What's wrong with my Espresso?

Sometimes an espresso shot just doesn’t come out right. It doesn’t matter if you’ve made it the exact same way a million times, sometimes it might come out bitter or sour, it might be thin and watery. But before you tear your hair out, here are a few little tips we can share, to troubleshoot your espresso shots.


  • Harsh or bitter
    • Ensure your beans aren’t too old and have been stored correctly
    • Check your machine is running on the right temperature
    • The shot speed and colour change of a shot must be accurate, if the extraction is too slow or pulled for too long it will increase bitterness
  • Sourness
    • A shot pulled too fast causes sourness
    • Coffee that is too freshly roasted has a sour taste, leave it to age for a few days (stored properly) to stabilise


  • Bubbly or fast dissipation
    • The CO2 gasses that the coffee produces can affect this. If the beans were roasted too recently, the gasses will cause a lot of bubbles or a quick dissipation of the crema
    • Allow beans to settle and de-gas for a few days and try again
  • No Crema at all
    • This can sometimes be attributed to quick dissipation, so see above first
    • Absolutely no crema at all is often due to stale coffee, check the freshness of your beans by the roast date on the bag
    • Check your storage method, remember it’s gotta be airtight, in a cool, dry place – not near heat or in the fridge
    • Check there’s no soapy or detergent residue on your cups, this sounds quite odd, but we have seen this before


  • Thin espresso
    • Check the roast date of the beans, longer than three weeks ago, it will lack viscosity
    • Check your shot speed, too slow, it will appear thin and oily. A finer grind leads to a slower shot, a coarser grind to a faster shot
    • Check the volume. The end of the espresso shot is signified by the third colour change, if your shot is running past the end of the second colour change, have a look at your volumetric settings
    • Check the temperature and pressure. The temp should sit somewhere between 92-96 degrees celcius. The steam pressure should be between 1-1.15 bars and the pump pressure should be 9 bars (check this while it’s pumping, otherwise it’s just the line pressure)
  • Too slow to run
    • Too fine a grind, and a basket packed too tightly can prevent the water from finding it’s way through the coffee, try a slightly coarser grind or a smaller amount of coffee in the basket
  • Shot channelling
    • When water doesn’t have an even press through the coffee, it will go around the coffee or find an easy path within the puck
    • Try using a bottomless portafilter, so your can see whether the correct tamping technique has been achieved. If you can see random streams of espresso from the bottom of the basket, it’s possible that it wasn’t levelled or dosed evenly
    • Check the amount of coffee you’re using is right for the basket and machine. The puck should be firm with a spongy surface
    • Check that the basket is not wet. The water from the machine will follow any even slightly damp path
    • Check your tamping was level.

Hopefully you can find something that helps you out here, but if it isn’t send us an email at hello@coffeebeansdelivered.com.au and we can see what we can do!


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  • Peter

    I would like to ask why the crema gets fast dissipation and watery and thin eventhogh the bean roasted 10days ago, 94 temp and right brewing ratio also perfect extraction time about 30 to 32 sec ..
    I feel bean doesnt brew correctly from the basket

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