If the barista is still surprised about the bitter taste of coffee, let’s learn about it with Barista School!
What is coffee bitterness?
Bitter is the most sensitive of all and often causes many unpleasant sensations. Bad experiences or emotions are often associated with bitterness and bitterness and make people remember the longest.
We all know that the human tongue is like a taste map with a clear awareness of each taste in each different area (salty-sweet – sour – spicy – bitter). In the framework of this article, we will focus on the bitter taste more.
Coffee bitterness is caused by compounds called phenolics. One of the most common compounds is chlorogenic acid found in coffee beans. Besides, caffeine also contributes to the bitter taste of coffee. However, compared with quinic acid, the bitterness of caffeine is only second.
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At what stage are coffee beans bitter?
When discussing the bitter taste of coffee, most of us will think of coffee after roasting or after preparation. But in fact, green coffee also has a bitter taste. Try to taste green coffee beans once to experience the bitter taste of coffee when it is still fresh.
Of course, the bitter taste of coffee is most evident and characteristic when it is roasted. And the extraction and preparation process is also the stage that can affect or increase the bitter taste.
The reason why coffee is bitter
Coffee has a bitter taste, but 99% of adults cannot live without it, despite the that no one is born a coffee lover. Ideally, the bitterness of coffee is delicious because of its natural taste. But sometimes makes you wince and uncomfortable with the bitter taste of coffee.
So, what makes coffee bitter?
1. Origin & Species
Analysis of chemical composition, chlorogenic acid, and caffeine in Robusta has more than in Arabica. This is the reason why Robusta feels more bitter than Arabica coffee. Specifically:
- Acid chlorogenic: 10% strong Robus, 8% strong Arabica
- Caffeine: Robusta has twice as much caffeine as Arabica
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Besides environmental conditions, growing methods also significantly affect the chlorogenic acid content and final taste of coffee.
2. Coffee roasting process
Roasting is a heating process that affects green coffee beans. During this process, countless chemical reactions occur. These reactions will break down and convert chlorogenic acid into many different compounds. Specifically, quinic acid and caffeic acid belong to the phenolic group, contributing to coffee’s bitter taste and body.
Besides, each roast level will also give very different levels of bitterness. Reality:
- Light roast will be the least bitter because the chlorogenic acid has not been fully converted. Acidity with acidity character will be higher.
- Medium roast will give a slightly more pronounced bitterness. The sour and sweet taste is also more balanced if you meet a talented roaster.
- The dark roast will have a robust bitter taste, which can be very painful to upset and burn.
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3. Over-steeping increases the bitterness of coffee
If you steep your coffee for too long, over-extraction will result in unpleasant coffee flavors. At this time, almost besides the bitter taste, nearly no other flavor can be felt. On the contrary, if the steeping time is too short, the coffee will be very weak, and the sour taste will be too much. Ideally, the extraction level is just right to preserve the delicious flavor of the coffee, especially the ethereal bitterness.
The barista must control the water temperature and preparation time to not fall into over-steeping.
4. Dispensing equipment is dirty due to poor cleaning
A solemn word of advice: Always keep your device clean!
Whether you use a French Press or any other tool, wash it thoroughly after each use. Before brewing, it is advisable to run hot clean water at least once to remove any dirt and odors caused by oxidizing coffee.
It would help if you cleaned the dispenser filters with baking soda and a specialized cleaning brush from time to time. The principle of strict hygiene for the tools ensures to limit and eliminate the cause of the guest’s influence on the taste of coffee. Because the device still has old coffee, bad chemical reactions such as oxidation, rancidity, etc., will contribute to the unpleasant bitter taste of coffee.
5. Not paying attention to the coffee grind size by the brewing method and equipment
Making good coffee is a skill. Knowing how to create memorable coffee bitterness is a technique. Choosing a good blender and learning how to calibrate it to control the desired grind size is required.
Depending on the type of tool and preferred preparation method, decide on the appropriate grind size. Only then will your coffee form the flavor you desire. Also, to avoid extracting unwanted bitter compounds that spoil the coffee taste.
- Cold-brew: very coarse (extra coarse)
- French Press: Coarse
- Chemex: medium coarse
- Syphon/ Phin: Medium
- Pour-over filter funnel: Medium Fine
- Moka pot/ AeroPress/ Espresso: Fine
- Turkish: Extra Fine
Hey, please note this rule to have the basis for adjusting the size to suit your needs. The finer the grind, the more flavor will be extracted. But at the same time will also create more coffee bitterness. And conversely, the coarser the task, the lighter and sweeter the taste. However, it depends on the extraction time factor.
6. Water quality and temperature
Most coffees are made hot. And factors such as water type and brewing temperature play a vital role in creating a good cup of coffee.
First, you will completely ruin your cup of coffee if you use unfiltered water. Many people think that any country can make coffee. But that is relatively “shallow” and wrong thinking. Distilled water is clean but is not recommended because it lacks mineral content. Bottled mineral water is the right choice if you make it at home. Usually, people use standard water filtration systems for brewing in coffee shops. The topic of the most suitable types of water for coffee making will be shared in a separate post. Barista School will invite you to refer to the following.
Second, water temperature is a factor that baristas need to understand and know how to control. The best temperature is in the range of 90 – 96 0 C. Note that the closer the temperature zone is to 96 0 C, the better because, the lower the temperature, the more prominent the bitter taste.
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We’ve all heard of cold brew coffee, a brewing method that reduces bitterness.
7. Use old coffee beans
Connoisseurs know that coffee is best when brewed from coffee beans in the new stage. But, after roasting, coffee beans cannot stay fresh forever, especially when in poor storage conditions. Besides, not everyone notices that old coffee beans can add more bitterness to your coffee.
Note that 10-20 days after roasting is the golden time for coffee beans. After that time, the seeds will begin to “go bad,” and the flavor will gradually become bland once you get used to enjoying the taste of really fresh coffee beans. You will become extremely sensitive if the aromas have “off” or the taste has “faded.” They are inherent.
Although there are a few ways to save it, for example, great brewing techniques, the great flavor cannot be regained once the seeds are stale or rotten. Refrigeration is a usable way to slightly prolong the freshness of green and roasted nuts.
On another note, the seeds should only be ground before mixing to keep the best flavor possible. Because when the beans are ground into a powder before being used for too long, the coffee will be attacked by oxidation and moisture. And CO2 begins to decline, making the taste bland and gradually disappearing.
8. The ratio of water in the coffee
For some experts, the ideal ratio for the balance between coffee and water is 55 grams of coffee per liter of water. A percentage of 18:1 means 18 grams of water for 1 gram of coffee. However, this ratio is not a hard-and-fast rule.
Depending on taste, the favorite ratio is usually between 16:1 and 19:1. A simple rule to remember is that less coffee means less bitterness. Besides, depending on the mixing tool, the ratio will adjust to have the golden ratio for your favorite flavor.
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