How to Make Dark Roast Coffee Less Bitter

While it's satisfying to prepare coffee, there are times when your brew might turn out bitter. Don't let bitter coffee ruin your mornings or snack time. We're giving quick ways how to make dark roast coffee less bitter, so you can also intensify the authenticity of Kona coffee.

How to Make Dark Roast Coffee Less Bitter

You can make dark roast coffee less bitter by choosing quality and freshly roasted beans. You should also change the grind size, set the proper water temperature, shorten brew time, and use filtered water to reduce the bitterness. Adding fat and flavor-enhancing ingredients may also lessen the bitterness.

Kettle beside a cup of coffee

There are different reasons why your dark roast coffee tastes bitter. Learning about the causes can help you apply the appropriate solutions. In this way, your Kona coffee will achieve its sweet and fruity flavor profile.

Choose Quality Beans

Good coffee starts with quality beans. Thus, one of the best ways to avoid bitter coffee is to choose your beans carefully.

There are different kinds of coffee beans. For instance, if you want an exotic flavor with a sweet yet woodsy aftertaste, you can try dark roast 100% Kona coffee.

It also helps to choose single-origin coffee, especially Arabica beans, as this ensures there are no subpar beans mixed with the coffee.

Change the Grind Size

If your grounds are too fine, over-extraction may result in bitter coffee. Finer particles will extract coffee oils and organic compounds faster. It would take less time even when you prepare the same volume of water.

One way to make dark roast coffee less bitter is to extract less using a coarse grind. To make weak coffee, the water has to work through the grounds. The coffee will break down slower when using coarser or larger grind particles.

Set the Proper Water Temperature

Some people bring water to a boil and go straight to brewing. However, the boiling temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit is too hot for coffee.

  • Imagine the char on your food when doing BBQ. Boiling temperature can burn the grounds, turning the cellulose fibers into carbon, giving a bitter taste.
  • The standard brewing temperature ranges from 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. You can maximize the flavors at such temperatures without over-extracting the bitter nuances.
  • If you brew under 195 degrees Fahrenheit, the slow extraction may result in a sour brew.
  • A fast extraction at over 205 degrees Fahrenheit may produce bitter coffee.

Sugar cube being added to a dark coffeeUse Filtered or Spring Water

Coffee consists of 98% water. If the water quality is bad, this may also contribute to bitterness. The Specialty Coffee Association recommends water with a 6.5 to 7.5 pH level. Instead of tap water, opt for spring or filtered water, generally within the recommended pH levels.

Use Freshly Roasted Beans

Another way to lessen the bitterness in dark roast coffee is to use freshly roasted beans. For example, there are several options on where you can buy Hawaiian coffee, with some even delivering to homes. From there, you can select the quantity and roast level, whether you like your beans roasted lightly or have them toasted dark to ensure freshness.

Stale dark roasted beans won't be as flavorful as freshly roasted ones. If the grounds are in paper packaging for too long, you will notice traces of oil in the paper. This means that the grounds are losing flavor.

Coffees roasted beyond the second crack, like a dark roast and French roast, have shortened windows of freshness because the bean structure becomes fragile. This is also why it helps to grind the beans yourself in time for brewing.

Shorten the Brew Time

If you don't want to change the grind size, shortening the brew time is an alternative way to make dark roast coffee less bitter.

Over-brewing coffee or steeping grounds for too long can burn the grounds, resulting in a bitter taste. Experiment with the duration by cutting the brew time by at least 30 seconds.

Add Fat

The fat content in dairy products is an effective ingredient to counter sharpness in dark roast coffees. Fatty acids interact with bitter substances to mask the bitterness or fix weak coffee.

  • Frothed cream: Learning how to froth coffee creamer can be a valuable skill for a coffee enthusiast. The fat in the milk and cream can neutralize bitterness to make dark roast coffee palatable.
  • Milk: The protein in milk binds to coffee's polyphenolic compounds, including tannins. In effect, it can soften the bitterness, expand fat, and bring out more of the coffee's flavor.
  • Ice cream: Ice cream consists of milk and sugar, so you get two flavor-enhancing ingredients to counter the bitterness. Plop a spoonful of ice cream to your cold brew dark roast Kona coffee for a decadent twist.
  • Butter: The butter's high fats and low sugars can tame dark roast coffee bitterness.

Man adding milk to a woman's cup of coffeePut Natural Flavor-Enhancing Elements

Don't throw away the cup of bitter dark roast coffee just yet. You can still save it by adding sweeteners and spices to minimize the bitterness.

  • Sugar: Add teaspoons of sugar or sugar cubes so the sweetness can overpower the bitter taste. A study shows that sucrose interacts with caffeine to suppress and reduce the coffee's bitter taste.
  • Coffee sauces: One of the most exciting things about preparing dark roast coffee is using sauces to enhance the flavor while garnishing it. There are several sauces to choose from, including hazelnut, white chocolate, cookies and cream, caramel, and chocolate.
  • Spices: If you don't want to add sugar, you can use spices to mask the bitterness. A dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom can enhance dark roast coffee's flavor.
  • Citrus fruits: Adding a bit of acid can counteract the bitterness in dark roast coffee. A slice of lemon or orange can bring a tangy freshness to cover the sharp flavor.
  • Salt: Salt can also suppress bitterness in dark roast coffee. Sodium chloride can make the coffee's sodium more distinct. 
  • Vanilla extract: Some drops of vanilla extract can provide a smooth, buttery flavor to repel dark roast coffee bitterness.


Once you identify the problem, head over the solutions from this list. We hope these tips can help you brew a delicious cup of dark roast Kona coffee. Make sure to use authentic beans from Lava Lei 100% Kona coffee so you can avoid bitter-tasting brew.