How can espresso taste better?

First aid for espresso preparation - espresso too sour, espresso too bitter

Does your espresso taste too bitter or sour despite the modern portafilter machine? Often the technology is not to blame, but an unfortunate interplay of extraction, water, coffee powder and handling. The good thing: you can influence each of these factors. We give tips for espresso preparation so that your espresso tastes full-bodied and balanced again.

Why a barista espresso often tastes much better

Do you know that? Are you drinking an espresso in your favorite café and wondering why you like the coffee from the barista better than the coffee at home? Rest assured, it is not due to the technology or the type of coffee used. The Barista During his apprenticeship he learned at which points he affects the taste during preparation and how these changes are noticeable.

The good thing about it: the right espresso preparation can also succeed at home; applying the same knowledge at home also improves yours espressoso that in the future it will taste aromatic, full of flavor and balanced. All you want to find out for this is to find the right balance Roast level, Grind, Extraction time, brewing temperature and water hardness.

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The extraction - the dissolving out of the ingredients

With the optimal extraction, you can remove the whole variety of aromas and all taste nuances from the coffee grounds without covering the espresso with bitter substances. Which and how many ingredients are released during the extraction is mainly due to the following factors:

  • Amount of coffee
  • Grind
  • Extraction time
  • Brewing temperature
  • Water hardness
  • Degree of roasting of the beans

You can influence each of these components when preparing espresso. With the increasing degree of extraction, you shift the taste profile on the scale from gentle to expressive on the one hand and from sour to bitter on the other. The aim is to find your personal taste optimum.

The basic rule of espresso preparation

Coffee extraction is a linear process: first, sour, fruity flavors are released from the coffee grounds and, over time, more and more bitter notes appear in the finished coffee coffee above. As each of the above factors affect extraction, it is important to be patient.

In your search for the optimal balance, change only one factor in each espresso preparation. Then check to what extent the result has a positive or negative effect on the taste for you. In this way, you will gradually learn which changes in taste you can achieve with a specific adaptation.

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The third test

To start with, it is worthwhile to follow the changes in taste with the third test. To do this, prepare one espresso quite normal too. But let the first, second and last third of the espresso each run into a separate cup. Try the three variants. This will give you a feeling for which aromas your portafilter machine gets out of the coffee first and how the taste changes during preparation.

It is not just the color that will change from a dark, almost black hue to ever lighter brown tones. The taste also changes from tart and tart to sweet caramel tones to a weak taste with perceptible bitter substances.

What changes your espresso?

An espresso consists of coffee grounds and water. You can only make changes to these two ingredients. The changes will affect your espresso as follows:

The amount of coffee

For espresso, the optimal ratio of water to grist is around 2 to 1 (in contrast to filter coffee, where the ratio is 16 to 1). This means that you get around 20 g of finished espresso from 10 g of coffee powder. If you increase the amount of coffee, your espresso will taste stronger. At the same time, however, less water is available for the extraction. This reduces the degree of extraction and your espresso tastes more sour and more concise.

Therefore: the higher the amount of coffee, the more sour and stronger the espresso.

The grind

Often underestimated, the grinding degree has perhaps the most important influence on the espresso taste. It is worth investing in a good coffee grinder, because not every coffee grinder can grind the fine espresso flour. The finer the grind, the easier it is for hot water to dissolve the aromas from the coffee grounds. Your espresso will gain strength, but so will the degree of extraction. This reduces the perceived acidity and sweet caramel notes come to the fore. However, if it is ground too finely, bitter substances emerge.

Therefore: the finer the grind, the stronger, but less sour and bitter, the espresso.

The extraction time

25 seconds - that is the optimal time for a balanced espresso. The espresso is under-extracted in less than 20 seconds and tastes weak and sour. For 30 seconds, the water runs through the coffee grounds only in droplets. The espresso is then over-extracted and tastes bitter. The easiest way to influence the extraction time is to use the grinding degree or, if necessary, the amount of coffee.

Therefore: the shorter, the more sour - the longer, the more bitter

The brewing temperature

The brewing temperature regulates the acid balance. A temperature between 88 ° C and 94 ° C is ideal. The higher the temperature, the faster the water molecules move and release more of the ingredients from the coffee grounds. Your espresso will therefore contain more fruity and sour notes at lower temperatures, but the acidity will decrease at higher temperatures. From 96 ° C, the espresso tastes bitter and burnt.

Therefore: the cooler, the fruity - the hotter, the less acidic

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pH value and water hardness

The word pH value is often used when actually referring to the hardness of the water. From a chemical point of view, coffee is acidic. The pH value drops significantly during the first 10 seconds of the brewing process and hardly changes afterwards. Calcium and magnesium ions, which are responsible for the hardness of the water, neutralize the fruity acids in espresso. Lovers of fruity coffee swear by water filters to reduce water hardness.

Therefore: the harder the coffee water, the less fruity the espresso

The degree of roasting of the beans for espresso preparation

Espresso roasts are mostly darker and less fruity than roasts for filter coffee. When roasting for a long time, hundreds of new sugars and flavors are created. However, if the beans stayed in the roasting drum too long or were roasted too hot, they taste bitter. No setting on your espresso machine will help you anymore.

Therefore: the darker the roast, the less acid and more bitter substances it contains.

Espresso preparation: conclusion

  • Only in a balanced espresso do all the aromas come into their own
  • Acid and bitter substances depend on the degree of extraction from
  • How you can influence: the amount of coffee, the degree of grinding, the extraction time, the brewing temperature, the hardness of the water and the roast
  • An important basic rule when preparing espresso: change only one component per preparation
  • Roasting errors cannot be eliminated even with good brewing