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Three Signs That Your Coffee is Under Extracted

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Do you want to know how to make your coffee better? Let me introduce you to the basics and techniques of coffee extraction. The most important but least well-known component of coffee brewing is extraction.

Many coffee drinkers don’t know what extraction is. However, if you want to make the best coffee possible, you must understand what extraction is and how it works.



Here’s a brief primer on how extraction works

Extraction is more than a part of coffee brewing. It is coffee-brewing.

The water extracts the coffee beans from the grounds and then dissolves them. This is how you get brown, liquid-coloured coffee.

The water begins to extract acids and sugars within the first few minutes of brewing. It then pulls out dissolved oils and solids. Then, it adds bitter compounds to round out the flavour.

balanced extract is rich in flavours, crisp with balanced acidity and pleasantly aromatic. It also has a hint of bitterness to complete the flavour profile.

This is the result of coffee that hasn’t reached the sweet spot of flavour and balance. This is what happens when water can’t extract enough from the ground.

Extraction is not like a light switch; you can flip on and off. It is a slow, long process. It can be quite obvious if the under-extracted is not visible.

Let me show you how to spot the signs of under extraction and make sure you get the right adjustments you need to brew better tasting, balanced coffee.

Overpowering Sourness

It is easy to misunderstand acidity in coffee. Acidic coffee is a hallmark of the best coffees in the world.

When balanced, acids add life and zing to coffee flavours. Complex experiences can be created by adding acid to enhance and compliment flavours. You can also get them with unique flavours like orange, green apple, and strawberry.

However, this isn’t the type of acidity that we’re referring to.

This is coffee that is too tangy and sometimes bitter. This is acidity that’s not controlled.

Sometimes, under-extracted coffee can leave a biting edge on your tongue. It can make your lips pucker like sour candy if it gets really bad.

One time, I had an espresso shot that burned my throat because it was too weakly extracted. It was so bitter and intense, and it made my eyes water.

Sour coffee is coffee with all the usual acids but no other balance. It is not “overly acidic”, but it does have something to balance them out, so they are pleasant and balanced.

Thin Flavor

The delicious flavours of under-extracted coffee have not yet been extracted. Instead of being dissolved in the water, most of the sugars, oils and bitter notes were retained in the ground.

This not only causes unpleasant sourness but also a loss of flavour. Under extracted coffees taste incomplete, unfinished. It’s impossible to get the full flavour of the coffee.

This is not to be confused with the lifeless, dull taste of coffee that has been over-extracted. This can be described as boring and dead, but it is more underdeveloped.

It’s still possible to extract it, but not completely. Unchecked acids can shock any object back to life. It is just thin and incomplete.


Wait, saltiness? Salty coffee??

Although it sounds strange, it is true.

Particularly under-extracted coffee can produce a salty taste that comes from the sourness. Although it doesn’t taste exactly like table salt, it is close.

When I first started drinking coffee, I thought I smelled salty in the under-extracted coffee. But, it was most likely just me. After training as a barista and being taught by more experienced coffee drinkers, I realized that it wasn’t just me.

The saltiness in coffee that has been under-extracted is a real thing.

Common Mistakes that Lead to Coffee That Is Too Extracted

Many brewing errors can lead to under extraction.

Let me show you how to identify them and make the necessary adjustments to make better coffee.

Don’t brew your coffee for too long. You’ll get under-extracted coffee if you don’t allow the water to extract the correct amount of oils, acids, sugars and other nutrients from the ground. These acids will not be balanced by any other substance, leading to sourness.


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