Keurig coffee taste burnt Bitter or Bad? (7 ways to fix it!)

There is no doubt that Keurigs are among the most popular and best coffee makers on the market. Keurig machines are the most conventional coffee machine that brews a single perfect cup of coffee with just one push of a button.

Keurig coffee machines, like many other good products, have some downsides as well. Honestly, Keurigs aren’t the best way to enjoy coffee, but their convenience is a huge advantage

Some people complain that Keurig coffee tastes burnt or bad, and others complain about the plastic aftertaste. This issue has been reported many times, and many are searching for a solution.

So, why does Keurig coffee taste burnt or bad?

Having a dirty Keurig is the main cause of burnt or bad-tasting Keurig coffee. For a perfect flavorful cup of coffee from Keurig, thoroughly descale the machine and clean the pod holder. Also, use fresh k cups with 100% Arabica coffee.

This article will focus on why Keurig coffee tastes burnt, bitter, or bad and some working tips to make a perfect cup of coffee with Keurig.

3 reasons Why does Keurig Coffee Taste Burnt or bitter

There could be one or more reasons behind the burnt or bad taste of Keurig coffee. The top reason for this is a dirty coffee maker, although you may also be using too old coffee grounds or k-cups.

1) Dirty Machine

If you don’t have a habit of cleaning the k cup holder after every brew then here’s what you’re doing wrong.

Oil buildup from the remains of coffee grounds in the k cup holder is the leading cause of the burnt taste of your coffee.

Those remains of coffee grounds mix with coffee in the next brew and create an unpleasant taste.

More on that later.

2) Usage of stale coffee beans

You might be using stale coffee grounds if you use reusable my k cups with coffee grounds. And that’s the reason for bad tasting cup of coffee from Keurig.

The best practice is to buy freshly roasted coffee beans and grind them just before brewing. I understand you bought the Keurig machine for its convenience, and grinding beans is a hassle.

You can use K-cups if you can’t grind coffee beans, as their specialized packaging keeps them fresh longer.

If you still want to use coffee grounds make sure to store them properly in airtight container and buy them in small batches so they won’t go stale.

Also read: How Long K cups are good for

3) Improper coffee preparation method

The Keurig high-end machines allow users to adjust the coffee’s strength and temperature. Brewing coffee at high temperatures and high-strength settings might be the reason behind the burnt cups of Keurig coffee.

Although high temperature and strength settings are perfect for strong coffee lovers some people might find it bitter and burnt.

If you are one of those, operate the Keurig machine at low temperature and strength settings.

7 effective tips to make Keurig coffee taste better

Despite its convenience in brewing a single perfect shot of coffee with just one push of a button, the Keurig lacks quality and flavor as compared with manual machines.

However, Keurig coffee machines are capable of preparing a decent cup of coffee, and they certainly aren’t responsible for bad taste unless they’re not properly maintained.

Let’s discuss some effective tips to make your Keurig coffee taste better.

1) Descale the machine

If you haven’t descaled your machine for more than 6 months then don’t cry over a bad cup of coffee and descale your machine as soon as possible.

Over time, minerals present in water build up inside the machines and make the taste of coffee burnt and bitter. In addition to ruining the taste of coffee, this can also damage the health of the machine and cause leaking problems due to mineral buildup inside the pipes.

Descaling is the process of running vinegar or special descaling solution throughout the machine to eliminate mineral build and calcium deposits.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on cleaning and descaling your Keurig.

  1. Start by cleaning all the removable parts of the machine i-e the drip tray, capsule holder, and water reservoir.
  2. Now fill the water reservoir with half descaling solution or vinegar and half water. And run the descaling cycle.
  3. After descaling, run 1 to 2 rinsing cycles with hot water only. Otherwise, your coffee will taste like vinegar.

Here’s a complete guide on descaling Keurig for all different models.

It is highly recommended to descale the machine once every 3-6 months or after brewing 300 cups of coffee; which ever comes first

2) clean the Needles

Inside the Keurig, there are two needles, one at the top and one at the bottom. These needles pierce holes in the k cup which allow hot water to pass through.

Used coffee grounds get stuck in the needles of the coffee machine after frequent use and eventually become hard and dry.

This situation is most likely to happen if you don’t discard your pods immediately after brewing or you don’t clean your machine regularly.

Thes coffee grounds slowly get mixed with your brew and make the taste bad. This not only ruins the taste but also causes other maintenance problems like Keurig Not brewing a full cup of coffee.

Follow these steps to clean the Keurig needles

  1. Turn the machine off
  2. Remove the K cup holder from the machine
  3. Detach the funnel from the pod holder by pushing it from the bottom.
  4. To remove any accumulated debris, insert the straight end of the needle into the hole of the pod holder and move it around several times.
  5. Rinse the pod holder with warm, soapy water.
  6. Now clean the upper entrance needles they can be found under the brewer’s head.
  7. To clean, insert a paper clip in each and move it around.

3) Wash water reservoirs and other removable parts regularly

To avoid oil and residue buildup from the old coffee grounds, regular cleaning of all removable parts is mandatory (drip tray, k cup holder, water reservoir).

If you don’t clean these removable parts the remains of old coffee grounds get mixed with your fresh brew and make the taste bad.

4) Choose the right Brew size

Most of the Keurig models offer three to five cup sizes ranging between 4 oz and 12 oz.

However, in my opinion, only a 6 oz brew size makes a perfect-tasting cup of coffee.

And there’s a reason for that most k cups have 0.3 to 0.4 ounces of coffee and the ideal coffee-to-water ratio for the drip coffee is somewhere between 1:15 (for strong taste) to 1:20 (for mild taste). That means you can only brew an ideal cup of coffee if you use brew sizes between 5 and 7 oz.

When you brew coffee at 10 and 12 oz brew sizes, it will be burnt or bitter. If you need a large cup, brew two small cups of 4 oz or 6 oz instead of one large one.

4) Choosing the right k cups or coffee grounds

The taste of your coffee drink depends upon the types of coffee beans used for brewing (Arabica or Robusta) as well as the degree of roasting.

Burnt flavors can also occur if you are using dark-roasted or over-roasted coffee grounds. I am not saying the dark roast makes a bad cup of coffee but it’s surely not for everyone.

Dark roasts make a bold and robust cup of coffee with a bitter aftertaste and that is appreciated by strong coffee lovers. But other people might find it too bitter or burnt.

Robusta beans are also not bad either, they are high in caffeine and make a perfect blend with arabica beans that is loved by coffee enthusiasts.

But if you are strongly against the bitterness then robusta beans and Dark roasted beans are certainly not for you. Use only 100% Arabica and medium roasted beans for a smooth and flavorful cup of coffee.

5) Choose good-quality water

Some people use non-drinkable tap water for brewing coffee and think that the water filters inside the Keurig water reservoir make the water right. It doesn’t work that way and that might be the reason for bad tasting cup of Keurig coffee.

Always use filtered drinkable water for brewing coffee.

Read a detailed guide on what water to use in Keurig

6) Try Milk based coffee Drinks

In case you are entirely against bitterness, I recommend drinking milk-based coffee drinks rather than black coffee.

The sweet, creamy nature of the milk will cut the bitterness and delight you with its taste.

A separate milk frother can be bought for foamy milk, or you can use just hot milk.

Also read: How to make Latte with Keurig

7) Add some drops of lemon Juice

If you don’t want to add extra calories to your diet by having milk-based coffee drinks then you can add some drops of lemon to reduce the bitterness.

The acidic nature of lemon juice will neutralize the bitterness and makes the taste smoother.

Don’t add more than 3 to 6 drops.

How to Get the Vinegar Taste out Of Keurig after Cleaning or Descaling?

 Descaling is important to get rid of mineral buildups like calcium and magnesium.

Vinegar solution is used as a descaling solution to descale the Keurig machine; however, after descaling vinegar, taste and smell may retain and can affect the taste of brewed coffee.

Follow these steps to get rid of the vinegar taste and make your coffee taste better.

  • Remove the coffee capsule or pod from the machine. 
  • Fill the water reservoir with water and run the brew cycle by pressing the largest brew size button.
  • Ensure that there is no pod in the coffeemaker during this process.
  • Repeat this cycle 2 to 3 times and brew coffee to check the taste.
  • If you still can’t get rid of the vinegar taste, try adding ½ teaspoon of baking soda to the water tank full of water (It is known to neutralize vinegar and also has a very bland taste that offsets the bitterness). 
  • After running a cycle with baking soda again run a cleaning cycle with fresh water in the tank.

This will surely help you to get rid of the vinegar taste from the coffee.

The Keurig Rinse pods will also help in removing the vinegar taste from your Keurig after desacling.


Final Thoughts

Keurig coffee machines are highly user-friendly and convenient, and come with many built-in options like brewing options, coffee strength, and flavors offer, providing an easy and simple way to get that caffeine fix everyone that needs. 

But eventually, with time you may start facing the problem of Keurig coffee tasting burnt bitter, or bad.

With proper maintenance and cleaning, your machine definitely serves you for a longer period of time.

I hope the tips mentioned in this article will help you to make a better-tasting cup of coffee with Keurig.


Is it good to run vinegar through your Keurig?

Yes, Vinegar is a good descaling liquid for Keurig machines and you can certainly use it.
However, I always use and recommend dedicated descaling solutions as they work better and won’t leave a bad aftertaste.








Johny Morrisson is a passionate coffee enthusiast and an avid blogger dedicated to exploring the world of coffee.

Whether it's repairing or troubleshooting coffee equipment, reviewing cutting-edge brewing machines, or delving into the latest coffee trends, Johny's writing captivates readers and invites them on a flavorful journey.

When he's not writing, Johny enjoys traveling, seeking inspiration from different cultures and coffee traditions worldwide.