Troubleshooting Espresso: What to Do When Your Espresso is Too Watery
This is a common problem. There’s nothing worse than espresso that’s tastes horrible. The perfect shot should take between 25-28 seconds. If your espresso is too watery and extracts too quickly – don’t worry. We’re here to give you tips to fix this and get your espresso shots extracting at a better rate. Watery espresso is most likely occurring for the following reasons:
- Bean Quality – Make sure you have good beans. Starbucks is a no-no. Their beans suck and are usually burnt. I personally use Intelligentsia at home. Also, make sure they’re properly sealed and stored. The freshness of your beans can have a massive effect on their extraction. Old beans will result in poor shots.
- Grind – This should go without saying but a good coffee grinder will go a long, long way. Even more important is the grind of the beans. The finer the grind, the slower water will come through. Play around with your grind settings until you find the perfect spot for your taste.
- Tamping Pressure – Tamping is a vital component to a quality shot of espresso. Too hard and water wont be able to get through (resulting in an incredibly slow shot). Too soft and water will pour through (resulting in a quick shot). 30lbs of pressure is ideal.
- Amount of coffee – Too much coffee will result in a slow shot. Too little, a faster shot. Experiment.
Extracting the perfect shot will take practice. Play around with the above settings until you reach perfection. Patience is key. It can be frustrating but have no fear – you’ll get it! Use a stopwatch to time your shots. Remember, 30lbs of pressure when tamping and a shot between 25-28 seconds is your goal.
6 Reasons Why Your Espresso Is Watery
There are several reasons why your espresso may be extracting watery:
1. Your Grind Needs Adjustment
If your grind is too coarse, the water will flow too quickly through the grounds, producing a weak and watery shot.
Solution - adjust your grind to the fine side slowly. Always make sure you're adjusting your grinder as it's in operation. Failing to do this can lead to jamming.
Espresso requires a very fine grind. If your espresso is pouring out like water, the first step you should take is adjusting your grind (in small increments) to the finer side.
2. Your Dosage Is Off
If the dose of coffee used is too low, the water will flow too quickly through the grounds and produce a weak shot.
Solution - increase the amount of coffee your putting in your portafilter. Start in increments of 0.50 grams and work you way up.
Consider getting a high quality coffee scale to help weigh your dosages to the exact amount every time.
Dosages may need to be tweaked every time you get a fresh bag of coffee.
3. You're Not Tamping Hard Enough
If the tamping pressure is too light, the water will flow too quickly through the grounds and produce a weak shot.
Solution - hit the gym (just kidding). Increase your tamping pressure ever so slightly. If you now start seeing your espresso barely extract, you're tamping too hard.
Consider getting yourself of new tamper. Most tampers that come with espresso machines are of extremely poor quality.
4. The Temperature of Your Water Isn't Ideal
If the water temperature is too low, the extraction will be slow, resulting in a weak and watery shot.
Solution - increase boiler temperature (if possible).
5. Your Coffee Isn't Fresh
If the coffee is old or stale, it will not extract properly, producing a weak and watery shot.
Solution - don't buy coffee that was roasted over 30 days ago. Ideally, your coffee would have been roasted about 6 days ago and will be ground directly before making espresso. Avoid buying pre-ground coffee entirely.
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6. Your Espresso Machine May Need a Tune-Up
If the espresso machine has not been properly maintained, the water pressure may be too low, causing a weak and watery shot.
Solution - inspect the group head for wear and tear - you may need a new gasket, screen, etc. Inspect your portafilters - they may need a good cleaning!