Bitterness is one of 5 basic tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter and Umami (savory flavors). There are many types of bitterness, hence not one avenue to tracking down its source. Bitterness as a positive quality is balanced with residual sweetness, and we use the term bittersweet or bittersweetness to describe this, as in darker chocolate flavors. While many would say bitterness is undesirable, coffee does has essential bitterness to it. Caffeine is bitter !

An unpleasant bitterness can come from various roasting defects (flash roasting, or slow baking of the coffee), too-light roast (astringent, trigonelline bitterness) or dark roasting (burned roast taste, carbon, ash).

Another bitterness is experienced from the rancid oils of old coffee and residues of dirty brewing equipment. And there is the bitterness of over-extraction in brewing as well.

But bitter is the word nobody seems able to use in a positive way on their coffee packaging, and as a core coffee flavor, this seems a bit odd!

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