A sour & bitter espresso..

_kaj_

New member
Oct 24, 2010
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I'm not new to drinking coffee, but am a newbie when it comes to understanding, exploring etc. With that out of the way, I'd like to get some opinions / thoughts.

I was visiting the city of Busan in SE South Korea (where I live now) and there's a famous cafe I went to with my gf.

Ordered an espresso - figured it was the best way to have an idea of what their coffee tastes like.

Took a sip, and cringed, made faces and gulped some water. IT WAS SO BITTER AND SOUR! What gives? Is this "normal"? I did see that they roast their own coffee, but from my experience, most cafes that roast their own coffee here in South Korea, as of now, do a pretty crappy job of it. I've had bitter, sour, burnt tasting coffee at almost every cafe that has roasted their own coffee, mostly in Seoul. (Do understand that coffee/cafe culture has TAKEN off exponentially here in the last 2 years. Cafes springing up every 500 meters, and often times chain cafes, both American and domestic, almost one on top of another).

Thoughts? Opinions? Are MY taste buds to blame?

Thanks!

_kaj_
 

shadow745

Active member
Aug 15, 2005
1,605
9
Central North Carolina
There are natural compounds in coffee that result in bitterness (caffeine in particular), but a properly extracted shot prepared with properly roasted/fresh beans should be smooth, bold and have little to no bitterness/harsh bite. In other words, the bitterness can be masked by other flavor compounds if all falls into place. There are so many variables in espresso extraction that can alter the taste. But espresso shouldn't be harsh, excessively bitter, sour, etc. Later!
 
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_kaj_

New member
Oct 24, 2010
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shadow745 said:
There are natural compounds in coffee that result in bitterness (caffeine in particular), but a properly extracted shot prepared with properly roasted/fresh beans should be smooth, bold and have little to no bitterness/harsh bite. In other words, the bitterness can be masked by other flavor compounds if all falls into place. There are so many variables in espresso extraction that can alter the taste. But espresso shouldn't be harsh, excessively bitter, sour, etc. Later!

now on to find out what a "properly extracted shot" means.

it was just really strange that it was so sour/bitter. unreal.
 

shadow745

Active member
Aug 15, 2005
1,605
9
Central North Carolina
Properly extracted means everything falls into place. Water temperature being in the 198-202 range (on average for most coffees), right pressure on the puck (8-9 bars max) and having proper flow rate/volume in a decent time frame. I'm not one for measuring time or volume. Might be fine to get you in the ballpark, but fine tuning should be done until the taste/texture is what YOU want.

If your grounds are too coarse, not tamped quite hard enough or the dose is too low the water will flow too fast leading to underextraction. This meaning not enough solubles were extracted from the puck leading to a thin, watery shot with little flavor. If the grounds are too fine, tamped too firmly or too high on the dose the flow will be too slow and this will lead to overextraction. Meaning too many solubles were extracted from the puck leading to harshness, bitterness, etc. You simply have to find the sweet spot to get what you like. Then repeat this day after day as the beans age, temperature/humidity change, etc.... Later!
 
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