If your espresso feels like they have running shoes on, then we have to make some adjustments. It can surely be frustrating trying to figure where to start. The first thing you want to consider is the machine you are using. If you have something that is steam powered, it will be more difficult to get a lot of crema because of the water temperature. If your machine is a manual lever, the speed may not be consistent, so pay attention to that. Now that we got that out of the way, there are 4 things you should look when your espresso shots are running marathons: The grind, the tamping pressure, the amount of coffee and is your machine clean.
The Grind. Each espresso machine is unique. As you use yours more, you begin to understand which grind setting you need to use to get the right extraction. If your shot is pulling to fast, that means that your grind is too coarse, and the water doesn’t have enough time to extract goodness of the beans. Thus look at using a finer grind (refer to your grinder) and then pull another shot and adjust until the flow is much more smooth.
Tamping? When tamping down your espresso shot, the general rule is to apply 30 lbs of pressure to the grinds in the porta-filter (this is that nice silver thing where the grinds go). Let’s be honest, who knows what exactly 30 lbs is? You are going to have to feel around a bit to see what that feels like, and this specifically is practice, practice and you know what else, practice. My issue when I started out tamping was that I was tamping to hard, thus a slower pouring shot. Here are a few things to help you out. First take tamping arm and make it approx. 90 degrees, rest the porta-filter on the counter and press down. Some also have tried tamping lightly, about 5 lbs, to make things event and then another tamp of about 27-30 lbs. This should help. All else fails, you can buy a calibrated coffee tamper.
How much coffee is in there? The amount of espresso grinds you put in will change how the shot pours. Too little and it’s off to the races, too much and paint may dry faster. General rule is 14-18 grams depending on the grind and the coffee. Now don’t go running off to get a scale just yet. Your porta filter should be filled to at least a little more than ½ of the capacity tamped to start. Then add or remove the amount of grinds as you figure out what is the right amount.
Is your machine clean? One of the basic things to always check is to see if your machine is clean. A dirty machine can chance how much or how consistent the water pressure is along with many other issues. Check your manufacture’s instructions on how to and how often should you clean your machine.
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