Why Is My Espresso Bitter or Sour?

Espresso is a much more concentrated coffee drink than regular drip coffee. The brew is dark and rich with a layer of foam on top and will give you the energy you need in an instant.

The best espresso has an intense flavor and aroma. This is why you should experiment with different beans until you find your perfect blend. However, sometimes you might end up with burnt coffee or a bitter taste. Let’s look into the main reasons why your shot might end up bitter or sour.


What Is Espresso?

Espresso is a type of coffee made from fine-ground coffee beans. The coffee is brewed by forcing hot water through a fine mesh portafilter under high pressure. The heat and pressure espresso machines apply to the grind is what produces a rich coffee with a layer of crema. Because of how strong it is, espresso is typically served in a small cup.

The espresso machines were invented in the early 1900s by Angelo Moriondo in Turin, Italy. Moriondo was looking for a way to speed up coffee making so his guests could have a coffee faster through the day. The machines quickly gained popularity and are now a staple in coffee shops around the world.

Several factors contribute to a great espresso shot. These are the quality of the coffee beans, the grind size, and the water temperature. It is important to use fresh, high-quality coffee beans for espresso, as this grind will produce the richest flavor and crema. The grind size also plays a role in the quality of the espresso. A fine grind is necessary for a strong shot because it allows for more coffee solids to be in contact with the hot water. An espresso machine should also be kept clean and free of coffee oils and build-up, as these can affect the flavor of the coffee.


What Coffee Beans Should You Use?

There are several coffee beans that are ideal for espresso. Some of them include:

  • Arabica Coffee
  • Brazilian
  • Colombian
  • Ethiopian
  • Kenyan
  • Sumatran

The best grind will have a rich flavor and a layer of crema on the surface. They should also be fresh, as this is an important factor for the richness of the flavor. It is important to use high-quality coffee beans for espresso, as they will produce the best flavor and crema.

 

Why Does Espresso Taste Bitter?

Brewing bitter coffee can ruin your morning, so it's important to make sure it doesn't happen. There are a few reasons why your espresso shot might be bitter. The first is if you're using the wrong ground size. If the grind is too fine, the extraction process will be faster and leave a bitter taste in your coffee. The second reason is if you're using bad coffee beans or an old grind. The third reason is if your espresso machine isn't clean. If there's coffee residue or oil build-up in the machine, it will give your coffee a burnt taste and make it bitter. Let’s look into what the issue might be and how you can fix it.


Using the Wrong Ground Coffee

You should use finely ground coffee for your shot to get the best flavor out of it. If the coffee grind is too coarse or too fine, it will alter its taste. It should be slightly finer than salt, as a coarser grind will give you coffee that tastes flat and lacks richness. If the grounds are too fine, the taste will be extracted more quickly and leave you with a bitter shot of coffee.

Medium Grind coffee is for coffee makers that have a "brew now" function. These grinds are smaller than drip coffee grounds but larger than espresso coffee grounds. If you're using that coffee in your regular espresso machine, your coffee will likely taste flat because the extraction will be too slow.

 

Using Bad Coffee

Another possible reason for a bitter espresso shot is that it's made with bad coffee. By bad coffee, we mean stale or overly roasted coffee beans. This coffee will produce unpleasant flavors, including bitterness or simply give you a bad espresso flavor. If you're not sure whether or not your coffee is good, just take a coffee bean or two and give them a smell up close. Coffee with a pleasant aroma won't be bitter and won't leave an aftertaste either.


Unclean Espresso Machine

When coffee passes through an espresso machine that wasn't cleaned properly, it will pick up coffee oils and coffee residues. This could change its taste, making it bitter. It's best to run some hot water through the machine after every drink you make. If you're looking for a quick fix, use vinegar to remove coffee oils and coffee residues.


Wrong Coffee to Water Ratio

One of the reasons that espresso can become bitter is using the wrong coffee to water ratio. When you don't use enough coffee, the espresso will be weak and watery. However, if you use too much coffee, the espresso will become bitter and have a burnt taste. It's important to find the right coffee to water ratio so that you can make delicious and smooth espresso.


Brewing for Too Long

When you brew an espresso shot for too long, it will become bitter. This is because during the extraction too much of the bitter compounds from the coffee beans will end up in your shot. Coffee will also start to taste sour if it's brewed for too long. It's important to find the right brewing time so that you can make a delicious and smooth espresso shot every time.


Water Is Too Hot

Using water that's too hot for your espresso shot can be another reason why it becomes bitter. The water you use for your shot of espresso should be between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. If it's hotter than that you might end up with a coffee with a bitter taste.

If your coffee is still bitter, you should consider replacing the coffee beans or cleaning your espresso machine. You can also ask a professional to help determine what's causing the problem.

 

Why Does Espresso Taste Sour Sometimes?

There are a few reasons why your espresso brew might become sour. This can be due to poor tamping, not enough coffee in the basket, old or poor quality beans.


Why Is Tamping Espresso Important?

When it comes to making espresso, tamping is one of the most important steps. Tamping coffee means compressing it into a firm, even puck. This helps to ensure that the coffee is evenly extracted and that there are no inconsistencies in the coffee's flavor. If the coffee isn't tamped properly, it will become sour and have a watery taste.

Tamping espresso is especially important because it helps to create a coffee bed. This is the layer of coffee that's responsible for evenly extracting the coffee's flavors. If there are any inconsistencies in the coffee bed, it will lead to an uneven extraction and a sour-tasting espresso.


How Much Coffee Should You Use for Espresso?

When it comes to making espresso, you should use around 2 ounces of coffee. This coffee to water ratio will produce a smooth and delicious cup of espresso. If you use too much coffee, the espresso will become bitter and have a burnt taste. If you use too little coffee, the espresso will be weak and watery.


Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Fix Bitter Coffee?

Even coffee enthusiasts can end up with a bitter tasting espresso. What you can do in that case, if you don't have time to make another round, is add some milk or sugar to it or dissolve it with some water. This is not going to completely fix your bad espresso but will at least make it bearable.


Is Sour Coffee Bad For You?

Have you ever ordered coffee and it tastes a little off? This can be a sign that something is very wrong with it. Leftover coffee will often become sour over time, which makes the coffee go bad. For some coffee drinkers, this may not be an issue, but if you enjoy coffee regularly this can be a problem as stale or old coffee can be bad for your stomach.


What to Do if Espresso Tastes Burnt?

If your espresso tastes burnt, there are a few things you can do to adjust the taste. First, make sure the water you’re using to brew isn’t too hot. This will make your coffee taste burnt as the oils that it usually extracts will burn on their way down. You can also try a different type of bean. Espresso beans are specifically roasted for making espresso, so they will taste better than regular coffee beans.

You may also need to adjust the grind size. The perfect grind size of espresso is around as fine as a grain of salt. If it’s as fine as baking soda, you might end up with burnt coffee. This is because water will be in contact with the coffee longer than needed.


How Do You Make Espresso Taste Smooth?

The most important part of making a smooth espresso is using fresh coffee beans. You should also use the correct grind size for espresso. If the grind size is too large, the coffee will taste bitter. You can also try adjusting the amount of coffee you use. A little bit of coffee goes a long way with espresso.


Final Thoughts

If you keep finding yourself with bitter espresso shots it might be because of many reasons. Usually it’s because of the grind size. If it’s too fine, water will be in contact with it longer, giving you a poor flavor. If coffee has an off-taste or smell, it could be because of old coffee beans. In this case, the best option would be to replace them with new ones as soon as possible. If your coffee is sour, this could also mean that you’re using stale beans or that you’re not tamping as you should. 

The best way to make sure your espresso is tamped properly is by using a pressure-calibrated tamper. Head over to our store and get yours now.