Four Signs of a Bad Espresso Extraction

July 22, 2019 2 min read

4 signes d'une mauvaise extraction d'espresso - Café Barista

You have a state-of-the-art espresso machine and grinder. You received barista training as a gift from your parents for Christmas. You have fresh 3.8% milk to practice your latte art.

But if you don't know how to analyze the espresso coming out of your awesome new machine, you'll never get a coffee that tastes worthy of the price you paid! So here are a few tell-tale signs to look for during the extraction to ensure that your espresso is nothing short of perfection, and that the grind, the amount of coffee used, and your equipment are all on point.

Coffee Overflows the Portafilter

Problem: when you start the extraction, coffee overflows the portafilter.

Cause: this can be a symptom of many things. Your portafilter could be improperly inserted or there could be too much coffee in the filter.

Solution: make sure that the portafilter is level with the machine and that when inserting it you feel resistance before you stop turning. The amount of coffee that you put in the filter depends on the machine and the coffee blend, but generally, there should be around 6 to 8 g for a single shot and 12 to 16 g for a double.


Espresso Flow is Too Slow

Problem: espresso comes out too slowly (drip by drip) and the crema is very dark.

Cause: the coffee grind is probably too fine.

Solution: if you have a grinder, adjust it to a coarser grind. You should spend the time to get it right, as it is certainly worth the effort. If you buy your coffee from a local vendor and they grind it on-site ask the staff to grind it a little coarser than you usually request. If you buy it already ground in a bag, choose a coffee that has a bit of a coarser grind next time.


Espresso Flow is Too Quick

Problem: opposite to the problem above, the espresso pulls too quickly, makes bubbles, and the crema is very pale.

Cause: the grind is probably too coarse.

Solution: follow the instructions described for the above problem, but move toward a coarser grind. Adjust your grinder a little bit at a time at home, or request or buy a coarser grind in-store.


Espresso Tastes Burnt

Problem: you detect a burnt taste in your coffee.

Cause: the coffee was pressed down too forcefully into the portafilter, or your equipment is dirty.

Solution: be gentle when pressing the coffee! The pressure should never surpass 30 lbs. If that doesn’t help you, just know that if you use any physical strength for pressing, it’s probably too much. If the burnt taste persists, check your portafilter and your machine’s brew group. Is there any coffee residue in there? Any accumulation of debris can cause a burnt taste. Give them both a good scrub with a Teflon brush and if necessary, perform a complete cleaning of the brew group.

A Little Tip

Avoid using the hot water spigot to fill teapots. It quickly diminishes the amount of water in the boiler, which makes maintaining the water temperature more difficult for the machine. Coffee won’t be properly brewed because of the lack of consistency in the water temperature.



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