A Guide to DIY Espresso Extraction Tasting

  • Dive into an experiment to taste coffee extractions side by side.
  • Learn how different extractions affect the flavor of espresso.
  • Use your own coffee and equipment for the most relevant results.
  • Follow a straightforward method for diluting and tasting espressos.
  • Develop your palate by identifying flavors in various extractions.

If you’re keen on understanding how different extractions impact the flavor of your espresso, this simple experiment is just what you need. It’s designed for anyone with access to coffee, a grinder, scales, and an espresso machine.

Begin by preparing your usual espresso recipe. This will serve as your baseline. If you’re not familiar with espresso recipes, you’ll need to measure your dose (coffee weight in the portafilter) and yield (weight of liquid espresso). No need to worry about shot times for this experiment. Your goal is to make seven espressos with the same dose but different yields, adjusting by 4 grams above and below your usual yield.

Once you have your seven espressos, it’s time to level the playing field by diluting them to the same strength. The longest shot will be the weakest and will need the least water, while the shortest, strongest shot will need the most water. This ensures all espressos have similar strengths but different extraction levels.

With your espressos adjusted to comparable strengths, you’re ready to taste. Divide them into categories: aggressively under-extracted, mildly under-extracted, correctly extracted, mildly over-extracted, and aggressively over-extracted. Taste each one and jot down your impressions, focusing on flavor, sweetness, acidity, and balance rather than mouthfeel and body.

Running this experiment will help you tune in to the taste differences in espresso extractions. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at identifying and correcting faults in your coffee, enhancing your palate development.

This experiment provides invaluable insights into espresso extraction, helping you become more adept at recognizing and adjusting flavors.