Espresso only bearable with sweetener. Need help dialing in. - Page 7

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
JEHolloway (original poster)

#61: Post by JEHolloway (original poster) »

ojt wrote:Hmm, lots of discussion here already but I'll add my 2 cents.

I personally want to enjoy my coffees without sugar or milk. It's just a question of being able to taste what the coffee itself tastes like. But I do lately drink the occasional moka pot brew with preground coffee (the most normal Italian home coffee) where I do have to add milk AND sugar for it to taste any good.

The way we taste things is probably very personal so if you need sugar and / or milk that's completely fine. The most people I see here (north-east Italy) add loads of sugar to their coffee. Like amounts that will make the spoon stand upright in the cup :) That's a tad too much.. but it's just how people are used to drink it here, bitter coffee balanced with sugar and sometimes milk. That's OK, I just don't really like it myself. Of course I know lots of people who don't add either but like I said, it's personal.

But then, have you ever found a coffee that you like without sugar? Just wondering how sensitive your palate is. I have been able to make quite a few cappuccinos that my wide enjoys without sugar, and she's is one of those who pretty much always add sugar to coffee. The trick is to find the right blend / bean / roast, and brew it just right. She for example doesn't like sour / fruity coffee at all, so a slight bitter tendency is better. Too much bitter though and off she goes with sugar. I've settled on a certain comfort specialty blend I get from a roaster not far away, which is a nice mix between fruity and chocolatey notes so I can tip the balance either way. It is a fairly light roast, perhaps a light medium or something, which in my experience tend to be the sweetest and most bitter/sour balanced.

If the coffee you got is more on the darker roast spectrum and you dislike bitter (that being the reason for sugar?) you might want to practice a bit with ristretto style extraction or just a lower ratio, and I would kinda agree with the high dose low yield approach you mentioned earlier. That and / or lowering brew temperature. Basically the point for me with this is I try to extract a lot less from dark roasts to avoid bitter notes. The only way I ever found them drinkable. If it isn't super dark maybe the classic northern italian approach of fairly fast flow 3:1 ratio, in say max 30 sec, might work. When done right and the beans are good it is sometimes enjoyable for me.

When I wanted to get rid of milk and sugar in coffee I started slowly decreasing the amounts to get used to the new taste. This was IIRC with northern european drip coffee and mokapot brews at the time. After a while I actually disliked the sugar and milk. Made me feel ill. I did also start buying better and better coffees but I think you got that one covered already. The supermarket preground will mostly just taste bad no matter you do :/

But, adding sugar is just fine :)
Hi Osku,

Got a creamy sweet Ristretto this morning using Panther Coffee beans 1927 Blend which is dark Italian style blend. Triple basket 17 g in and 27 g out. Used my flow control paddle to max at 9 bars. Thinking of setting the machine at 9 bars too. I'm surprised at how the numbers change from day to day as the beans de-gas.

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#62: Post by kris772 »

Interesting thread. Though I am still a newbie this second time around I will add a couple comments. Maybe they will help. Most have already been recommended.

First, I notice you got a nice pull this AM. Proves it is possible with that bean! Great!

1) depending on your genes and your current medical condition/state, you may need a sweetener sometimes - if so, use one.
2) some beans are much more forgiving than others. What one person lauds to the moon, you might find totally unpalatable. Listen to all but focus on folks who like a taste similar to yours.
3) way back there Jim recommended reducing the ratio and I mention that because, at the moment, I have found that to be a very useful idea for my own pulls. Much more reliable and much more palatable. With these beans. With this machine. with this grind. At this time.
4) a picture of me doing a pull is maybe a bit funny because I am just about wedded to the group, eyeballing weight, volume, blonding, and time, any one of which could trigger me to stop the pull. eg, if it is seriously blonding at 20 g I will stop it - else it will be too bitter and I want to drink it!
5) I keep a simple log/notes: in -> out by g, time, whether blonding, and 1 or 2 words about taste. Nothing gets sinked any more so it's just about that aftertaste.
6) I drink espresso with a bit of stretched unsweetened almond milk because that is how I like it, but immediately after brew I smell and sip it straight and then notice the aftertaste after 5 or 10 seconds. Since this particular almond milk does not color it for me this is what I will get with the brew, simply less intense.
7) I need my shots to be yummy. Chocolaty is nice.
(I cycle boiler before pull. I then pre-infuse, 4sec on, 4 sec off, and pull, and time from first drip at bottom of basket.)

One variable at a time!
Life is too short for bad espresso! - Thunk-ed, NOT stirred!

JEHolloway (original poster)

#63: Post by JEHolloway (original poster) replying to kris772 »

Thanks Kris for the info. That's quite a formula you have there. It's those kinds of details you wrote that helps me get good shots! I tried pre infusion of 3 seconds drop then 6 seconds bloom and I did not get any great results. Flow paddle did however give great results when I stopped my machine from zooming to 11 bars and held it at 9. How I achieved sweet and creamy with dark blend today I don't know. It was 17 in 27 out 32 seconds with flow paddle limiting to 9 bars.

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#64: Post by kris772 »

"Consistency" requires that you start from "sorta" the same place on each pull. HX's need a simple dance with flushing. Dan has an excellent simple video on flushing basics. But it is simply one thing of many to "sorta" monitor. I am also of the opinion that you can learn a lot on days that you simply "forget everything" and just pull a shot (but, yes, log what you did). I was particularly watching the comments about your pressure with interest. Lots of very educated and experienced ideas were presented. None of which I would dare to comment on, other than to say perhaps some experimentation might be in order over perhaps a week to find what works best on your machine, for your tastes, and pull-behaviour. Good luck and do share!!!
Life is too short for bad espresso! - Thunk-ed, NOT stirred!