Why Is My Chemex Bitter? (And How To Fix It)

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Chemex = joy

(Well, it does to me at least)

It looks good, it’s simple, and it makes kick-ass coffee.

Or at least it usually does..

Quick Answer:
A bitter tasting Chemex brew is most likely down to one or more of the following four reasons; Using the wrong brew ratio, using the wrong coffee grind size, an incorrect water temperature, or picking a bad roast of coffee beans.

In this article, I’ll go into the details for each one and how to fix it to ensure no more bitter chemex coffee.

Why Listen To Us? Well, because we KNOW coffee! In fact, we make our own coffee, coffee machine cleaners, and reusable capsules which we've sold to over 41 countries. Our team ouf experts include Tristan (an engineer), Claire (a food writer) and Richy (a barista). So, whether you're looking for a recipe or repair guide, we've got you covered 💚

4 Reasons Your Chemex Tastes Bitter

The typical suspects have been picked up—these factors are (most likely) to blame for the bitterness in your coffee. Keep reading to find out how to clean up your act and ensure that your coffee routine at home or work always results in a great cup. 

I disclose the backstories of each of these coffee villains one by one. I’ll also go through some quick remedies to guarantee good coffee.

How to tie the chemex knot step by step

1. The Brew Ratio

The Problem: 
Too much extraction (fine grind, long brew time, hot water, and too much ground coffee) results in a harsh brew. Under-extraction, on the other hand, results in a weak, sour cup that is thin and weak. Under-extraction isn’t fixed by just adding additional coffee grinds. 

The Fix:
Weigh your coffee or use an SCAA coffee scoop or a measurement gadget that can carry 10 grams of coffee. Weighing or measuring your water is also a good idea, at least initially.

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2. The Grind Size

The Problem: When you grind your coffee too finely, you risk over-extracting it and exposing the coffee. This produces a bitter brew, similar to overcooking.

The Fix: Make sure you’re using the right grind level for the brew method you will use. According to my research, a medium to medium-coarse grind is the best.

Using coffee grounds to remove bad odours

3. The Water Temperature

The Problem: Many folks heat their water and start brewing right away. However, 212°F is too hot for coffee brewing! Coffee can also be overcooked in this way.

The Fix: The sweet spot for ideal coffee brewing temperature is 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit (or two to three minutes off-boil). If your water is overly hot (or overboiling), the bitter components in the coffee will be extracted. Remember that hotter water makes for bitter coffee, and colder water makes for weak coffee.

The Green Pods pouring a 2 cup chemex coffee

4. The Roast You’re Using

The Problem: Level of roasting The darker the roast, the more bitter it will be.

The Fix: Choose a roast that is lighter and not too dark.

Green Grounds Coffee Bag Front Ground Zoomed In

Bottom Line

With a better grasp of extraction and strength, recommendations for tasting and assessing your brew, and an overview of the variables you can control in your Chemex, you should be ready to go forth and make mind-blowing brews for yourself and your friends.

Still having trouble with your Chemex? Check out this article on why your Chemex is taking so long here.

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