Why Does My Espresso Taste Bad?

Pulling the perfect shot of espresso is something every enthusiast strives for, and it can be incredibly frustrating when your result ends up bitter, sour, or just plain “off”. Keep reading for a few quick methods to ensure your espresso tastes exactly as it should.  

Check Your Grind Size

The most common reason for brewing issues is incorrect grind size. The ideal grind size will vary depending on factors like your espresso machine, the style of coffee bean roast, and how old your beans are (older beans will be drier, and may brew a little more quickly.) Generally, you'll want your grind consistency to be "fine", or about the same consistency as finely ground table salt. Incorrect grind size directly contributes to... 

Over-Extraction (and Under-Extraction)

If your shot is full in 15 seconds, you are under-extracting your espresso and water is flowing through too quickly. As mentioned above, double check your grind size, as it might be too coarse. You can also make sure that you have enough espresso in the portafilter, and that the grounds are tamped down evenly with sufficient pressure. 

If your shot is low at 30 seconds, you’re likely over-extracting and water is taking too long to flow through. Once again, double check that grind size. Also, confirm that you don’t have too much espresso in the portafilter, and consider tamping down your grounds less firmly.  

Clean Your Equipmentcafe-clean-product-cup

Equally important as grind size and extraction is regularly cleaning your equipment. Residual oils and grounds can get stuck and go rancid, resulting in your espresso tasting bad or “off”. A solution like Café Clean will break down these nasty culprits. Proper backflushing and regular use of Café Clean will also descale any hard water buildup that could block your group head and net shower.

As for how often you should clean your equipment? Whether it's one pull or a thousand, it's going to affect the taste of your next shot. If you use your machine on a daily basis, it’s a good idea to clean your machine at at the end of each day. If you’re serious about espresso and pulling shots all day long, there’s no harm in doing a backflush at midday and at the end of the day.

There are many variables involved with making great espresso, but keeping your equipment clean is the one factor you can easily rule out with proper cleaning.

Good Luck!

Making great espresso takes time and practice. Don’t be afraid to experiment and suffer through some trial and error on your espresso journey. At Purdy Products, we did years of research to perfect our formula for espresso machine cleaning. To learn more about Café Clean and our other cleaning and sanitizing solutions, click here