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Five most common mistakes made by home baristas

Five most common mistakes made by home baristas

Everybody wants that cafe quality coffee at home but sometimes we get in our own way. We’re running through the five most common mistakes made by customers on their home machines and what they can do to solve them. It is our mission to get you making flawless coffee on whatever machine you are making it on.

1. Putting more coffee into the portafilter to make stronger coffee
This is an intuitive step and I can understand why people do it, however it can do more harm than good. Increasing the dose can cause the coffee to clog the group head and drip out in black sludge. This won’t make your coffee stronger, it is just over extracting, leading to a hollow and bitter brew that tastes more like dirty water than coffee. Extracting a double shot of coffee perfectly will give you the strongest tasting coffee, and if you need it stronger, pull another double shot of coffee through your machine and add one or two shots to your coffee. Alternatively you could add less milk to your coffee. 

2. Increasing the run time of your extraction because the coffee is pouring too fast
If your coffee is pouring out too quickly make your grind finer and it will slow it down. When the espresso is pouring from the grouphead it should pour like melted chocolate, if it’s gushing out like water make your grind finer, adversely if it is dripping out of your group head make your grind coarser. However changing the runtime will only make your coffee more watery so don’t do that. Check out our blog on grind size for more information on this.

3. Tamping harder or softer to make the coffee pour slower/ faster
We debunked this in our ‘Tamp That’ blog. Tamping is not going to make a difference to run time. The way to solve issues with coffee running too fast or slow is to adjust your grind size.

4. Adding less ground coffee to your basket to make a weak coffee
Similar to adding more coffee grounds for a stronger espresso, adding less for a weaker espresso is not going to make you a nice beverage. To make yourself a weak coffee pull your double shot of coffee as usual then add only half to your coffee instead of the full double shot. This will mean you're still getting a perfectly extracted and tasty espresso, it’s just less of it.

5. Running a ‘long shot’ to make a black coffee
When making espresso, we should really only be making it one way, which is pulling that double shot at a 1:2 coffee to water ratio. If you want to make a long black, fill up a cup with hot filtered water then add your 2 shots of espresso to the top of it. Pulling an extra long shot of espresso will over extract your coffee leaving you with an overly bitter and bodiless coffee, however when we add our perfectly extracted espresso to the hot filtered water then we still get a well rounded and balanced coffee. 

Hang on, I’m doing everything right and my coffee is still tasting awful.

If your espresso is pouring well and to recipe but you are still getting bitter, burnt tasting coffee out then the most likely cause of your troubles is a dirty machine. Residual coffee grind and oils will sit in your group head adding bitter and unpleasant flavours which is why cleaning is so important. Get yourself some Caffetto coffee machine cleaner and your blind filter for your machine and backflush your group head. A regular machine cleaning will keep your coffee tasting delicious.