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Troubleshooting Bad Coffee: Tips for Better Brews

If you are a coffee’s aficionado, then you look forward to that moment when you take your first-morning sip of deep, dark goodness. Even when you’re drowsily going through every motion, you know everything is going to be okay provided you have that coffee cup in your grasp.

However, coffee’s has been reported to sometimes taste like soap, skunk, or ammonia. Some people tend blame it on the beans. Well, sometimes it can be the beans but not always. There are several other reasons why your coffee isn’t brewing as well as you’d want it.

Coffee’s Tastes Like Soap: This Is Why

Bad Coffee

Since no one deserves to be drinking bad coffee’s, here are some reasons why your morning coffee just isn’t up to par, and some tips for what you can do about it.

Your Coffee’s Beans are Stale

Roasted coffee’s beans oxidize with exposure to oxygen. This can lead to them becoming stale. Poor storage is one of the major causes of bad coffee’s smells. To maintain the freshness of your coffee’s beans, store them in an airtight container and away from direct sunlight.

Keep them away from oxygen, moisture, heat, and light. And don’t store them in the refrigerator. A pantry, for instance, might be a good spot, as opposed to keeping them on your kitchen counter direct to sunlight. Besides, there are some great airtight coffee bean containers that you can buy.

You should also freshly grind your beans so that you can achieve the freshest taste possible. Good coffee’s is brewed from evenly ground coffee beans.

If the ground beans aren’t even, this will cause under and over extract, giving your coffee’s acidic flavors. Consider getting a good-quality conical burr grinder to improve the flavor of your coffee’s.


As mentioned before, coffee’s beans oxidize quickly when exposed to air. Consequently, they tend to pick up flavors in the air for things such as garlic, onions, fuel, etc. Ground coffee oxidizes faster than whole bean coffee. That means coffee beans should not be ground until just before they are used.

Ground bean and whole bean should be stored in as close to an oxygen-free environment as possible. Freezing coffee may help slow down oxidation. Otherwise oxidized coffee tastes flat with little aroma and no subtle flavors.

Another crucial thing to keeping your coffee’s beans fresh is buying whole beans. It might take a little extra time, but getting whole beans and grinding them yourself when you want a coffee can be a promising way to a better cup than pre-ground ones.

Coffee’s Beans were Roasted Properly

In the event that your coffee’s is tasting like soap, chances are your beans weren’t roasted properly. After all, roasting is how we get all the aromatic coffee flavors that we crave from green beans. Without proper roasting, we wouldn’t have coffee.

Since roasting is an art, and there’s nothing bad about a dark roast, (which is common in the US) there is always something wrong with an over roast; over-roasted coffee can have a burnt or bitter taste.

Usually, if coffee’s tastes burnt, it’s easy to blame it on your own coffee preparation. However, it may very well be the quality of your beans. Having the right roast means experimenting with different coffees to see what you actually like the best.

Your Water Quality isn’t Great

Bad Coffee

Good coffee’s starts with good water. In fact, a good basic rule of thumb is that when you’re brewing coffee, you want to use water that you’d be happy to drink. That means if you’re filtering your drinking water, you should filter your coffee water as well.

The Specialty Coffee’s Association of America has a whole set of standards of ideal water used to make coffee. If the water tastes too much chlorinated on its own, it’s not going to create something great for your cup of morning coffee. Besides, 98% of a cup of coffee is water.

Coffee brewed with highly chlorinated water or other chemicals will be flat and have a bitter-sour taste. So make sure your water comes from either a quality bottled water or a high-quality filter.

High-quality filters take out chlorine, odor, algae, and other chemicals that might change the taste of your coffee’s. Low-quality filters, however, leave some chemicals and other material in the water, while dirty filters add a moldy taste to coffee. Check to ensure that your filter is taking out everything that might make your coffee taste like soap.

Your Equipment isn’t Clean

A dirty coffee’s maker, French press, or espresso machine can often alter the taste of what you’re drinking. For instance, if you cut garlic with a knife, and then slice an apple, you’ll definitely have a constant hint of garlic with your fruity snack.

The same case applies when you’re brewing coffee’s. So it’s important to make sure all your tools are nice and clean. The commercial dishwasher, for example, can leave a detergent film on the cups, which can affect the coffee taste.

How Should Coffee’s Smell?

We have discussed how coffee’s can sometimes have an unwelcoming taste. But in most cases, coffee has a wonderful aroma. The coffee aroma should be strong but not too overwhelming such that you can taste it with your mouth as well as your nose.

Note that coffee’s is roasted at a high temperature and that process often creates oils, some pleasant smells. However, the process can sometimes bring about less desirable aromas such as fruity, corn chip-like flavors, which are often described by coffee lovers as musty, woody, or burnt popcorn aroma notes.