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Why Is My Espresso Bitter? [Espresso Facts]

Why is my espresso bitter? Sophisticated coffee lovers look for the best tasting espresso but finding that doesn’t taste quite right is an all too common experience. Much of the problem lies in the extraction process.

Over-extracted and under-extracted espresso can taste very different from varieties that have been properly extracted.

Over-extraction and under-extraction are connected to the grinding process. Grinding the right size of espresso has a significant effect on the taste of your espresso.

In the following sections, I’ll present several ways to avoid bitter espresso in the first place.

Factors to Consider: Why Is My Espresso Bitter?

The grind is a significant process in dealing with espresso. Considered grind as the foundation of how the coffee will taste like.

A too fine grind can create an unpleasantly bitter and woody flavor. This is the reason why so many people describe espresso’s taste as bitter.

  • Grinding beans
  • Under-extraction
  • Over-extraction

Grinding beans is a factor why espresso is bitter. Grinding coffee beans is a delicate process.

Grinding may come to different things, but under-extraction and over-extraction will always be present.

The grinding process is a significant factor in the mistakes that baristas and coffee enthusiasts when making espresso. In short, a bitter-tasting espresso will result if the grinding process is wrong.

Here Are The Reasons Why Espresso Taste Bitter

Here’s the bottom line: if your espresso tastes bitter, then something has gone wrong. It is difficult to make a balanced flavor of espresso.

There are two ways of identifying the taste of espresso coffee. It is either bitter or salty.

When a shot of espresso tastes unpleasant, it’s usually because the shot is either too bitter or too salty.

However, espresso should taste like a balanced mixture of bitter and salty. The taste of espresso is a mix of bitter and salty. In other words, brewing a balanced shot of espresso can be a difficult thing to do.

The manual espresso machine and the bean grinder are both essential in making an espresso coffee.

It is crucial also because the air will affect the texture, pressure, and evenness while it was brewed.

The following section will help provide an answer to ‘Why does my espresso taste bitter?’

Here are the factors you probably need to address:

  • Change of coffee grind size
  • Adjust coffee dose
  • Clean the system
  • Extraction

Here are detailed explanations of why your espresso tastes bitter.

Understanding these explanations will go a long way toward improving the taste of your coffee.

Change of Coffee Grind Size

If your espresso tastes bitter, you may need to change the size of your grind. Here are the things you need to know:

  • If the shot pulls its liquid too slowly or it tastes over-extracted, increase the grind size to improve it. This will allow the water to flow more easily between the grounds. Increase the size of the grind to pull the shot faster, this will give ease and less time to brew a shot.
  • If the shot pulls its liquid too fast or tastes under-extracted, lessen the size of the grind. This will take a longer time for the liquid to flow between the grounds. The shots will cause to pull more slowly. The more water to pull, the shot is better and takes more extraction.

If these steps don’t take effect for the coffee to have a better taste, do this next step.

Le French Press

Fine, we don’t need the Franglais here, but still. THE French Press Method is about as simple as the AeroPress.

Unfortunately, a French Press lacks the pressure necessary for a truly perfect shot espresso, but it will do in a pinch.

Start with a French Press, hot water (~200 degrees), and two tablespoons of ground coffee.

After that, here are the complexities involved in making (sort of) espresso using Le French Press:

  1. Place the ground coffee into the French Press
  2. Add 2-3 oz of hot water over the grounds
  3. Stir this mix together for five seconds, making sure to use the French style of stirring
  4. Pour the rest of the water in and stir again
  5. Wait 4-5 minutes, depending on how tired you are
  6. Push the plunger down very slowly
  7. Drink immediately, depending on how tired you are 

Voila, bon appetit, etc.

Adjust the Coffee Dose

One of the best ways to adjust the flavor of an espresso shot is by changing the coffee dose.

It doesn’t need to have a perfect grind size.

The final yield of your shot can be the best way of sorting out the flavor of espresso coffee.

  • Look for the dose of espresso shot if too concentrated or if it tastes under-extracted. The longer time for a shot to pull the yield, it allows the water to contact the ground, this process will lead to more extraction.
  • The final shot of espresso will also decrease its concentration. Make sure to reduce the final yield of your shot if your shot is weak or it tastes over-extracted

Clean Everything

Cleaning is one of the most important. The old grounds and oils in the portafilter and group head will make a change on the aroma and flavor of the espresso.

That is the reason why cleaning espresso machines every after use is essential to keep the taste, aroma, flavor, and texture of espresso fresh.

  • Rinse the portafilter every after a single shot. Get the portafilter and make sure to remove the grounds by rinsing it from flowing water to remove any stuck specks of dirt and grounds.
  • Cleaning all throughout the machine is essential. After used on a whole day, the pipes, as well as the entire system, must be cleaned.


Espresso coffee needs about 10 bars of pressure to remove all the oils inside the machine.

The extraction of coffee oils is very important. The extraction temperature is another cost of the change in the taste of espresso.

The extraction needs enough heat that requires about 94 degrees C. Adjust the broiler thermostat or give the espresso machine the right amount of temperature.

The Upshot

Hopefully, you now understand the various ways that espresso can taste bitter. The different factors affecting its substance and flavor play a significant role in the quality of the final product.

The extraction is vital to the taste of espresso coffee. The grinding process is also important because it contributes significantly to how a batch of espresso tastes.

This article has provided a summary of what you need to know about why espresso sometimes tastes bitter.

It also explains the steps you can take to brew a better coffee.

To sum up, you now have an answer to the question ‘Why does my espresso taste bitter?’