French press coffee is one of the easiest to make and produces a bold cup with lots of flavor. Still, on ocassion, you may find yourself asking “Why does my french press coffee taste bad?”
There are a few common problems and easy fixes to get your french press coffee tasting good again.
Why does my french press coffee taste bad?
1. French press coffee tastes sour?
Cause: Under Extraction
Normally, coffee tastes sour because it hasn’t properly been extracted. Usually this happens because the coffee did not brew for long enough. Such lack of extraction causes not only weak, but also sour flavor. A properly brewed french press coffee should taste bold and have hints of sweetness thrown in.
To deal with this problem, simply check the grind and brewing time to make sure that your coffee steeps for the right amount of time. Use a coarse grind and steep for 4 minutes.
2. Bitter Flavor
Cause: Over Extraction
Over-extracted coffee results in a bitter flavor. Most of the bitter compounds are extracted in the later parts of the brewing process, so if you leave the coffee to sit for too long, it will end up being bitter.
Another possibility is if you steeped it for four minutes but you used grounds that were too fine.
Similar to the problem of sour flavor, bitter flavor is also related to grind and extracting time. So the solution to this problem is also to adjust the grind and extraction time, in more details, simply attenuate your grind. In this situation, making the grind more coarse will slow down the extraction process and give you chance to identify the right flavor balance.
3. Stale And Flat Taste
Cause: Under Extraction Or Too Low Brewing Temperature
Stale taste coffee is usually caused by using low quality coffee grounds. Chances are you ended up with stale coffee because you used old, pre-ground coffee.
Ground coffee loses its freshness within 30 minutes to an hour after it was ground. Grinding coffee increases the surface area and waiting for too long before brewing means oxygen and moisture have more time to react with the coffee grounds and make it stale.
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Additionally, many of the gases and flavor compounds begin to diffuse out.
For the freshest coffee possible, remember to buy freshly roasted coffee beans and grind them just before brewing. Stay away from pre-ground coffee! Grinders are cheap and if you want to enjoy good coffee, it’s worthwhile to invest in one. See our favorite grinders for french press coffee here.
4. Unwanted Flavors
If you’ve got everything else right but you’re still getting bad or weird tasting french press coffee, chances are the quality of water is very poor.
Another possibility is that your equipment is dirty and needs some cleaning. It could be your grinder or your french press.
Give everything a thorough cleaning! Take apart the french press and clean every component, and disassemble your grinder and clean the burrs.
Let it all dry and try brewing again.
For poor water, try using filtered water instead.
These 4 issues are the most common culprits for bad tasting french press coffee. Fixing them is not too hard, luckily.