Why Does My Coffee Taste Burnt? And How to Prevent It

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You’d be surprised to find that there’s a thin line between your burnt and bitter coffee. Before you start wondering if you’re tasting burnt coffee or not, you should learn how to differentiate between these two unpleasant coffee tastes. Knowing the difference is essential to ensure that you have the appropriate remedies to fix your coffee that tastes bad. 

If you’re wondering why your coffee tastes burnt, you’re not alone. There are different reasons why your coffee tastes the way it does. For one, the problem could be that you’re using burnt coffee beans.

Identifying the cause is a great way to find a promising solution. Let’s read on to learn more about the different reasons for your burnt tasting coffee and the ways that you can fix it. 

What Does Burnt Coffee Taste Like?

First things first, before you find out more about why your coffee tastes burnt, you should know beforehand what it tastes like. The taste of your burnt coffee is an unpleasant mix of ashy, bitterness, and burnt toast flavors. These characteristics come from the complicated chemical reactions that occur when coffee beans are roasted.

This is why it’s important for you to know how to distinguish your burnt coffee taste from other bad tastes. These are the common tastes that you should learn to tell apart. 


Generally, there’s a close similarity between burnt and bitter coffee. It’s highly likely that you’re one of those people who can’t tell these tastes apart. In most instances, the reasons for bitter and burnt coffee are similar such as brewing it with water that’s too hot or using stale beans.


Burnt coffee is the main taste that you should know how to identify. When you deal with burnt coffee, there are characteristics that you’ll realize. Think of your burnt toast, and imagine having a cup of coffee with the same taste. 

Burnt coffee is also full of dark pores that you don’t regularly find. Plus, it can cause you to have a very strong dislike for coffee. 

Metallic or Plastic-like

Sometimes, after sipping on your coffee, you’ll notice that it has a metallic aftertaste. The most common causes for this are your machine or water. If there’s any buildup of contaminants in your equipment or tap water, you’ll end up with coffee that tastes metallic. The same goes for plastic-like tasting coffee. 

It’s essential for you to thoroughly clean your coffee machine and ensure that you’re using water that isn’t contaminated. 

Why Does My Coffee Taste Burnt? 

The fact of the matter is that your coffee can taste burnt due to different reasons. It’s always better for you to know what these reasons are to avoid dealing with that dreadful burnt coffee taste.

It’s amazing how many changes coffee beans undergo to create a single cup of flavorful coffee. Yet, it takes one mistake to change this flavor to taste burnt. There are five especially common mistakes that lead to burnt-tasting coffee.

1. Water that’s too hot

Did you know that water that’s too hot is an actual thing that you should consider when brewing your cup of coffee? The thing is, when your water temperature is too high, it can affect the quality of your coffee. It can cause what’s known as over-extraction of coffee, which is responsible for the taste of burnt coffee when you drink it. 

To avoid this problem, you should ensure that your water is set at the ideal temperature level. According to research from the National Coffee Association of the USA, you should boil your water to between 195 °F and 205 °F. Most standard drip coffee makers don’t let you control that, but better machines like automatic pour-over coffee makers do.

2. Incorrect water to coffee ratio

Sometimes you can have too much coffee in your water. This changes the composition of your coffee to a more burnt and, at times bitter, taste. It helps to know the ideal water to coffee ratio if you wish to fix this simple problem. 

According to research, your suitable ratio should vary from 10:1 to 18:1. It’s best to start off with a reliable coffee scale to measure your water and coffee. 

3. Burnt coffee beans

In most cases your coffee beans are the main culprit for your coffee tasting burnt. If your beans haven’t been roasted correctly and maintain a consistent shape and color, they’ll fail you when you need them the most. These are some of the ways that you can tell if your coffee beans are defective or not. 

  • If they’re partially green, it means that they’re underdeveloped.
  • When they appear too dark and oily, they’ve been overdeveloped.
  • You might see a mixture of scorched and normal-looking beans.
  • There could be burn marks that appear on the thin edges of your beans. 
  • If they taste malty, it’s because they’ve been baked instead of properly roasted. 

Only some of those will result in burnt coffee, but any roasting mistakes will affect the flavor of your coffee. You may just miss out on the more aromatic flavors, or you may end up with that burnt, bitter flavor you’ve come to hate.

If you aren’t roasting your own coffee beans, it’s best to buy them from someone who’s more knowledgeable. In fact, you should ensure that you up the quality a notch. You should also know how to store coffee beans so that they don’t become stale.

But, there’s never anything wrong with dark roasted coffee beans; some people prefer that robust flavor. Just buy good-quality espresso beans rather than the poor-quality brands you’ll find in most grocery stores.

4. Overly fine grind size

Grinding your coffee beans too fine can result in you risking over-extraction when steeping your coffee. Choose a coffee grind size.

5. Dirty brewing equipment 

It’s shocking how often people neglect to clean their coffee brewing equipment or clean it improperly. However, any leftovers in your coffee machine should affect your fresh coffee beans. This can make them taste burnt. 

Always make sure that you clean everything once your coffee is finished. You should also be descaling your coffee maker once a month to keep your coffee tasting its freshest. 

How to Prevent Coffee that Tastes Burnt 

While having a cup of burnt tasting coffee may be inevitable at some point in your life, it doesn’t have to be something that you should deal with often. There are some preventative measures that you can take. You should consider doing the following. 

  • Consider adjusting the temperature of your machine. Make sure that your water isn’t too hot or cold because it can change the taste of your coffee. 
  • Opt for high-quality coffee. Using low-quality coffee will likely give you coffee that tastes burnt. 
  • Choose the right grind for your coffee depending on the type of coffee that you wish to make. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does burnt coffee taste sour?

No, it doesn’t. It has a variety of unpleasant characteristics. You get ashy, bitterness, and burnt toast flavors bundled up into one thing. 

Is burnt coffee bad for you?

Slightly burnt coffee is safe, but you should avoid coffee that was badly burnt during the roasting process. When coffee is burnt at a fast speed in high temperatures, it releases high levels of a carcinogenic chemical known as acrylamide.  

How do you know if you’ve burnt your coffee?

You’ll likely know that your coffee is burnt through how it smells and how it tastes. If you’re brewing espresso, you’ll notice when it drips slower with less volume from your machine. 

What’s Next?

Burnt-tasting coffee is no fun, just like watery coffee or sour coffee. You can make strong coffee without it tasting burnt. You need to repurpose those old coffee beans, buy a good coffee grinder, and pick up some better-quality beans.

Forget the grocery store and buy some high-caffeine coffees, premium flavored coffees, or explore coffees from around the world. Vietnamese robusta coffee beans are a great option if you like bitterness without that burnt taste, and you can get an earthy Starbucks-like flavor from Sumatran coffee beans. And if you like your coffee smooth, you can’t go wrong with Colombian coffees.

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