Do you think your espresso just tastes too sour? We’ll tell you the reasons why this may be and give you solutions on how you can find a solution for the unpleasant acidity in espresso.
Is espresso too sour?
Properly preparing espresso is a science in itself. There is hardly any other drink that is less forgiving of mistakes than making espresso. A few small things wrong during the preparation and the espresso tastes inedibly sour. That is why we have also written a comprehensive espresso guide. The challenge in preparing espresso is to achieve a pleasant and harmonious balance of acidity and bitterness. Too strong an acid in the espresso is, therefore, likely to cause you to feel uncomfortable. There are various adjusting screws you can turn to minimize the acidity in the espresso.
The brewing temperature has a decisive influence on the taste of the espresso. If the brewing temperature is too low (below 85 ° Celsius), the espresso will taste watery and sour because not all of the aromas could be removed from the ground coffee. The brewing temperature for espresso should ideally be between 88 ° Celsius and 94 ° Celsius. If you have an espresso machine with PID control, you can turn up the brewing temperature accordingly. You can find a product and price overview of espresso machines with PID control at amazon.com, e.g. the Bezzera Unica PID or the Quick Mill 0995 P VETRANO
Useful barista accessories
Do you want to take the preparation of coffee at home to another level? Then be sure to take a look at our recommendations for useful barista accessories .
Grind & brew time
Probably the most common cause of acidic espresso is the wrong grind. If the grind is too coarse to prepare espresso, the espresso will run through the sieve too quickly. The water has very little contact surface with the coffee grounds. As a result, the brewing time is also relatively short.
It is important to know in this context that acids are almost completely dissolved at the beginning of a brewing process. If the espresso runs through too quickly, only the acid passes into the water, while all other important ingredients are not extracted at all. In specialist circles one speaks of an under-extraction. Only one thing helps here: You have to set the grind of your espresso grinder finer.
We also advise you to use a stopwatch to measure the time you dispense espresso. Ideally, the duration of the cover should be approx. 25 – 35 seconds. We can recommend the Hario VST-2000B kitchen scale with timer.
Dose/amount of coffee grounds
If the amount of coffee used in the espresso extraction is too high, the proportion of acids is also higher than with a lower dose. Here we recommend that you use a digital scale that measures to an accuracy of 0.1 grams to weigh the amount of ground coffee and the amount of coffee in the cup. You can use scales to determine the brewing ratio (“brew ration”).
We usually prepare our espresso in a brewing ratio of 1: 2 (by the way, this is also the specification of the SCAE, the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe). For every gram of ground coffee, two grams of espresso is extracted, so 32 grams of espresso should be extracted from 16 grams of ground coffee. With this default, you can get started first. If the espresso tastes too sour with a brewing of 1: 2, you have to let the espresso be extracted longer in the direction of brewing of 1: 2.5 (you then have to extract 40 grams of espresso from 16 grams of ground coffee).
Acid breaks down during the roasting process when roasting green coffee. The longer it takes to roast, the darker the beans look and the fewer acids remain in the coffee bean. Lighter roasts inevitably have more acids than darker roasts.
In terms of taste, fruity aromas and pleasant acids are the focus of light Arabica roasts based on the Scandinavian model. When properly prepared, this acid, in combination with all other ingredients, can give a harmonious taste. However, if you find these acids unpleasant, then we advise you to use darker espresso roasts.
There are coffee beans that are “shock-roasted” in industrial roasting systems using the hot air process (hot air at temperatures of 550 – 600 ° C) and in a short time (3 – 4 minutes). The disadvantage of this process is that the roasting process in the beans is not even. The high temperatures ensure that the beans are roasted dark on the outside, but due to the short roasting time, the roasting process in the core of the bean has not yet taken place.
The consequence is that the aggressive irritant acids such as chlorogenic acids in the bean are not broken down and remain almost completely in the bean. These acids are released when the coffee is brewed, which can result in a sour taste.
Our tip: Buy espresso beans that have been roasted using the gentle drum roasting process. Here the beans are also roasted in the core and the acids are gradually broken down through the longer roasting.
A selection of good coffee beans
Here you will find a selection of good beans that we have tested and for which we can give a clear recommendation.
Espresso consists of around 90% water. If the water used is too acidic (pH value less than 7), the drink will also taste acidic. You can check the pH value of your water using the pH value indicator test strips. These test strips are inexpensive. You can get 160 pieces at amazon.com for $ 3.
Alternatively, you can go to the website of your drinking water supplier and check the pH value.
We generally recommend that you filter the tap water for the preparation of coffee and espresso with a standard water filter, e.g. with a table water filter from BRITA ( you can find the product and price overview at amazon.com )
My espresso is too sour – summary
Acid is felt on the sides of the tongue. Here are the reasons why your espresso may taste too sour:
- The beans were ground too coarsely.
- The extraction time/processing time was too short.
- The brewing temperature was too low (below 88 ° Celsius).
- The water used was too soft or too acidic (pH value <7).
- Unpleasant acids could not be broken down during the roasting process.
- The beans used were roasted too lightly.
Too strong an acid in the espresso can taste unpleasant. Hopefully, with the tips above, you will get the problem under control. However, there is one thing that you should not ignore when it comes to the whole topic: Many specialty roasting plants roast green coffee beans a little lighter and thus deliberately allow a certain amount of acids in the coffee/espresso. Acidity brings espresso to life and ensures that fruity flavors emerge. To sum up, Acid is like the salt in the soup.