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Imagine you’ve got a new drip coffee maker at home and you’re excited to make the perfect cup. However, your coffee turned out watery after it’s brewed.
That’s indeed a problem. You can’t enjoy drinking your favorite drink if it’s lifeless at all. We often taste bitterness in our coffee simply because of having bad quality beans or a bad brewing technique. But in this case, your coffee is weak or watery due to common mistakes you make when brewing it.
So why does your coffee taste watery and how can you make it to taste good?
In my opinion, I don’t think this has to do with the types coffee beans used. Again, it’s a common mistake that can be fixed. All you need to do is adjust the things that affect your approach in making it. Then check your brewing technique if you’re doing it right.
Watery coffee is mainly the result of under-extraction. It means you didn’t extract enough flavors from the grounds to give your coffee life during the brewing process. But remember that this can also be caused by various factors such as not using enough coffee to brew, using a wrong grind size, water temperature, etc.
Speaking of under-extraction and over-extraction, let’s first define these two terms before we move forward.
Over-extraction means the process extracted too many soluble flavors out from the coffee grounds. In contrast, under-extraction is the opposite, whereas resulting in a thin, soft, and bland coffee cup. So, since we’re talking about your drink’s strength, it’s all down to extraction if you’re getting a coffee that doesn’t provide you with the taste that you like.
Moving on, in this article, we’ll go over the reasons why your coffee might be tasting watery and at least provide a solution to fix it.
Let’s take a look at the list, find out more about what’s causing a weak and lifeless coffee, and define the factors contributing to it.
2. You’re Not Using Enough Grounds
This factor should be the primary mistake you make when brewing a weak coffee. Most often, you don’t use enough coffee grounds.
Putting too much water into a small number of grounds will make your brew watery or tasteless. Remember that there’s always a preferred ratio between the ground coffee and water to follow, no matter what brewing method you’re using.
If you use much less than the recommended amount of coffee per exact volume of water, then the water will just probably dilute the beans’ flavor.
Okay, and How Should we Fix It?
Let’s start with your measurement. You may think that adding more beans that hold more flavor will give you a better coffee. However, sometimes, that’s not the case.
Sometimes adding more coffee grounds doesn’t correct the problem of under-extraction. Chances are you’re just wasting coffee, or it may just lead to over-extraction. Your coffee might taste very bitter.
One way to get the right amount of ground coffee is through measurements. A great tool that I really like to use to to calculate the important variables is a digital scale. The ERAVSOW Coffee Scale with Timer is what I use for its high precision and sensors that provide accurate measurements. If you want to have this digital scale, here’s a link to Amazon.
Although you don’t really need to use expensive scientific instruments, you still need this device.
From the very start, you should have already measured your ground coffee if you want to get a nice coffee flavor. Don’t load up your drip coffee maker with a ton of extra coffee grounds just in pursuit of getting a more stronger cup.
Instead, you should work out just how much coffee (by weight or by scoop) your brew needs.
Here’s a recommendation for some of the brewing methods.
- When brewing a French press coffee, it’s recommended to use 10 grams of grounds for every 6oz of water.
- In a Pour Over method, you can brew coffee with the weight ratio of 1:17, which means in every 1g of coffee, you can use 17g of water.
- When using an automatic drip brewer, you need to know how much coffee your machine needs. A pretty standard drip coffee maker will give you something close to 5 – 8 grams of coffee per 6oz of water.
But remember that there’s no exact, right, or wrong coffee-to-water ratio to which will bring out the best in coffee. There’s no perfect amount of coffee and the ideal amount of water to use.
Sometimes, you need to use a little trial and error to suit the coffee drink to your own taste preference. And if you’ll make it a habit, you’ll be able to quickly and correctly make your preferred servings of coffee.
3. The Grind Size of your Coffee is Too Coarse
Using the wrong grind size to your preferred brewing method will significantly affect the taste of your brew. There’s always a recommended grind for a particular brewing method to get the right consistency.
For example, a fine grind is best for espresso and Turkish coffee. A coarse grind is best for French press. And for pour-over, medium-coarse grinds are always recommended.
In this case, what’s causing a thinner and lifeless coffee is probably using too coarse grinds for a given brewing approach. Even though you have used enough grounds in your brew, that may not be enough to dissolve sufficient compounds and flavors if the coffee grounds have less surface area.
Sometimes, the problem is not the quantity of coffee but probably the grinder setting. That’s why there’s a chance you may still end up with a watery, weak, and bland coffee every time.
How to Fix the Grind Consistency of Coffee?
Once you’ve picked the wrong grind size to your preferred brew, it can ruin the taste. So, the best way to fix the problem in coffee is to explore different grind sizes and grind your coffee beans properly. By doing that, you can find the right consistency that matches your personal taste.
I suggest to start first with medium-coarse grinds, or start in the middle. If your coffee tastes sour or bland, it means the grind size is still too coarse. Therefore, you have the chance to make the ground coffee a little finer. On the contrary, if it’s too strong, that only means the grind size is too fine.
One of the easiest ways to improve your brew is by using a reliable and consistent burr grinder. However, choose that one that is designed to give precise and accurate performance.
- I highly recommend the Baratza Virtuoso Plus. It gets your beans to be ground more precisely. You can avoid a watery tasting coffee as it comes with an accurate fine to coarse grind for almost all brewing methods.
- If you don’t want an electric grinder, then a manual grinder can be an alternative. The JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder is a conically typed burr mill, equipped with over 18 click settings that offers a superior grind quality. It is also designed to provide an incredibly consistent grind for a variety of brews.
Another problem is maybe you’re using a blade grinder. I highly suggest to use a burr grinder instead of a blade one. Blade grinders cant efficiently grind your beans. The results particles of coffee that are not uniformly shattered.
4. Water isn’t Hot Enough.
Okay, once you’ve fixed the coffee-to-water ratio and the grind size, try to brew coffee again to see if that corrects the issue.
If it still doesn’t solve your problem, you may need to check your water temperature. As long as coffee brewing is concerned, the water temperature is also an essential factor. It can can influence the taste of your coffee.
Hot water can extract the coffee grounds’ flavors quickly. But once the water has been cooled, it’s difficult for it to extract the soluble compounds. The coffee will taste quite sour or weak if your water temperature is slightly too low.
Furthermore, they say that auto-drip machines are built to make coffee with proper water temperature. However, sometimes those machines don’t have enough time to heat the water perfectly. Depending on brands, if they can’t be calibrated, you’ll definitely end up wasting coffee beans.
Not just because it’s a machine, there’s no reason to encounter weak coffee. Most people still face some issues when using automatic coffee makers. Whereas the problem with them is sometimes their steep time is too long or too short.
What’s the Recommended Water Temperature?
The ideal water temperature is somewhat 195-205-degree Fahrenheit. However, remember that very hot water will degrade the aroma compounds and coffee molecules, which exhibit a bitter and strong taste.
Since the coffee grounds react to water at near-boiling temperature, be careful not to over-extract the flavor. You may want to just measure the water temperature right after brewing with a thermometer to help you identify the correct setting on your next brew.
And if you’re using a drip machine, you may want to check if it’s designed to provide an optimal holding temperature that matches the ideal water temperature range for brewing, which is between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Coffee Association USA.
Luckily, a drip coffee maker, such as the Breville Precision Brewer, has an awesome function that helps deliver consistent temperature from every brew. It automatically adjusts the water temperature and brew time to meet the SCA’s brewing standards.
5. You’re not Brewing Long Enough.
I think those things mentioned are enough to solve the general problem of your coffee. But if you feel that they don’t still work, maybe you’re not brewing long enough.
This mistake is sometimes common to drip brewing methods such as pour-overs. The water is in contact with the coffee grounds for just a shorter amount of time. And that shouldn’t be happening every time.
So, if that’s the case, the flavor won’t be fully extracted and will result in a weak and watery taste. That is because the water is just probably flowing over the grounds instead of soaking in and through the particles.
In order for the water to percolate through the grounds, an optimum time is needed to achieve the most balanced flavors.
Is There a Recommended Time to Brew Coffee?
It depends on what brewing technique you’re using. Generally, the extraction time for a drip method is typically about 2-3 mins. But that may not be the case if you’re making a French press coffee.
The rule of thumb here, however, is just don’t steep your coffee grounds for too short, or even too long. Give the water enough time to absorb the good stuff out of the beans.
You may set a specific time to how long you brew the coffee and then make an evaluation. Then maybe next time, you already know the time needed to achieve a perfect extraction.
6. Faulty Equipment
If those things mentioned above don’t still help, then maybe it’s all down to your brewing equipment. Merely perfectly following the directions doesn’t solve that problem in your coffee. Sometimes the accessories you’re using are the problem.
Watery coffee is also a result of an uncontrolled process caused by a piece of faulty equipment. For example, if your coffee machine doesn’t work well, maybe it is clogged or something. These problems doesn’t allow the flavor to come out and just ruin the coffee you love.
In other cases, the equipment is dirty. It might be the reason for a weak and bland coffee. Dirty tools can still alter the coffee flavor. It may, regardless, influence the brewing process and affect the extraction.
When it comes to your old equipment, the quality of your brew may degrade once your equipment starts to break down. The efficiency of a coffee machine, for example, decreases if used too many times and if it’s outdated as well. Of course, it might be a different case to some coffee makers like the AeroPress of French Press.
Then What Can You do About Faulty Coffee Maker?
Check your coffee making machine if it works the way it should suppose to be. You may need to properly clean your equipment and make sure it doesn’t extract less coffee flavor. You may also want to invest in a new coffee maker, grinder, etc., to ensure that quality coffee is always well-obtained.
There are many coffee making methods available and all of them work and taste a little differently. Also, we have different ways of making the perfect coffee. Some prefer French press, others will use a Chemex, while others, a percolator. But the bottom line here is to always invest in a good and reliable coffee makers or any coffee equipment.
And speaking of it, if you’re dealing with watery or even bitter tasting coffee, start looking on the durability and flexibility of the device.
You may want to choose budget models but don’t expect to much. It’s still best to invest in a coffee maker that will last long, for decades, without needing to be replaced every time. Although all coffee makers (whether manual or automatic) can break and end, good models will last long.
So, if it happens you want to buy a compact drip coffeemaker for your everyday personal enjoyment, I recommend the Bonavita Connoisseur. I recommend it because it has a feature a little bit similar to brewing pour over. It comes with an optional pre-infusion mode which mimics the blooming cycle of a pour-over brewing method.
Wrapping it Up
These are the common mistakes you often make when brewing coffee. But again, in the end, watery or weak coffee is something you can fix easily.
Start to look if you’re using enough beans, then explore the right grind to bring out the flavor in your cup. Don’t forget the water temperature and the time to brew the coffee. And after all, check your equipment if it’s working properly to avoid possible trouble.
I hope this post helps in your coffee brewing!
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