If your espresso has been tasting sour then you are probably wondering why and what you can do to get it to stop tasting sour.
This post will show you a number of reasons that your espresso might be tasting sour and what you can do to make it less sour in the future.
So, why does espresso taste sour? Espresso is supposed to have a rich taste. However, it is not supposed to taste sour. If it tastes sour it could be that the extraction process was run too quickly, the beans were single sourced instead of a blend, they weren’t roasted enough, you pulled at too low of a temperature or the grind wasn’t fine enough.
And, how do I get my espresso to taste less sour? To reduce the sourness try to extract the coffee for between 20-30 seconds, try a different blend of coffee that has a dark roast, pull the coffee at around 201 degrees Fahrenheit, use a finer grind and try using a different dose.
There are actually a number of things that could be contributing to your espresso tasting sour and it will likely take some of trial and error to get it to taste the way that you want it to.
With that being said there are some things that will likely have a larger effect than others and there are some common things, such as to pull it too quickly, that people do that cause their espresso to be sour.
Why your espresso tastes sour
There are a number of ways that you can get your espresso to taste less sour. Below, I will mention a number of the main ones, why they cause your espresso to taste sour and what you can do to get your espresso to taste less sour.
You ran the extraction process too quickly
Often, the cause of the espresso tasting sour is that the extraction process was too short. If the extraction process is too short it will mean that the water will pass through the coffee too quickly and it won’t have the chance to extract the oils from the coffee.
The reason that you might be running the extraction process too quickly could be that you are not using the correct dose in the basket or you are tamping the coffee too lightly.
Here is a video showing you how to tamp the coffee more effectively.
Ideally, you will run the extraction process for between 25 and 30 seconds. To do this try using a finer grind, which will make it more difficult for the water to pass through the coffee, you could also try to use a larger dose.
With that being said be careful not to over-extract the coffee by using a grind that is too fine since that could result in it tasting bitter.
The video below explains how the grind of the coffee can have a large impact on the taste of the espresso.
The beans were single sourced
In recent years, single sourced coffee beans have been becoming more popular with espresso. This is because many baristas have been looking to make their espresso more authentic.
The problem with these single sourced coffee beans that they tend to use is that they come with a much higher level of acidity. This is because coffee blends will often lose a lot of their acidity when they are being processed and roasted.
If the espresso that you tried was using single sourced beans then try switching to using a coffee blend that uses a dark roast type.
You used the wrong type of roast
The reason that your espresso tasted sour could be that you used a light roast. Coffee that has a light roast tends to be more sour tasting. This is because it has a short roasting process which is where a lot of the acidity would normally be roasted away.
If you don’t want your espresso to taste sour then using a darker roast would likely help you to reduce how sour it tastes.
You pulled it at too low of a temperature
The reason that your espresso tasted sour could be that you pulled it at too low of a temperature.
Pulling at too low of a temperature can cause the espresso to taste
In order to get your espresso to taste less sour next time, you can try pulling it at a higher temperature. Generally, you should try to pull the espresso at around 201 degrees Fahrenheit. To ensure that you do this make sure to give the machine a chance to warm up first and be aware that the temperature can be lower if you make multiple espressos in a row.
The grind wasn’t fine enough
It could be the case that the grind you was using was too coarse. If the grind you use is to course then it can result in an under extracted espresso that tastes more sour. This is because a coarse grind will have more space in between the pieces of coffee allowing the water to flow through it more easily.
In order to get your espresso to taste less sour use a finer grind. By doing this you will be able to make avoid under extracting because the finer grind will have less space in between the pieces of coffee causing the water to have a harder time passing through it.
Try a different dose
Using a smaller dose (weight of coffee in the portafilter) could also cause the espresso to taste sour. If you use a smaller dose it could cause the espresso to be under-extracted. This is because there will be less coffee there to resist against the water as it passes through resulting in the water being able to pass through it more easily. This will mean that less of the oil from the coffee will be extracted.
To avoid this happening you could try using a larger dose. By doing this there will be more coffee in the portafilter to resist against the coffee allowing for more of the oils from the coffee to be extracted.
However, there is a limit to how much you can fit into your portafilter so you may want to use the largest dose you can while also trying the other suggestions above as well.
Is espresso supposed to be sour? Espresso is supposed to have a rich taste but it is not supposed to taste sour. If your espresso tastes sour then it would suggest that the coffee was under-extracted.
How much coffee do you use for espresso? If you’re making a single shot espresso then it is generally recommended to use 6-8 grams of coffee and for a double shot 14-16 grams. Here is a video showing you how to eyeball the amount of coffee to use.