Top 6 Ways to Make a Bad Cup of Coffee

Making coffee can be a simple process, but there are plenty of little things that you can do to make a bad cup. Assuming you'd rather be making a good cup of coffee, start by avoiding these common mistakes.

  • 01 of 06

    Brewing With Stale Coffee

    Coffee beans
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    The most common way to end up with a bland cup is to use coffee that has gone stale. Roasted whole beans will stay reasonably fresh for up to 1 to 2 weeks if kept in an air-tight container. Ground coffee only stays fresh for a few days.

  • 02 of 06

    Overdosing on the Additions

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    I like a bit of milk and sugar in my coffee, but too much of a good thing will turn even an excellent cup of coffee into a watered-down and sugary mess. These extras should accentuate the coffee's taste, not mask it. When trying a new coffee, you should have at least one sip without any sweetener, to appreciate the taste.

  • 03 of 06

    Using Burnt Coffee Beans

    Closeup photo of seven coffee beans on a white background
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    If you get your beans for a decent coffee house, this won't likely be a problem. But if you are roasting your own beans, make sure you don't go overboard. More roasting doesn't mean more flavor. Roasting only takes between 10-20 minutes. Burnt beans will make bitter coffee.

  • 04 of 06

    Boiling Your Coffee

    Steam coming from coffee maker in kitchen counter
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    Coffee brewing methods that involve boiling your coffee (like using a stove-top percolator) can result in poor coffee. The high heat can destroy the delicate flavor oils in coffee, leaving you with a pretty unappealing cup. Try using a drip coffee maker instead.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Letting Brewed Coffee Sit on the Warming Plate

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    The warming plate of a drip coffee maker will keep coffee warm, but forever. You'll end up with more stale coffee if you go for a cup that's been just sitting there for hours. Take a few minutes and brew a fresh cup.

  • 06 of 06

    Using a Paper Filter

    Close-up of coffee in filter on table
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    If you're using a drip coffee maker, a paper coffee filter can taint the taste of your coffee. This can be a particular problem with cheap filters. Reusable plastic or metal mesh filters are less likely to spoil your brew.