Why Does My Coffee Taste Watery? 8 Reasons and How to Fix Them

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You brewed yourself a fresh pot of coffee and poured that first cup of delicious java. But that first precious sip wasn’t delicious at all! It tasted like a cup of warm water, not a mug of your finest brewed coffee. 

What went wrong, you ask? Why does my coffee taste watery?

Let’s take a look at what causes weak, watery coffee and what you can do to bring back the flavor.

Why Does My Coffee Taste Like Water?

1. Your coffee grounds are too coarse

One reason you could have watery-tasting coffee is your coffee grinds. You’ll likely get a weak cup of coffee if the grinds you choose are too coarse or too delicate for your brewing method.

A medium grind works best with drip-style coffee makers, while you will want a coarser grind for the French press and a fine grind for espresso machines and Moka pots. Some machines, like the AeroPress coffee maker, can handle a range of grind sizes.

If you’re grinding your own coffee, you’ll have complete control of the grind size. If not, it might be time to pick up a cheap coffee grinder.

2. You need to adjust your coffee-to-water ratio

Watery tasting coffee is often due to using too much water for your coffee grounds. Coffee making is an art form, and proper measurement is the key between a good cup of coffee and a bad one.

Each brewing method has its own ideal coffee-to-water ratio. For a standard drip coffee maker, you’ll want a ratio of somewhere between 1:15 (called the Golden Ratio) and 1:17.

I’ll provide a full chart later in the article, but you can just use two tablespoons of coffee for every six ounces of water. If you prefer to weigh your coffee for more accuracy, then it is around 60 grams of coffee per liter of water.

You can adjust to your desired taste. If your coffee is watery, try adding a bit more coffee grounds. Just don’t go too far with that, as you could under-extract your coffee, leaving it sour instead of watery.

3. Your brew time is too short

Another significant aspect is the amount of time the water is in contact with the coffee grinds. This is referred to as the extraction or brew time.

The contact time should be around 5 minutes for drip coffee. Other brewing methods may take more or less time than that.

Espresso has a very short brew time, with the coffee only being in contact with the water for 20-30 seconds. At the other extreme, cold brew should steep for at least 24 hours.

Like brewing tea, how long you let the hot water seep into the ground will impact the strength of your cuppa joe. If your coffee has not had enough time to brew, it can result in a watery-tasting coffee.

4. Your water isn’t hot enough

Did you know that your water temperature can factor in your coffee taste? If your water is too cold, your coffee will be sour or watery. If it’s too hot, you’ll end up with bitter-tasting coffee.

The proper water temperature for brewing drip coffee should be about 195 to 205 degrees. If you have weak-tasting coffee, you might want to check to see if your coffee brewer is heating your water to the right temperature.

5. You need to try a different roast

Does your coffee suddenly taste watery right after you bought that new bag of beans? Maybe you bought a different coffee roast this time. If you’re used to the bitter, toasty flavors of dark roast coffee, a light roast may taste watery by comparison.

Check the bag to see if it says light roast, medium roast, or dark roast. It may also say espresso roast, which just means dark roast. If it says French roast or Italian roast, those are even darker. If your new beans are lighter than your old ones, you may just be a dark roast drinker.

6. It could be your coffee maker

If your coffee maker is suddenly making weak coffee, the problem might be, well, your coffee maker. Malfunctions with your coffee maker can often lead to reasons incorrect brew times or improper water temperatures.

You can check out my Cuisinart coffee maker troubleshooting guide for ideas on how to fix your coffee maker. Most of those fixes work for any drip coffee maker, not just one made by Cuisinart.

If you need to replace your coffee maker, this is a good time to upgrade to an automatic pour-over coffee maker. They will definitely enhance the flavor of your coffee, but the price tag is a bit more than your average budget coffee maker.

7. Your water might be supbar

The type of water you use has a significant impact on the quality of your coffee. If you think your tap water may be questionable or you have softened water, switch to filtered or bottled water.

If you’re still going to use tap water, run it for a few seconds before filling your coffee pot, and make sure you’re filling your coffee maker’s water tank with cold water.

8. Your beans could have gone bad

Coffee does not have an unlimited shelf life. The moment those roasted beans leave the roaster, their flavor begins to fade. Pre-ground coffee goes bad very quickly, and even whole beans won’t last forever.

Roasting coffee beans releases a lot of volatile gasses. As these gasses escape, so do the flavors of your beans. So, if you have forgotten coffee beans in the back of a cabinet for a year or have been incorrectly stored, it can result in a bland cup of coffee.

Coffee Measurements Are Key

Most of the time, watery coffee issues are caused by using too little coffee grounds for the amount of water you are using. It’s critical to cultivate the habit of precise measurements to brew a consistent cup of coffee every time.

A little coffee scale that measures grams is the only way to achieve this. You can use it to measure both the water and the coffee grounds for maximal precision. The average to start with is 500 grams of water to 30 grams of coffee. Of course, you can adjust accordingly to find your perfect strength.

If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can just use volume measurements. The table below will show you how much water and coffee grounds to use depending on how much coffee you’re making. You can measure the grounds using either tablespoons or level coffee scoops, whichever is easier.

One important note: Coffee pots typically use a 6-ounce cup measurement instead of the 8-ounce cups you are used to.

Coffee (cups)Water (ounces)Grounds (tablespoons)Grounds (scoops)
1621
21242
31863
42484
530105
636126
742147
848168
954189
10602010
11662211
12722412

If your coffee is still not strong enough, just add a bit more grounds for your next pot. Remember, these measurements are suggestions, not rules.

Quick Fixes for Watery Coffee

Are you stuck with a pot and a cup of watery coffee? Don’t waste that precious cup of coffee. Fix it!

  • Add milk/cream

One way is to add milk or cream. You can even froth up your milk if you want a bit of texture. Almond and oat milk work, too, so don’t let lactose intolerance prevent you from patching up your weak coffee.

  • Toss in some instant coffee

It’s a little taboo, but adding a bit of instant coffee can darken and thicken up your brew, adding some taste too. If you want a real kick, keep a few packs of Vietnamese instant coffee around.

Why Does My Keurig Coffee Taste Watery?

Your Keurig’s K-cups take care of all your measuring worries, so what could cause watery Keurig coffee?

Usually, if this occurs, you need to unclog your Keurig needle. A blockage can occur in the upper needle, leading to improper water flow and extraction of the coffee. Unclogging will most likely solve that issue.

Keep in mind, though, that older Keurigs made pretty watery coffee. You might be better off upgrading to a K-Supreme Plus Smart for its better coffee quality. Or, if you want even more flavorful coffee pods, consider a Nespresso Vertuo machine.

What’s Next?

Once your watery coffee issues have been resolved, it’s time to talk about other ways to improve your morning coffee. Whether you like flavored coffees or third-wave coffee, you deserve the perfect coffee for your taste buds.

You can always improve your coffee by swapping out your grounds for whole bean coffee and a good coffee grinder. But you can also try different coffee sweeteners or stronger coffee beans. I’m not here to tell you which journey is right for you; I’m just here to help you accelerate whatever journey you want to be on.

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