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Why Is Some Coffee More Bitter Than Others?

Why Is Some Coffee More Bitter Than Others?

What could be worse than thinking you’ve bought the best coffee for home, pouring a big cup, bringing it up to your lips, taking the first sweet drink, and realizing it’s bitter.

A cup of coffee should burst with flavor, not be overpowered by bitterness. Why does coffee sometime end up bitter?

Should Coffee Actually Be Bitter?

It’s pretty interesting that coffee is so often thought of as bitter. Coffee should never taste bitter. Rather, coffee should have a variety of flavors, from spicy to floral to even hints of chocolate. In fact, there’s a whole flavor wheel dedicated to ways of describing great coffee. Let’s take a look at some of the causes of bitterness, and how to avoid them.

Let’s Look at The Technicalities: Does Brewing Make a Difference?

Coffee brewing is actually quite a science. One of the main reasons why coffee can seem bitter is due to over extraction. The process of extraction is where flavor is pulled out of the coffee, rendering clear water into that deliciously dark brew. When water mixes with the coffee grounds, there is a chemical reaction wherein the flavor compounds are dissolved. The trick is to extract the delicious flavor compounds without the overly acidic ones, which tend to overpower with more time and create bitterness.

Keeping this in mind, here are a few points that could be creating your bitter cup of coffee and that easily be avoided the next time you make a brew.

You’re Leaving the Coffee To Steep For Too Long

This point is particularly common when a French press is used to brew coffee, since a lot of people tend to leave the coffee in the press once they have pushed the plunger down. When the grounds are left in too long, the coffee continues to extract after the delicious flavors have already been extracted. This is easy to fix. If you really prefer to drink your coffee in a leisurely fashion, don’t leave it in the French press or brewer when it is done brewing. Immediately transfer it to a thermal carafe which will keep it hot.

You’re Not Using The Right Size Grind.

Grinding coffee beans can change how the compounds dissolve. This means that if the beans are too coarsely ground, you run the risk of under-extraction and this in turn leads to a flat-tasting coffee. However, if the beans are too finely ground, they become over-extracted and you’re left with bitter coffee. Different brewing methods tend to require different size grinds so sometimes you need to experiment a little to figure out that perfect sweet spot. However, if you are getting a bitter cup, chances are good your grounds have been too finely ground.

The Water’s Been Boiled Too Hot

Water temperature actually plays a big role in coffee brewing. Boil it too hot and you start extracting the bitter compounds. The ideal boiling temperature is 195 -205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal extraction. Simply put, do not let your water over boil and remember to let it sit for a minute just before pouring over your coffee grounds.

The Equipment is Dirty

Bitterness doesn’t only occur from over extraction. Residue coffee that has been left over from the last time you brewed a batch can certainly affect the flavor of your future cups. So be sure to keep your brewing equipment squeaky clean.

Eliminate Bitter Coffee – Drink Better Coffee

What’s the best way to eliminate bitter coffee? Don’t settle for low quality coffee. Our coffee is shade-grown, meaning it naturally has less acidity which means a smoother, less bitter Cup of Joe. A focus on brewing will help too. Check out our brew guides to learn how to make better coffee with the coffee brewer of your choice. We’d suggest trying a Chemex brewer for the best results.

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How To Use a French Press

How To Use a French Press

On Camano, at CICR’s roasting building or by phone, we are frequently asked questions about proper preparation techniques for coffee. One of the most popular brewing methods is using a french press pot. Read on to learn how to use a french press.

An Introduction

The french press is considered by many to be the best way to enjoy the true flavor of the coffee. If there was a college course on coffee, How to use a french press would be in Coffee 101! The preparation of the drink allows more sediment to be included in the beverage, making it a strong, rich, cup of coffee. After brewing, the ground coffee beans remain in contact with the brewed coffee causing the flavor to grow stronger and at some point, turn bitter. It’s generally considered to be “expired” or “old” after 20 minutes or more of contact with the water. One interesting thing about our coffee is that you’ll find the flavor will last well past that 20 minute point due to the extreme smoothness of our high quality, shade-grown, and ethical coffee beans. We still recommend consuming it prior to 20 minutes but if you don’t, don’t throw it out! You may still really enjoy it!

On to the brewing…

Great! Let’s get started. French Press is painless and easy but to cut back any confusion (in case you’ve pulled out that french press in the back of your cupboard and are following along), I’m going to do a numbered list to help guide you through the preparation steps.

How to Use a French Press in 12 Steps

  1. Start a pot of water boiling.
  2. While the water is boiling, it’s time to get your other items accumulated and ready. You’ll need a grinder, a scoop or some utensil for measuring your coffee into the french press, a french press, and a mug or two for the finished product.
  3. Once the water is at a boiling temperature, it’s time to start the process.
  4. Turn off the burner and remove the pot so the water can cool slightly. By the time we are done, it should be very close to the exact temperature we are aiming for.
  5. Grind your coffee beans on your grinder’s coarsest setting.
  6. After grinding, immediately scoop the desire amount of coffee into your french press. (A good starting point is about 8.5 grams of coffee per 4 ounces of water – then adjust to taste).
  7. By this point, your water should be perfect temperature.
  8. Fill the pot up towards the top moving the stream around to saturate all the ground coffee beans. (Make sure and save some space for the plunger mechanism)
  9. Add the top and plunge down slightly to completely submerse all the grounds in the water.
  10. Wait. 2-3 minutes for smaller, personal french presses is a great time and 4 minutes for larger ones. (I personally will err on the side of waiting too long rather than not long enough to make sure I get a good extraction)
  11. It’s time! Slowly and steadily press the plunger down while trying not to let the rod bend or bow.
  12. Serve and enjoy! ~ That’s how to use a french press!

Note: I’m writing this assuming you use a good burr grinder (either flat burr or conical burr). If your coffee comes pre ground coffee beans or you use a small hand grinder, I HIGHLY recommend that you looking into purchasing a burr grinder (for the sake of a good, consistent, fresh grind) and promise you’ll love your coffee all that much more!
It’s really easy! After you do it one or two times, you’ll become a pro and be making it often in the future. While french pressed coffee is very popular, coffee is a wonderful product in that there are so many ways to enjoy it. Each individual finds their own way of enjoying every last drop. Keep your eyes peeled for more “Coffee Making” posts and you’ll be able to brew the perfect cup of coffee no matter what you’re presented with.
Until next time, Press Away!

Dan – CICR

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Perfect Espresso Shots – Make Great Espresso At Home [Coffee Brewing Guide] – Part2

Espresso is a touchy subject in the coffee industry. You can learn “the only correct way” from a ton of different sources and somehow, they always seem to differ. The honest answer is that there is no one way to make espresso that is universal and works for every espresso machine. Espresso machines are touchy and each one has a “best practices” list in order that you can make great espresso. “Make a Great Espresso at Home” – the second part of our “Coffee Brewing Guide” we’ll look at some of that important factors to help you make great espresso at home. In part 2, we’ll explore how you can extract perfect espresso shots at home.

Make Great Espresso At Home – Part 2 – Extract Perfect Espresso Shots

Make Great Espresso for Home!

At the end of Part 2, we mentioned a company that our barista’s use to perfect their espresso techniques. is actually very affordable at $10 a month for access to industry leading espresso training. You may want to check out the free trial and see if it works for you. Ultimately, whether you have a home espresso maker or a giant, 3-group, industrial machine… the basic principles of great espresso are the same.

The 5 most important factors to pulling perfect espresso shots are: Water Pressure, Extraction Time, Water Temperature, Grind Consistency, and Tamping. If any one of these are off, your shots will lose a lot of flavor and you won’t enjoy your end espresso drink. For perfect espresso shots, all of these need to be set exactly right. Some of these are out of your control, however. The goal is to strive for perfection in all of these things and get as close as you can – or, if you can justify it, find a new machine that will allow you to achieve that perfection.

Continue reading Perfect Espresso Shots – Make Great Espresso At Home [Coffee Brewing Guide] – Part2

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Make Great Espresso At Home [Coffee Brewing Guide] – Part1

Espresso is a touchy subject in the coffee industry. You can learn “the only correct way” from a ton of different sources and somehow, they always seem to differ. The honest answer is that there is no one way to make espresso that is universal and works for every espresso machine. Espresso machines are touchy and each one has a “best practices” list in order that you can make great espresso. “Make a Great Espresso at Home” – the second part of our “Coffee Brewing Guide” we’ll look at some of that important factors to help you make great espresso at home.

Make Great Espresso for Home!

Make Great Espresso At Home – Part 1 – Foundations

First off, if you have an espresso machine, you’re one of three kinds of people:

  1. 1.) a coffee connoisseur that wants the ability to enjoy espresso made from the beans of their choice at home, on demand
  2. 2.) a person that enjoys tinkering with gadgets and loves coffee and figured that this was the way to go
  3. 3.) someone that didn’t realize the first two kinds of people are the prime candidates for an espresso machine and purchased theirs for money savings or was given the one they have.

Continue reading Make Great Espresso At Home [Coffee Brewing Guide] – Part1

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How To Make The Best Coffee — Cone vs Flat Drip

how to make the best coffee

In the USA, drip coffee is the single most popular way to brew that morning cup of coffee. Most people brew coffee in a drip coffee maker because it’s easy and habitual. Many people, however, consistently prepare their coffee incorrectly. In this post I’ll show you how to make the best coffee.

We all make coffee differently

Depending on the individual, it can be misinformation or just the way they’ve been brought up to brew their coffee by their parents. Keep in Mind… everyone enjoys their coffee differently. My guide is to steer those who are unaware of the proper techniques towards enjoying a much better cup. There are a group of people who purposefully do things differently. While that may not be considered “the ultimate” way to enjoy coffee, for that person it may be.

Also, fresh coffee vs. ground coffee beans is going to make a HUGE difference in flavor.

I’m writing this post assuming you have a good burr grinder. I’m also going to assume that you are receiving whole bean coffee from CICR. If you’re currently getting it ground, you can skip over any steps that mention grinding the coffee. I do, however, strongly recommend that you purchase a decent burr or even a conical burr grinder and start grinding your own coffee. The flavor difference is huge… especially a couple weeks into your coffee shipment. The brewing process is simple and many people will find this part boring. In an effort to be complete, however, I’m going to spell it out briefly.

How To Make The Best Coffee Step 1: The Water.

Fill the water tank on the brewing unit to the fill line (or to the level acceptable for the amount of coffee you’re brewing). Make sure you don’t use distilled water or unfiltered tap water as the water will severely alter the flavor of your coffee.


How To Make The Best Coffee Step 2: Grind your coffee.

Typical grinders will have numbers 1-9. Assuming 1 is the finest grind on your grinder, grind a number 4 for your cone filter or a number 6 for your flat filter. If your grinder isn’t numbered, put the dial in the center for a flat filter and make it a notch or two finer for a cone filter.

How To Make The Best Coffee Step 3: Use Enough Coffee!

Many people have varying views as to the strength of their coffee. That is fine and totally up to personal taste. The problem lies in the extraction. Not enough fresh coffee grounds will give you over-extracted coffee. It’s better to make it strong and water it down afterward with hot water.

How To Make The Best Coffee Step 5: Start your coffee maker

Start your coffee maker and set a timer for the length of time it will take to remind you to come back when it’s finished.

If you have a thermal pot, you’re ready to go and your coffee will stay hot for a long while. If you have a glass pot, make sure you turn the burner off immediately or else your coffee will continue to cook and you’ll lose a lot of flavor.

Untitled-1.jpgThe Cliff Notes of How to make the best coffee!

– Use at least 1 tablespoon of grounds per 8oz of water (I prefer 6oz personally).

– If possible, grind the amount of coffee you need just before brewing it.

– Do NOT brew your coffee weak if you like it weaker. Instead brew less and add hot water.

– Cone Grind – #4; Flat Grind – #6 on a typical burr grinder.

– Use water that is purified but not distilled for the flavor. That will ensure your coffee tastes the best possible. Thanks for reading! Please ask any questions you may have. Either respond to this post or catch us on Facebook or Twitter! Dan – CICR

how to make the best coffee

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Loving and Brewing the Perfect Cup of Coffee

Coffee Lovers around the globe…

If you are reading this, I can only assume you are drinking CICR coffee… and rightfully so; you and I both know this coffee really is the best! How do you enjoy it?

Daily, I sit amidst the rich coffee aromas here at the Roaster Building on Camano Island. I love that smell, that coffee smell. To me, however, there is nothing quite like the smell of that first pot brewing early in the morning…

I prefer our Ethiopian coffee roast (with its smooth berry tones and deep rich flavor) brewed in my treasured french press. In my mind, the french press is a tool/toy that all coffee lovers should own and enjoy! I just love the process of making that first cup each morning: putting the water on to boil, grinding the beans, setting up the press, and putting just the right amount of whole milk in my mug. When the water is ready, I pour it over the freshly ground beans and take in the smell while walking it over to the coffee table to allow it the time to brew before the sacred plunge can take place. The process is complete – it’s just me and the steaming hot french press… with about 45 minutes before I need to be at work.

I am curious what you, our blog followers, prefer. Do you drink Espresso? Drip? French Press? Flavored? If you’d care to share with us here on the blog, feel free… it will be fun to hear how our coffee is being served and enjoyed.

We look forward to reading your own coffee experiences!

Matt – CICR