6 Reliable Ways To Stop Your V60 From Brewing Bitter Coffee

A V60 is a simple and very effective way to brew a cup of tasty coffee. A V60 can brew amazing coffee if you get it right. However, there are also a lot of things that could go wrong and you end up with a weak or on the other side, bitter cup. What can you do to fix bitter coffee from a Hario V60? Here’s what you want to know. 

The most likely causes for bitter coffee from a V60 are; A grind size that’s too fine, too much fines and the wrong coffee to water ratio. Too much agitation or water that’s too hot can also be causes. Also, in some cases the coffee beans used simply have too much bitterness for your taste. 

Let’s take a look into the details of why these things make your V60 coffee bitter and how to fix it. 

Causes For Bitter V60 Coffee

The main cause for bitter coffee from a V60 is over extraction. Coffee beans have lots of different compounds in them. most of them you want in your cup since they taste great. Others are super bitter. The bitter ones usually come out last so the trick to brewing well balanced V60 coffee is to stop before you get to the bitter part.

Below are some things you can change to reduce the extraction and so reduce bitterness.

1. Grind size

The most important thing that changes the taste when brewing a V60 (and most other brew methods), is the grind size. How big or small the coffee particles are has a huge impact on how they are extracted and so the taste. 

Coffee grounds have a lot of compounds in them that have to be extracted with water. Not all those compounds dissolve at the same rate. The harshly bitter compounds come last. If there is excessive bitterness it’s often referred to as ‘over extraction’. 

Learn more about how grind size affects taste here.

Bigger pieces of coffee grounds take longer to extract and smaller ones take shorter. So you can see that adjusting the grind size can adjust the taste of your final brew.

How To Adjust Grind Size For Less Bitterness

If the coffee from your V60 is too bitter, it’s likely a bit too fine. Try a courser grind size and see if that improves things. An adjustable grinder is essential for this. Pre-ground coffee or a blade grinder isn’t going to work well at all. Try one adjustment at a time and see if the bitterness decreases. 

To make sure the grind size isn’t getting too far off, keep an eye on the total brew time. For 300 ml of water, the total brew time (including bloom time) should be about 2:30-3:30 minutes. Of course if you’re happy with the taste, it doesn’t matter if the time is off a little but it’s a kind of benchmark to check if you’re in right ballpark. A very long drawdown time is a sign that something is wrong with either the grind size or fines (see below). Fixing this can help improve the taste of your coffee. 

This is the grind size I use for a V60 brew. If it’s bitter, go slightly coarser.

2. Fines

If your grind size isn’t too small but there is a lot of coffee dust in the grounds, this can also contribute a lot of bitterness. Coffee dust is also called ‘fines’ because they are very fine particles. Coffee beans are dry. That means when they are broken up, some dust can be released. The better the grinder, the less fines there usually are. 

Why is this a problem? Fines do two things to your brewing process; 

  • Extract very quickly
  • Clog up the filter

Water extracts the compounds from the grounds. The smaller the coffee particles, the faster the extraction. Extraction is basically how much of the compounds in grounds end up in your cup. Not all compounds extracts at the same rate. The sour ones go first, then a lot of good taste and the bitterness is last. Getting the right balance is the key. Fines are small and extract very quickly which means you get to the bitterness very fast. At the same time, the rest of the ‘normal’ sized grounds aren’t extracted much yet because they’re bigger. So the taste of the coffee is not going to be very balanced. 

Fines also clog up the holes in a V60 filter paper. This means the water flows slower and the contact time between the water and grounds is increased. This will increase extraction and thus a risk of higher bitterness. 

How To Get Rid Of Fines

To get rid of fines, there are two things you can do;

  • Filter the grounds
  • Upgrade the grinder

It’s very difficult to get no fines at all. Filtering the grounds does do a pretty good job at dramatically decreasing the amount though. There are expensive filters that have different sieves and you can pick exactly what sizes you want to filter out/in. It takes some time but will improve your coffee dramatically, especially if you have a lot of fines. However, those sieves are not cheap and for the price of a Kruve filter set, you’re well on your way to the price for a better grinder.

Especially a good quality hand grinder like the TimeMore C2. Those don’t cost much more but produce much less fines so filtering isn’t necessary in the first place. A decent electric grinder like the Baratza Encore costs a bit more but if comfort and ease of use is important, that’s well worth the difference. A good grinder is also necessary to be able to adjust the grind size. Check out some of the models I recommend below.

Recommended Pour Over Grinders

3. Ratio

To brew a good cup in a V60, you have to weigh how much grounds is going into the cone and how much water flows through it. In other words, the ratio of grounds to water has to be controlled. 

It’s all about extraction again. By using too little grounds for the amount of water, the grounds get extracted too much and all the bitter compounds get into your cup, even if the grind size and everything else is good. I’ve found that you can make some mistakes with the ratio and still get reasonably tasty results although maybe not the best.

But if you get too far outside of what’s right, the coffee can get very bitter or sour. If there are too little grounds, the coffee will be bitter. If your coffee is sour, there might be too much ground coffee in the filter. 

Suggested: How to make Hario V60 coffee stronger

How To Get The Right V60 Ratio

The right starting ratio for a V60 is 20 grams of grounds for 300 grams of water. Most people are happy with the results of that ratio. To reduce bitterness, try to use more grounds and observe the results. Increase the amount of grounds by 1 gram every time while keeping the amount of water the same. However, try adjusting the grind size before changing the ratio. 

A coffee scale is a necessity to get this right and to be consistent. Coffee scales are digital scales that can both measure weights with a 0.1 gram accuracy and have a timer.

Recommended coffee scales

4. Agitation

Agitation is the moving around of grounds in the filter during brewing. Agitation tends to increase the extraction and often causes the filter to clog with fines if there are a lot. It’s why a washing machine spins the clothes around and doesn’t just let it sit still in water. The fines clogging the filter makes the flow slower and increase extraction that way. 

Stirring and swirling the V60 is a debated topic. Some people like the results they’re getting, other people say they get horribly bitter cups. If you’re getting excessive bitterness, stop disturbing the grounds too much. 

How To Prevent Agitation In a V60

Besides just not stirring or swirling the grounds, the best way to prevent agitation is to use a gooseneck kettle. These kettles are made to pour slowly and evenly all the time. Pouring from a normal kettle will involve much more disturbance because of the bigger stream of water that often comes in gulps.


5. Coffee Beans

This might seem obvious but make sure the coffee you’re using has the taste notes you like. Brewing coffee is getting the tastes out of the beans as well as possible. However, if there is just a lot of bitterness in the coffee bean, you’re not going to be able to get rid of it with brewing techniques. 

Go for a coffee that’s 100% Arabica. The two main types of beans are Arabica and Robusta. Robusta has much more dark, bitter tastes than Arabica. However, there is of course a gigantic difference between Arabica coffees from different places, farms, quality, etc. The process after picking has a big impact as does the roast. In general, higher quality specialty coffees have less bitterness. 

The roast level is another one that has a huge impact on taste. Darker roasts generally have a bolder, darker taste with a lot of body but also more bitterness. Light roasts are more tea-like and have less bitterness but also a less intense taste and thinner body. 

So if you’re using a dark roasted coffee at the moment, 

That said, a well brewed coffee with a lot of bitterness will have a more rounded bitterness but it shouldn’t have that really harsh, cutting bitterness that punches you in the tongue. That really harsh bitterness is often the result of using the wrong brewing techniques. 

A little bowl of lightly roasted Arabica beans
Try light or medium roasted beans for less bitterness like this light roasted Arabica.

How To Get Coffee Beans With Less Bitterness

The best way to get beans with less bitterness is to follow a few guidelines;

  • Use whole beans from a good source: If you don’t want to do any research, buy your beans from a good local coffeeshop or online specialty coffee store. Preferably one you can talk to and can advise you on what to buy. Buying from a good source you trust is always a good plan to get the best results. 
  • Buy the best quality you can afford: While coffee is a mass product, good coffee isn’t common. Buying higher quality beans is often worth it although it can get pricey. Within reason of course. There is no need to buy the absolute most expensive beans there are. 
  • Go for 100% Arabica: Arabica beans have less bitterness than Robusta beans. Most bags should list this somewhere. If your bag doesn’t say what kind of beans there are inside, don’t buy it. 
  • Use a lighter roast: Lighter roasts have less bitterness. They are also more tea like and have more fruitiness. These aren’t tastes most people don’t associate with coffee.  A medium roast is a good balance between the familiar coffee taste and less bitterness. 
  • Look at the taste notes: Good coffee will have some taste notes on the bag. Taste notes like; bold, black tea, dark chocolate, cacao indicate a more bitter coffee. 

6. Water Temperature

Finally, the brew temperature could be a cause for bitterness. Some people say you can ‘burn’ the coffee by using water that’s too hot. I don’t believe that’s what’s going on. It’s just that higher temperatures extract the grounds quicker and you get to the bitter part quicker. Think about washing clothes. The hotter the water, the more stains come out of your laundry. However, with coffee, you don’t want every last bit since that’s what makes things bitter. 

For most people this is likely not an issue but if you’ve tried everything above, it could be the puzzle piece you’re looking for. 

With light roasts, using almost boiling water isn’t a problem. Light roasts are more difficult to extract. Dark roasts should be brewed with water around 94 degrees Celsius since they are much easier to extract. 

Keep in mind that the water will cool down a bit during pouring as well so if you start at 94 degrees Celsius, by the time you’re finished pouring and waiting for the draw down, that water might only be 90 degrees. 

Image of a gooseneck kettle with thermometer indicating 96 degrees celsius.
A kettle with some form of thermometer is useful.

How Brew a V60 With The Right Temperature

Unless you’re brewing for a competition or are very particular about your coffee, it’s not necessary to get a thermometer out. Just wait about 30 seconds after turning off the kettle before pouring. With light roasts or ones that require a little lower temperature, wait about a minute. This is not an exact science but will get you close to the right temperature to get good results. 

However, if you want to control for everything, you should get a good gooseneck kettle with thermometer. The best way to do this is with a temperature controlled electric kettle. These kettles heat the water exactly to the temperature you set and hold it there. That way you always have the right temperature. 

Another option is to get a stovetop kettle with built in thermometer. These are analog thermometers so you’ll have to make sure to get the right temperature yourself. They’re likely also a little less accurate but that depends on the exact model. 

Recommended Hario V60 Equipment

  1. V60 cone: You’ll need a V60 cone. A size 02 ceramic V60 (Amazon) will serve most people very well.
  2. Filter papers: Without paper filters your cone is pretty useless. Hario paper filters work well and are cheap. You can find them here on Amazon. Make sure you get them in the same size as your cone.
  3. Scale: A scale is essential to brewing good V60 coffee. Brewing good V60 coffee is all about precision. This TimeMore Scale(Amazon) scale works perfectly, looks great and is high quality.
  4. Grinder: Freshly ground coffee is a lot better than pre-ground. The TimeMore C3 (Amazon) gives you great value for money and will give much better results than a cheaper grinder or pre-ground
  5. Beans: Don’t forget to get some good beans to put into that grinder. Volcanica roasts great beans you can get here on Amazon.
  6. Carafe: If you like to share your coffee, a nice carafe or decanter is useful. I’ve got this TimeMore one (Amazon) and it does exactly what you expect it to without any plastic parts that are hard to clean.
  7. Kettle: Finally, a gooseneck kettle will make your coffee taste sweeter and smoother by pouring a gentle and constant stream of water onto the grounds. This Cosori (Amazon) electric gooseneck kettle has temperature control which is a big benefit and is affordable.


Welcome to CoffeeImproved! Since falling in love with coffee, I've been on a journey to improve my morning cup day by day. That means I've tried many different brew methods, beans and equipment and experimented with all of them to find what I like. This is where I share what I've learned with you.

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