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Why Does My Coffee Taste Burnt?

If you look forward to your morning cup of coffee each day, but find that lately it hasn’t tasted the way you want it to, there can be several reasons behind this change in flavor.

If you’re getting a burnt taste or an ashy taste from the coffee once it’s done, and you try to drink it, you might be wondering why and how you can fix it.

The truth is there are a variety of possible causes, and you’ll have to do some investigating to see which one it is that makes your coffee taste funny.

The coffee beans you buy, or the maker you use to brew it can be to blame for the burnt taste, or you may find that it’s your daily habits that are causing this change to the flavor profile. 

Some top reasons for coffee coming out tasting burnt or harsh might include:

Overheating During or After Brewing 

Overheating happens when the coffee maker reaches a higher temperature than it should during the brewing process, or even after the coffee is made.

This causes the liquid to get hotter than optimal and changes the taste of the finished product. Many people leave the coffee pot of their drip coffee maker on the heating element to keep it warm for a longer period of time, and come back to grab a second or third cup later on in the day.

Unfortunately, this can lead to the liquid overheating and getting infused with the burnt taste. 

Drip coffee makers are the most likely to cause overheating, especially if the maker does not have an automatic shutoff that turns the heating element off if you forget.

Otherwise, the coffee can sit there getting reheated for hours, at which point it is more likely to taste burnt. 

Investing in a single serve coffee maker, French press, or espresso machine to make your coffee at home helps to solve this issue, as overheating is less likely when you brew the coffee using these methods.

While brewing a full pot of coffee may seem more budget friendly that using single serve coffee pods, if the coffee that remains in the pot ends up burnt and gets thrown away, then any cost savings is out the window. 

Stale or Over roasted Coffee Beans/Grounds

The state of the coffee beans or grounds you are using is a key factor in the end result.

You want to start with the freshest ground coffee and best quality of water you can get when making a pot of coffee.

While many consumers think of coffee as something that never goes bad, it can become stale just like other food products.

Once you open a package of ground coffee, it can be helpful to store it in an airtight container like a Tupperware to keep it from going stale too fast by being exposed to the air in the home.

Once it has gone stale, any coffee you make using these grounds can also taste stale or burnt. 

Another cause is over roasted coffee beans, which have been burnt in the process of extracting the optimal flavor from the beans, before taking the whole bean to a ground state and packaging it for sale.

This can happen from time to time when a coffee making company uses too high of a temperature to roast a particular kind of coffee bean.

You can avoid this issue by roasting your own coffee beans, or shopping with an independent coffee seller that works in small batches, making it less likely for the beans to get burned. 

Dirty Coffee maker or Tools

Properly cleaning your coffee maker, any reusable filters, your milk foamer and any other tools you use to make a cup will greatly improve the taste.

Through the course of regular use, buildup can get on the interior elements of the coffee maker and cause the coffee to come out cloudy or less flavorful.

To avoid this, clean the coffee marker as often as recommended by the maker using vinegar or another substance to get rid of any buildup.

After cleaning, flush the system with water to remove every trace of the vinegar before making more coffee.  

Burnt Coffee FAQs

Here’s the answers to some common questions on burnt tasting coffee.

How do you fix burnt coffee taste?

If you pour a cup of coffee to discover that it has the burnt taste, then adding some milk and sugar should make it taste better.

To fix a burnt tasting espresso shot, adjust your grinder to a slightly coarser grind.

This will help the water to seep through the grind more evenly without too much resistance, and it won’t overcook the coffee.

Why does Starbucks coffee taste burnt?

Have you ever noticed that your Starbucks coffee has that terrible bitter and burnt taste?

The most likely reason for the bitter/burnt taste is that Starbucks roasts their beans at a higher temperature then most roasters in order to produce large quantities of beans in a short time.

What does scorched coffee taste like?

You can expect scorched coffee to taste smoky, burnt, bitter, and ashy, combined with some green, grassy, and hay notes from the underdevelopment.

These will overpower the other flavors of the coffee.

Why does my coffee taste like an ashtray?

Beans exposed to the air can lose a lot of their flavor and freshness, and will go stale if exposed to too much oxygen, leading to a burnt tasting brew.

Final Word

By following these tips, you can get down to the root cause of the unpleasant taste that goes with your coffee and make your home-brewed java much more enjoyable.

Once you’ve eliminated the burnt taste, you can really enjoy the flavor profile and unique tastes of the particular kind of coffee you’ve purchased. 

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