Nothing is more frustrating than making a watery shot of espresso, especially if you need it for a perfect latte, cappuccino, or other milk-based coffee drinks. As a coffee beginner, it may take a while before you master how to make perfect espresso shots, and often times you will ask yourself the question that nearly everyone asks when they start: why is my espresso watery? A weak espresso can be attributed to various issues, including; coffee beans quality, under-extraction, wrong temperature and pressure, and poor dosage.
This article closely examines all the causes of a watery-tasting espresso and what you can do to make it better. We have answered most of the popular questions about watery espresso.
Your espresso may be watery for various reasons. One possible reason is that your grind may be too fine. If the grind is too fine, under-extraction happens because water has difficulty flowing through the coffee grounds to extract all the flavors.
Under-extraction also happens if the water is too hot. Very hot water only extracts the bitter flavors of the coffee, leaving you with a watery shot.
Another possible reason for a weak espresso is a machine’s uneven water distribution over coffee grounds. Uneven water distribution will cause over-extraction on some parts of the grounds and under-extraction on others resulting in a watery-tasting espresso.
Tamping the coffee grounds too much could also result in watery espresso. If the grounds are tamped too firmly, water would have difficulty penetrating them to extract all the flavors, hence the watery taste.
You can troubleshoot these variables to figure out what is making you pull thin espresso shots.
You can make thicker espresso by slowing down the extraction process. The best way to slow down the extraction process is by using moderately fine coffee grounds. You could also use a higher coffee dosage to get a richer flavor and thicker consistency.
The ultimate espresso shot is rich and full-flavored with a thick consistency. If not done well, the espresso could have a soupy consistency that is watery and thin. A puck of soupy espresso is caused by under-extraction due to too fine coffee grounds and inadequate pressure from the coffee machine. Poor quality or stale coffee beans could also result in soupy espresso puck.
Here are some changes you can make to improve the annoying watery-tasting espressos you have been making:
Under-extraction is often the primary cause of a weak espresso shot. It happens when you fail to extract all the flavorful coffee oils from the grounds into your cup. The first crucial step in preventing under-extraction is using freshly ground, high-quality coffee beans. The best-recommended ration is 7 grams of coffee to 1 oz of water. Stir the coffee grounds well for even distribution in the filter basket, then tamp them down gently. The even tamping ensures you get an even extraction.
Freshly ground coffee beans go a long way in ensuring you get a high-quality espresso shot. According to an article by Forbes Trusted Source How To Make The Perfect Cup Of Coffee Americans drink over 280 million cups of coffee each day at home, amounting to over 102 billion home-brewed cups of coffee a year. That’s a whole lot of coffee. But it turns out a third of them may be making it wrong, at least if making the perfect cup of coffee is the goal. www.forbes.com , pre-ground coffee is less flavorful because it has lost all the flavorful oils that would still be trapped in the beans. Also, if the coffee you are using is stale or old, it will produce a weak and watery shot because it will not extract properly.
When buying coffee, check the roast date. Avoid anything that was roasted over 30 days ago, and keep it off the pre-ground coffee shelves. Choose a medium, medium dark, or dark roasted beans. Avoid light roasts when pulling an espresso because they have less oil. A dark roast is rich in oils and will give you a thick, flavorful shot of espresso. Grind your coffee beans for at least 10 seconds before making an espresso shot.
The perfect grind size is crucial for making the perfect espresso shot. A grind to course or too fine will produce a weak and watery shot. Water will flow through coarse grinds quickly, leading to over-extraction, which produces a bitter and acidic coffee. Conversely, if the grounds are too fine, water will have difficulty flowing through, resulting in a watery-tasting shot with less crema.
You have to experiment until you find the perfect grind. Slowly adjust the grinder to the fine side until you find the sweet spot. Remember, you can only adjust the grinder while it’s running; otherwise, it will jam.
Brew temperature is another factor that affects the quality of espresso shots you make. According to Washington Post Trusted Source BREWING THE BEST Making coffee and tea are old arts. But it’s amazing how they have gotten lost through the years. There is a right way and a wrong way to brew each, and unfortunately they are not the same. While very hot — but not boiling — water should be used for coffee, boiling water is best for tea. www.washingtonpost.com , the best espresso brew temperature is 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Colder or hotter water can result in sour or weak espresso. Weak, watery espresso means the temperature is lower than the recommended range, causing poor extraction. Increase the temperature for better results.
Coffee dosage is a crucial espresso brewing variable. A high dosage results in over-extracted and bitter coffee. Conversely, a low dosage results in under-extracted weak espresso. According to CNET Trusted Source Scientists may have the secret to brewing the perfect espresso shot Researchers come together to brew a shot you can count on. www.cnet.com , 18 to 21 grams of coffee is the ultimate dose for an espresso shot. It sounds like a negligible amount but remember, espresso is a highly concentrated coffee drink. Use a small kitchen scale to get accurate measurements.
Correct tampering has a significant impact on espresso quality. You need to invest in the right tamper that does not over-compress the coffee grounds or leave them too loose. The optimal tamp is about the same size as your espresso machine’s group head.
Ensure you are using even pressure during tamping to allow water to flow through the coffee evenly. An even water flow through the coffee grounds results in rich, fully flavored espresso shots.
You cannot get a good tamp without the right size tamper. Your tamper should be a bit smaller than the inside diameter of your machine’s filter basket. You can measure the inside diameter of the filter basket with calipers or a steel measuring tape, then pick a tamper that is slightly smaller than it.
An optimal tamp creates resistance and makes the water take time to saturate the coffee, resulting in a well-extracted, fully-flavored espresso shot. A poor tamp means the grounds are uneven and loose, allowing water to flow quickly through the gaps without extracting all the rich flavors.
A poor tamp will also cause a wet or slushy puck. Inadequate tamping will leave a lot of space that will fill up with water and form a sort of soup in the portafilter.
Too fine coffee grounds will give you a weak espresso shot. It may also mix with the water too much and give you a mud-like consistency. The ideal grind size is between table salt and coarse sand. A high-quality grinder will give you the best grind size. Tweak the grinder’s settings until you find a grind size that is larger than table salt yet smaller than coarse sand.
Maybe the only thing you have wrong is the portafilter basket. One too small will result in a weak, watery-tasting espresso shot, and one too large will allow water to flow through quickly and give you an over-extracted shot.
Pulling a perfect espresso shot can be a challenge to people with the best quality espresso machines. Even the most qualified baristas can sometimes make weak espresso shots. Most times, it’s the small things like a messy portafilter that stand between you and the perfect espresso shot. Ensure the portafilter is clean and dry before brewing. A little moisture on the portafilter can make the coffee slip through and result in a weak, flavorless shot.
Many people, including some baristas, often think a watery or soupy espresso puck is a result of using poor-quality espresso. You could be the most experienced barista with the best quality espresso machine and beans but still pull watery pucks. You could pull a watery puck because of the grind size you are using, your espresso dosage, or a messy portafilter.
When you go to a coffee shop, you will notice the barista emptying the coffee from the portafilter after one shot and loading it up with fresh coffee grounds for the next shot. The coffee grounds after one shot of espresso are good for other uses except for another round of espresso. The first extraction from coffee grounds gives the most flavorful shot. The extractions that follow result in bitter, flavorless shots because the first extraction gets all the oils from the coffee. The bitterness in the consequent shots is caused by the acids in the coffee.
Starbucks probably has coffee beans with minimal flavor, or the dosage per shot is too low, resulting in poor extraction for each drink size.
If your Keurig coffee tastes watered down, you should check the water temperature. Your machine may not be getting the brewing temperature right. The K-cup size to coffee ratio could also be an issue. Some machines have smaller pods forcing the brew at a higher pressure leading to under-extraction. Water filtering through the K-Cup quickly also results in a watery-tasting cup of coffee.
An espresso machine making watery espresso is one of the most popular issues in coffee communities. Pulling a perfect espresso shot is an art. Even the most qualified baristas pull weak espresso shots sometimes. You have to get everything right, from water temperature and pressure to coffee freshness and grind size.
Why is my espresso watery? Probably because of under-extraction. Ensure the beans are fresh and well-roasted to have enough oils. Increase your brew temperature and the fineness of the coffee grounds. If preventing under-extraction doesn’t work, make changes like swapping the portafilter basket, getting the right tamper, and cleaning the portafilter before brewing. Keep practicing while applying all the tips we have provided in this guide, and soon you will be able to make the perfect espresso shot like a pro.