How to improve the flavour of your home espresso

Everyone has an idea in their mind of how they want their coffee to taste when they make an espresso at home. Having a standard in your mind and then achieving that ideal at home can sometimes seem worlds apart.

One of our goals at White Horse Coffee is to help you get closer to your ideal. So in this short article I will help explain some simple scenarios you may be experiencing, and then how to make your coffee taste more like the way you want.

In this article I am assuming that you’re using fresh roasted coffee that is no more than two weeks old, and that you are grinding on demand rather than using pre-ground coffee.

With that in mind, here are two scenarios you may have experienced:

Scenario 1

The taste of the coffee is weird, hard to articulate the flavours, possibly semi herbal and a little bitter.

For the purpose of this example your coffee is currently being extracted like this. 

  • 24g in (ground coffee in the basket)
  • 50g of coffee out (extracted coffee into your cup, known as the yield)
  • Drawn in 30 seconds

If this is not exactly how you are currently extracting, that’s ok, just follow the logic of this article and it will make sense.

Three suggestions to alter the flavour

1. Reduce the coffee in

This approach will lower the strength of coffee, making what is available less intense and potentially more palatable.

Here is a suggested recipe:

  • 22g to 23g in (yes just 1g can make a difference)
  • 50g out
  • drawn in 30 seconds

2. Increase the coffee out (extraction yield)

Extraction yield is the amount of coffee you extract into your cup.

By increasing the amount of water drawn through the coffee we are further diluting the coffee and therefore hopefully making it more to your taste. Once again if you are brewing your coffee 24g in, 50g out in 30 seconds and you are unhappy with the results then try this recipe: 

  • 24g in
  • 55-60g out
  • drawn in 30 – 35 seconds

3. Alter the grind

After exploring the effects of reducing the coffee in and increasing the coffee out, you could try playing with the grind.

If the coffee is too intense a reasonable action would be to grind the coffee coarser in order to draw less flavor from the coffee. Even 1 notch on the grinder will have a dramatic effect on extraction and flavor. Aim to shorten the extraction time by 2 seconds in order to see a noticeable effect.

Here is the recipe:

  • 24g in
  • 50g out
  • in 26 – 28 seconds.

Scenario 2

My coffee isn’t as syrupy as I’d like, the body is light and thin, and the honeyed character that I associate with coffee is lacking.

It is currently being extracted like this: 24g in, 50g out, drawn in 30 seconds

Suggestions to alter the flavour

1. Reduce the coffee out

By limiting the water drawn through the coffee we will increase strength. By doing so the characters of the coffee will be more dominant and the syrupy, sweet, rich flavors will shine through more.

Your interpretation and assessment of the coffee is your only limitation. I would recommend these possible recipes as suggestions to increase low viscosity (syrupy thickness) and body in your coffee brewing:

  • 24g in / 35g out / in 30-35 secs: a very short espresso, actually brewed in ristretto strength parameters.
  • 22g in / 35g out / in 30-35 secs: same as above, brewed in ristretto parameters.
  • 24g in / 12-15g out / in 18-24 secs: classic ristretto, intense and very short.

We’re here to help

These are some simple scenarios people face when brewing espresso coffee. I hope the solutions I’ve suggested help in achieving the flavours you’re seeking.

If you have an experience like this, and you need a little more guidance I can try to help you work through it via email. Email me here and I will get back to you ASAP. 

Get the gear

In this article we mention weighing your coffee. We use a simple $25 scale that you can get here. And you can get other brewing gear here as well.

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