Espresso is too bitter!

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
gwolf

#1: Post by gwolf »

All,
Thanks in advance for any suggestions. I am new to the home brewed espresso world. I just received my Quick Mill Anita Evo and my baratza Vario grinder. So, I'm two days in and I haven't yet pulled a drinkable shot. The bitterness is off the charts. I've played with the grind size (from one to four, for those familiar with this particular grinder). I've tamped extra hard, and not nearly too hard. My water temp and hardness are proper. If anything, my flow times are mostly too short, though with grind size #1 the shot was very, very slow. In all cases, the result was undrinkable. I also bought new beans, from a local roaster, so I don't believe this is the issue either. I've scoured the internet/youtube, and mostly see suggestions about grind size and water temperature playing a role in bitterness. Am I missing something?

Please tell me I didn't by $2000 worth of doorstop materials!
Any help?
Greg

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spromance

#2: Post by spromance »

gwolf wrote:Please tell me I didn't by $2000 worth of doorstop materials!
You didn't buy $2000 worth of doorstop materials.
gwolf wrote:I am new to the home brewed espresso world...The bitterness is off the charts...I also bought new beans, from a local roaster, so I don't believe this is the issue either.
Welcome. Two thoughts:

1) you're new to home brewed espresso...does that mean new to espresso generally as well? If so, that could easily be why. Any idea what weight ratios you are pulling your shots? Or are you pulling by volume?

2) Whether or not you are used to espresso generally...although it's good you're buying local (which hopefully means the roasts are fresh?), it easily could be the coffee itself. Have you had this same coffee pulled/served by this local roaster? Do you like how it tastes when they pull it?

Those seem like simple questions, but a little more info along those lines will help paint a picture of what might be primarily at play, and it'll be a bit easier to give you some potential things to try.

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Almico
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#3: Post by Almico »

Welcome to the world of espresso Greg. It's not what you want to hear, but you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Enjoy the journey!

The Vario grinder is workable, but not ideal. It will get you there, but maybe not as consistently as you would like.

Some targets to shoot for:

1:2 brew ratio. If you don't have a little gram scale, get one. $7 on Amazon. Depending on your basket size, 15g dose, 30g total output in 30 seconds as a starting point. 2 seconds matters, 3 seconds matters a lot.

Adjust your grind until you can get in those parameters. Tamp the same every time. It matters little. Don't try to tamp harder to slow extraction. Don't increase your dose to slow extraction. Grind finer to slow extraction.

gwolf (original poster)

#4: Post by gwolf (original poster) »

Thanks for the thoughts/clarifying questions...
I am new to the brewing, but not a love of espresso. The beans I am using are very fresh, but i have no previous familiarity with them. I am using 16g of beans, and pulling a 2 oz shot, trying to make the pull equal to 2 oz over about 20+ seconds of flow time. Hope this helps clarify.

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GC7
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#5: Post by GC7 »

My QM Anita has been giving me wonderful espresso for a decade now. Be patient. I don't like the Vario but it still should function well enough to make you happy. Two points.

I agree totally about the scale and weighing your beans for consistency.

Buy the EricS thermometer to monitor your grouphead temperature. It will lower the learning curve for flushing routines. It will then give you consistency to achieve higher, average or lower shot temperatures at will.

trapperkeeper

#6: Post by trapperkeeper »

too fine a grind and heavy tamp pressure = over-extracted = bitter. Grind coarser use moderate tamp pressure, small steps. Adjust your grind til' you find it's a little under-extracted/sour, then back up a bit and you'll be in the sweet spot. I would prefer slightly over-extracted than under, any day tho.
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gwolf (original poster)

#7: Post by gwolf (original poster) » replying to trapperkeeper »

When I use a coarser grind and/or lighter tamp pressure, I get 2 ounces in something like 10 seconds of flow. Guess I just need to keep dialing...

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trapperkeeper

#8: Post by trapperkeeper »

yep, keep at it. moderate tamp pressure 20-30lb, flat. I prefer to nutate, but that's me, then keep everything else exactly the same between shots (dose weight - needs to be weighed in the basket each time so you know it's consistent). then adjust the grind accordingly. The vario can be a pain to dial in, but it is do-able.
LMWDP #600

happycat

#9: Post by happycat »

gwolf wrote:When I use a coarser grind and/or lighter tamp pressure, I get 2 ounces in something like 10 seconds of flow. Guess I just need to keep dialing...
You may be compensating for an uneven distribution by grinding too fine.

An uneven distribution lets water get through channels.

You can have a coarser grind that works if the coffee is evenly distributed and tamped level to force water to go through evenly

Stir your coffee after grinding..search WDT on this site.
LMWDP #603

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BaristaBoy E61

#10: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

Almico wrote:Welcome to the world of espresso Greg. It's not what you want to hear, but you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Enjoy the journey!

The Vario grinder is workable, but not ideal. It will get you there, but maybe not as consistently as you would like.

Some targets to shot for:

1:2 brew ratio. If you don't have a little gram scale, get one. $7 on Amazon. Depending on your basket size, 15g dose, 30g total output in 30 seconds as a starting point. 2 seconds matters, 3 seconds matters a lot.

Adjust your grind until you can get in those parameters. Tamp the same every time. It matters little. Don't try to tamp harder to slow extraction. Don't increase your dose to slow extraction. Grind finer to slow extraction.

Lots of good advice here but like this advice in particular, I would also suggest getting a naked portafilter so you can watch your extractions. Basket prep is crucial, use some form of WDT, consider even an inexpensive distribution tool for pre-tamping.

Sounds like you're extracting too much espresso for your basket weight; get the ratio 1:2 as previously mentioned.

Are you drinking straight espresso or milk drinks?

Might be you haven't yet found beans you like...
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"