A great cup of coffee is a staple in many people’s lives. It wakes us up, it keeps us going, and simply put- it tastes great!
However, one of the most common complaints about coffee is that when brewed incorrectly, it will be too weak. For many coffee lovers, there’s nothing worse than taking that first much-anticipated sip of java, only to want to spit it out for lack of flavor. It’s truly one of life’s disappointments for anyone who enjoys a rich, tasty cup of joe.
So how can we avoid the dreaded weak cup of coffee? In this blog post we’ll discuss why your coffee brews too weak, why you end up with watery coffee, and how you can easily fix these issues with just a few simple adjustments in your routine.
It will be worth the few minutes of time to read through these simple tips before brewing your next cup of coffee, my friend, and say goodbye to “weak coffee-itis!”
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- What does weak coffee taste like?
- Why does coffee taste weak?
- Other reasons you brew weak coffee
- How to brew a really good cup of coffee that is not weak or tasteless
- Sum It Up
What does weak coffee taste like?
A cup of weak coffee can taste watery, light or bland. Some other adjectives to describe weak coffee are tasteless, flavorless and even sour.
No one enjoys that kind of taste!
Why does coffee taste weak?
There are typically 3 reasons why coffee tastes weak.
The water temperature is off
First, you may be using the wrong water temperature for brewing coffee. The general consensus is that brewing at 195 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit will add a stronger flavor and make for better tasting coffee.
If you are brewing your coffee with a ‘hands-on’ approach such as French press, pour over, Chemex, etc, you’re probably heating the water in an electric kettle or on the stove.
Adjust the setting on the electric kettle to 195 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. I always opt for 200 degrees and that works for any type of pour over or French press.
If you’re heating your water on the stove, make sure you bring it to a full boil first, then let it cool down for about 30 to 45 seconds to a little below boiling, and the water should be the right temperature for brewing.
If you are brewing coffee with a drip coffee maker, it’s a little harder to control the temperature. The best way to alleviate this problem is by using a coffee maker with temperature settings.
Sometimes the water temperature issue with a simple coffee maker (the kind without any temperature control) means that the heating element is bad. Then, guess what? It’s probably time for a new coffee maker! If the water temperature is not hot enough you’ll never get a great tasting cup of coffee from it.
Why is the proper water temperature important when brewing coffee?
Water temperature is very important because it helps to extract the flavor from your coffee beans. When you brew at a higher water temperature, the water will be able to create flavors in your cup of Joe that are more intense.
The ratio of water to coffee is wrong
The second reason why you’re getting weak coffee is that the ratio of water to ground coffee isn’t correct. This is a very common problem, as many coffee drinkers don’t measure anything, they simply throw some ground coffee into the filter, add a random amount of water, and hit the ‘start’ button. Just sayin’.
The Golden Rule of coffee states that you should measure out one to two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water.
You’ll probably have to experiment a little bit to find your perfect ratio, but this is a good starting point. It is so worth the time to measure out the water as well as the amount of coffee when the result is so much more satisfying and, well, it’s not weak coffee.
The brewing time is wrong
No matter the method, it’s important to get the brewing time accurate, because over-extracted coffee can taste sour or bitter, and under-extracted coffee can taste weak and nasty.
If you’re brewing French press coffee, the optimal brewing time is about four minutes. So, if you’re pressing the coffee before that time, your resulting java will most likely be the dreaded weak coffee.
If you’re using a drip coffee maker, brewing times will vary based on the model. In general, the optimal brewing time is five to six minutes for about 6 cups, or eight to ten minutes if you’re brewing up to 12 cups of coffee.
A pour over brewing method is all about patience. It is a manual process, and in general it will take about 3 minutes to complete the pour.
If a percolator is your brewing method of choice, weak coffee is the result of not enough percolating time. It can take up to 15 minutes to brew a pot of percolated coffee.
Adjusting these three areas of concern can remedy the weak coffee issue, and make your cup of coffee taste stronger, more flavorful, and definitely more satisfying.
Other reasons you brew weak coffee
There are other culprits in the frustration that a weak cup of coffee gives, and here are the top three.
The brand and/or the roast is off
It’s possible to get a weak flavor even if you’re using good beans, because the roast is too light.
If you’ve been using the same ground coffee for years, maybe it’s time to make a switch to another brand, roast, or type of coffee. If you’re searching for a heartier, rich coffee taste, try a dark roast.
The difference between a dark roast and a light roast is that dark roasted coffee beans have been roasted for a longer period of time. They are shiny and dark, with an oily surface and may have a bitter taste, although that doesn’t mean that the resulting brew will be bitter.
A dark roast coffee will give you a richer, thicker brew because of the oils in the beans. If you’re tired of weak coffee, give a dark roast a try. Here are a few of the best selling dark roast coffees to consider, and they’ll give you a tasty cup of strong coffee:
Your coffee beans could be old and outdated, which can give coffee a bad overall taste, or not much taste at all.
The grind size is off
If you’re using a drip coffee maker, the coffee needs to be ground specifically for this type of brewing, which is usually a medium grind. If it’s not ground fine enough, then water will seep through too quickly (under extraction) and your flavor won’t come out as strong, and could also taste sour.
Similarly with French press or other pour over methods, if the beans are too coarsely or finely grounded they can affect extraction time and bitterness levels in your cup.
French press coffee needs a coarse grind, and most pour over methods produce the best brew with a medium to medium-fine grind.
If you are using pre ground coffee to brew your java, you’re losing out on some flexibility, friend, as well as better tasting coffee. It might be worth investing in a simple coffee grinder. The benefits are huge!
Use this handy Coffee Grind Chart (pin it!) so you’ll always know how to grind those fresh coffee beans:
The brewing method is not right
You know, it could be that your coffee palette is yearning for a hearty, rich brew, and your old faithful drip coffee maker just isn’t cutting it any more. It might be time for a little more adventurous coffee brewing experience, my friend.
Consider a simple pour over method. All you need is a pour over coffee dripper, a paper filter that fits the dripper, the aforementioned grind size (medium to medium-fine) and properly heated water. Just pour your coffee slowly over the grounds in a circular motion for about three minutes. More about that below!
How to brew a really good cup of coffee that is not weak or tasteless
Brewing a fresh, hot, strong cup of coffee is not hard. Here are three easy steps to getting the perfect, strong cup of coffee every time using the dripped brewing method. There are a variety of coffee drippers available, from a simple ceramic pour over to a Hario V50 coffee dripper.
Whatever type you choose, these simple (and unscientific) instructions will help you brew a rich, tasty cup of joe!
First, grind your coffee beans (unless you are using pre-ground coffee). Measure out 4 tablespoons – not heaping – of coffee beans and grind them to a medium – medium/fine level.
If you have a grinder with settings, you’re all set. If your coffee grinder is like mine and doesn’t have settings, it’s a timing thing. You might have to experiment a little bit, but for me, it’s a 12 second count to the perfect grind.
Like I said, this is a simple and unscientific method, my friend.
Place a filter in your coffee dripper and put the ground coffee in the filter. Some folks say that if you wet the filter before adding the coffee it helps to keep it in place. Give that a go if you like.
Tap the dripper a time or two, to even out the grounds.
Place the dripper over your coffee cup or mug.
Now, heat your water. It’s best to use filtered water because you’ll most likely get the truest, cleanest coffee taste. Again, experiment and see what type of water gives you the best result.
If you’re using an electric kettle, set it to 195 or 200 degrees and wait for it to heat. You can heat up to 205 degrees but don’t go higher than that for optimal taste and extraction.
Are you heating water on the stove? No worries. Let it just come to a boil, take the water off the heat and let it sit for 30-45 seconds, then go to the next step.
If you want to be certain that you’re using the right amount of water, pour 10 ounces into a measuring cup. Once you become accustomed to brewing with the pour over method you’ll be able to eyeball it and can skip the measuring cup.
Now we are going to let the coffee ‘bloom’. Pour just enough water over the grounds to cover them, then wait for the water to drip through. It will take about 30 seconds or so.
A lovely benefit of the blooming process is that you get to enjoy the aroma of the coffee as the carbon dioxide is being released.
Pour more of the water in the dripper, starting from the outside edge and going in a circular motion toward the middle. Stop when the dripper is getting full, and wait for the coffee to drip through to the cup.
One more pour should use up the remaining water. The entire pour over process will take about 3 minutes.
And yes, it’s a bit of a ritual once you get the hang of it. I really enjoy the process, and somehow it makes the coffee taste that much better!
Do you need a coffee dripper?
Sum It Up
So now we all know how to correct that cup of weak coffee that tastes watery! Simply put, the coffee to water ratio needs to be spot on (or really, really close to the mark!) to brew the tasty java we want.
Keep that ratio well in hand, make sure the coffee grounds are the proper size, the temperature of the water is correct, and weak coffee will become a distant memory.
Candi Randolph is a coffee lover, blogger, and content creator who loves to share her knowledge with the coffee-drinking world. You’ll often find her tending to her coffee bar at home, deciding which method to use to brew her next cup of java. Life is full of important decisions. ☕