Unraveling the Mystery: How to Identify Under-Extracted Coffee and Improve Your Brew

3 min read 3 Comments

Unraveling the Mystery: How to Identify Under-Extracted Coffee and Improve Your Brew

The journey to brewing the perfect cup of coffee can be both fascinating and frustrating, with numerous factors affecting the final result.

One of the most common problems encountered by coffee enthusiasts is under-extraction. T

his phenomenon can significantly impact the taste and overall experience of your coffee.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore how to identify under-extracted coffee and offer tips to improve your brewing technique, ensuring that your coffee is always flavorful and well-balanced.


What is Under-Extraction?

Coffee extraction is the process of dissolving the soluble flavours and compounds from coffee grounds into water.

An ideal extraction will achieve a harmonious balance of flavours, resulting in a satisfying cup. Under-extraction occurs when not enough of these flavours are dissolved, leaving your coffee tasting weak, sour, and lacking complexity.

By understanding the signs of under-extraction, you can make adjustments to your brewing process and avoid the pitfalls of an unsatisfactory brew.


Signs of Under-Extracted Coffee:

  1. Sour Taste: One of the most telling indicators of under-extracted coffee is a distinct sourness.

    This is caused by insufficient extraction of acidic compounds, which are typically the first to be dissolved during the brewing process.

    An under-extracted coffee may also have an unpleasant, almost vinegar-like taste.

  2. Weak Flavour: Under-extracted coffee will often taste weak and diluted, lacking the full-bodied flavour that characterises a well-extracted brew.

    You might find that your coffee tastes watery or thin, leaving you unsatisfied.

  3. Lack of Complexity: A well-extracted coffee will exhibit a range of flavours, from fruity and acidic to nutty and sweet.

    In contrast, an under-extracted coffee will have a one-dimensional, simplistic taste profile, making it less enjoyable to drink.

  4. Quick Finish: A properly extracted coffee will leave a pleasant, lingering aftertaste, with flavours that continue to develop on your palate.

    Under-extracted coffee, on the other hand, will have a short, unremarkable finish, leaving little impression on your taste buds.

  5. Light-Colored Crema (for espresso): When pulling an espresso shot, under-extraction can be identified by a light-colored, thin, and quickly dissipating crema.

    This contrasts with the rich, golden-brown crema that typifies a well-extracted shot.


Now that you know how to identify under-extracted coffee, learn how to fix the issue with our blog Advanaced Espresso Techniques With Fox Coffee



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3 Responses


May 24, 2023

@Lynne & Ron.

Thanks for your questions .

The answer to both of you is: It is a dose, yield and time brewing issue.

We recommend a 1:2 ratio of dry coffee to an espresso output in 25-30 sec of brew time.

We aim for the dry coffee in your portafilter (coffee handle) to be 16-20gm (depending on the size of your basket) and then aim for the espresso weight to be 32-40grams. Just grab some home scales and weight the grind before brewing and espresso after brewing.

Weak coffee is usually a strength problem – it doesn’t ’push through the milk enough. This requires you to either UP your dose and therefor upping your espresso yield, so there is literally more espresso in your cup to cut through the milk.

Make sure your brew time is in the 25-30 sec range. This will require you to grind FINER to slow down the pour rate, or grind COURSER to speed it up.

I hope this help!


Lynne Millynn
Lynne Millynn

May 24, 2023

So… how does one extract the correctly to get the full bodied result🤔
I have a VBM Italian coffee machine & I make a soy latte every morning. Generally I’m pretty happy. I do strive for perfection on the milk but I’m still quite unsure about the perfect Crema 🤔 I have a separate breville grinder
Any hints I may manage?
I understand it’s complex, I’d probably have to do a course! Cheers, Lynne

Ron Freuer
Ron Freuer

May 24, 2023

Hi Thank you for your blog on under extracted coffee. Describes most coffees I buy when out. Can you please tell me what is the best amount of grind (weight) and tne time of a good extraction. You have probably covered this in a previous blog. Many coffees I buy have a very pail crema colour and if its a latte which is my preferred style the coffee is very light in colour and you know even before you taste it its not going to be good.

Thanks for your time



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