How To Fix Under Extracted Coffee?

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Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. It’s easy to make, and there are so many different types! But what happens when you put too much coffee in your cup? The result is an under-extracted or weak-tasting brew. If you’re interested in learning how to fix under extracted coffee at home, read on!

What Is “Under Extracted” Coffee?

What is under-extracted coffee, and how to identify it? One easy way to identify under extraction is by the color and overall appearance of your brewed coffee. The under-extracted one will look much lighter than its properly brewed counterpart, with a transparent and duller appearance. 

Meanwhile, when coffee is correctly brewed, it should have an oil sheen to it from the naturally occurring fats in ground beans. This type of brew will appear mostly opaque and dark brown or black color when viewed through a cup saucer. 

Put aside the fact that the appearances of coffee can vary based on the type and roast that you used. Yet, you can never be mistaken for an under-rated one with a well-brewed one regarding the flavor. 

In particular, the taste of an under-extracted coffee is usually “thin” and lacking in flavor, which you can easily spot in those cups of coffee purchased from cheap hotels and gas stations. If you’ve got a flat, thin coffee with an unpleasantly sour taste, then chances are it’s not properly extracted!

What Causes Under Extracted Coffee?

Coffee is somewhat of a science, just like baking and cooking. It requires all sorts of different ingredients to make a delicious cup o’ Joe! There are two main causes for improperly extracted coffee:

Too Much Water

Accumulating too much water in your coffee grounds will cause it to over-extract. Although some people define this act as the coffee is “over-extracted,” utilizing more than what’s needed usually refers to pouring the water too fast that does not leave enough time for steeping in the grounds.

You might not believe it, but high water doesn’t always equal over-extraction. This all depends on what kind of brewing process you use!

Not Enough Water

Not enough water seems to cover the definition of under extraction. 

Although you have got the right amount for the ground, the lack of water during the process can lead to a weak cup of coffee due to the improper extraction or possibly an overly strong one (depending on your brewer settings). 

Ever wonder why coffee tastes better the longer you leave it? It’s because the longer the water comes into contact with the ground, the more flavorful oils are extracted. This also means that if the coffee pot is removed from the burner before the brewing is finished, you will get a super thick taste and extremely concentrated coffee!

The water in the coffee will dilute as it enters your cup, so you may experience a stronger brew at first and then become less intense with time.

The coffee’s concentration goes down while its overall volume increases.

It is important to understand that under extraction can be caused by many things, such as the water ratio vs coffee ground, or even your brewing method!

Under extract is the most common mistake that people make when making coffee with a percolator. This machine lets the water run over the coffee grounds, which sucks up some liquid before falling back down into a basin or cup for you to enjoy! 

Yet, it’s also easy enough to over-extract as well– this often happens because you run the machine for too long, which you will end up having more espresso than what was desired in the cups (espresso being concentrated).

Can You Use Under Extracted Coffee?

A lot of people try their best to make a perfect cup that they might find themselves stuck amongst those imperfect under-extracted espressos.  If you have the same issue, luckily, we’ve some good solutions for you to deal with those cups without the need of tossing them away!

  • Run half the amount of water you normally do over your beans, and they should be fine.
  • Freeze the coffee and use them later for your iced coffee. 
  • Consume the coffee in blended beverages
  • Add some sugar, cream, and coffee creamer for better taste. 
  • Use the coffee to reduce the level of sweetness in a cup of sweet coffee.

How To Fix Under Extracted Coffee?

You might be experiencing an unfortunate coffee tonic that’s causing your machine and taste buds to suffer. Luckily, there are many ways for you to combat this problem:

Try A Finer Grind

You should lower the fineness of your grounds to a finer grind for pour-over brewing. This will allow more surface area in contact with water, which can lead to better extraction and flavor release from espresso machines if done correctly- so don’t forget about that!

The sour taste is usually an indication that the ground coffee was not fully extracted. This means that you might have to adjust your grind size accordingly and experiment with different strengths/volumes until it tastes right for you! 

On the other hand, a bitter taste indicates over-extracted espresso as a result of grinding too coarsely. You might need to opt for grinding finer in this case.

Brew Hotter

Why is it so important to make sure the water for brewing coffee has been at an ideal temperature?

If your water is not hot enough as required, it won’t extract the coffee’s flavors properly, and you will end up having an unpleasant cup full of hot java that tastes like “coffee grounds”!

When brewing coffee, the water you use can have a huge impact on how your drink tastes. Hotter is not always better, and too much heat will ruin any good flavors! Some experts recommend 195°-205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal results with no bitterness or quelling palate sensation from acids in coffees.

Brew Longer

The right water temperature and grind don’t guarantee a tasty cup of espresso! To tackle this problem, try to brew longer, so the water has plenty of time to finish its job at extracting every bit out of flavors before it leaves!

Still, be mindful not to leave it for too long, and you will get an over-extracted coffee instead!

Use Fewer Coffee Grounds

You might be experiencing some issues with the coffee grounds in your pot. It’s possible that you are getting too many, and they’re packing down, thereby choking out any water from fully dissolving them as it should. This can cause a half-dissolved mixture rather than one that is completely dissolved.

To make the best cup of coffee, you should follow a simple formula: 1-2 teaspoons of ground coffee per 6 oz of water. Although this can vary depending on personal taste preferences, you need to make sure that the amount added doesn’t end up being too much or sparsely dispersed!

Use More Water

If you’re using too much water, then your result may be weak in flavor (or any other negative effect) – the same result of short brewing time. Therefore, always be mindful of the amount of water or make some adjustments if necessary!

Letting your Grounds Bloom

Pouring the perfect cup of joe is a skill that takes some practice. You want to pour slowly and steadily, letting your ground coffee bloom before you continue on with finishing filling up all those grounds in there!

In order to bloom your grounds, pour water (around 50 grams) over your freshly ground coffee beans. Let it rest for 30 seconds while watching as the grounds expand upwards and release their precious cargo: gasses!

The beauty in this process comes from allowing all those wonderful aromatic compounds on top visible again–4000 times more than what we see when brewing without blooming first (which may lead to bitterness).

It’s best that when brewing, start timing yourself and make sure two minutes have passed since first blooming before adding more water for each additional pour (there should only ever be around three total).

Doing multiple pours so the ground can settle back down while also retaining some moisture left behind–allows time for flavors deeper within individual bean varieties to come through better than if they were simply brewed quickly without any lengthy periods.

Pour carefully and aim for the darkest parts of both your filter as well as any ground that may be crawling up its inner sides. Try to keep a circular motion when pouring with an upright kettle tip.

You will want to stay closer but not touch the coffee ground so it won’t over-agitate. Slight agitation actually produces better results in this case!

Clean Your Filters, Coffee Machine Parts, And Use Fresh Water Where Applicable

If you want to get the most out of your coffee, then it’s important that everything around it is in good condition. From water and equipment to beans themselves–cleanliness can make all sorts of a difference when brewing an excellent cup!

To make sure you get the best possible cup of coffee with tap water, let the tap run for a few seconds before using it to brew.

Final Thoughts

So, how to fix under-extracted coffee? There are a few easy things you can do to fix this! In summary, you can first try brewing for less time or at a lower temperature. This will make the flavor smoother and richer because more oils remain in the beans. Another option is changing grind size or type; consider switching from an espresso grinder to a coarser one like French press if it’s too strong with your current settings.

Almost 20 years already spent committed to coffee and more than 3 years of experience as a barista at Starbucks. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Science from the University of California, Berkeley. And then, I finished the Coffee Skills Program at the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). ugvermont.com is a website that I dedicate my whole heart to sharing all knowledge related to coffee. Read more