Nobody wakes up in the morning and decides that they want a burnt tasting coffee, but it can happen, even if you have a super fantastic machine. So how to fix it? Let’s take a look!
What to look for
The first thing you want to check is that your coffee is actually burnt, and not bitter because bitter coffee has different solutions. To identify and fix bitter coffee, head over to that blog here!
To identify burnt coffee, the first thing to look for is how it pours. If it slowly drips for almost the entirety of the shot, and you only get a very small volume of coffee, even after 45 seconds, it is most likely burnt. Another key characteristic is that the espresso itself will be really dark/black. After the shot, you can check your basket. A soggy and sloppy puck is another sign of a burnt coffee. Check out the photo below for a reference! See how it’s not even a pour, it’s just dripping!
The main reason for your espresso or coffee tasting burnt is that it is literally being burnt. This can happen in the roasting stage when a dark roast is trying to be achieved but has gone past that stage and is burnt.
Another way your coffee can be burnt is by over-extracting it. This happens when the hot water is flowing through the grinds too slowly and essentially cooks the grinds and the portafilter, which results in a harsh and burnt tasting espresso.
You should also make sure that your coffee grind isn’t too fine, that you aren’t overfilling the basket, that you aren’t tamping the coffee too much or too harshly and, that your milk isn’t being burnt (which will taste thin and too sweet).
To remedy a burnt tasting espresso shot, first make sure your coffee beans are high-quality, especially if you’re getting dark roast. Make sure that your coffee grinds have been ground correctly. If you notice it’s too fine, adjust your grinder to be slightly coarser. This will help the water to seep through the grind more evenly without too much resistance, and it won’t overcook the coffee. Remember also to not over-fill the basket, that you aren’t tamping too much and if it’s not the coffee that’s making the coffee taste burnt, check the milk!