Making and drinking your own coffee at home can be a lot of fun until you end up dealing with a common problem; the coffee is under-extracted. If you’re using a Breville Barista Express and are dealing with a situation where your coffee is not as extracted as it should be, this can be really frustrating as you waste coffee trying to figure out why your cup is coming out tasting weak and perhaps even sour. So, how do you fix under-extracted coffee brewed with a Breville Barista Express and start making coffee that tastes rich and flavorful again?
Understanding your coffee machine is the first step to fixing any problems that you might be having it. Breville is an Australia-based brand that makes small home appliances, including espresso machines. It was founded in Sydney in 1932 and has become famous all around the world for a range of home appliances including coffee machines, blenders, microwaves, kettles, toasters, and more. Since 2016, Breville has also created Nespresso coffee machines. It sells products to over seventy counties around the world.
The Barista Express coffee machine from Breville allows you to grind coffee beans right before they are extracted for the maximum flavor, along with controlling the precise temperature to ensure that the best possible extraction occurs when brewing your espresso shot. You can also use it for manual milk steaming and frothing, allowing you to get hands-on when it comes to flexing your home barista skills, producing authentic and delicious coffee shop drinks in no time and from the comfort of your own home.
The Breville Barista Express has lots of useful functions, including allowing for precise extraction of the espresso with a digital temperature control that is designed to supply water through the coffee grounds at the perfect temperature. So, if you’re getting under extracted coffee with this machine, what has gone wrong?
How to Fix Under Extracted Coffee
If you’ve been brewing coffee with your Breville Barista Express and are disappointed with how weak it is, the good news is that there are several different things that you can do to try and fix this problem. You might be glad to hear that there is probably nothing wrong with the machine; however, if you have tried all of these fixes and your coffee is still coming through under-extracted, it might be time to think about returning it for a refund or a different machine. To avoid under-extraction the next time you brew coffee with the Barista Express, try these strategies:
Grind the Coffee Finer
When making espresso with the Barista Express, coffee grounds that are too coarse will lead to under-extraction, allowing too much water to get through. No matter how high-quality the beans you choose are, or even if they’ve been roasted on the same day, you’re going to get weak coffee. For the perfect espresso, your beans need to be very finely ground; you’re looking for a granulated sugar-like consistency.
Up the Temperature
Check the settings of your Breville Barista Express to make sure that the temperature of the water is actually right for the coffee. If the water that you are using is too cold, this will lead to the flavors of the coffee not being adequately extracted from the grounds, which will leave you with a drink that basically tastes like coffee-flavored water. However, if your water is too hot, the coffee will extract too quickly and the flavor will be ruined, with a nasty burned taste. The perfect temperature for coffee is between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, if you are using a Breville Barista Express, too much water can cause extraction issues.
Increase the Brew Time
It is possible for you to get the grind size and the water temperature just right, and still end up with a weak and disappointing coffee. If the coffee does not brew for long enough, the water is not going to get the chance to extract and dissolve all the flavors. Again, check your settings to make sure that you have the right Breville Barista Express extraction time, and increase your brew time if necessary. However, don’t brew for too long because that leads to the opposite problem – over-extraction. If your coffee tastes very bitter, this is usually a sign that it’s been brewed for too long.
Reduce the Coffee Grounds
It is important to weigh out the coffee beans that you use accurately before you grind them for your brew to get a Breville Barista Express perfect shot. If you are simply guessing, then chances are that you might be over-estimating how much coffee you need. When too many coffee grounds are packed into the machine, the water won’t be able to get through them and this will lead to them being half-dissolved rather than fully dissolved. As a general rule, stick to one to two tablespoons of coffee to every six ounces of water.
Clean the Machine
If your Breville Barista Express has not been cleaned for some time, there is a chance that this could be what is causing the coffee to taste so disgusting. You should clean and descale your coffee machine fully at least once per month or more often if you live in a hard water area. You will find the instruction for doing this in the handbook that came with your coffee machine.
Check Your Coffee Dates
If you’ve noticed that your coffee is under-extracted recently and you have done nothing to change the settings and your machine is clean, it’s worth checking the dates on your coffee. The roast date and the expiry date are two important ones to look at. If your coffee is old, it might begin to extract differently compared to freshly roasted coffee. Most often it has less sweetness and flavor. This might also happen if you are not storing your coffee beans in an airtight container as their flavor can be impacted by heat, light, and air.
How Espresso Extraction Works
The extraction of espresso from coffee grounds is a balancing act that has the main goal of bringing out all the best flavors from the coffee, without over- or under-extracting it. To understand why your coffee is under-extracted, it’s a good idea to become more familiar with what happens during the extraction process. When the espresso is extracted, the water acts as a solvent, dissolving the fats and acids and extracting the flavor from the coffee beans. Fats and oils in the coffee give the drink its body, while acids cause the sour hints and aroma. The sweetness in your coffee comes from sugar in the beans, which is also dissolved and extracted by the hot water. The final part of the coffee bean to extract is the plant fibers, which give the coffee a touch of bitterness. When pulling an espresso shot or making filter coffee, the main aim is to find the sweet spot where you are left with just the right amount of each flavor from your coffee beans to get a cup of coffee that tastes great.
What is the Difference Between Under-Extraction and Over-Extraction?
Knowing the main differences between under extracted coffee and over extracted espresso will help you figure out what has gone wrong with your coffee if it does not taste great.
Under extracted espresso occurs when the coffee grounds are not extracted for long enough. Not enough flavor is brought out of the coffee, meaning that it is going to be lacking some important components like sweetness, and might be very sour in taste. Any tastes that you do extract from the grounds are going to disappear very quickly. Some common reasons for under-extraction include grinds that are too fine, or too course in the case of espresso, or an insufficient extraction time. Most of the time, espresso will be under-extracted if the shot is pulled too quickly, without enough time allowed for the water to dissolve the oils, fats, and sugars from the coffee beans. Too much coffee, or water that is too cold, can also lead to under-extraction.
On the other hand, over-extraction is the opposite problem. When your espresso shot is over-extracted, too much is extracted from the beans. This will often lead to a bitter flavor since far too much bitterness will be extracted when the plant fibers are dissolved during the extraction process. The wrong grind size, too long an extraction time, and water that is too hot and burns your coffee while passing through can all lead to over-extracted espresso.
What Happens When Espresso is Unevenly Extracted?
When brewing espresso, it’s important to tamp the grounds in the portafilter to make sure that they are evenly distributed. If you do not do this, it will lead to an uneven extraction. When the grounds are not even, this causes water to pass through more grounds than others, causing some of the coffee to be under-extracted and some of it to be over-extracted. This can happen if the grounds are not tamped or if they are tamped unevenly, which will cause excess water to collect on one side, leaving one side extracting more than the other.
There are several adjustments that you can make to ensure that the coffee you make with a Breville Barista Express is extracted correctly, avoiding under extraction, and getting coffee that tastes great.