Last Updated on July 21, 2023 by Barry Gray
I’m not a massive fan of anything that has been burnt, and that does extend to coffee beans. Any coffee that has been made with burnt beans is almost guaranteed to taste horrific.
Now, I hate the idea of any type of coffee not tasting as good as it can do, so is there anything you can do to counteract burnt coffee beans?
It’s impossible to actually fix burnt coffee beans, so don’t try to do so. It’s a waste of time, but you can still use burnt coffee beans by paying attention to the brewing method. A cold brew can work well as it means those burnt flavors will not be extracted, allowing you to continue to enjoy coffee beans that would have otherwise been better being thrown in the trash.
So, I see the issue of burnt coffee beans as being problematic. However, I do at least have this sense of encouragement that all is not lost with them.
After realizing this, it sent me on a quest to learn more about how to counteract this burnt taste, as I hate the idea of throwing away coffee.
After some searching for advice and tips, this is what I discovered.
What Causes Burnt Coffee?
Burnt coffee is something that happens at times, and several reasons exist as to why it occurs.
On occasions, the beans have been burnt during the roasting process if care has not been taken, and you will then be hit by a pretty awful brew when you go ahead and make your coffee.
In this instance, the roast has been left to get too dry for an extended period, and that then leads to this horrible taste.
But it’s not the only reason why coffee can taste burnt.
If you are guilty of over brewing the coffee and extracting too much from the coffee bean, you increase the chances of your coffee taking on that burnt taste.
I admit this is slightly different from the burnt bean part as it’s down to you not completing the brewing process correctly, so changes to your approach will be helpful.
Yet I admit one key point here, if you over brew your coffee, it’s not technically burnt. That’s because the burning I’m primarily talking about is to do with the beans themselves and not because you have made the coffee incorrectly.
So, that’s what I will focus on from now on.
How Poor Roasting Causes Burnt Beans
I’ve tried roasting beans myself from time to time, and I admit I’m not the best at it. I quickly discovered it’s a very fine line you need to tread to get the beans to the roasting level you want before you go beyond this point and turn those beans into an abomination.
The problem with roasting is it gradually breaks down the beans. Roast them too long, and the beans break down beyond the point you wanted, and that will completely change the taste.
I’ve looked at some beans that were roasted for far too long, and instead of seeing a roasted bean, what I notice is that parts of the bean were almost turned to ash.
Having ash with your coffee bean is not the ideal situation. You grind it down, and that ash ends up in your brew.
I promise you that having ash in your coffee is not a good thing. It is horrific, and it’s a taste you won’t forget in a hurry.
How Do I Fix Burnt Coffee Beans?
But having some burnt beans does not have to always mean you then throw them away. I hate the idea of a single coffee bean being wasted, so I was happy to discover there are methods you can use that will still produce a decent enough cup.
The crucial component is to ensure you do not brew your coffee at high temperatures.
The problem with a high temperature is you will automatically start extracting some of those burnt flavors in the bean. It won’t take too much for them to flood into your coffee, and the taste will be overpowering.
Also, I said how grinding the beans down causes problems as it leads to the ash being incorporated into your drink. So, it makes sense that the best approach is to avoid grinding down the beans, but I admit that restricts your brewing options.
A Whole Bean Cold Brew is the Best Option
When I realized you should not use high temperatures or grind down beans, I came up with one option that will work well and still give you that stunning coffee: a whole-bean cold brew.
I get it’s not the most common or usual brewing method to use for coffee. However, it’s certainly a way to work around our issue and to still be capable of using the coffee beans.
The cold temperature has the impact of stopping the coffee beans from breaking down. If you stop this breaking down process, it prevents the burnt flavors from leaking out into your brew, so it should certainly taste significantly better.
The only problem with a whole-bean cold brew is you need to be patient. It’s not something you can make in a rush, but it’s better to take time and still use burnt beans compared to throwing them out.
Making an Iced Coffee
Another option I would explore is an iced coffee, which can also work well with burnt beans but for a different reason.
People will make an espresso and add it to iced milk for an iced coffee, so I know you will be wondering why I’m exposing the beans to a higher temperature. Well, it’s all to do with the drinking temperature in this instance.
When you drink coffee that’s at a cooler temperature, it means you don’t get all of the same flavors as you would do if it was hot. As with the cold brew option, the burnt flavors don’t hang around too much with an iced coffee, so you do encounter more of the tastier flavors you were hoping for.
If you don’t have the time to wait for a cold brew, this could be the perfect solution, as it’s certainly significantly quicker.
Why Cold Temperatures Work Best
We typically use high temperatures to extract maximum flavor from the beans as it encourages all those sugars, acids, and other components to seep from the bean. That is why coffee tastes so good with minimal effort, as the hot water does the hard work for us.
But we cannot use that approach with burnt beans simply because we don’t want it to do all of that.
Now, I admit this approach of using cold temperatures is not 100% perfect. However, what I did notice was the cold temperature allowed lighter flavors to seep from the bean while those heavier burnt flavors were largely left behind.
This is not something I can guarantee, though, but there’s no doubt it does make a difference.
Helping with the Taste of Burnt Coffee
Let’s say you sort of know you are making a burnt coffee, as the beans don’t look too good. Is there a way to counteract the horrible flavors you will then encounter?
The answer is: yes.
Burnt coffee will come with a bitter taste, and it assaults your taste buds. So, those are the flavors you need to counteract.
My approach is to seek to mask the flavors, and I find milk to be one of the most effective ways of doing this.
Steamed milk, so say hello to a Latte or Cappuccino, comes with a thicker texture and a real sweetness to it. You want that sweetness to help deal with the bitterness while also leaving other flavors of the coffee behind that you want to experience.
But milk is not your only solution.
Use Syrups to Help Burnt Coffee
Another fantastic solution is to use syrups to help with burnt coffee. Again, it’s the sweetness in the syrup that masks the burnt taste you experience, and you don’t need a lot of the syrup to make a major difference.
Personally, syrups are not at the top of my list. Be careful with how much you add, or you won’t taste the coffee, but add just a touch, and you will not experience that burnt taste you wish to avoid.
Use Sugar to Help
In this instance, sugar will be your friend since it will reduce the bitter notes you are experiencing with your coffee.
How much sugar will depend on your preference? Also, the beans that were used will have different degrees of bitterness, and that also changes the amount of sugar you then add to your coffee.
But if you feel the burnt flavors are too much, sugar will fix it in no time.
My Recap on Fixing Burnt Beans
Having burnt beans is something that happens at times, but you don’t have to throw them away and curse your bad luck. Instead, keep these points in mind to allow you to use the beans even when you feel all is lost.
- Poor roasting can lead to burnt beans
- Ash appears on the beans leading to this horrible taste
- Use cold temperatures to brew the beans to counteract it
- A whole bean cold brew works best
- An iced coffee will reduce the bitter flavors
- Use milk to help
- Use sugar or syrups as well to counteract the bitter flavors
Burnt beans do not spell the end. You just need to think of other ways to use them.
Burnt beans are a pain, but it needn’t mean the end of them. Make either a whole-bean cold brew or an iced coffee to still use the beans.
Alternatively, use sugar and milk to deal with the flavor that comes with burnt beans. If you do this, you can still have a decent cup of coffee even when the beans themselves are not at their best.