Help with beginner trying to fix underextracted/sour espresso

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
madgraf
Posts: 3
Joined: 1 year ago

#1: Post by madgraf »

I'm new to the hobby as I just picked up a Profitec Pro 600 and a Eureka Oro XL last week and have been trying to pull a decent shot since then. I went through a good number of beans trying to figure out where to start my grinder, but I think I'm at a pretty close spot right now. The problem is, every single shot I've pulled has been either quite salty or very sour. The last one I tried this morning is probably my best, but it is still quite sour.

I'm using single origin beans from Ruby (El Salvador - Natamaya Pacamara roasted on 11/30/22) - I was using a different Ruby bean originally but ran out of that one. I ordered a couple of their blends that seem better fitted for espresso, but want to dial things in fairly well before I start going through those as they were just roasted a couple days ago.

I've read a ton of posts on here and on forums and universally it seems sour notes are from underextraction, but what I can't figure out is how do I adjust from here to not underextract. With my most recent shot, I put in 18g of grounds and pulled 38g of espresso in 40 seconds at 202 degrees. My machine came at 199, but I read increasing it for light/medium roasts might help so I tried that. I also checked the lowest boiling flash point to see if my temp offset was calibrated correctly and it was spot on at 100 degrees Celsius.

If the sour taste is due to underextracting, I don't know if I should go any finer on grounds as it's coming out very slowly at the current grind size (hence the 40 seconds to get 38g). If I go any coarser, won't it be even more underextracted since the water will go through faster? I originally had it much coarser (5 on my dial and now I'm down to 3.25ish) but kept going finer to try to lenghten the time and not be sour/underextracted.

Any advice at all on things to try would be greatly appreciated as I'm just not sure what to adjust next.

espressoren
Posts: 447
Joined: 1 year ago

#2: Post by espressoren »

It doesn't say anywhere that I can see, but based on the flavor notes and guidelines this seems to be a fairly light roast. Notes like "lime zest" and plum/apple make it seem like it will always have a bit of a twang to it and be bright but you should be able to get it more balanced.
I put in 18g of grounds and pulled 38g of espresso in 40 seconds at 202 degrees.
Does the 40 seconds include a preinfusion? With a light roast like this it would take a fair amount of "work" to extract. Honestly if it's too sour I'd shoot for a 1:2.5 and see how you like that, maybe even 45-50g out. You may need to go a tad coarser to get there or add some preinfusion time.

There comes a point where you get a bit too fine and you under extract simply because you can't get enough liquid through in the desired timeframe. Also risk forcing a channel if the puck is just too hard to get through.

Bigt2358
Posts: 2
Joined: 1 year ago

#3: Post by Bigt2358 »

Hi, also new to hobby. Wife and I drink French Press and Moka pot "espresso" fairly regular mixed in with regular drip. Anyway, decided to invest in a ECM Mechanika slim. Read a lot about grinders but not possible right now. But I did spring for a JX Pro hand grinder(for now).

Well I haven't been able to brew a decent shot yet. I have only had the ECM for 4 days so still learning how to use it. I have tried about 6 -8 shots each night. First I was getting soupy pucks, last few nights pucks come out firm and in one piece (better I guess).
Have been using JX Pro recommended grind setting of 15 but have gone as low as 12 and up to 17.
I have been using between 17/18 grams of fresh beans (Lavazza Italian espresso grand Crema)
I cant seem to get to the 1:2 ish ratio. I keep getting between 30-40g of liquid in 25-30 seconds.
Espresso seems thin and the little crema I get is pale blond.
Not really sure about my brew temperature. I am slow with dosing and overall portafilter setup, so I think my flushing my be the biggest issue. have been doing 3-5 second flushes(counting One-one thousand 2 one thousand) before brewing.

I watched a bunch of videos so still experimenting. But the thing I realized is making real espresso is damn HARD!
Anyway wife expects me to be able to brew for the 20+ adults by Christmas eve. Doesn't look promising right now but tomorrow will be another attempt for something acceptable.

Is there a question in all of this? Yes...where can I find a barista to show me what to do because being over caffeinated and depressed at the same time isn't a very good feeling.

User avatar
Jake_G
Team HB
Posts: 4239
Joined: 6 years ago

#4: Post by Jake_G »

madgraf wrote: Any advice at all on things to try would be greatly appreciated as I'm just not sure what to adjust next.
Hey Matt,
Welcome to HB!
Others have given you sound advice given the capabilities of your machine and your choice of beans. To lessen the pain of entry, I'd also suggest that you find a nice blend to start with, as they are much less likely to have sour notes. Basically any blend from one of the site sponsors or a local shop around you will be a better starting point that going for single origins. Once you get some confidence, you can give the SOs a try again.

Bigt2358 wrote:Is there a question in all of this? Yes...where can I find a barista to show me what to do because being over caffeinated and depressed at the same time isn't a very good feeling.
Hey Tom,

Welcome to HB!
I'm not sure about how things work in NJ, but in places I've lived, Baristas found be found in these places called coffee shops. :lol: It sounds silly, but seriously, go find a coffee shop that you like. Strike up a conversation with the barista and ask if any of them would be willing to be paid to give lessons to an enthusiast who is struggling with new equipment.
Bigt2358 wrote:I have been using between 17/18 grams of fresh beans (Lavazza Italian espresso grand Crema)
I cant seem to get to the 1:2 ish ratio. I keep getting between 30-40g of liquid in 25-30 seconds.
You and I have different definitions of "Fresh", but ok.
17-18 x 2 = 34-36.
I dare say 17-18 x 2-ish = 30-40
What's the problem? It seems like you're getting roughly what you are trying to achieve.

Lavazza beans are fresh for about 30 seconds after you open the nitrogen-purged bag (assuming they still do this) and then the bean quickly stale and begin giving you thin, watery shots.

Remember that coffee shop from above? Buy some beans from them, too. Buy some beans that were roasted last week. They will be orders of magnitude different from a bag of Lavazza that's been open for a few days.

Cheers!

- Jake
LMWDP #704

madgraf (original poster)
Posts: 3
Joined: 1 year ago

#5: Post by madgraf (original poster) »

espressoren wrote: Does the 40 seconds include a preinfusion? With a light roast like this it would take a fair amount of "work" to extract. Honestly if it's too sour I'd shoot for a 1:2.5 and see how you like that, maybe even 45-50g out. You may need to go a tad coarser to get there or add some preinfusion time.
I've read about preinfusion but I haven't tried it yet. It seems generally recommended for lighter roasts? Is there a standard time to do it for to start with? Since I can't see how much water is going into the grounds, I'm not sure what I'm looking for other than maybe just do get them a little wet?

madgraf (original poster)
Posts: 3
Joined: 1 year ago

#6: Post by madgraf (original poster) »

Jake_G wrote:Hey Matt,
Welcome to HB!
Others have given you sound advice given the capabilities of your machine and your choice of beans. To lessen the pain of entry, I'd also suggest that you find a nice blend to start with, as they are much less likely to have sour notes. Basically any blend from one of the site sponsors or a local shop around you will be a better starting point that going for single origins. Once you get some confidence, you can give the SOs a try again.
Thanks Jake - I think I am going to try the new blends I picked up this week and bail on the single origin for now to see if that makes a big difference. On a side note, seeing as you're in WI, do you check out Ruby beans much? They're based out of Stevens Point I believe. They've been one of my favorites for pour overs (I get a monthly subscription delivered) but was curious if you've had good luck with their beans and espresso.

User avatar
Jake_G
Team HB
Posts: 4239
Joined: 6 years ago

#7: Post by Jake_G »

madgraf wrote:On a side note, seeing as you're in WI, do you check out Ruby beans much? They're based out of Stevens Point I believe. They've been one of my favorites for pour overs (I get a monthly subscription delivered) but was curious if you've had good luck with their beans and espresso.
I hadn't heard of them till now!

I'll give them a try and see what I think.

Thanks for the tip!
LMWDP #704

Bigt2358
Posts: 2
Joined: 1 year ago

#8: Post by Bigt2358 »

Thanks Jake, one thing I forgot to mention was I used 2 cups and each had 30 - 40 grams. over a 25 second brew. Lol, I don't know if I'm not packing the portafilter enough, because I also had a couple of brews where virtually nothing came out then I increased grind size and had too much.

Definitely a work in progress.

User avatar
Jake_G
Team HB
Posts: 4239
Joined: 6 years ago

#9: Post by Jake_G replying to Bigt2358 »

Oh, snap!

Grind finer!
LMWDP #704

p4lxrich
Posts: 125
Joined: 2 years ago

#10: Post by p4lxrich »

for lighter roast and the extraction is already long and grinding finder will choke, i found it best to go longer ratio 1:2.5 as someone said above as well. i wouldn't grind finer. i would go longer and higher temp, but do one variable at a time.