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How to Make Better Tasting Coffee

Here are eight suggestions that can improve the taste of your coffee:


You can not make good coffee from bad beans. Beans that were picked more than a year ago, or beans that were roasted months ago will not make good coffee. Supermarket coffee has a 9 month expiration date. it won’t taste bad but it will taste dull and flat. Make sure that the coffee you brew was picked this year and roasted a few days ago.

Use the right amount of coffee. As a start use 10.6 grams of coffee (about 2 heaping tablespoons) for every 6 ounces of brew water. Then adjust the next time you brew either up or down to your taste.


98% of a cup of coffee is water. Coffee brewed with chlorine or other hard chemicals will be flat and have a bitter, harsh taste. Make sure your water comes from either a high quality filter or quality bottled water.

Water Filter

Your water filter will change the taste of your coffee. High quality filters take out chlorine, other chemicals, odors and algae. Low quality filters leave some chemicals and other material in the water. Dirty filters add a moldy taste.


Great coffee is brewed at 200°F. Check the water going into your automatic drip brew basket with a meat thermometer. Coffee brewed below 195 degrees tastes thin and sour. Coffee brewed over 205 degrees tastes bitter and acidic.


Good coffee is brewed from evenly ground coffee beans. Unevenly ground beans will over and under extract, giving your coffee sour and acidic flavors. Use a conical burr grinder to get an even grind.

Dirty Equipment

Coffee beans are filled with oil. When coffee is ground and brewed the oils adhere to the machine.  If you don’t clean your brewer, grinder and coffee equipment, the oils will turn rancid and give your coffee a sour or fishy taste.

Coffee Cup

We serve coffee in our tasting room in ceramic cups. We found that our commercial dishwasher left a detergent film on the cups that affected the coffee taste. We now run our cups twice, once with detergent and once without. If you coffee tastes like detergent it may be the cup.


Coffee beans oxidize quickly when exposed to air. In addition, they also pick up flavors in the air e.g. onions, garlic, fuel oil etc. Ground coffee oxidizes faster than whole bean coffee, so coffee beans shouldn’t be ground until just before they are used. Whole bean and ground coffee should be stored in as close to an oxygen free environment as possible. We store our coffee in an airtight container in  the freezer to slow down the oxidation. Oxidized coffee tastes flat with little aroma and no subtle flavors.

Karen Jue Paterson is the owner of Hula Daddy Kona Coffee, a 33 acre coffee farm in Kona, Hawaii.  She is a member of the Hawaii Coffee Association, the Kona Coffee Council, the Kona Coffee Farmers Association, the Holualoa Village Association  and the Specialty Coffee Association of America. She is also the author of a number of articles on Kona Coffee including: Kona Coffee Farmers at a Crossroad How Typica is Your Kona Coffee?, Crimes Against Kona Coffee and Are Roasters Eroding the Kona Coffee Brand?




  1. I found you guys through a review I saw of your plantation. I didn’t know that coffee picked up other flavors that easily. I store mine in a Ziploc bag, but maybe now I’ll stick it in the freezer, too. Thanks for the great tips!

  2. Our son just got married at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu and they spent 2 weeks there mostly on the big island. We were unable to make the trip from AZ for the wedding so he brought us back a bag of your coffee. I freshly ground some this morning and brewed a few cups using filtered water. Both my wife and I agree that it was one of the best cups of coffee we have ever had. Our compliments to you. I would assume from your tips that storing the remainder of the bag in a plastic container and vaccuum sealing it would be the best way to store it or I could vaccuum seal it in a glass Mason jar, would that be a better choice?

    • Aloha
      Anything that reduces oxidation in coffee helps. Vacumn sealing is a big help. We freeze our opened coffee. Doing both would even be better. We don’t think it makes a difference whether you use a glass or a plastic container. Mahalo nui loa for your comment Karen

  3. Dave from WA State says:

    Wife & I stopped at your farm on Oct. 3, ’12. I talked to you (asked if you were the spokesperson for the Kona coffee association), and took the mini-tour. On your web site several of your whole bean products say ‘A traditional wet process coffee.’ Don’t remember if that was mentioned while at your place….so can you explain what that means? Did watch the ‘floating’ process with your hubby.

    • Hi Dace
      “Traditional wet process” coffee” means a coffee where we wash the beans to take off the natural coating the surrounds the bean. In our natural coffees we leave the coating on. Wet process coffee tend to have brighter cleaner tastes and are the traditional method of processing Kona Coffee. Mahalo Karen

  4. Eh bra.. I like da info you givin but ova here on Lanai we no can get one kine grinder fo da beans. Der is one otta way fo get em beans grind even kine?

    • Aloha Go to Amazon and either get the hand grinder Kyocera Ceramic Coffee Grinder $49.95 or the electric grinder Capresso Infinity Conical Burr Grinder
      $89.95. Both have free shipping to Lanai. There is no other option if you want to brew premium speciality coffee. Mahalo Karen

  5. Pete Lutz says:

    I store my beans and ground coffee in FoodSaver vacuum bags. They extract all of the air and vacuum pack the
    contents. I measure out beans or ground beans for one brewing and store it in a pint bag. When you need the coffee, just cut open the bag and enjoy. The bag can be reused as it is larger than needed. I try to use the same
    beans in the reused bags. I just store the individual bags in my cupboard.

  6. Karen:
    I would suggest cleaning the filter screen.
    when using the French Press method, the
    filter gets blocked by the coffee residue.
    A toothbrush is very useful.

  7. James M Ringate says:

    I made the mistake of ordering Kona Coffee from Koa and there was no roasting date on the bag, so I emailed them about this. The response was to use by one year. My response was. Are you a Folgers company. Never again
    Thanks. Jim Ringate

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