Coffee Tastes Watery? – 5 Reasons Why (Fixes Inside!)

Nothing upsets a coffee lover like a cup of watery coffee. You come expecting a cup full of flavor, but end up getting a watery mess. Your day can’t get any worse. Why did that happen? What can you do about it? Let’s answer them one by one.

Why does my coffee taste watery? Your coffee can be watery due to various reasons like bad coffee to water ratio, under-extraction, coffee bean grind size, quality of water, and more. The most likely factors are the coffee to water ratio and the extraction process so correcting them might make your coffee more drinkable.

Let’s discuss the topic in a bit more detail.

Why Does Coffee Tastes Watery?

We have already given an answer that covers the basics, but if you’re hell-bent on improving your cuppa joe, then getting to know them better will help.

Your Coffee to Water Ratio Needs Fine Tuning

The coffee to water ratio is the first thing you should check when you get watery coffee. If you don’t add enough coffee during the brewing process, you’re going to end up with a watery coffee.

For many coffee lovers, the coffee to water ratio is holy and won’t mess with it no matter what.

Here’s a simple guide for popular brewing methods.

Brewing MethodCoffee to Water Ratio
Regular Coffee Maker1:15
French Press1:14
Cold Brew1:14

The above guide is mostly a thumb rule. You can fine-tune the ratio between coffee and water to find a beverage that is perfect for you.

For example, if you’re going to use the French Press, the coffee to water ratio of 1:14 might not always brew your favorite cup of coffee. You could achieve that with 1:12 or 1:15.

The key is to not go to levels like 1:19 as it will give a super watery coffee you will loathe with all your heart. 

You also don’t want to try a ratio of 1:10 or below, as you’ll get a super-strong (think bitter!) coffee that will make you rethink your coffee obsession.

Your Brewing Your Coffee Wrong

The brewing time for your coffee plays an important role in the final product.

With watery coffee, less brewing time is often the problem you are going to deal with.

Less brewing time means you have extracted less coffee from the ground coffee beans i.e. under extraction. This coffee will not only be watery but could also be sour which is just disgusting.

Do you know why most hipster coffees are sour? We wrote a post on that topic, read that if you’re interested in it (just click the link).

Under-extraction is a serious crime in the world of coffee enthusiasts, so make sure you don’t come into contact with one with this topic. 

Combating under-extraction can be different with different brewing methods.

If you’re using a French press, you can easily extend your brewing time by 30 seconds or a minute. This increased brewing time will give you better coffee that, technically, isn’t watery.

But in the case of a pour-over or a filter coffee, there is no way to increase the brewing time. Here, playing with the grind size can yield you better results. 

If you’re dealing with a coarse grind, try a medium grind next time. If using a medium grind, try a finer grind next time. You get the idea. 

Trying to increase the brewing time should always happen in steps. You don’t want to risk over-extracting your coffee which gives you a cup of a bitter liquid that is just as bad as the watery one.

Caffeine Content Is Weak

Sometimes, the coffee might feel watery if the caffeine content in your coffee doesn’t show up i.e. weak caffeine content.

The caffeine levels in each coffee are different. 

Decaf coffee (as the name suggests) comes with the least caffeine levels and you can also find highly caffeinated coffee drinks on the market (For example, Death Wish Coffee).

If you’re looking for a blast of caffeine, then you should for an espresso shot. While the amount of coffee you get is just around 2 fluid ounces, you get caffeine from anywhere between 60 and 100 mg.

Okay, you’re not looking for an espresso and want to improve the watery taste of your coffee.

A good way to do this is by adding more coffee to your brew. 

This is not the same as increasing your coffee to water ratio. You add as much coffee as necessary to give you the hit of caffeine you need. 

You might find discrepancies when comparing the coffee to water ratio and this extra hint of coffee (we suggest not bothering too much about it).

Don’t go too far as you can end up with an intense coffee that is too bitter to taste.

Your Water Needs To Change

The water you use for your coffee extraction might not give you the best results. 

If you’re using tap water for your coffee and consistently end up with watery coffee, exempting all other reasons, then your water isn’t extracting enough coffee from the coffee beans.

Replace tap water with bottled spring water and you should see an improvement right away.

Grind Size Needs Fixing

The grind size of your ground coffee beans is very important. 

If you’re using a very coarse grind coffee, then the water might not be able to extract a good deal of coffee from your coffee beans. This is also under-extraction but because of the grind size.

It is important to figure out which grind size is perfect for each brewing method.

Brewing MethodGrind Size
French PressCoarse
Moka PotFine
Cold BrewCoarse
Turkish CoffeeSuper Fine

The above table is a good rule of thumb to follow. It is not perfect and you will find different baristas who will disagree with the information, but this is a good starting point that will help you make a coffee that isn’t watery.

Be cautious when playing with grind size. Over-extraction is just as bad as under-extraction if not worse.

The next sections deal with watery coffee from different types of equipment/methods. We address why your coffee could be watery and also provide simple fixes that will improve the overall thickness (and taste) of your coffee.

Why Does My Keurig Coffee Taste Watery?

Does your Keurig suddenly start making watery coffee? Well, the answer to that question is straightforward.

Your Keurig produces watery coffee when there is a blockage in its needles. A blockage in the upper Keurig needle will prevent most water from flowing into the K-cup resulting in watery coffee due to under-extraction. A simple fix is to carefully remove the blockage from both the upper and lower needles.

The fix might sound simple and it often is, if you know what you’re doing. Follow the manual to the point and clear the blockages for better results.

If you find this overwhelming then there is no shame in calling for help. Experts will handle the situation faster and better which is preferable to any damage you might cause to the machine.

Why Does My French Press Coffee Taste Watery?

A French press is a great way to make coffee, but why does it turn watery?

French Press can give watery coffee with a wrong grind or with a wrong coffee to water ratio. The recommended grind for the French Press is coarse and the recommended coffee to water ratio is 1:14. You can also try increasing the brewing time by 30 seconds to make your coffee less watery.

The normal brewing time for a French press is 4 minutes. If that’s not yielding you a good coffee, then increasing it in steps might solve the issue.

Why Does My Iced Coffee Taste Watery?

Some of us love to have iced coffee, but why does it taste watery at times?

Iced coffee tastes watery when you let it sit out too long. The ice cubes in your iced coffee melt to add extra water making it more watery. Drinking your iced coffee quickly is a good way to avoid making watery iced coffee.

How do you make iced coffee less watery? 

The simple way to make your iced coffee less watery is by adding chill water and milk and not adding ice cubes. Avoiding ice cubes is the single best way to drink your iced coffee as desired.

If you must have ice cubes on your drink, then I suggest making ice cubes out of iced coffee. When these cubes melt your drink will not water down but add more coffee. This is a great way to thicken your iced coffee.

Why Does My Cold Brew Taste Watery?

Cold brew is an excellent choice for beginners to taste flavorsome coffee. It’s easy and you don’t need any fancy equipment. 

But why does cold brew coffee taste watery? Cold brew coffee can taste watery if you add more water than required. For direct consumption, the coffee to water ratio is 1:14. Following this ratio will not give you watery cold brew coffee.

You should also pay attention to the steeping time. Ending the process too soon will also give you watery coffee. 

For best results, cold brew should be in the chiller for 12 to 18 hours. Anything less than 12 will result in a watery drink and anything more than 18 to 20 hours will give you a bitter cup of coffee.

Why Does My Instant Coffee Taste Watery?

Instant coffee can become watery if you add too much water or too little coffee to the mix. Though the coffee to water ratio (with instant coffee) is a personal preference, adding 1 to 2 teaspoons for a cup of coffee is a good place to start.

The taste of instant coffee can vary from person to person. Take your instant coffee the way you like it. It can be stronger or lighter, but it has to be your preference.

How Do You Make Your Coffee Less Watery?

Here are some easy tips to avoid making watery coffee.

Check Your Coffee Basics

Everything in Life Goes Back to the Basics

-Kron Gracie

If you paid attention to all the stuff we mentioned above, then you can’t make a watery coffee.

Some of the important basics you should not falter are

  • Coffee to Water Ratio
  • The grind of your Coffee Beans
  • Equipment cleanliness
  • Quality of water

and more.

Re-Brew Your Coffee

Brewing your coffee grounds again can improve the substance in your coffee.

Once you have a watery cup of coffee, use that instead of water and brew a second cup with the used coffee grounds.

If under-extraction was the problem, brewing the second time might give you some more coffee content that will improve the overall coffee taste.

Throw In Some Instant Coffee

Instant coffee isn’t as good as brewed coffee. But it sure can save a cup of watery coffee.

If your coffee is water, add small amounts of instant coffee to improve the texture of your coffee. The taste is not going to be great, but it is way better than the watery mistake you were about to drink.

Enhance Your Coffee

If your black coffee has gone watery, you can try adding some ‘things’ to make your coffee taste better. 

You can add milk and cream to instantly thicken your coffee. 

If you’re looking to improve on the flavor, you can add a bit of dark chocolate, vanilla extract, cinnamon, cardamon, and other additives.

Here are some ways to sweeten your coffee. A good read if you’re looking to improve the sweetness of your cuppa joe without sugar.

There is also a guide on adding vanilla extract to your coffee. Do read if interested.

Try Cold Coffee

Coffee doesn’t always have to be hot. It’s great when cold too!

If your current coffee setup produces only watery coffee, then you might want to try iced coffee or simply a cold brew.

Both these drinks are consumed chill, so you might not find the watery coffee that unappealing.

That’s all for this post. Hope you enjoyed them. If you have any queries, shoot them and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

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