The Ultimate Espresso Compass To Calibrate The Coffee That You Want

This blog post is written for anyone who enjoys the taste of espresso and want to knows how to get exact flavour they are looking for.

You know that feeling when you have a coffee that is just perfect? The kind of coffee where you can’t stop drinking it because it’s so good. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some sort of guide to help us find this elusive cup? There are many nuances in the world of coffee. Hence, making and finding your favourite type takes time and experimentation. But never fear!

This article is here to show you the most likely way to calibrate a harmonious structure of flavour, tactile, or body of your coffee as easily and quickly as possible through the espresso compass.

There are two ways that you can use this espresso compass:

  1. Dialing in a new coffee from scratch. This is when you don’t have any idea where to go with the recipe.
  2. Tweaking a recipe that’s mostly dialed in. This is when the coffee you get isn’t the way you want it. 

You will taste the coffee based on the components (flavour & tactile sensation/ bodyweight) and adjust the parameters (ratio and grind size) to reach your desired taste. 

Espresso Compass
Credit :

The Flavour: adjust the ratio

Is your coffee too sour or too bitter? If your coffee is too sour or too high in acid, it could possibly mean that your coffee is not extracted enough. In this case, increase the ratio.

On the other hand, if your coffee is too bitter or has a dry finish, decrease the ratio.

Note: This may vary depending on the bean that you’re using. Consult your coffee bean supplier for taste note before you start calibrating.

There are two ways to adjust the ratio:

  1. Remain coffee dose, adjust the amount of extracted coffee.
    This is the most common way to adjust the ratio. For example, you are following a 1:2 ratio, which means 18 g coffee grinds with 36g coffee extracted. You will need to adjust the ratio to 1:1.8, which means 18 g coffee grinds (same) with 32.4g coffee extracted.

If this does not work well for you, try using the alternate way as mentioned below:

  • Remain the amount of extracted coffee, adjust the coffee dose.
    You are also following a 1:2 ratio in the beginning and adjusting the ratio to 1:1.8 but this time, you will have 20g coffee grinds with 36g coffee extracted instead.

    P.S. this brewing recipe is a reference and subject to the size of your portafilter. You may choose to adjust the dosage based on your portafilter size.

A small change of coffee dose or water amount can have a very big impact on the coffee flavour and what you will taste.

The tactile sensation/ body weight: adjust grind size

Is your coffee too thin-bodied/ watery OR heavy-bodied/ muddled?

If the body of your coffee is too thin or watery, it could possibly mean that the water flow through your coffee is too fast, you want to slow it down. In this case, grind finer.

On the other hand, if the body of coffee is too heavy or muddled, grind coarser. 

See also: Why Does Your Coffee Grind Size Matters For Your Flavour?

These are relatively simple ways to talk about espresso, but we rarely find these components by themselves in the coffee we taste. Hence, we have interim solutions to tackle this. Refer to the table below for a clear guideline: 

Too sourDidn’t extract enough coffeeIncrease ratio
Too bitterOver extractedDecrease ratio
Thin bodyWater flow through too fastGrind finer
Heavy bodyWater flow through too slowGrind coarser
Sour & ThinDidn’t extract enough coffee & water flow through too fastIncrease ratio & grind finer
Sour & HeavyDidn’t extract enough coffee & water flow through too slowIncrease ratio & grind coarser
Bitter & HeavyOver extracted & water flow through too slowDecrease ratio & grind coarser
Bitter & ThinOver extracted & water flow through too fastDecrease ratio & grind finer

*Important note: Prioritize the stronger component of the problem. That means, if your coffee is just slightly thin in body but very bitter, your priority is to decrease the ratio first, then only make the grind finer if needed.

By navigating the taste of your coffee using this Espresso Compass, you will be able to find the right solution for your coffee brewing needs.