Why Is Espresso Too Acidic [5 Reasons To Solve!]

At times, espresso can have excessive acidity that results in an unpleasant sour or bitter aftertaste, which ruins the taste of great coffee.

First, let’s find out why espresso is too acidic?

The main reasons espresso is too acidic include hard beans, washed coffee and over extracted espresso. Other reasons include wrong grind size and light roasted beans. The solutions involve choosing softer beans, avoiding washed coffee, adjusting the brewing, applying fine grinding and choosing dark roasted beans.

Without stretching much, let’s head into the details. 

Espresso Too Acidic: 5 Reasons & Solutions

why espresso is too acidic
Beans Are Hard Choose Softer Beans
Washed Coffee Avoid Processed Coffee That Are Washed
Espresso Is Over ExtractedAdjust The Brewing Process
Improper Grind SizeApply Fine Grinding Process
Light Roasted BeansChoose Dark Roasted Beans

There are multiple possible reasons for the espresso being too acidic. Still, the good news is that corresponding solutions are also alleviating this problem. 

Reason 1: Beans Are Hard

When preparing espresso, the quality of the beans plays a crucial role in achieving the desired shot. It’s necessary to grind the beans finely and uniformly to extract the desired flavor and aroma. However, the hardness of the beans can adversely affect the espresso’s quality by causing excessive acidity.

Beans grown at high altitudes are more complex, denser in texture, and less porous than their soft bean counterparts. Consequently, more heat and pressure are necessary to extract flavors and oils from within the bean. This results in a prolonged brewing period, leading to an overly acidic taste.

Acidity in coffee can contribute to its complexity and brightness. However, too much acidity can overshadow other flavors and lead to an imbalanced cup of espresso. Moreover, high acidity levels can cause digestive issues for some individuals.

Solution: Choose Softer Beans

Selecting the right beans is crucial for making well-balanced espresso that are not overly acidic. Here are the points to look out for:

  • Choose beans grown in regions such as Ethiopia, Kenya, and some parts of Central America. Here, the altitude is higher, and they generally have a harder texture. 
  • Try to avoid beans grown in low altitude regions. These incldue Brazil, Colombia, and parts of Africa. These conditions tend to have a softer and more porous texture.
  • It’s also important to pay attention to the tasting notes of the beans. Beans with notes of chocolate, caramel, and nuts can help balance the acidity in the coffee. On the other hand, beans with fruity or floral notes tend to be more acidic. As a result, they may not be suitable for individuals who prefer a milder espresso.
  • Always use freshly roasted beans. Stale beans can lose their flavor and acidity, resulting in a dull and unappealing cup of espresso. Opt for beans roasted within the past 2-3 weeks for the best flavor.

Using these factors, craft a smooth, low-acid espresso shot with mastery.

Reason 2: Washed Coffee

The beans’ acidity can significantly affect the flavor of the espresso, and using washed beans can produce an overly acidic taste. 

Washed beans are a coffee bean that undergoes wet method processing. Here the outer layers of the coffee cherry are removed first. Then, the beans are washed with water to eliminate any remaining fruit or pulp. 

This yields a cleaner, brighter flavor profile with a higher acidity than other processing methods. 

Keep in mind that some acidity is desirable in espresso to provide a pleasing, bright flavor. However, an excessive amount can lead to an unpleasant, sour taste.

When washed beans are used in espresso, the high acidity of the beans can be intensified by the brewing process.

In espresso preparation, hot water is forcibly pushed through tightly packed, finely ground coffee at high pressure. Thus, creating a concentrated and flavorful shot. 

However, the high pressure and temperature can cause more of the acids from the coffee to be washed. These include, the malic and citric acids present in washed beans.

Solution: Avoid Processed Coffee That Are Washed

As washed beans tend to be more acidic, opt for other processing methods. For example,natural or honey processed beans that deliver a more balanced flavor profile.

  • When purchasing coffee, it’s essential to check the labels to determine the processing method used. 
  • Natural or honey processed beans, which are dried with fruit and pulp, tend to have a sweeter and less acidic in taste. Thus, making them ideal for those who prefer balanced espresso shots.
  • The brewing technique can also affect the acidity of the espresso. Adjustments can be made to the water temperature to minimize acidity. Use a brewing temperature of 195-205°F (90-96°C) to avoid over-extraction and acidity.
  • Lowering the water temperature or shortening the brewing time can reduce the quantity of acids extracted from the beans.

With these essential points, avoiding overly acidic espresso shots and enjoying a delicious cup of coffee is possible.

Reason 3: Espresso Is Over Extracted

When the water extracts coffee, it dissolves both desirable and undesirable compounds. Over-extraction of coffee results in increased extraction of the unwanted acidic compounds, causing the espresso to taste sour and unpleasant. 

To identify over-extracted coffee, one can look for excessively bitter, sour, or astringent taste with a sharp aftertaste. Slow drip and watery crema may also indicate over-extraction. 

Correct grinding, using the right amount of coffee, and controlling water temperature and pressure are essential to avoid this. Careful monitoring and adjustment can help achieve better quality coffee.

Solution: Adjust The Brewing Process

Several factors must be considered when adjusting the brewing process to prevent an too acidic espresso, and these are: 

  • The amount of coffee used should be balanced, as too much coffee can increase acidity, while too little coffee can result in a weak espresso.
  • Control the water temperature and pressure to avoid over-extraction caused by high water temperature. As stated, the ideal water temperature for espresso extraction is between 195-205°F (90-96°C). 
  • Careful monitoring and adjustment is necessary. Observing the taste and appearance of the espresso is an excellent way to determine whether adjustments are required. 

Proper adjustment of coffee amount, water temperature, and pressure can help improve the quality of the espresso and relieve from acidity. And so, do experiment at home to find the solution. 

Reason 4: Improper Grind Size

Wrong grind size can negatively impact the taste of espresso by affecting the extraction process. When coffee is ground too fine, more acidic compounds can be extracted, resulting in a sour taste. 

If the coffee is ground perfectly, around 0.3 mm, it can cause a sharp aftertaste. In contrast, the espresso can lack flavor if it’s ground too coarse. So, a table salt amount of fine 0.3 mm ground is recommended. However, choosing the right espresso grinder is crucial in this case.

To achieve the perfect balance between flavor and acidity, it’s essential to experiment with different grind sizes and adjust as needed. Finding the appropriate grind size is essential to ensure the desired taste of the espresso.

Solution: Apply Fine Grinding Process

The grind size can be adjusted by experimenting with different settings until the proper taste is achieved. The goal is to find the sweet spot where the flavor is thoroughly extracted without over-extraction. Thus, resulting in a balanced and flavorful espresso.

Also, finely ground espresso prevents the puck from getting stuck to the grouphead

To ensure a balanced and flavorful espresso that is not too acidic, it is essential to follow specific steps when applying a delicate grinding process:

  • Select a high-quality coffee bean with low acidity to minimize acidity in the espresso.
  • Adjust the grinder to a fine grind size to control the extraction process and prevent over-extraction.
  • Use the appropriate amount of coffee per shot to avoid over or under-extraction, which can increase acidity or a weak espresso.
  • Control the water temperature and pressure during brewing to prevent over- and under-extraction.
  • Monitor and adjust the brewing process to achieve the desired taste and appearance of the espresso.

You can successfully produce a balanced and flavorful espresso without excessive acidity if you adhere to these steps correctly. 

Reason 5: Light Roasted Beans

Light Roasted Beans

Light roasted beans may not always be optimal for espresso as they often produce higher acidity. The beans undergo chemical changes during roasting, impacting their acidity and taste. 

Light roasts, which are roasted at lower temperatures and for shorter periods than darker roasts, can be more acidic, resulting in an imbalanced and sharp taste. 

In contrast, darker roasts are roasted at higher temperatures for more extended periods, leading to a more balanced flavor, lower acidity, and a more prosperous and sweeter taste.

Solution: Choose Dark Roasted Beans

When making espresso, choosing the right coffee beans is crucial to ensure a balanced and flavorful taste that is not too acidic. For this reason, dark roasted beans are generally recommended because they have lower acidity levels and produce a fuller-bodied flavor.

Here are the necessary points for the right choice: 

  • To choose the right beans, consider the origin and variety, as coffee beans have distinct flavor profiles. 
  • Beans from South and Central America are generally preferred for espresso due to their milder acidity and balanced taste.
  • When purchasing beans, look for those roasted to a dark level, resulting in lower acidity levels and a fuller flavor. 
  • Check the roast date to ensure freshness, and store the beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from light, heat, and moisture.

You can make a delicious and balanced espresso with lower acidity levels following these tips.

Tips & Trick on Making Healthy Espresso

Espresso is a popular drink worldwide, but some may worry about its impact on their health. Fortunately, you can make your espresso healthier without compromising on taste. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Choose Quality Beans: Pick high-quality organic beans to ensure the best flavor and avoid harmful chemicals.
  • Non-Toxic Espresso Machine: Ensure your espresso machine is non-toxic by opting for stainless steel or ceramic ones and avoiding those with plastic components.
  • Moderate Intake: Drinking too much espresso can be harmful, so limit your intake to 1-2 shots per day and avoid drinking it late at night.
  • Add Nut Milk: Opt for nut milk instead of traditional dairy milk. It’s lower in calories, sugar, and fat and adds a delicious nutty flavor.
  • Skip the Sugar: Avoid adding sugar to your espresso and try using spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg for added flavor without the calories.

And so, coosing quality beans, using a non-toxic machine, drinking in moderation, adding nut milk, and avoiding sugar are all ways to make your espresso a healthier option.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Is it harmful to drink too much acidic espresso?

Frequent consumption of highly acidic espresso may result in acid reflux or heartburn for some individuals. However, occasional consumption is not expected to cause any significant harm.

Can I use additives like baking soda to reduce the acidity of my espresso?

It’s not recommended to use additives like baking soda to reduce the acidity of your espresso. It can alter the flavor profile and create a bitter taste. Instead, try adjusting your brewing parameters or using different coffee beans.

Should I use a specific type of espresso machine to avoid acidity?

No, the type of espresso machine does not affect the acidity of the espresso. However, using a machine with precise temperature control can help you avoid over-extraction and reduce acidity.


Dealing with espresso that is too acidic is not a big deal, but do take care of your health with better choices. Apply all the solutions suggested and see howe everything words for your benefits. 

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