Use The Right Grind For Less Bitter Espresso

Giorgio Milos, master barista for Italian espresso giant illy, has spent a lot of time drinking overly strong, too bitter and otherwise bad espresso. His main complaint? Espresso made in restaurants, and at home, needs a better grind.

Photo by Maschinenraum.

Milos has quite a laundry list of complaints about how his beloved espresso is treated in coffeehouses, and his post at The Atlantic's Food Channel reads a bit like, well, an elitist rant. But he eventually gets down to basics in what can fix the taste of espresso, wherever it's made:

An espresso, a real one, requires seven to eight grams of freshly ground coffee roasted two to three days in advance, or preserved using pressurization. The water can't be too soft, and must not exceed 200 degrees F to avoid burning, nor be lower than 190 F in order to extract all the best aromatic components.

The grind is also fundamental. A too-fine grind can create burnt coffee and extract unpleasantly bitter and woody flavors. This is why so many people describe espresso's taste as "bitter." An overly coarse grind doesn't permit full extraction of certain key elements. The proper, medium grind permits extraction of one ounce of aromatic black liquid in 25 to 30 seconds, the ideal amount of time.

What's been your own secret for better espresso, whether made on the stove or in a specialty machine?

A Winning Formula for Traditional Espresso [The Atlantic]


    This image looks like the espresso is under extracted, which shouldn't be bitter, just weak.

    Best tip is to USE FRESH BEANS from a cafe that roasts their own beans. Supermarket beans are awful.

    In Brisbane try BlackStar, Cup, Campos, Venezianos or Brothers. See JoshR's award winning Google Map for best coffee in Brisbane

      Thanks for a superb map. Been back in Bris a while and this is just what was needed.

      Many thanks

      Aw Michael, no Merlo?

    My pet peeve is cafes that put WAY too much water through the coffee (40-50ml is the maximum volume that a single shot of espresso should contain) and if that wasn't bad enough, they wreck it even further by drowning a "cappuccino" with 200ml of milk.

    A proper cappuccino should be one shot of espresso, topped with steamed milk froth, and a SMALL amount of milk. Why don't cafes get this??? I thought all the "baristas" were supposed to have been trained to make coffees properly...If I wanted a latte, (coffee and loads of milk) I'd ask for it.

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