Why Does My Coffee Taste Watery, And How to Fix It?

A cup of coffee is the solution to all the problems. So whether it’s early in the morning and you’re running late for work, you are hungover, or you want something delicious to reward yourself with, a hot cup of joe is always a good idea.

This is why no one, I repeat, no one, deserves a cup of watery coffee. It’s a kick in the stomach to spend time and money preparing coffee for you to be left with a bland beverage. Drinking watery coffee truly is the epitome of sadness. It needs to be fixed!

So if you keep wondering, “why does my coffee taste watery,” read on to find out what could be wrong with your brewing process and tips for improving it.

5 reasons your coffee tastes watery

There are five main culprits to why your cup of coffee tastes watery. These include not using enough coffee, your coffee beans being ground incorrectly, a short brewing time, soft water, and dirty equipment. So let’s try to determine what is the most likely reason in your case.

why does my coffee taste watery

1. You are not using enough coffee

The first problem that springs to mind if your coffee tastes watery is that you are using too little coffee. The coffee-to-water ratio is essential to get the best flavor out of your coffee beans and balance the strength of the beverage. Just like with instant coffee, using too little coffee or too much water will dilute your drink and leave you with a cup of coffee that tastes weak.

The brewing method you use will determine the coffee-to-water ratio you need. Every coffee brewing device extracts the flavor differently, requiring adjusting the ground coffee ratio.

Here is a table to help you determine the right coffee-to-water ratio:

Brewing method

Coffee to water ratio

Drip coffee maker

1:15

Espresso

1:2

Moka Pot

1:7

AeroPress

1:10

French Press

1:14

Chemex

1:17

V60

1:16

Kalita Wave

14.5-1:16

Cold brew

1:14

As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all regarding the coffee-to-water ratio. If you want a strong, not watery coffee, it’s recommended that you use more coffee. If this still doesn’t fix the problem, then read on for some more tips.

2. Coffee grind size is too big

Different types of coffee makers need different grind sizes. You may have noticed that when you buy coffee beans at coffee roasters or in specialty coffee shops, they ask you how you’d like them to be ground. However, if you use different brewing methods at home, the best approach would be to invest in a burr grinder and adjust your grind size depending on the device you will make your coffee with.

Below is a list of coffee grind sizes recommended for different brewing methods:

Brewing method

Coffee grind size

Drip coffee maker

Medium

Espresso

Fine

Moka Pot

Fine

AeroPress

Medium

French Press

Coarse

Chemex

Medium Coarse

V60

Medium Fine

Kalita Wave

Medium Fine

Cold brew

Extra Coarse

Like the coffee-to-water ratio, you need to adjust your grind size depending on your coffee maker. For instance, a coarse grind for espresso will leave you with a watery coffee because the coffee beans won’t properly infuse with the water.

Grinding your coffee beans at home will give you much more control, so consider getting a burr grinder rather than buying ground coffee beans or grinding them using a mortar and pestle. The grind size you can’t control might be why your coffee tastes watery.

3. Your brewing time is too short

A viable reason you end up with watery coffee is that your brewing process is not long enough. A short brew time will lead to too little extraction.

Furthermore, if your ground coffee is too coarse, the water won’t stay in contact with it long enough, resulting in an under-extracted cup of coffee. It may also taste too acidic.

Below is a list of brew times based on different types of coffee makers that will help you brew a more flavorsome coffee:

Drip coffee maker: 3-5 minutes

Using a drip coffee maker, too coarse or uneven coffee may result in a watery coffee as water passes through them too quickly. If your coffee drips in less than 3 minutes, you’ll be drinking a weak coffee that makes you question your coffee maker’s effectiveness.

Espresso: 20-30 seconds

If you want to achieve a fully extracted espresso, water should be hitting the coffee evenly, resulting in an even pour from the spouts of the coffee basket.

Moka Pot: 4-5 minutes

When you use a Moka Pot, the extraction time will depend on its size as you must wait until all the water you poured into the bottom compartment gets to the top chamber. Therefore, coffee brewed in a two-cup Moka Pot takes faster to brew than in an eight or twelve-cup device. As with the drip coffee maker, if your grinds are too coarse, the water will get through too fast, resulting in weaker coffee. However, if you grind your coffee too fine, the powder will clog the small holes in the aluminum filter, and the water may not get past the coffee grounds.

AeroPress: 2-3 minutes

The AeroPress coffee makers have a reasonably short brewing process. Similar to espresso, the timing of the extraction is critical here. Try different AeroPress recipes that will help you achieve the desired result.

French press: 4 minutes

The French press is an excellent brewing device for coarse-grind coffee. Brewing four minutes before plunging should be perfect for this method.

Chemex: 3.5-4.5 minutes

Many will argue that the grind size is critical for a good-tasting cup of coffee prepared with Chemex. It requires a medium-coarse grind size (ideally, a bit finer than that used for a French press). However, your coffee will never taste strong if you don’t get the brew time right. The swan neck kettle will help you pour water in a small stream, resulting in perfectly timed extraction. Getting one of these kettles may seem like an investment, but it will take your coffee experience to the next level.

V60: 2-4 minutes

The brewing time with the Hario V60 pour-over coffee maker will depend on the grind size, roast level of coffee beans, pouring speed and technique, and filter size. It takes two to three minutes to prepare coffee with the one-cup size V60 filter and three to four minutes with the most popular two-cup version of V60.

Kalita Wave: 3-5 minutes

Even though Kalita Wave looks pretty similar to V60, its flat bottom design with three smaller holes slows down the water running through the coffee grinds. Therefore, the brewing process takes a bit longer than with V60.

Cold brew: 14-18 hours

Making cold brew coffee takes the most time and patience. The longer you steep coffee in water, the stronger the coffee will be. An overnight brewing process is convenient as you will have your coffee ready as you wake up. But just with everything, you’ll have to experiment to find out what works best for you.

coffee cup and a clock

4. Your water is too soft

Water has a much bigger impact on your coffee than you may have ever thought. A poor choice of water can lead to a weak tasteless coffee, no matter how good your coffee beans are.

The hardness of the water will determine the strength and overall taste of your brew. Often, tap water is very soft, which may cause the problem. The more magnesium there is in water, the harder it becomes. And this can have a harsh effect on your coffee taste.

If your coffee still tastes watery, no matter how much you experiment with coffee grind size and brewing recipes, try bottled water with a higher magnesium level. You can find the magnesium content on the label of bottled water.

Experiment with different bottled water brands to see which yields the best results. You’d be surprised how different coffee may taste when you change the water for brewing it. It is due to the different compositions of minerals that depend on water origin, extraction, and purification.

Researchers explored how water from various sources had different effects on the body because of different chemical characteristics.

The coffee brewing process is an art but also a science. The more you understand the composition of coffee beans and water, the better decisions you can make when brewing coffee, and the better it will taste.

5. Your coffee equipment is not clean

Not cleaning your coffee gadgets regularly can lead to a clogged coffee filter, particularly in espresso and drip coffee makers.

For an espresso machine, you should clean it after every use. First, brush the group head with a damp brush to eliminate old coffee remnants, leading to under-extraction and a weak-tasting coffee. You should also use a machine cleaning powder applied to the blind baskets.

For cleaning drip coffee makers, I recommend using a vinegar flush. Mix 1 part vinegar to 1 part water and pour into your machine. Clean thoroughly with a brush, and then rinse out with water. It should help you get a more robust-tasting coffee.

espresso machine that needs cleaning

Why does my Keurig coffee taste watery?

You may find that your favorite coffee pods have started producing watery coffee. Why does this happen?

A Keurig coffee maker uses a thick needle to puncture the top of the K-Cup. The needle goes through the foil into the dry coffee grind. If the coffee grind gets into the needle and gets sucked into the system, it may experience a blockage. As a result, insufficient water will come through, and some water will seep around the coffee pod. The more you use your Keurig, the more coffee grind will build up in the needle, and the weaker your coffee will get.

Thankfully, unclogging your Keurig is pretty straightforward. Cleaning the needle with a toothpick to remove the grime might be enough. If you see some dried coffee around the pod holder, you may want to remove it and give it a rinse. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be back to enjoying strong coffee in no time.

Why does my Nespresso coffee taste watery?

Since Nespresso coffee makers use coffee capsules, you’d assume you should be getting the same strength of coffee every time. However, the Nespresso machine can also produce watery coffee. Most likely, it means that there is a problem with your machine.

A few things could go wrong with a Nespresso coffee maker. Firstly, it may be that your capsule basket is loose. To fix this, tighten the metal cap at the top of the device. It should stop any water leak, which may have resulted in weak coffee.

It can also be that your capsule is broken. You can either attempt to save it, using a rubber band to hold it together, or ditch it and use a new one. The latter option is going to be much easier. However, capsules are not cheap, so wasting them would be a shame.

The final reason your Nespresso tastes weak may be that the coffee machine is dirty. It can lead to an under-extraction of the coffee capsule, resulting in a watery coffee.

Here’s a quick guide on cleaning your Nespresso coffee machine:

  • When cleaning the machine, empty the water tank and capsule holder.
  • According to the packet instructions, Dilute some descaler and add it to the water tank.
  • Press the Big cup button, allowing all of the water to flow through the machine.
  • Rinse with one liter of water.

Descaling like this should get rid of any buildup or coffee powder. It should also stop your coffee from tasting watery.

Deep cleaning your Nespresso machine at least twice a year is recommended to prevent bacteria and coffee buildup.

brewing coffee with nespresso machine

Why does my French Press coffee taste watery?

A French press is an excellent way to brew a smooth and full-bodied cup of coffee. However, if you don’t brew it correctly, you may end up with watery coffee. There could be quite a few reasons for this, so let’s go over them.

Incorrect water temperature

A french press needs boiled water to extract your ground coffee completely. If you use water that is not hot enough, you won’t get the most out of your coffee beans, leading to a watery coffee. Use an electric kettle to boil the water, and let it sit for around a minute before pouring it into your French Press. You can use a thermometer to check the water temperature. It should be around 195°F.

Incorrect steeping time

A French press requires 4 minutes for the coffee to infuse. If you steep it for less time before plunging it, fewer organic compounds will dissolve in your coffee. It will be under-extracted and, therefore, weak. Use your phone or egg cooking timer, and you’ll get the most flavor out of your coffee beans.

Too coarse coffee grind

A French press requires a coarse, even grind of coffee beans for a longer extraction. However, if your coffee is too coarse, it will result in a weak coffee. Adjust your grinder settings to a finer grind; you should notice the difference when you brew your French press next. If you get your coffee ground in the shop where you buy the coffee beans, mention the brewing method you use at home, so they adjust the grind size accordingly.

french press and a cup of coffee

How to fix watery coffee

There’s nothing worse than a cup of coffee that does not bring you joy and tastes weak. If you are unhappy with the coffee you’ve just brewed, don’t rush to pour it down the sink. Here are a few tricks that can help you make it taste better.

1. Brew your coffee again

If you used a drip coffee maker, pour your weak coffee back into your coffee maker instead of water and rerun it with the same coffee grounds. It may help to extract more flavor from the coffee.

2. Add instant coffee

A pinch of instant coffee mixed into your weak coffee will surely give you the desired caffeine buzz. A word of warning, though: be careful not to overdose on it. Otherwise, you’ll end up with your heart racing and your hands shaking, which is not fun (been there, done that).

3. Add condiments

Adding milk and sugar is the easiest way to hide the bad coffee flavor. Sprinkle some cinnamon or cardamom on top if you prefer natural flavor enhancers, or pour a splash of flavored syrup. Mix some cocoa powder to add a chocolatey flavor to your coffee.

4. Make coffee ice cubes

When your weak coffee cools down, pour it into an ice cube tray and put it into a freezer. You can use coffee ice cubes for making iced coffee. Add a few coffee cubes to a glass, pour milk over them, and enjoy a refreshing drink.

5. Make a coffee-flavored dessert

Brewed coffee can be an excellent base for cakes and desserts. From soaking biscuits for tiramisu to baking a coffee cake or making coffee jelly, there are many ways you can use your weak coffee.

6. Use coffee for marinating meat

Using coffee for cooking savory dishes may not be something that pops right into your head. In fact, due to its acidity, coffee makes an excellent base for meat marinades and amplifies meat flavor. So use your morning brew for marinating chicken, steak, or ribs, and enjoy a delicious meal in the evening.

Don’t despair if you’ve got a weak or watery coffee that doesn’t taste up to standard. Next time you brew your coffee, work through these methods and experiment until you improve your brewing process to make the perfect cup of coffee.

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