How to Make Cold Brew Less Bitter?

If you’ve ever wondered how to make cold brew less bitter, you’re not alone. Millions of coffee lovers across the United States have been captivated by the rich flavor and low acidity of cold-brew coffee, yet many struggle with finding the sweet spot to avoid bitter notes when exploring How to Make Cold Brew Less Bitter?

To reduce cold brew bitterness, try a coarser grind, shorten steeping time, adjust coffee-to-water ratio, filter well, mind water quality, store properly, and consider adding a sweetener or milk.

The good news? It’s entirely possible to achieve the perfect balance of flavors, and this guide will show you exactly how to do it.

Let’s dive into the world of cold brewing and explore the best ways to mitigate the bitter taste of coffee and enhance the taste of your coffee


Cold Brew Coffee vs Hot Brewed Coffee

Cold brew coffee is a method of brewing that allows you to savor a less bitter, more flavorful cup of coffee. To truly appreciate this brewing method, it’s essential to understand how it differs from its hot-brewed and iced counterparts.

Hot Brewed Coffee

Unlike hot-brewed coffee, where hot water is poured over coffee grounds leading to the extraction of bitter flavors, cold brew coffee relies on a slower, cold water extraction process.

The ground coffee beans are steeped in room temperature or cold water for an extended period of time – usually 12-24 hours.

This gentle brewing process extracts the best flavor from the coffee beans, while leaving the bitter compounds behind, leading to less bitterness in your final product.


Cold Brew Coffee vs Iced Coffee

Despite the similar name, iced coffee is a different beast entirely. Iced coffee is essentially hot-brewed coffee that’s been cooled down and served over ice.

This means it’s subject to the same high temperatures during brewing that can draw out the bitter flavors we’re trying to avoid.

On the other hand, cold brew coffee is never subjected to high temperatures. Instead, it’s brewed with cold or room temperature water from the start, resulting in a sweeter flavor and lower acidity compared to iced coffee.

The next time you’re in a coffee shop, don’t mistake an iced coffee for a cold brew, and remember that there’s a world of difference in the brewing process and taste.


Brewing Process

The secret behind a less bitter cold brew lies in the brewing process. In contrast to hot brewed coffee, the cold brewing method, brew time, and water temperature all play significant roles in producing a cup of cold brew that hits all the right notes.

Cold Brewing Method

The cold brewing method is a simple, yet effective way to prepare coffee. It involves soaking coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period of time.

You can do this using various tools like a French press, a mason jar, or a dedicated cold brew coffee maker.

The most important thing to remember is the coffee ratio, generally, one part coffee to five parts water, but it can be adjusted based on personal preference.

Brew Time

One of the factors that make cold brew stand out is the brew time. Cold brew coffee should steep for anywhere between 12-24 hours.

It’s this slow, gentle extraction process that reduces the bitterness of your coffee, making it a smoother, more palatable experience for your taste buds.

Keep in mind, brewing for too long can lead to over-extracted coffee, introducing bitter flavors.

Water Temperature

The water temperature for cold brew coffee is crucial. Unlike hot brewed coffee, cold brew requires colder or room temperature water.

The lower temperature contributes to the slower extraction process, which leaves the coffee less bitter. It’s not just about how much coffee you use, but also about the water temperature you brew it in.

If you’ve been wondering why your cold brew tastes bitter, it might be time to check the water temperature during your brewing process.


Choosing the Right Coffee

Making an impeccable, less bitter cold brew starts with choosing the right coffee. The type of coffee, the grind size, and the freshness of your beans all contribute significantly to the final flavor of your brew.

Understanding these factors can help enhance the taste of your coffee and reduce unwanted bitter flavors.

Type of Coffee

Type of coffee you choose plays a big role in the taste of your cold brew. A medium roast often works best, striking a balance between acidity and bold coffee flavors.

Darker roast can often lead to a bitter cold brew, while lighter roasts might lack the rich flavor that coffee lovers seek.

Experiment with different types from your local grocery store or coffee shop to find what suits your palate best.

Grind Size

The grind size can make or break your cold brew. For the best results, use a coarse grind. A finer grind can lead to over-extraction and a stronger, more bitter flavor, while a coarser grind ensures a slower extraction process and less bitterness.

If you have a coffee grinder at home, you can easily control the grind size to find the sweet spot that gives you a delicious cup of coffee every time.

Fresh vs Stale Beans

Fresh beans are the key to a flavorful, aromatic cold brew. Stale beans can give your coffee a flat, lackluster flavor profile.

Always opt for fresh beans and grind them just before brewing for the best flavor. Remember, the fresher the beans, the better your final product will be.


Factors Contributing to Bitterness

Even with the right type of coffee and grind size, sometimes your cold brew may still taste bitter. Several factors can contribute to this bitter taste, including over-extraction, water quality, and the coffee to water ratio.

Understanding these factors will help you make adjustments for a less bitter, more enjoyable cup of cold brew.


Over-extraction occurs when coffee grounds are exposed to water for too long, leading to a bitter taste. In the case of cold brew, this might mean brewing for more than the recommended 12-24 hours.

To avoid over-extraction and maintain a balanced flavor, keep a close eye on your brew time.

Remember, patience is key, but there is such a thing as too much when it comes to the extraction process.

Water Quality

The quality of water used in your cold brew can greatly affect the taste. Filtered water is always recommended over tap water, as it eliminates any impurities that could affect the taste of your coffee.

By using clean, filtered water, you’re ensuring that nothing will interfere with the rich flavor of your ground coffee beans.

Coffee to Water Ratio

The coffee to water ratio is another significant factor. Too much coffee can result in a brew that’s overpoweringly strong and bitter, while too little can lead to a weak, diluted taste.

Most cold brew recipes suggest a 1:5 coffee to water ratio, but this can be adjusted based on your personal preference. Remember, it’s all about finding the golden ratio for your taste buds!


How to Reduce Bitterness?

Now that we’ve understood what causes bitterness in your cold brew, let’s explore how to make cold brew less bitter.

Adjusting your grind size, using the right water, finding the optimal brew time, and establishing the correct coffee to water ratio can all contribute to a smoother, more pleasant cold brew experience.

Adjusting Grind Size

If your cold brew is turning out bitter, one of the first things to look at is the grind size. A coarser grind will slow down the extraction process, reducing the chances of over-extraction and thus, bitterness.

Investing in a good coffee grinder can allow you to experiment with different grind sizes and find your sweet spot.

Using the Right Water

Filtered water is the best option for your cold brew. Tap water often contains minerals and other elements that can affect the flavor of your coffee, leading to a bitter taste.

Using filtered or bottled water can significantly improve the taste of your coffee, giving you a smoother, less bitter final product.

Optimal Brew Time

Cold brew isn’t a race. While it might be tempting to let your coffee steep for a little longer for a stronger brew, this can lead to over-extraction and a bitter cold brew.

The optimal brew time for cold brew coffee is typically between 12-24 hours. Experiment within this range to find the brew time that yields the best flavor for you.

Correct Coffee to Water Ratio

Getting the right balance between coffee and water is crucial. Too much coffee can lead to a bitter, overpowering brew, while too little can leave you with a weak, watery drink.

A generally recommended ratio is 1:5, but don’t be afraid to adjust this to suit your personal preference. By experimenting with different ratios, you’ll be able to find the perfect balance that gives you a flavorful, yet less bitter cup of cold brew.


Enhancing the Flavor

Making your cold brew less bitter doesn’t stop at the brewing process. There are several ways to enhance the flavor of your coffee even further.

Using sweeteners, adding milk or cream, and experimenting with different ratios can all contribute to a more enjoyable, less bitter cold brew experience.

Using Sweeteners

If your cold brew still has a hint of bitterness, consider adding a sweetener. Simple syrup, sugar syrup, or even maple syrup can add a hint of sweetness that counters the bitter notes in your coffee.

A little goes a long way. Start with a small amount and adjust to taste for a delicious cup of cold brew.

Adding Milk or Cream

Milk or cream can be a great way to add richness and tone down any residual bitterness in your cold brew.

Almond milk, for example, adds a nutty flavor and creamy texture that complements the rich flavor of cold brew. Similarly, a splash of cream can give your cold brew a velvety, smooth finish.

Experimenting with Different Ratios

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ratios to enhance the flavor of your cold brew.

You might find that a slightly different coffee to water ratio gives you the perfect balance of strength and flavor.

Or perhaps you prefer your cold brew with a little more milk or a different type of sweetener. The best part about making your own cold brew is that you can customize it to your exact taste, creating a less bitter, more enjoyable coffee experience.


Equipment for Making Cold Brew

Making a delicious, less bitter cold brew at home isn’t just about the coffee or the brewing method. The equipment you use also plays a significant role.

From the French press to the mason jar, a coffee grinder to the coffee filter, each tool can enhance your brewing process and contribute to a more delightful cold brew experience.

French Press

A French press is a versatile tool that is perfect for making cold brew. It’s easy to use, and it allows for full immersion of the coffee grounds, ensuring maximum flavor extraction.

With its built-in filter, it also saves you from the hassle of filtering your cold brew concentrate separately.

Mason Jar

If you don’t have a French press, a mason jar will do just fine. It’s a convenient, cost-effective solution for making cold brew.

All you need to do is add your ground coffee and water, stir, cover, and let it steep. After the brewing time, you can simply strain the mixture using a coffee filter, and your cold brew is ready to serve!

Coffee Grinder

A good coffee grinder is a game-changer when it comes to brewing coffee at home. It allows you to adjust the grind size to your liking, ensuring you get the perfect coarseness for your cold brew.

Remember, a coarser grind will lead to a slower extraction process and a less bitter cold brew.

Coffee Filter

Finally, a good coffee filter is essential. Whether you’re using a French press, a mason jar, or a dedicated cold brew maker, you need to separate the coffee grounds from the final product.

Paper filters are a great option, as they can effectively strain out the grounds without leaving any residue, giving you a clean, clear, less bitter cup of cold brew.



To make a less bitter cold brew, choose the right coffee, adjust grind size, brew at the correct temperature, and find the optimal coffee-to-water ratio.

Experiment with different coffee types, brewing times, and sweeteners for a personalized and delightful cold brew experience.


Related Articles: