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Why coffee tastes bitter and how to soften the flavor: Experts' insights

Why coffee tastes bitter and how to soften the flavor: Experts' insights Why coffee tastes bitter (Photo: Freepik)

The bitter taste of coffee is perceived differently by everyone. Some consider it a sign of a high-quality drink, while others try to eliminate it.

RBC-Ukraine discovers why coffee tastes bitter and what to do to soften its taste, according to Yaskrava kava.

Why coffee tastes bitter

"The bitterness in coffee is a natural component of our favorite drink. Sometimes it's almost imperceptible, and other times it's very bright. Regardless of the additives, sweeteners, or flavorings you use, you won't be able to completely get rid of the bitterness, although it may be minimal, it will still remain. Many coffee enthusiasts appreciate strong, rich coffee precisely with bitterness, considering only such coffee to be 'true'," say experts.

Green coffee beans practically have no bitterness; bitterness in the beans appears only during the roasting process.

"The main cause of bitterness is not caffeine, as many believe (caffeine accounts for approximately 15% of bitterness), but chlorogenic acid and its derivatives, which are released during the heating of the beans," experts add.

So, what influences the coffee bitterness level?

Variety

Robusta, due to its high content of chlorogenic acid and caffeine, has a more vivid and bright bitterness than Arabica.

Roasting

The higher the roasting level, the more compounds responsible for bitterness are formed in the coffee.

Brewing method

"The higher the brewing temperature and the higher the pressure - this applies to espresso machines - the more various substances are released from the coffee. This is why espresso always has bitterness," say experts.

Brewing in a Turkish pot over low heat or using a Chemex, cup, or filter produces a milder bitterness. While bitterness is the main characteristic of some coffee varieties, many people still prefer less bitter coffee.

How to reduce bitterness in coffee

"Add a few crystals of salt. You can sprinkle it in ground coffee or directly into the cup. This significantly reduces the bitterness of the coffee due to sodium ions. You should add a very small amount. The salt will not be felt in the drink, but the taste will change," experts advise.

They also recommend adding milk and cream, as dairy products effectively counteract the bitterness of coffee.