Coffee Grounds in Cup

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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#1: Post by DC »

Hello all,

I can't seem to stop getting coffee grounds in my cup. I've thoroughly cleaned my machine, baskets, filter holder and spouts. I make doubly sure not to tamp on top of loose grounds on the surface, and, as far as I can tell, no coffee slips out of the top of the pf during brewing. Also, my baskets are brand new and look (superficially) fine.

I've got a grind setting which is producing a 27sec double (with a full basket and hard tamp) with nice crema and lots of tiger-flecking. My grinder is a Dualit (Starbucks re-brand?).

The espresso taste is great but it's being ruined (or rather I'm being distracted) by tasting the grounds which are extremely sharp and acidic tasting. I'm having to leave the last few ml in the cup and tip it away. I've tried grinding coarser but this just gives me a short extraction time (~15 seconds).

Is there anything I can do to avoid this or is it just something to be put up with?

Cheers for any guidance


PS. I'm using the steam-kick thing where you flick on the steamer before brewing and it's really improved my results recently (guess my machine's brew temp is a little low). This couldn't have anything to do with it could it?


#2: Post by grong »


My guess is that your grinder is producing too many fine grounds, or fines. These are smaller than the bulk of your grind that gives you your target extraction time. These get over-extracted because they are smaller, and so create some bitterness; and they are small enough to pass through your basket's holes.

I don't know your grinder, but perhaps new sharp burrs could solve the problem. Better grinders with well-designed sharp burrs do create a more uniform grind.

Best wishes.

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DC (original poster)

#3: Post by DC (original poster) »

Hi, thanks for the reply.

The grinder is brand new but I know it's not the best, it was all I could afford. I'm pretty sure it's a re-branded starbucks barista grinder but don't quote me on that (it's a Dualit 75002). I read a lot of people saying it does not grind fine enough for espresso but this has not been the case in my experience. On its near-finest grind setting I'm getting a well-timed shot with all these grounds in.

I tried a start-dump - just let the first second or so of the pour into the drip tray, and this seemed to help quite a bit.



#4: Post by Merlino »

Do you still get grinds with a bottomless portafilter? When I use a spouted pf I always get grinds, with a bottomless pf never. I have no clue as to the reasons for this though...

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DC (original poster)

#5: Post by DC (original poster) »

I haven't tried a bottomless pf, but I used to have pressurised baskets and never had a problem with those. The holes don't look any different to me though.

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#6: Post by cannonfodder »

Having a few fines in the cup is relatively normal. The quality of the grinder makes a difference. I have used cheap grinders that produce a lot of fines and hence speckles in the bottom of the cup. With my Mazzer and Cimbali, there are very few fines in the cup.

When using my single spout portafilter I occasionally notice grinds sticking to the bottom of the spout where it touched some coffee sitting in the grinders' catch basin. Depending on how you level, you may be getting some grinds sticking to the spout as you sweep the dose level. Once again I have only had this happen when using my single spout which is longer and protrudes further to the side than a double spout.

If you use a bottomless and the grinds suddenly stop showing up, then they were hitchhiking on the spouts. The portafilter makes no difference, the basket is where the fines are migrating from. You could also try a different style basket (Faema, La Marzocco, La Marzocco ridgeless etc...).
Dave Stephens

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#7: Post by another_jim »

It's unlikely that sludge-like grinds will make it through any commercial basket, no matter what the grinder. However, you haven't mentioned your machine.

Some home machines, the Silvia is notorious for this, don't seal properly unless the PF is torqued in very hard. If it's done only part way, the grounds brewing in the basket can make their way into the cup.

Make sure you clean off the group gasket after making shots, grounds accumulating there will always compromise the seal.
Jim Schulman

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#8: Post by jesawdy »

another_jim wrote:It's unlikely that sludge-like grinds will make it through any commercial basket, no matter what the grinder. However, you haven't mentioned your machine.
I think he has a Briel machine....

On my old braun, sludge-like grinds definitely made their way to the cup.. not sure if it was basket or gasket, but they were there. I suspect the Briel is of similar materials, construction, but with a pump and reservoir.
Jeff Sawdy

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DC (original poster)

#9: Post by DC (original poster) »

Thanks for all the replies (Jesawdy - I'll reply to your other post here as well as this post is more active)

I do have a Briel (Artemis model) machine, and am currently using with Solis double basket. I've followed all the advice on here and it has helped but yeah I do still get a fair few grounds in the cup. When I used the Briel baskets (which are pressurised) I didn't get anything coming through at all unless I took the 'crema enhancers' out, then I had plenty come through.

My Briel basket has since broken though, so no going back - the screw holding the filter/enhancer together sheared off mid-brew :shock:.

I guess the basket could be responsible as it's not specifically designed for Briel, but the improvement in my espresso since ditching the pressurised Briel baskets has been pretty impressive so I'm loathe to go back!


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#10: Post by jesawdy »

A few grinds or fines in the cup are not abnormal... a lot of grinds or a sludge at the bottom of your cup is not normal.

Grinds in the cup might come from:
  • spout contamination,
    a leaking gasket that allows grinds and coffee/water to flow over the basket and/or portafilter,
    bad basket to gasket fit, or pf not torqued in enough
Fines or at least accumulations of sludge-like fines in the cup are most likely from your grinder. Perhaps it is pulverizing your beans and creating a lot of coffee dust?

What do you think your situation is, normal or excessive grinds/fines?
Jeff Sawdy