Acidic, astringent, harsh espresso - HELP!

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.

#1: Post by Ricci »

Hi all
I was recently blown away with the deliciousness of a double shot that I had at a local roastery, now unfortunately I've fallen into a rut with my home espresso trying to match what I tasted in the cup at the cafe.
I've had a few espressos around town but this one was extremely smooth with basically no harsh acidity at all.
I've since been back to try another coffee from that cafe and again - mind blown. I'd like to get some thoughts on what it comes down to if anyone can suggest some pointers.
The cafe runs a Victoria Arduino Mythos and a 4 group slayer machine of some sort.
At home I have a Lagom P64 with SSP Unimodal burrs and a LM Linea Mini.
I run a bottled mineral water through the machine and have purchased the same coffee that I tasted at the cafe.
I believe my setup should be able to achieve the same or similar results, surely.
The difference between what I'm tasting at the cafe and what I'm producing at home is night and day though, so I'm hoping it's a simple change required.
At the cafe, espresso tastes smooth, balanced, clear, with no harshness at all. It is also relatively thin compared to my espresso at home.
At home I'm getting instant acidic, sour astringent flavours instantly, with a few grounds at the bottom of the cup. It almost seems like I'm over extracting or something.
The recipe I've been playing with are as follows:
Between 19 - 21g in 40 - 50g out
92 degree boiler temp (at least that's what it is set to on my phone)
Mineral bottled water from the local grocery store as mentioned.
I have tried course grinds - way to fast (14 seconds or so and very acidic again)
I have tried fine grinds - up to 45 seconds, still acidic and astringent.
Please - any help would be appreciated.
Ps - I know the Linea Mini doesn't have pre-infusion or pressure profile capabilities, but I'm not convinced that this is the difference.
All I can put it down to is the water??

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#2: Post by Doolittlej »

Try reducing to 17 grams in 35 grams out over 35 seconds. Agree that pre infusion can make it easier but isn't the only factor. Find it really hard to believe it is the water. If that isn't closer, reduce to 16 grams.

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#3: Post by baldheadracing »

Even if everything else was equal, I'd guess that there would be a difference just due to the wildly different burrs.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada


#4: Post by espressoren »

What's interesting is acidic and astringent are usually on opposite ends, under and over extracted. Maybe it's just a terminology thing though.

A salami shot may help you pinpoint which side of the spectrum you're on. A balanced extraction would be acidic at first and astringent at the end. If your last cup tastes "ok but lifeless" that's supposed to be more toward the middle of the shot.

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#5: Post by Jeff »

The cafe runs a Victoria Arduino Mythos and a 4 group slayer machine of some sort.
At home I have a Lagom P64 with SSP Unimodal burrs and a LM Linea Mini.
Mythos burrs tend to be very classic in their rendering of espresso, like the best of the traditional burr sets, conical or flat.

I can't keep the labeling of the burrs straight, but I believe those are what I call 64 MPs. If so, they are moderately to highly revealing of the range of flavors and notably less "blendy" than a traditional burr set. They also are reasonably high-extraction burrs in that they seem to produce better espresso in a shorter period of time and even a lower ratio than a traditional burr set on the same coffee. One of the reasons you hear of people pulling 10-15 second shots with burrs like the 98 HU and 64 MP is because they can taste better, not that "they can't" pull traditional flow rates. This seems true with the coffees that are being used for light-roast espresso and probably holds over into the medium range somewhere. With darker roasts, burr sets like these may reveal things that you don't enjoy.

Reducing your brew pressure to around 6 bars into a blind basket may help, coupled with a faster flow rate. If a medium or darker roast, a line-pressure hold after the fill may help blend the coffee more toward the "chocolate and nuts" flavors.

If you don't enjoy acidity and those are the 64 MP burrs, I'd pick a low-acidity coffee, swap for Cast v2 (or perhaps Mizen burrs, which I am still waiting for), or both.


#6: Post by DSUK69 »

In order to recreate similar shot that you had in the coffee shop, I would suggest you install the Mazzer 64mm burrs or SSP HU/ cast burrs, sell your Mini and buy something with pressure profiling abilities like the GS3, Decent or even manual levers like the Robot/ Flair 58

Constant 9-bar espresso is the worst thing ever happen in the coffee world


#7: Post by malling »

Your set up probably could not be much more different.

Mythos are your average albeit improved espresso burrs that has more focus on texture your running a unimodal burr with focus on clarity and flavour separation and that sacrificing texture to get you there.

They are running flow profiled shots your on a "flat" bar pump machine, albeit a good one it's a very different machine.

If you get sour shot your under extracting

With your set you cannot replicate what a slayer dos, it's just not possible, not without some serious mods.

Also My guess you need to pull longer right now you are 1:2-1:2.5 if your still sour try pulling +1:3


#8: Post by BaristaBob »

"The cafe runs a Victoria Arduino Mythos and a 4 group slayer machine of some sort.
At home I have a Lagom P64 with SSP Unimodal burrs and a LM Linea Mini."

You have nice equipment indeed, but it's like the polar opposite of your Cafe. No doubt they are running a very "soft" extraction with preinfusion and low max pressure. Your LMLM makes duplicating their shot more difficult for you. Do you know what dose in/out and time for total extraction they use? Is the coffee light roast...something a Slayer handles deftly, whereas your Mini does not. Keep in mind, some LMLM owners have modified their machines to make them preinfusion capable. If you want your Cafe's mind blowing taste experience, you may want to dive deeper into the rabbit hole.
Bob "hello darkness my old friend..I've come to drink you once again"

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#9: Post by baldheadracing »

I wouldn't put too much on machine differences as, AFAIK, Slayer has never made a four-group machine.
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

Ricci (original poster)

#10: Post by Ricci (original poster) »

Thanks for the reply's!
Some interesting points there and I will experiment more with finer grinds.
I'm not convinced that the grinder burrs is the issue.
I'll be having a bit more of a chat with the barista next time I'm there with regards to pressure profiling.
I agree with the point that the LMLM is difficult to work with in some ways because it has a super high flow rate and a flat pump.
My issue with a finer grind is channeling, because it's basically full flow and full pressure straight onto the puck with the LMLM. I guess this is why they made the GS3.
But for a $6k machine, I just can't get my head around why LM wouldn't have a feature for slow flow and pressure ramp up.
I will experiment with a 'pre-brew'.
Query for the many knowledgeable here:
1. My understanding of pre-infusion is 'saturating the puck at a low pressure, prior to ramping up to full pressure'.
If I ran the pump for a second or two, then stoped it and let water seep into the puck and saturate it with no pressure, would water make its way through the whole puck after say 20-30 seconds, or does this require so kind of pressure?
2. If I ran the pump as above once or twice with a 5-10 second gap in between, would this create enough pressure to saturate the whole puck?