Why Is My Cuban Coffee Bitter? (Here’s The Answer)

why does my Cuban coffee taste bitter

If you’re anything like me, you will love a nice cup of Cuban coffee made in the Moka pot to start the day.

Once you get the brewing process just right there are few things in life that will satisfy your taste-buds more than Cuban-style coffee.

The trouble is, it’s easy to get things slightly wrong during the brewing process and end up with a disappointing cup of bitter coffee that you really don’t want to drink!

So, why is my Cuban coffee bitter? I can hear you say! 

Well, the good news is, that bitter-tasting Cuban coffee is caused by a few minor preparation and brewing mistakes and with a few easy tweaks you can get rid of that bitter taste and enjoy a wonderful cup of Cuban coffee once again.

So, why is my Cuban coffee bitter? The reasons Cuban coffee can taste bitter are: 

  • Grind size is too fine
  • Brew time is too long
  • Not enough sugar foam
  • Coffee beans are low-quality
  • Coffee beans are stale
  • Non-uniform grind
  • Moka pot needs cleaning

Ok, so now we have shared an overview of the issues that are causing you to have bitter Cuban coffee…

Now, let’s now take a deep dive and see what you can do to easily stop these issues and get your Cuban coffee to stop tasting bitter and taste amazing once again!

Table of Contents

Why Is My Cuban Coffee Bitter? (How to Fix It)

It can be really frustrating if your Cuban coffee is somehow always tasting bitter and you just can’t seem to brew it as good as you know it can be!

Well, fear not Cuban coffee lover! It’s easy to get rid of that bitter taste in your Cuban coffee once you know the reasons behind it.

So, without further ado, let’s check out the reasons why your Cuban coffee is bitter and how to fix it…

1. Grind Size

The grind size is one of the most common reasons that your Cuban coffee is tasting bitter.

If your grind size is too fine then you will likely over-extract the coffee and release the bitter compounds that wouldn’t normally be extracted if the grind size was slightly coarser.

But why is this?

When hot water passes through the coffee grounds the nice, aromatic flavors of the ground beans are released as the compounds are heated up.

If the grind size is too fine the water will extract those flavors and compounds too quickly and then continue to extract unwanted compounds can cause the flavor to become bitter.

To stop this from happening, you need to check the grind size you are using.

If you are using a grind size similar to espresso then there’s a good chance that this is the problem and you need to grind a little coarser.

The typical grind size for espresso is around 0.3mm, so trying a grind size slightly coarser than this is a good place to start.

If you are already using pre-ground Cuban coffee and still getting a bitter-tasting brew then you will want to take a look at our next section for another alternative to the problem.

If you want to check out our coffee grind size chart you can head over to our coffee grind size article here…

2. Grinding Method/Non-Uniform Grind

Here we used Cafe Bustelo pre-ground coffee but you can see how uniform the grinds are

The grinding method will also be a major factor in how well the coffee grounds are extracted.

The idea is to get all the coffee grounds to be the same size as this will ensure that they all extract evenly and at the same time.

If the grounds are all different sizes then the smaller grounds will be extracted before the larger ones.

This is basically like dicing some pieces of chicken very finely and then dicing others in large chunks and expecting them all to cook at the same time. 

The result will be that the smaller ones are brunt, while the larger ones aren’t cooked – it’s the same idea with coffee grounds.

Using a blade grinder to grind coffee beans is a recipe for disaster as the blade chops the beans into different-sized pieces.

Using a burr-grinder will grind the beans in a uniform manner and the grounds will be of equal size.

To ensure your Cuban coffee doesn’t taste bitter, I recommend you use a burr grinder if you are using whole coffee beans.

Here’s a graphic that shows the difference between a blade and burr grinder:

3. Brew Time Is too Long

Another common reason for bitter-tasting Cuban coffee is brewing the coffee for too long in the Moka pot.

Similar to having an incorrect grind size, if the grounds are brewing for too long then unwanted compounds will be extracted.

This will also cause over-extraction and will result in your brew tasting bitter and ultimately undrinkable.

The brew time for a Moka pot is actually pretty short. The brewing process starts almost right away once it’s on the stove.

Once the water in the bottom chamber begins to boil, the pressure will slowly push the coffee into the upper chamber.

Once you hear that gurgling, hissing sound then you know its time to remove the Moka pot from the heat.

If you continue to leave the Moka pot on the stove after this signal then the coffee will continue to extract and that’s when the unwanted compounds that cause the bitter taste will be extracted.

4. Low-Quality Beans

The quality of the beans you use for Cuban coffee will hugely impact the taste of the coffee.

Sadly, you get what you pay for when it comes to coffee beans, and using cheap and low-cost beans can cause your brew to taste sour, bitter, or even just plain bad!

The good news is, that you don’t have to break the bank to afford high-quality Cuban coffee beans and there are lots of good quality beans that taste simply amazing!

We have researched and tested the 6 best Cuban coffee beans and shared which ones we highly recommend you use for your next brew of Cuban coffee!


Pssst! Want to know which Cuban coffee we highly recommend you use?

Head over to our guide here where we share Our Top Cuban Coffee Picks…

5. Stale Beans

Stale beans are another surefire way to guarantee that your Cuban coffee is destined for failure before you begin.

There’s nothing worse than going through all the steps to make great-tasting Cuban coffee only to realize that it’s your old, out-of-date, and stale beans that are the reason it tastes bitter.

Here are some important steps to keeping your Cuban coffee beans fresh:

  • Use a re-sealable valved packet or a sealable jar to store beans
  • Grind the beans right before brewing
  • Keep stored beans away from heat, oxygen, and moisture
  • Purchase as close to the roast date as possible (2-4 weeks if possible)
  • View packet for “best before” info as each company has different advice

As a general rule of thumb, both purchasing and consuming the beans as close to the roast date as possible and keeping them sealed once opened are the best ways to prevent them from going stale.

Grinding whole beans right before you brew is another great way to keep the grounds fresh and is also going to give you better-tasting coffee.

6. Clean Your Moka Pot

Something that’s often overlooked is the need to clean the Moka pot to ensure that the brewed coffee doesn’t pull through any old and unwanted coffee compounds.

Let’s be honest, we have all been guilty of not fully cleaning our Moka pot after use as it’s simply just too hot to touch and then sit down our fresh cup of Cuban coffee and forget about the Moka pot altogether.

However, if any leftover compounds are allowed to dry onto the Moka pot then they might be difficult to get off during a quick clean and wipe around.

This could result in those compounds being re-brewed and getting extracted over and over again each time you make a fresh brew of Cuban coffee and this over-extraction could result in bitter-tasting coffee for no visible reason.

Keeping your Moka pot squeaky clean could stop or reduce any bitter taste in your Cuban coffee as well as provide a much better brew overall.

7. Not Enough Sugar Foam

Creating some sugar foam, much more stirring is needed to get the mixture thicker.

If you’ve tried all the steps in the article and your daily cup of Cuban coffee is still on the bitter side then there’s a good chance you need to increase the amount of sugar foam in your brew.

Traditionally, Cuban coffee is a dark roast and dark roasts are known to taste slightly more bitter by nature than light or medium roasts.

The sugar foam that’s created in the brewing process of Cuban coffee will balance out the bitterness if brewed in the correct amount.

You may need to increase the amount of sugar you use for your sugar foam in order alleviate the bitter taste.

Traditional Cuban coffee can contain as much as 1 full tablespoon of sugar per cup so if you are way under this ratio then it might be a good idea to increase the sugar in your brew and test the taste again.


When trying to understand why your Cuban coffee is bitter, you will likely need to go through a process of elimination by trying the steps we have laid out in this article one by one.

Usually, you just need to make a few small tweaks to get rid of that bitter taste and have amazing-tasting Cuban coffee once again!

So, what next?

We recommend you check out our favorite 10 Cuban coffee brands review.

We give our honest opinion with pros and cons for each brand to make sure you only drink the best Cuban coffee!

Check out our Best Cuban Coffee Review Here…

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