an organic compound called chlorogenic acid. While it is lauded for its antioxidant properties, chlorogenic acid can also give the coffee a bitter flavor.

This compound is found in the cell walls of coffee beans, and it is released during the roasting process. The longer the beans are roasted, the higher the chlorogenic acid content of the coffee and the more bitter it will taste.

The time of roasting varies between different types of coffee, but light roasts typically have less bitter flavors than dark roast coffees.

What does bitter coffee taste like?

Bitter coffee tastes like a cup of coffee that has been accidentally burned or over-roasted. It is also possible for a cup of coffee to become bitter if it is made with water that is too hot. Additionally, if you leave your coffee too steep for too long before drinking it, it may become bitter.

How to make coffee less bitter without sugar?

A common method to combat bitterness in coffee is to add sugar, but if you don’t want to do that, there are other options.

Add some salt

The first thing you can do is add a pinch of salt. Make sure the salt is fully dissolved before drinking the coffee. This can help reduce the number of bitter compounds that you taste in your coffee.

Use almond milk

Another way to lessen the bitterness of your coffee without using sugar is to use almond milk instead of regular milk or cream. Regular milk and cream have a high-fat content, which helps cut down on bitterness, but almond milk also reduces bitterness without adding as much fat.

Change your brewing method

You may also want to try changing your brewing method. If you’re brewing with a standard drip machine, try changing it up to French press or cold brew. These methods typically produce less-bitter coffee than hot water poured over the grounds in a short amount of time (drip).

Quality of coffee beans

The type of coffee you’re using affects the taste of coffee. If you’re using a dark roast, it’s likely to taste more bitter than a light roast, due to the way the beans are roasted.

Fresh grounded coffee beans

Try grinding your own beans instead of buying pre-ground. This will result in less bitterness in the cup and help keep your coffee fresher longer.

Take fewer coffee grounds 

Another option is to use fewer coffee grounds when brewing your coffee. Simply measure a tablespoon instead of two, or use a smaller filter if you’re brewing with a drip machine. This will reduce the amount of caffeine in your brew but still allow you to enjoy that rich, full-bodied flavor of darker roasts.

What chemical makes coffee bitter?

Chlorogenic acid is the main chemical that makes coffee bitter, but it’s not the only one. Other acids present in coffee are responsible for its bitterness as well. The level of bitterness in a cup of coffee largely depends on the amount of time the beans have been roasted. Dark-roasted beans contain less chlorogenic acid than light-roasted ones do, for example.

Does over-steeping make coffee bitter?

Yes, it does. If you extract too much, the coffee will taste bitter. If you extract too little, the coffee will be weak and sour.

Coffee lovers around the world love to argue about the perfect cup of coffee. Some people like their coffee hot and black, while others prefer a touch of cream and sugar. But there’s one thing we can all agree on: nobody likes a bitter cup of joe.

Over-steeping is a common enemy of the perfect cup of coffee, but luckily, it’s one that’s easy to overcome.

Does the bitterness of coffee depend on the quality of beans used?

Yes, the bitterness of coffee depends on the quality of beans used. Coffee beans are one of the most popular beverages in the world. However, the quality and type of beans you use to make your coffee may influence the bitterness of your drink.

The bitterness of a cup of coffee is determined by the amount of caffeine and tannins (the compounds that give coffee its bitter taste) in your drink. If you’re using high-quality beans, you will get a higher concentration of tannins in your beverage than if you used low-quality beans.

The quality and type of coffee bean can also affect how bitter or sweet it tastes when it’s brewed into a drink. The more acidic the soil where they were grown, the less bitter their flavor will be; conversely, if they were grown in neutral or alkaline soil conditions then their flavor will become more bitter after being brewed into an espresso shot or cup of joe.

Coffee beans’ price does not always reflect their taste: for example, some people prefer Kona blends over Sumatran roasts because they think these brews taste better than those made from Arabica beans grown around Mount Fujiyama (in Japan).


In this brief guide, we have addressed the question, “why is coffee so bitter,” and other questions related to the subject, such as how to make coffee less bitter without sugar, and does over-steeping make coffee bitter.



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.