Creating a delicious cup of espresso is a satisfying experience, though sometimes under-extraction may occur. The extraction process refers to how much flavor the water can pull out of the coffee grounds to create your shot of espresso. If your cup of coffee is over-extracted, you may encounter an intense, bitter coffee taste. Under-extraction typically leaves you with a shot of acidic, sour espresso shot.
Preparing the ideal shot of espresso takes practice. Several factors can lead to under-extracted espresso, making your brew less desirable. Some people may think this is due to the quality of the coffee beans, though there are other factors you can improve on to create a fantastic shot.
If the Breville Barista Express just isn’t doing it for you, check out some of your other Breville espresso machine options here!
How to Fix Under-Extraction and Improve the Taste of Your Brew
Under-extracted coffee means there isn’t enough flavor or coffee extraction from the fresh beans, which means you’re not experiencing the full potential of your brew. Various factors impact the quality and taste of your cup.
Use a Fine Coffee Grind
Your beans may not be ground as fine as they should be for adequate extraction of coffee. If you use coarse coffee grounds, the water won’t extract the most flavor and coffee oils from them. Instead, the water will pass through the beans with minimal impact because they’re not ground fine enough for optimal extraction during coffee brewing. Finer grinds give the water more surface area to contact, resulting in more flavor extraction. Adjust your coffee grinder and experiment with grinding your coffee finer.
Fewer Coffee Grounds
Even if they are ground fine, adding too many ground coffee beans can prevent the water from extracting the most flavor out of your coffee. As a standard rule, it’s best to use one or two tablespoons of your favorite fine grind to every six ounces of water to achieve maximum results. Further adjustments can be made for preference, though this general water to coffee ratio will give you better extraction and taste.
Make a Hotter Brew
When you brew your espresso, the water must be hot enough to extract the delicious flavor from the beans. If the water is too hot, the extraction may occur too quickly and ruin the taste. The optimal water temperature is around 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add More Water
In some cases, the beans are ground perfectly, and the right amount is used, but there is too much hot water. Excess water results in a weaker brew with a sour flavor. You can avoid this by using less water and measuring the exact amount required. It’s also important not to use too little water, as a small amount isn’t enough to thoroughly extract the flavors from the beans.
Always Clean Your Filters and Other Parts of the Machine
Every coffee machine includes instructions for cleaning and caring for the parts and related equipment so that it performs at its best consistently. It’s essential to clean the device often to avoid losing quality due to old coffee grinds stuck in the brewer and other parts that may underperform if not maintained well. It’s also essential to use fresh, filtered water for every brew, as this impacts the quality of your shot.
Brew Your Shot Longer
The length of the extraction time for your brew makes a significant impact on your espresso, even when you have perfected all other factors. If you find your cup is not as robust or flavorful as expected, this could be due to how long you brew your shot. When there isn’t enough time to incorporate the flavors in coffee, you get a weak, less tasty, underwhelming hot coffee.
While it’s important to brew the espresso longer to ensure all the flavor compounds are adequately extracted, don’t extend the brewing time too long to avoid over-extraction.
How to Use Under-Extracted Coffee
If you’ve made a few shots of under-extracted weak coffee, you can put this brew to use in other ways. Since it takes time to create the perfect espresso, you’ll make a few shots that may seem like a waste, but you can enjoy them in other ways.
Some of the ideas you may want to consider are pouring under-extracted coffee into ice trays to make ice cubes for drinks, adding it into iced coffee, adding your brew to blended drinks, or enjoying your coffee with more cream, milk, or a dessert. Alternatively, you can mix the shot with a more potent brew or add your favorite milk to improve the quality of taste and enjoyment.
Practice Improves Your Espresso Shot
Under-extraction is easy to avoid with enough practice. Hitting the sweet spot and pulling a decent shot of espresso is the goal of most coffee enthusiasts. As you become familiar with the various techniques for creating your favorite type of coffee, you’ll find your individual flavor profile preferences, type of espresso beans, and grind. Enhancing the experience of your espresso shot can be a challenge initially but will ultimately be a rewarding experience.