29 Common Mistakes When Brewing Coffee At Home

If your homemade coffee lacks café quality, you may be doing things wrong. Discover the common mistakes when brewing coffee at home to improve your coffee-making skills.

Coffee being poured through a filter - common mistakes when brewing coffee at home
Don't brew coffee hastily at your home!

Ah, coffee… I cannot imagine my mornings without it! As a young kid, I often looked in awe at the baristas who took so much time and followed so many technicalities in making a cup of coffee. They made it look like a ritual and I often wondered why.

Twenty years later, I now find myself brewing my pour over coffee with a similar passion and finesse. As I sip on the great-tasting coffee and smell the aroma, I know my morning ritual is worth it!

Unfortunately, many people don’t get it right when brewing coffee at home and end up with low-quality coffee made hastily. If you want great-tasting coffee, you need to do it the right way! Finer things in life don’t come that cheap.

Remember, the painting of the Mona Lisa was not made in a jiffy. It was a labor of love! Here are 25 common mistakes people usually commit when brewing coffee at home.

Table Of Contents
  1. I. Common Mistakes When Brewing Pour Over Coffee
  2. II. Common Mistakes When Using A French Press
  3. III. Common Mistakes To Avoid While Making Espresso At Home
  4. IV. Common Mistakes To Avoid When Using a Coffee Maker
  5. I. Common Mistakes When Brewing Pour Over Coffee
  6. II. Common Mistakes When Using A French Press
  7. III. Common Mistakes To Avoid While Making Espresso At Home
  8. IV. Common Mistakes To Avoid When Using A Coffee Maker
  9. Common Mistakes When Brewing Coffee At Home: The Final Words

I. Common Mistakes When Brewing Pour Over Coffee

  1. Grinding coffee long before and storing it in a fridge
  2. Using overheated water
  3. Grinding coffee beans too fine
  4. Not tapping the ground coffee
  5. Not saturating the paper filter
  6. Pouring water into the paper filter
  7. Not pouring water smoothly into the filter
  8. Using the wrong ratio while coffee making
  9. Pouring water only once at a time
  10. Reusing brewed grounds for another cup of coffee

II. Common Mistakes When Using A French Press

  1. Not grinding the coffee beans perfectly
  2. Using the wrong ratio of water and coffee grounds
  3. Leaving the coffee in the French Press after brewing
  4. Using too hot water

III. Common Mistakes To Avoid While Making Espresso At Home

  1. Grinding in an excess amount
  2. Leaving leftover mud in the filter holder basket
  3. Not tamping coffee grounds correctly
  4. Not cleaning your espresso machine after use
  5. Not paying attention to how the espresso pours
  6. Not tasting your espresso
  7. Not serving espresso correctly

IV. Common Mistakes To Avoid When Using a Coffee Maker

  1. Using a dirty machine and accessories
  2. Not maintaining the right water temperature
  3. Incorrect coffee to water ratios
  4. Using old or stale grounds
  5. Not maintaining ground consistency
  6. Using poor quality water
  7. Messing with the brew time
  8. Not replacing your old coffee machine

If your homemade coffee does not taste as good as the one you get at the local coffee shop, you are probably not brewing correctly. Whether you use a pour-over method, espresso machine, or French Press for making coffee, each brewing style requires patience and precision.

Check out the common mistakes below:

I. Common Mistakes When Brewing Pour Over Coffee

Coffee brewing in a filter pot.
Pour over coffee starts with pouring hot water through a cone-like filter containing grounds to produce coffee

If you wish to enjoy coffee at its best, pour over style is the way to go! However, if you are used to having your coffee prepared in an instant, please be aware this method is going to take its own course. When you master the art of pour-over coffee making, you will be able to treat yourself with the smoothest and most flavorful cup of Joe ever.

Pour over coffee starts with grinding the freshly roasted beans and pouring hot water through a cone-like filter containing grounds to produce coffee. This is a preferred method for many coffee lovers around the world as it gives them more control over the taste and strength of coffee.

However, you may fail to achieve the perfect brew if you are committing these pour over mistakes:

1. Grinding coffee long before and storing in a fridge

I know it may feel more convenient to grind coffee(click to see my favorite coffee grinders) in advance and store it in the fridge to use every time you make pour-over coffee, but this is a recipe for disaster.

Coffee beans start releasing flavor as soon as you grind them and if you store them for too long, this will dissipate the great aroma. Moreover, if you keep ground coffee in the fridge, it is like poisoning your coffee as it can get impacted by other flavors.

To get the best results, make sure you grind just before making coffee and grind only as much as needed so that you do not need to store them. In case of excess ground, store them in a sealed airtight jar and use the grounds within a week of grinding.

2. Using overheated water

Another important aspect of good coffee making is to use the right water temperature. If you use overheated water, this will turn your coffee bitter in taste. On the other hand, if you use water that is not hot enough, this will result in under extraction and bland coffee. The optimal water temperature for making the best-tasting pour over coffee is 91 to 96 degrees.

If you wish to master the art of making pour-over coffee, invest in a good thermometer to ensure that you do not go wrong with this. While it may be easier to achieve consistency when brewing just one cup, you may need a thermometer when brewing a pot of coffee.

3. Grinding coffee beans too fine

You need to maintain the right consistency when grinding coffee beans because too fine or too coarse can spoil the effect. If you are grinding them too fine, the fine particles will pass through the filter and drip into the cup, making your coffee bitter. Grinding too coarse is also not correct, as this will come in the way of complete extraction.

To get the best results, grind coffee beans as big as sea salt. Before making pour-over coffee, first wet the grounds with a little hot water to make them bloom. Then add the measured cup of water to get that awesome coffee shop taste right at home!

4. Not tapping the ground coffee

After you place the measured scoops of grounds into the filter, you must tap on it to make the grounds sit evenly. Not tapping will not result in full extraction of the coffee extracts. Most casual pour coffee makers forget this small yet significant step in hurry.

Tapping on the filter will ensure that all grounds sit uniformly and are fully extracted when you hot pour water over it.

5. Not saturating the paper filter

Putting coffee grounds directly over the paper filter is not the right method. If you do not saturate the filter, you will curb the extraction process. To brew great tasting coffee, you must saturate the paper filter with hot water.

This will make the filter more conducive to the grounds and deliver an optimum performance.

6. Pouring water to the paper filter

Another common mistake when making pour-over coffee is pouring water around the edges of the paper filter. Any amount of water that only goes through the filter, without interacting with the grounds will dilute the coffee and result in a bland taste. To get a cup of strong coffee, make sure you pour water only through the well-tapped pack of grounds.

7. Not pouring water smoothly into the filter

When you wish to make the best-tasting pour-over coffee, you need to pour water correctly. This important step must be performed with care and caution. Pouring water hastily or haphazardly will result in under extraction and weak coffee.

So, make sure your hand does not shake during the process and pour slowly and smoothly to cover all grounds uniformly.

8. Using the wrong ratio while coffee making

If you want to get the optimal taste, you need to pay attention to the water to grounds ratio. The best ratio for a perfect cup of Java is 1:13 to 1:15. You may alter this ratio based on your personal preferences and taste depending on whether you like it medium or strong.

However, remember to not over extract your coffee or it will get bitter.

9. Pouring water only once at a time

To enjoy the most flavorful and perfectly extracted brew, you need to set a looming time for the grounds. Ideally, you must pour some water to wet the grounds and let it sit for 30 seconds. Once the grounds bloom, pour the remaining water again to extract the best-tasting coffee.

This little step can create a world of difference in your coffee flavor.

10. Reusing brewed grounds for another cup of coffee

If you thought you may reuse the ground to get a quick another cup without going through the process again, you are wrong. After the coffee grounds are brewed completely, they lose all the flavor and aroma. If you try to pour water over it again, you will only water that smells a little like coffee.

After a brewing process is complete, the right method is to recycle the coffee grounds. If you are interested in how to make pour over coffee at home, you can have a look at my previous article – HOW TO BREW COFFEE WITH POUR OVER BREWER

II. Common Mistakes When Using A French Press

A cup of coffee on a table, with a french press.
French press is the oldest and classic methods of brewing

It takes a coffee connoisseur to appreciate the art of making coffee in a French press, one of the oldest and classic methods of brewing. The beauty of this brewing style lies in its simplicity. You just need to grind coffee, add hot water, and you are done.

However, even with a simple tool and easy technique, things may go wrong. If you have developed your palate for delicious French press coffee (thanks to your Italian grandmother) but you cannot brew it rightly at home, you may be doing these mistakes.

1. Not grinding the coffee beans perfectly

Maintaining the right grind consistency is important and the texture may vary depending upon the different brewing styles. To make the best tasting French press coffee, you must grind the beans into an even and coarse consistency.

If you use fine ground, you will have a tough time pressing it down. On the contrary, if you use too coarse grounds, you will be able to press down without any resistance. Both ways are incorrect, so you need to maintain a balance between the two.

Coffee Grind Size
Coffee Grind Size

2. Using the wrong ratio of water and coffee grounds

To get the best tasting French Press coffee, you need to maintain the right ratio of water and coffee. The perfect ratio for a French press coffee is 1:13, which means 1 gram of coffee for every 13 grams of water. While you may slightly tweak in changes with the ratio depending upon your preferred taste, I personally feel that the 1:13 ratio works best.

Eyeballing the measurements often results in the worst coffee disasters and your coffee may end up tasting bitter or weak. I would suggest that you invest in a good measuring scale to get the right ratio every time. While this might feel like a hassle, you will know that it is worth it when you blissfully sip on the heavenly mud.

3. Leaving coffee in the French Press after brewing

Once the brewing process completes, make sure you do not leave your coffee in the French Press. This is one of the most common mistakes, which explains why the subsequent cups do not take as well as the first one. Letting the coffee sit in the brewing device will result in over-extraction and bitter-tasting mud.

Even though you have pushed the plunger, any amount of coffee left behind will continue to brew. So, make sure you brew only as much as needed. If you wish to make a pot of coffee to avoid brewing again, you must pour out all coffee into a separate carafe or thermos to prevent it from turning bitter.

4.Using too hot water

To make the best tasting French Press coffee, you must be careful about not using too hot or boiling water. You must ensure that the water temperature is just off the boiling mark, about 200F. I would recommend that you invest in an electric kettle like this to heat water to the desired temperature and shut it off automatically.

The common mistake people commit is adding water soon after it boils to speed up the brewing process. This will not result in proper extraction of the grounds and extract acids instead which will impact the overall flavor.

To enjoy the purest taste, let water sit for nearly 30 seconds after it boils. After it cools slightly, you can now add the water to French Press.

III. Common Mistakes To Avoid While Making Espresso At Home

A close up of an Espresso machine.
Brewing an espresso requires good practice

Brewing espresso at home? Your taste buds will thank you every morning and your friends will go ow’ when they see you brewing like a barista. However, brewing that perfect cuppa of fresh, rich, and deliciously thick espresso needs good practice. You need to know your espresso machine well and follow the instructions properly.

You must also avoid these common mistakes when brewing a cup of tasty espresso.

1. Grinding in an excess amount

Your espresso gets a wonderful aroma and rich taste due to freshly ground coffee. Having a quality burr grinder is important to brew delicious espresso every time. Unfortunately, some people defeat the purpose by grinding too much coffee together and storing the excess amount for next time.

A common problem with grinding excess amounts is that the leftover ground goes stale and flavorless. Make sure you grind only as much coffee as required to prevent the loss of flavor that can set in within two hours of grinding.

To make the process hassle-free, you may invest in espresso coffee makers that come with built-in grinders.

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2. Leaving leftover mud in the filter holder basket

This is a common mistake that many amateur home espresso makers commit and this can directly impact your espresso-making device. Leaving used coffee ground in the filter holder can result in a build-up of wastes and coffee oils inside the machine.

This means your machine will take longer to clean and failing to clean regularly can impact the machine performance over time.

Make it a habit to remove the used coffee puck after brewing an espresso drink. Rinse the empty filter holder with clean water to remove any oil deposits on the filter basket, group head, and shower screen. A little care will be useful in the long run and add more years to your machine’s life.

3. Not tamping coffee grounds correctly

You do not have to be a professional barista to know the art of tamping correctly. With a little practice and care, you can be your own home barista. Tamping can be the difference between a great espresso and a bland watery drink.

An uneven tamp has fractured coffee puck with spaces in between and this can result in low quality coffee. To get better at the tamping technique, I would recommend that you invest in a good quality plastic tamper that delivers good results. Put your forefinger and thumb on the rim of the tamper and put the shaft on your palm.

Place the coffee puck on an even and flat surface, and apply pressure to firmly press down the tamper.

4. Not cleaning your espresso machine after use

You can save a lot of time and effort by cleaning the espresso machine immediately after use. If you leave the cleaning for later, the milk and coffee oils can bake on the machine surface. This results in an unsightly and stubborn brown sludge that takes time to clean.

Making it a habit to clean regularly after use can reduce the buildup of such things. A quick cleaning may include wiping the steam wand to remove any surplus milk, emptying the portafilter and throwing away the coffee puck, disposing of any spent coffee, cleaning dirty drip trays, and wiping the surrounding area.

If you follow this simple cleaning ritual after brew, there will be less work to do on your next coffee session and the device will last for long.

5. Not paying attention to how the espresso pours

making espresso shot using an espresso machine
Slow flow indicates that the grounds are too fine or the coffee puck is heavily compressed

This is another common mistake people do when brewing a cup of espresso. Your job is not over by just refilling the water tank or placing the compressed coffee in the brew basket. To understand your coffee and better your skills, you must watch your espresso pour.

The way your espresso pours speaks a lot about its quality. For example, a slow flow indicates that the grounds are too fine or the coffee puck has been heavily compressed. A fast flow indicates that the grounds are too coarse and there is not enough coffee in the puck.

An under-extracted crema signals something is wrong with the extraction pressure, quality of coffee blend, water temperature, and so on. A dark crema indicates over-extraction and numerous defects such as too much ground coffee, high extraction pressure, dirty group head screen, or extended extraction time, etc.

To get the best results, there must a good balance of consistency, strength, and flavor. It should not be too watery or too thick, not too strong or too weak. Watching your espresso flow will give you signals to understand whether your machine is functioning at its best or not.

6. Not tasting your espresso

If you have guests at home, make sure you taste your espresso before serving it to others. By tasting the drink first, you will be able to tell if you need to add anything or tweak in some changes to improve the flavor.

Is the milk too cold? Is the coffee quality too terrible? Does your machine need cleaning?

Your tongue is the best judge to tell whether it is the poor quality coffee beans or a clogged group head. Tasting your espresso first can save you from the embarrassment and cover-up defects before your guest's comment.

7. Not serving espresso correctly

A great-tasting espresso drink deserves to be served in style. If you are not paying attention to the presentation, this can reduce the overall impact. Using poor-quality cups and incorrect sizes can completely jeopardize the overall experience.

Even if you brew a single for yourself, make sure you treat yourself with a good coffee mug to improve your morning experience. If you like drinking super hot coffee, you may get a cup warmer to ensure that your cuppa stays warm for a long time. To serve espresso to guests, always use demitasse cups of decent sizes.

Related Article: 10 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE BUYING AN ESPRESSO MACHINE

IV. Common Mistakes To Avoid When Using A Coffee Maker

Just because you bought that big fat coffeemaker from the top brand does not guarantee a great cup of coffee. While coffeemakers are one of the modern home appliances you can find in most homes, not everyone knows how to use them rightly.

I know it works like a quick life hack for you and lets you brew coffee without the rituals, but does your coffee taste good enough? This is simply because you are doing a lot more mistakes than you actually realize. If you wish to brew the perfect mud using a coffee maker, here are the mistakes you must avoid.

1. Using a Dirty Machine and Accessories

If you use your coffee maker regularly to make your morning Joe, chances are that the device gets dirty frequently. Contaminants can build up over time and reduce the strength of your coffee. To guarantee the perfect brew every time, you must keep the coffee machine and accessories properly cleaned.

Besides following the cleaning instructions properly, you must also cleanse the inside of the machine with clean water. Just fill it with water and turn the machine on as if to brew but without any grounds. Let the water flush out any impurities clogged inside.

2. Not maintaining the right water temperature

The temperature of the water should be just right to extract the purest flavors and aromas from your coffee grounds. If you use too hot water, this may result in over-extraction and turn your Java bitter. Using slightly cooler water is the right option, as this will ensure that water gets heated to the right temperature before passing through the chamber containing grounds.

3. Incorrect coffee to water ratios

The key to brewing good quality coffee is to maintain good coffee to water ratio but unfortunately, many people go wrong at this. To get the perfect blend, you must use one to two tablespoons of coffee grounds with six ounces of water. Use this measurement as a standard when you are a beginner.

You may make slight changes to the ratio depending upon your preferences. Add more water to reduce the strength and decrease the water level to make a stronger blend. Do not be afraid to explore as this can be your key to a great formula that pleases your taste buds.

4. Using old or stale grounds

Well, I have already discussed this point in detail earlier so will only mention it in brief here. Just like in any other method of brewing, you must always grind fresh coffee beans for the best results. While it may be tempting to store pre-ground coffee to save time, this lazy option can drastically impact your coffee experience.

5. Not maintaining ground consistency

Your coffee tastes best only when you maximize flavor extraction and this requires consistent and even ground. If the coffee beans are ground unevenly, the coarse particles will make it difficult for water to pass through the filter, thus compromising the flavor. There are certain types of coffee machines that need to maintain ground consistency to perform in their best capacity.

Different models from different brands may have varying requirements. So, make sure you read the manual carefully and follow the instructions closely before brewing.

6. Using poor quality water

running water in an open faucet
Minerals in tap water contains contaminants that can spoil the taste of your brewed coffee

While coffee beans have the biggest impact on the quality of your brew, the type of water you use can also make or break the concoction. If you use tap water that contains minerals or contaminants, this can spoil the taste of the brew and make your coffee taste horrible.

Always use filtered water to avoid the risk of adding contaminants to your brew. This will also keep your brewing equipment good for a long time.

Related Article: CAN I USE TAP WATER TO MAKE COFFEE?

7. Messing with the brew time

Modern coffee makers give you the convenience to preset your brew time so you can enjoy a great cup of Joe as your roll out of bed with half-mast eyes! Well, this has its set of pros but on the cons side, this clearly messes up with the brew time and can impact the quality of your drink.

In a standard drip coffee maker, water and grounds should sit together for just 5 minutes. In a French Press, the interaction lasts for about 2 to 4 minutes and in an espresso machine, it should be no more than 20 to 30 seconds.

To get that perfect brew, it is essential that you take care of the brewing time. If you let water and grounds stay together for a long time, this will result in over-extraction and if the time is cut short, this may cause under extraction.

8. Not replacing your old coffee machine

I know you may be emotionally attached to your coffee machine that has delivered fantastic blends to please your palates for years. However, electronic devices have a limited lifespan and they will ultimately give in to wear and tear. You can add more years to the machine by maintaining it regularly and adding necessary replacement parts.

When your machine becomes too old and beyond repair, you need to get a new coffee maker to get the best flavors out of the coffee beans. Make sure you keep an eye on telltale signs that say your machine needs repair work or replacement.

Common Mistakes When Brewing Coffee At Home: The Final Words

Brewing coffee at home may be an early morning necessity or a skill you like to brag about. Whatever is your reason to make coffee at home, referring to these common mistakes can improve your brewing skill and make you a better barista.

As you may have already heard before – coffee making is an art! You do not necessarily need to invest in an expensive coffee machine to get that flavorful cup of Java. All you need is a little time, skill, and love for coffee to make the brewing ritual a part of your life!

There are mistakes many people commit with full confidence every day, out of sheer ignorance. You do not need to be ashamed of them. I have done them too. Everyone does. This most important thing is to never stop learning and improving your homebrewing skills.

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