Why Does My French Press Coffee Taste Bitter?

Want to learn more about coffee?
Explore more on our blog!
Learn more
A french press coffee maker.
Table of Contents
A french press coffee maker.


Are you puzzled by the persistent bitterness in your French press coffee? Believe it or not, a bitter cup can often be traced back to incorrect grind size. Our article will guide you through common problems and solutions that could turn your daily brew from bitter to better.

Read on for a smoother, tastier experience with your beloved French press!

Key Takeaways

  • Fine grind size and over-extraction are common causes of bitterness in French press coffee. Using a coarser grind and shortening the brew duration can help reduce bitterness.
  • Inconsistent grind density and high water temperature can also contribute to a bitter taste. Ensuring a consistent grind density and using water at the optimal temperature of 195-205°F (90-96°C) can prevent bitterness.
  • Using too much coffee grounds can lead to over-extraction, resulting in a bitter cup. Properly measuring the coffee-to-water ratio and adjusting it based on personal preference is important to avoid bitterness.
  • Using freshly ground beans before brewing helps maintain flavor and reduces the chance of over-extraction. Experimenting with different techniques can help you find the perfect combination for a flavorful, non-bitter cup of French press coffee.

Common Causes of Bitter French Press Coffee

The common causes of bitter French press coffee include using a fine grind size, over-extraction, inconsistent grind density, high water temperature, long brew duration, and using too much coffee grounds.

Fine grind size

fine grind size can be a sneaky culprit behind your bitter French press coffee. This common mistake is easy to make but has significant effects on the taste of your brew. Grinding coffee too finely results in an increased surface area of the beans, making them more quickly susceptible to over-extraction and therefore giving rise to a bitter tang in your cup.

It’s crucial to know that while some brewing methods may require a finer grind, a French press thrives on coarser grinds because they slow down extraction and prevent bitterness from setting camp in your cup.


Over-extraction is another common cause of bitter French press coffee. When the coffee grounds are left in contact with hot water for too long, more soluble compounds are extracted, including those that contribute to bitterness.

This can happen if you brew your French press for an extended duration or if the grind size is too fine, leading to a faster extraction process. To avoid over-extraction and reduce bitterness, it’s important to carefully control the steeping time and adjust the grind size accordingly.

Shortening the brew duration and using a coarser grind can help prevent over-extraction and result in a smoother, less bitter cup of coffee.

Inconsistent grind density

Inconsistent grind density can also contribute to a bitter taste in French press coffee. When the coffee grounds are not evenly sized, it can lead to uneven extraction during brewing.

This means that some particles will be over-extracted, resulting in bitterness, while others may be under-extracted, leading to a weaker flavor. To avoid this issue, it is important to ensure that the grind size is consistent throughout the entire batch of coffee grounds.

Using a high-quality grinder and properly adjusting the settings can help achieve a more uniform grind density, resulting in a smoother and more flavorful cup of French press coffee.

High water temperature

Using water at a high temperature when brewing French press coffee can contribute to a bitter taste. When the water is too hot, it has the potential to extract bitter compounds from the coffee grounds, resulting in an unpleasant flavor.

It is important to use water that is heated to the optimal temperature for French press brewing, which is typically around 195-205°F (90-96°C). This will help ensure that your coffee doesn’t end up with a bitter taste and instead delivers a delicious and smooth cup of joe.

Long brew duration

long brew duration can contribute to the bitter taste in French press coffee. When the coffee grounds are steeped for too long, they become over-extracted and release more of the bitter compounds into the brew.

This extended extraction time can result in a harsh and unpleasant flavor. To avoid this, it’s important to keep an eye on your brewing time and aim for a shorter duration. By reducing the steeping time, you can prevent over-extraction and achieve a smoother, less bitter cup of coffee.

Using too much coffee grounds

Using too much coffee grounds can also contribute to a bitter taste in French press coffee. When you add an excessive amount of coffee grounds, it can lead to over-extraction. This means that more compounds from the beans are being dissolved into the water, including the bitter ones.

To avoid this, make sure to measure out the correct ratio of coffee to water for your desired strength. Using a scale can help ensure accurate measurement and prevent bitterness in your cup of joe.

Solutions to Avoid Bitter French Press Coffee

Adjusting grind size to coarser

To avoid bitter French press coffee, one solution is to adjust the grind size to a coarser setting. Here’s how:

  • Grind the coffee beans using a burr grinder instead of a blade grinder. Burr grinders provide a more consistent grind size, which is crucial for even extraction.
  • Aim for a coarse grind that resembles sea salt or breadcrumbs. Finely ground coffee can lead to over-extraction and bitterness.
  • If your coffee tastes bitter, try adjusting the grinder settings to achieve a coarser grind. This will result in less surface area being exposed to water, reducing the chance of over-extraction and bitterness.

Ensuring consistent grind density

To avoid bitter French press coffee, it is important to ensure consistent grind density. Inconsistent density can result in uneven extraction, leading to a bitter taste. Here are some tips for achieving consistent grind density:

  1. Use a good-quality burr grinder: A burr grinder offers more control over the grind size and produces uniformly sized coffee grounds. This helps maintain consistent grind density.
  2. Grind the coffee beans just before brewing: Grinding the beans too far in advance can lead to varying particle sizes, which can affect the extraction process and result in bitterness.
  3. Shake or stir the grounds before brewing: After grinding the coffee, gently shake or stir the grounds to disperse any clumps and ensure even distribution.
  4. Use a consistent amount of pressure when tamping: If you use a tamper to compress the coffee grounds, apply consistent pressure throughout to achieve an even density.
  5. Avoid compacting the grounds too tightly: While it’s essential to tamp the grounds slightly for even extraction, avoid packing them too tightly as this can slow down water flow and lead to over-extraction.

Using optimal water temperature

To avoid the bitterness in your French press coffee, it’s important to use the optimal water temperature. Here are some tips for achieving the perfect water temperature:

  1. Heat the water to around 195-205°F (90-96°C). This range is considered ideal for extracting the flavors from the coffee without causing bitterness.
  2. Avoid using boiling water, as it can scorch the coffee grounds and result in a bitter taste. Allow the water to cool slightly after boiling before pouring it into your French press.
  3. Use a thermometer to measure the temperature accurately. This will ensure consistency in each brew and help you find the right balance of flavors.
  4. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can also bring the water to a boil and let it sit off heat for about 30 seconds before pouring it into your French press. This will give it enough time to cool down slightly.
  5. Remember not to pour cold or lukewarm water over the coffee grounds, as this can result in under-extraction and weak-tasting coffee.

Shortening brew duration

To avoid bitterness in your French press coffee, it’s important to consider the duration of the brew. Here are some tips for shortening the brew duration:

  • Use a timer: Set a timer to ensure that you don’t over-steep your coffee. Typically, a brew time of 4-5 minutes is recommended for French press coffee.
  • Adjust grind size: A finer grind size can result in quicker extraction, so if your coffee tastes bitter, try coarsening the grind slightly.
  • Stirring: Give the coffee grounds a good stir after adding hot water to promote even extraction. This can help shorten the brew time without compromising flavor.
  • Preheating: Before adding hot water to your French press, make sure to preheat it by pouring some hot water into it and letting it sit for a minute or two. This helps maintain a consistent temperature throughout the brewing process and can speed up extraction.
  • Increasing agitation: Agitating the coffee grounds during brewing can help extract flavors more quickly. You can achieve this by gently stirring or swirling the French press after adding hot water.

Properly measuring coffee grounds

Properly measuring coffee grounds is essential to avoid a bitter taste in your French press coffee. Here are some tips to ensure accurate measurement:

  1. Use a scale: Invest in a kitchen scale to measure your coffee grounds accurately. Eyeballing or using volume measurements can lead to inconsistency and result in an imbalanced flavor.
  2. Follow the recommended ratio: A common guideline is to use a 1:15 coffee-to-water ratio. This means for every gram of coffee, you should add 15 grams of water. Adjust this ratio based on your personal preference, but maintaining consistency in your measurements is key.
  3. Avoid using too little or too much coffee: Using insufficient coffee grounds can result in weak and watery coffee, while using too much will make it overpowering and potentially bitter. Experiment with different ratios until you find the right balance for your taste.
  4. Consider the brew size: If you’re brewing a large batch, adjust the amount of coffee accordingly. For example, if you usually use 20 grams of coffee for one cup, double it to 40 grams for two cups.
  5. Be mindful of the size of your French press: Different French presses have varying capacities, so make sure to adjust the amount of coffee grounds accordingly. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines or experiment with different amounts until you achieve your desired strength.

Using freshly ground beans

Freshly ground beans are essential for a flavorful cup of French press coffee. When coffee beans are exposed to air, they begin to lose their aroma and flavor. By grinding your own beans right before brewing, you ensure that the coffee retains its freshness and robust flavors.

This is because whole bean coffee has a protective outer layer that helps preserve its taste, which is compromised once it’s been ground. So invest in a good grinder and enjoy the aromatic complexity of freshly ground beans in your French press brews!

Tips for a Flavorful Cup of French Press Coffee

Selecting high-quality beans

Choosing high-quality beans is essential for achieving a flavorful cup of French press coffee. Look for beans that are freshly roasted and have been stored properly to maintain their freshness.

Quality beans will have a rich aroma and no signs of oiliness or staleness. Opt for single-origin or specialty coffee varieties, as they tend to offer more complex flavors and nuances.

Consider experimenting with different origins and roast levels to find the taste profile that suits your preferences. By starting with high-quality beans, you’ll set the foundation for a delicious and satisfying cup of French press coffee without any bitter aftertaste.

Using a scale for accurate measurement

Using a scale for accurate measurement is essential to ensure that you are using the correct amount of coffee grounds in your French press brewing process. This helps maintain consistency and avoid bitterness in your cup of coffee. Here’s why using a scale is crucial:

  1. ConsistencyMeasuring by weight rather than volume ensures that you use the same amount of coffee grounds every time, resulting in consistent flavor profiles. Volume measurements can lead to variations due to differences in grind density and compactness.
  2. Precision: A scale allows you to be precise with your coffee-to-water ratio, which directly affects the taste of your brew. By following a specific recipe or recommended ratios, you can achieve balanced flavors and avoid over-extraction.
  3. Adjusting strength: Using a scale allows you to easily adjust the strength of your French press coffee. If you find it too bitter, you can decrease the amount of coffee grounds on subsequent brews until you reach your desired taste profile.
  4. Brewing recommendations: Many specialty coffee recipes provide precise measurements by weight, as this offers more accuracy compared to volumetric measurements like tablespoons or scoops.
  5. Avoiding weak or strong brews: Inaccurate measurement can result in an under-extracted or over-extracted cup of coffee, leading to undesirable flavor profiles. Using a scale ensures that you have the right amount of coffee grounds for optimal extraction.

Following recommended brewing recipes

To achieve a flavorful cup of French press coffee, it is important to follow recommended brewing recipes. Here are some tips to help you perfect your brew:

  • Start with high-quality beans: Selecting freshly roasted beans that suit your taste preferences is essential for a delicious cup of coffee.
  • Use a scale for accurate measurement: To ensure consistency, use a scale to measure both the coffee grounds and water. This helps maintain the proper coffee-to-water ratio.
  • Follow the suggested grind size: Each brewing method has an optimal grind size, and the French press requires a coarser grind compared to drip coffee. Follow the recommended grind size for French press brewing.
  • Pay attention to water temperature: The ideal water temperature for French press coffee is around 195°F (90°C). Boiling water can scorch the grounds and extract bitter compounds, resulting in a less pleasant taste.
  • Control the steep time: Steeping the coffee for too long can lead to over-extraction and bitterness. Follow the suggested steep time in your recipe to achieve a balanced flavor profile.
  • Experiment with different ratios: While there are general guidelines for brewing ratios, experimenting with different amounts of coffee grounds and water can help you find your preferred strength and taste.
  • Don’t forget about bloom time: Allow the coffee grounds to bloom by pouring a small amount of hot water over them and letting them sit briefly before adding more water. This helps release flavors and ensures even extraction.


If your French press coffee tastes bitter, there are several common causes and solutions to consider. Factors such as grind sizeover-extractioninconsistent grind densityhigh water temperaturelong brew duration, and using too much coffee grounds can all contribute to a bitter taste.

By adjusting these variables and following some tips for a flavorful cup of French press coffee, you can enjoy a delicious and balanced brew every time. So experiment with different techniques and find the perfect combination for your taste buds!


Why does my French press coffee taste bitter?

There are several possible reasons for bitterness in French press coffee, including over-extraction, using too fine of a grind, or brewing with water that is too hot.

How can I prevent bitter French press coffee?

To prevent bitterness in your French press coffee, try adjusting the brewing time to avoid over-extraction, using a coarser grind size to control extraction, and ensuring your water temperature is between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit.

What should I do if my French press coffee still tastes bitter?

If your French press coffee continues to taste bitter despite adjustments, you can try using filtered water instead of tap water, experimenting with different bean varieties or blends, or reducing the steeping time even further.

Can the type of roast affect the bitterness of my French press coffee?

Yes, the roast level of your beans can have an impact on the taste of your French press coffee. Darker roasts tend to have more pronounced flavors that may result in a slightly bitter taste compared to lighter roasts. Experimenting with different roast levels can help you find a balance that suits your preference.

About the Author:
Sophia Lewis, a travel blogger with a focus on global coffee cultures, explores coffee traditions from Colombia to Turkey. Her expertise lies in understanding the cultivation, brewing, and enjoyment of coffee in different cultures. Through articles, travel vlogs, and tastings, Sophia brings a global perspective to coffee, emphasizing ethical and sustainable practices, and invites readers to join her community of global coffee enthusiasts.