The exact quote is: “Finishing his coffee, he set the cup and saucer down on the table with a grimace.The coffee is unusually bitter this evening , he complained.” Page 66. Book the quote came from is: Black Coffee by Agatha Christie. St. Martin’s Paperbacks copyright 1997.
So as an avid consumer of coffee I wondered “What really makes coffee bitter?” First let’s state what Speciality Coffee Association defines Bitterness as….Caustic, phenolic, creosol and alkaline. For most folks it just means: “We” cough, turn shades of white to green and without even thinking toss it down the drain vowing never to buy that brand again! But really it’s probably because: 1) The size of the grind. Very important. Read your manuals, go on YouTube, I found a great site called …Atlascoffeeclub.com. Lots to read, informative, great illustrations definitely a good place to check out. When you grind the coffee beans it changes how the flavor compounds dissolve. The finer the grind it becomes easier to extract more flavor. 2) Letting your coffee sit to long “seeping” makes your coffee more bitter as well. Pour it into a carafe to stop the extraction process. 3) Water temperatures are also important. When the water is too hot it will extract out the bitter compounds. Water temperature should be around 112 degrees Fahrenheit . So when the water is at the boiling stage set it aside for a minute or so to cool down a wee bit. 4) Coffee beans that aren’t fresh or are of poor quality… sad fact is…in life not all coffee is created equal. Need I say more? 5) Everyone forgets in the morning when our eyelids are still partially glued shut that the equipment needs to be clean. Any residual oils can affect the flavor of the new batch. Boiling water…a bit of vinegar splashed around does the trick. 6) Also using too much coffee in ratio to the amount of water can make a huge difference in bitterness. I kept reading the same measurements everywhere: 1 to 1.5 Tablespoons for 6 oz. of water. For the French Press it stated 1.5 to 2.0 Tablespoons for 6 oz. of water. 7)….The seventh and most sinister is Strychnine! Also known as Rat poison! It’s a highly toxic, odorless, colorless, BITTER, crystaline alkaloid used in pesticides to kill small rodents. If you drink or eat enough of it you can die in 12 minutes or more. Totally illegal. Don’t go there! No one should treat another person like a rat!