The Reasons Why Your Coffee Machine Is Making Weak Coffee

Last Updated on August 18, 2023 by Barry Gray

I have a few pet hates when it comes to coffee, and one of them is when the coffee resembles slightly colored water rather than a full-on brew. If you ever want to see me spitting out some coffee, then give me something weak and lacking.

And yet I know there are times when getting a weak coffee comes as a surprise. You do everything right, and suddenly your coffee machine decides it won’t play ball and produces a coffee that’s not even deserving to be in a mug.

So, why does this happen? I decided to find out to stop so many people from encountering weak coffee due to their coffee machines.

Your coffee machine could be making a weak coffee because of several reasons. You may be using an insufficient amount of coffee, the wrong coffee for the machine, the brew time was too short, the temperature was wrong, or your coffee machine is actually faulty.

As you can see, several of the reasons are directly linked to something you have done, and that’s excellent news. It means there are ways to counteract what’s going on and to ensure your coffee machine once again produces excellent coffee.

why is your coffee machine making weak coffee

Weak Coffee is a Major Disappointment

Personally, I enjoy coffee that ranges from medium strength to full-bodied and blow your socks off flavor. As I’ve said elsewhere on the site, I do have a relative that loved wishy-washy coffee, and I never understood how they were able to drink it.

To me, coffee should have different levels of flavor bursting through. You should be able to experience the richness and robustness of the coffee, no matter the roast level.

With a weak coffee, it just comes across as being too diluted, and it will become more apparent later why it tastes like that. 

I also feel a weak coffee will be unable to deliver that “get up and go” feeling you get with a regular coffee. I think it comes across as pointless even drinking it, as the experience is even weaker than the coffee itself. 

I can even sense that feeling of disappointment seeping from you when you encounter a weak coffee and realize you won’t get those familiar flavorful hits. So, let’s see what we can do to prevent this from happening. 

I promise it’s easier than you think. 

Why the Wrong Coffee Can Produce a Weak Brew

the wrong coffee will make your coffee weak

I was brought up on instant coffee and nothing else. That meant I had this misconception when starting off my exploration of coffee that there was only one type of coffee capable of producing all these different drinks.

I sort of feel stupid at having that idea.

Using coffee with the wrong grind size for your machine will result in weak coffee as water will effectively shoot through the coffee, and there will not be enough time for it to interact with the coffee grains.

The actual grain size you use depends on the coffee machine in question. A Pour over coffee maker requires a different grind from an Espresso machine, where there’s an emphasis on it being very fine.

Look at your coffee machine and learn the correct grind size. I see this as a major contributing factor to weak coffee, and it’s so easy to counteract it.

The Wrong Coffee Ratio

Another common mistake people make, and I was one of those people years ago, is getting the ratio wrong between coffee and water.

Look at a French Press as an example. Not adding enough coffee to your French Press results in a weaker coffee which is made worse when you add way too much water.

In this instance, it acts in the same way as if you were diluting a drink by adding more water. Excessive water results in a weaker end result and coffee in your coffee machine is no different. 

So, how do you counteract this? It’s obvious. You add more coffee to your brew.

Now, I get that people starting out with a new brewing method may feel stressed at the idea of adding too much coffee, but experimenting is one of the best things about coffee. 

I would certainly advocate upping the amount of coffee you plan to use in a brew from the outset to ensure you don’t end up with a weak coffee that tastes horrible.

Check Your Machine for the Water it Uses

check your coffee machine for the water it uses

This issue of too little coffee and too much water can also be due to the coffee machine being set up to use too much water, to begin with. 

Take my Dolce Gusto coffee pod machine. If you don’t set it to the correct size for the part of the drink you are making, it can use too much water resulting in a larger drink lacking in flavor and body. 

It’s an easy mistake to make, especially when moving between different types of coffee drinks, so double-checking everything in advance makes sense.

But I would strongly suggest you check the settings on your coffee machine to see if too much water is an issue. If you aren’t sure as to what the setting should be, you could go ahead and add less water to effectively stop it from overflowing.

The Brew Time is Not Long Enough

I like to think I’m a patient guy. But I admit there are times when I just want my coffee to finish brewing so I can dive in and get that caffeine hit.

But being impatient and not giving the coffee long enough to brew is a major issue and will always result in a weak coffee.

Yet here comes the complicated part. The brew time changes depending on the coffee machine or brewing method you plan on using. It’s not the case that everything stays the same no matter your approach.

So what happens when the brew time is too short?

To get coffee, you need to give the water time to interact and extract the flavor from the coffee. A short brew time means the water is given an inadequate amount of time to work on extracting flavor leading to weak coffee.

If the brew time is wrong, the water almost bypasses the coffee giving it no chance to extract the flavor. This also happens when you use coffee of the wrong grind size for the brewing method, where the water rushes through.

The Wrong Temperature

what is the correct temperature for brewing coffee

To correctly extract coffee, and to avoid getting weak coffee, you need to have a couple of things, and one of those core components is ensuring you have the correct water temperature for the brewing method.

Coffee is capable of withstanding a tremendous amount of pressure and heat. Still, the temperature you need does vary depending on the brewing method. 

Now, a number of different brew methods do not work well if it takes too long. It can completely change the taste of the coffee.

But when you blend together water that’s not hot enough with the wrong brew time, you get weak coffee as the water is unable to effectively extract the coffee.

But as with other problems I’ve discussed above, the fix is easy. All it needs is for you to increase the temperature, and depending on your coffee maker, it should be easy to do.

By ramping up the heat, more coffee will be extracted from the beans resulting in a more potent brew.

A Faulty Coffee Machine

a faulty coffee machine makes weak coffee

The final main issue I want to mention is when there’s a fault with the actual coffee machine. Clearly, this may result in you replacing the machine. Still, I’d undoubtedly look at the other reasons why you have weak coffee before heading down the path of a faulty machine.

Weak coffee via your coffee machine can be down to several things. It may be unable to get the water up to the correct temperature, or it may be struggling to produce enough pressure to extract the coffee.

If you have an Espresso machine, the best way to counteract this is to service it regularly. This should ensure it does not run into problems.

Maybe Your Coffee is Not That Weak After All?

I’ve added this point after having a realization. At times, we make the mistake of thinking coffee is weak thanks to the color, but that’s not always the case.

Instead, different roasting levels produce coffee of varying colors. This makes a huge amount of sense.

Look at a light roast. It produces coffee lighter in color, so people unaware a light roast has been used may think the coffee is weak.

And yet there’s also the difference in taste you will experience when swapping between different roasts.

The way you will experience coffee changes as you try different roasts. But life becomes even harder when you are perhaps unaware of what to expect with a certain roast.

My Recap on Why Your Coffee Machine is Making Weak Coffee

I feel almost as if I should be on a quest to eliminate weak coffee from ever appearing anywhere in the world. Well, apart for those individuals that actually prefer a weak coffee, as those people do exist.

But here’s my recap on the key points you should look out for if you feel that your coffee is just not quite as strong as it should be.

  • You may have too little coffee and too much water
  • You may be using the wrong grind size for your coffee maker
  • The brew time may be too short, resulting in weak coffee
  • The temperature could be too low, resulting in less flavor being drawn out of the coffee
  • Your coffee machine may not be producing enough pressure
  • You could be using light roast that then looks weaker but actually isn’t
  • Increase coffee quantities to get a stronger brew, but only with specific brewing methods
  • Reduce water quantity to get a better ratio
  • Service your coffee machine to reduce the chances of it being at fault

Sadly, it’s impossible to completely eliminate the possibility of having weak coffee. It’s just something that can happen from time to time, but if you manage to reduce the chances of it being caused by you, then that’s always something.

My Conclusion

Your coffee machine is probably producing weak coffee because of something you are doing wrong. Yes, it may be the machine is faulty in some way, but more often than not, it’s being misused, leading to that weak coffee you simply want to throw away.

By fully understanding how your coffee machine works, it should be very easy for you to get a decent brew most times.