Help troubleshoot muddy/lack clarity and bitter espresso

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

#1: Post by Mathiar »

Some background
Upgraded from a lelit combi PID to an ECM Synchronika and niche zero. I've loved the experience. Coming from a commercial cafe background in Vancouver when I was studying it's been great to get back into the scene. But I'm having trouble getting my shots right

Pullman 19-22g basket
Naked Pf

Dose - 20g
5c test - no indentation
Grind setting on Niche - 19
Stock shower screen
WDT method using 10 acupuncture needles
No leveler, never felt they were necessary. Using a reg barber lazy V tamper, pretty level when I inspect it.
Beans - Five Senses dark Horse, roasted on May 17 (posting this on may 25); pretty reputable roasting company in Australia
It takes almost 10-15s for a consistent stream of espresso and almost 1min for me to hit a 35g shot

I've tried grinding finer, coarser, increasing dose to 21, dropping dose to 19, using 'pre-wetting' as I don't have it plumbed in yet
Oddly when people talk about the grind settings on their NZ, they are below 15....on the scale im getting into the drip/Filter range

Shots taste muddy/lack clarity and bitter
Puck comes out wet, thin layer of water on top when I remove it that then quickly absorbs back into the puck (was worse when I had an IMS nanotech screen on - I've now gone back to the stock ECM). Super messy when I knock it into the box...certainly not the Perfectly formed dry pucks

Not really sure where to go from here...

ShotClock
Supporter ♡

#2: Post by ShotClock »

I have a Niche and have often been grinding in the low 20s for espresso. I'd recommend just grinding coarser until you get to a 40g shot in 25-30 seconds. You might also consider the stock basket with a dose of 16-18g for easier dialing in while you get used to the machine and grinder. I can also heartily recommend the pinned topics in this forum as guides for dialing in and understanding what is going on inside the basket, i found them very useful.