Coffee tasting bitter or sour at home? You're probably not grinding it properly!

You may have the best coffee beans in the world, but if you're not grinding your coffee properly it may not taste the way it's supposed to. We've all seen the coffee notes described on our coffee bags; notes of dark chocolate, blueberries, and caramel...the coffee smells amazing when you first open the bag, you brew a batch at home, and it tastes nothing like what the bag described... It tastes burnt, salty, or sour. 

If you're making coffee at home and it's not tasting the way you like, chances are you're not grinding it properly.

Similar to a fine wine, the process of brewing coffee is an art and it is very precise. Take a Pour Over as an example; everything is measured and controlled to create the perfect cup of coffee.

Here are the things we can control at home when making coffee:

1. The water - 90% of your coffee is water, so make sure you're using filtered water (or New York City tap water which we all know is the best ;) You might be using too much, or too little water when brewing your coffee at home.

2. The amount or weight - You might be using too much or too little coffee. Most likely, you think that more coffee will make it stronger, but adjusting the grind can fix the problem easily without wasting coffee.

3. The grind! It's all about the way you are grinding your coffee. Today's blog post will cover the different ways to grind your coffee depending on your method of preparation.


Let's begin with the three grinding options offered at every cafe and their equivalent brewing methods


French Press


Drip Coffee 


Pour Over/Moka Pot/Espresso


Next, let's cover extraction

Over-extracted coffee: 

Means you've extracted too much of the good flavor out of the coffee leaving you with a burnt, salty, hollow flavor.

extracting more of something than is necessary



Your coffee grounds aren't getting enough water, therefore the water hasn't had enough time to break down the sugars and balance with the acids. If under-extracted, your coffee will taste sour.


Here's how to adjust your grind and perfect your flavor

Coffee tastes burnt and bitter

As we covered above, this flavor profile means the coffee is over-extracted which means you ground your beans too coarse. The water filtered through too quickly extracting all of the good flavors leaving you with something bitter. To adjust the flavor, grind your coffee finer. The trick is not to go overboard. 

Grind your coffee a touch finer and it will immediately change the flavor. 


Coffee tastes sour

Your coffee tastes sour because you ground it too fine making it under-extracted, meaning the water is not able to break down the sugars and you're left with a very acidic taste.

Grind your coffee a touch more coarse and it will immediately change the flavor


To simplify:

Bitter flavor= over-extracted= grind finer

Sour flavor= under-extracted= grind coarser


This equation works for any brewing method including espresso! 

We hope this simple pro-tip will make all the difference when you brew your coffee at home. Let us know by tagging @adventurecafe in your posts on Instagram!


Grinders we like:

Krups ® Fast Touch Coffee Grinder

Blade Coffee Grinder

OXO® Conical Burr Coffee Grinder in Stainless Steel


  • Posted by Big Dog on

    So depending upon your specific grinder, you want to grind the beans finer rather than coarser, right? I usually count to 20 while grinding beans and have been satisfied with the results.

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