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Coffee Tips

Why Does Coffee Taste Like Cigarettes?

Have you ever taken a cup of coffee that tastes like charcoal? A brew with a burnt flavor that reminds you of cigarettes.

That is sometimes a complaint people make after drinking a cup of black coffee.

coffee smelling like cigarettes



Why does it happen? Is it because the coffee has been brewed the wrong way, or is it because of the coffee beans used to make it.

Here are 3 reasons your coffee tastes burnt.


Things That Make Coffee Taste Burnt

1. Over Roasting the Coffee Beans

While there are many reasons why your coffee could taste like cigarettes, the most likely reason is that it’s burnt.

Medium to medium-dark roasts can taste burnt or smoky with a faint cigarette smell if improperly roasted. Therefore charcoal or burnt flavors are common in dark roasts such as Espresso coffee, Italian roast, and French roasts.

Exceeding roasting temperatures forces most of the oils out of them. These oils are then singed by the charcoal, releasing a burnt smell. Over caramelization of coffee sugars also gives some coffee beans a burnt flavor.


2. The Brewing Process

If you brew your coffee at excessively high temperatures, you may get a burnt brew with flavors reminiscent of burnt charcoal. Some people describe this flavor as the taste of burnt cigarettes.

The length of time you brew coffee may also determine whether they taste burnt or not.

Therefore, reheating coffee or leaving it on the burner for hours will give you a burnt or cigarette-tasting brew.

The only way to enjoy the authentic aroma and taste of coffee beans is by drinking coffee when it’s freshly – made. Only cold brew coffee should be brewed for a long time (about 12 hours).

The contact time between coffee grounds and hot water depends on the brewing method. When using a French Press, ensure the contact time is between 2 – 4 minutes. Drip coffee should only be brewed for 5 minutes max.

If you are brewing Espresso, do not exceed 30 seconds of contact time. That will keep you from over-extracting the coffee resulting in a weak brew with funny flavors such as cigarette, murky, or watery.

Also, ensure you use clean equipment because a dirty coffee maker with a build-up of calcified minerals will make your coffee taste horrible.

The type of water you use to brew your coffee also matters. Tap water sometimes gives coffee a bad taste due to the minerals in it. If you think the water you are using gives your coffee a funny flavor or has a strong odor, try filtered or bottled water.


3. The Type of Coffee Bean

You are more likely to have a great-tasting cup of coffee when using whole coffee beans. Therefore, it’s best to grind your coffee beans as close to the brewing time as possible to get fresh aromas and flavors.

Also, make sure you buy coffee beans regularly. That will keep them from getting stale. Coffee beans that have been on your shelf for too long can release a bad or stale aroma when brewed. Therefore, make sure you buy coffee beans regularly.

Some coffee beans also taste like cigarettes. That may be because of how they are grown or processed. A good example is Liberica coffee beans which are sometimes referred to as woodsy or smoky-tasting coffee beans.

Other coffee beans associated with smoky or woody flavors that some people may refer to as cigarette flavors are Sumatra coffee beans.

If you like flavored coffee beans, look out for the best quality flavored beans. Otherwise, some low-quality flavored coffee beans have a funny cigarette taste. That’s because some coffee roasters add flavors or synthetic oils to beans that may give them a smoky flavor you would associate with cigarettes.

Robusta coffee beans are also more likely to have a charred, smoky smell after roasting than Arabica coffee beans. The latter produces highly caffeinated coffee with flavors such as spicy and floral.

However, robusta coffee usually has nutty, chocolatey flavors and aromas. These coffee beans are often used to brew coffee that requires dark roasts, such as Espresso.

Therefore, if your Espresso is tasting like cigarettes, it could be because of the medium or dark roast coffee beans used to brew it.


How to Make Coffee That Tastes Great


white coffee mug


Now that you know what makes your coffee taste like cigarettes, here’s how to avoid that horrible taste.

1. Choose The Right Roast

Now that you know why your coffee tastes like cigarettes, you should learn how to avoid such coffee. The first place to start is with the right type of roast.

You will minimize your chances of getting burnt coffee beans if you choose light or medium roasts. These beans are produced without exposing them to extreme high temperatures. They are characterized by floral, fruity, and spicy notes.

However, some coffee beans taste a bit like tobacco, whether as light, medium, or dark roasts. A good example is Peet’s Sulawesi Kalossi coffee beans, which have faint tobacco notes that get stronger the more they are roasted.

Avoid such coffee beans and stick to light and medium roast coffees with fruity and floral notes.

2. Follow the Proper Brewing Process

Start by grinding fresh coffee beans every time you brew a batch of coffee. You can use a Burr grinder for that.

Fresh coffee grounds only retain their flavors 3 minutes after grinding coffee beans. Therefore, always use your coffee grounds to brew coffee as fast as possible.

Avoid burning your coffee by using the correct water temperatures. Coffee is best brewed at temperatures between 195 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

And once you brew your coffee, drink it fresh instead of leaving it in your coffee maker the whole day. Also, avoid reheating coffee as it will make it taste burnt too.



These are a few reasons why your coffee tastes like cigarettes and what to do to avoid such brews. If you appreciate coffee for its unique flavors and aromas, using the right procedure to make it is the best way to get a great-tasting cup of coffee.

You may also buy amazing coffee beans that you can use to produce flavorful coffee. Some examples are Konga Coffee and Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, and

Also, experiment with the different ways of brewing coffee to find the one that produces the best brew.

Pour-over coffee-making is probably one of the best methods to brew your coffee. It gives you more control over the temperature of your brewing water and the length of brewing time.

Once you keep these things in mind, you will find the coffee beans and brewing method that best works for you. And that will help you to avoid cigarette tasting brews.


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