coffee tastes

Why Is My Espresso Sour?

Espresso is a highly concentrated coffee drink that instantly provides you with the energy you need. A well-prepared cup of espresso will have a flavour and aroma that is both delicious and powerful. On occasion, though, you may experience bitter or sour espresso. 

If this has happened to you and you're questioning why your espresso is sour, we can help you. Let's explore the many reasons why your espresso tastes sour or burnt.

Terms to Understand

Before we dive into why espresso tastes burnt or sour, there are a few terms you should know. 

  • Extraction: the process of pulling oils from coffee beans with water.
  • Blonding: The coffee is a light yellow colour. 
  • Basket: Coffee grinds are held in the basket, and water passes through them.
  • Crema: A flavourful, light brown froth that sits on top of an espresso shot. 
  • Puck: The coffee grounds that remain in your shot basket after you have extracted a shot. 

Why Does My Espresso Taste Sour? 

Espresso shots that are under-extracted, or those that flow in less than 15 seconds, have a yellowish, frothy appearance and a very dry puck. There will be a thin crema coating on top, which will immediately disappear. 

This results in a sour espresso with a very unpleasant flavour. To remedy a sour espresso shot, choose a finer coffee grind. 

Why Is My Coffee Bitter? 

When your espresso tastes bitter after brewing, the extraction or pour time was likely too long. You'll see a large white area on your crema and notice that the puck appears soggy. 

So, the length of the brew time is a key determining element in the coffee's flavour. Adjust the brew time to ensure that your extraction procedure only takes 25 to 30 seconds. For the best results, use a finer grind rather than a coarse grind.

Why Does My Espresso Have a Burnt Coffee Taste? 

coffee tastes

Over-extraction is also the cause of a burnt coffee flavour. This means the hot water isn't passing through quickly enough, resulting in a burnt-tasting espresso. You might be overfilling the basket and tamping the coffee too much, or your coffee grind may be too fine. 

When your coffee tastes burnt, your puck will once again appear sloppy and soggy. To avoid this, set your grinder to a slightly coarser grind. 


How to Fix Sour Espresso 

Now that you have learned what causes sour espresso, let’s take a look at ways to fix this problem.

  1. Make sure your grind isn’t too coarse, and if it is, consider grinding the coffee to a fine texture. 
  2. Give an espresso shot a typical brewing duration of 25 to 30 seconds.
  3. Make sure your water isn’t too hot as this can cause a burnt or bitter coffee taste. 
  4. Keep your espresso machine clean and follow machine manufacturers instructions. 
  5. Use high-quality beans. The quality and degree of roasting of the coffee beans affect the flavour and taste of your espresso.

For a high-quality, authentic shot of espresso, consider purchasing fair trade and organic coffee beans. Our Fair Trade Coffee Beans from Di Stefano provides a sweet but elegant finish that will improve your coffee experience.

Shop our selection of specialty coffee beans for more high-quality coffee beans that are freshly roasted each week to offer you the greatest flavour!