Saturday, December 2, 2023

Smooth like Silk: Fixing Creamy Espresso

by Mads

Why isn’t my espresso creamy?

As a barista or coffee enthusiast, there’s nothing quite as disappointing as pulling a shot of espresso and finding that it’s lacking in the smooth, creamy texture that defines a great cup – especially if you’re serving it up to paying customers!

If your espresso is coming out thin, watery, or just not creamy enough, there are a few things that could be going wrong. Here are some common reasons why your espresso may not be as silky smooth as you’d like it to be – and what you can do to fix it.

How to Fix Creamy Espresso

Grind Size

One of the most common causes of thin, watery espresso is an incorrect grind size. If your grind is too coarse, the water will pass through the coffee too quickly, resulting in a weak and watery shot. If it’s too fine, on the other hand, the water may not be able to penetrate the coffee at all, leading to a blocked shot.

Experiment with different grind settings to find the sweet spot. A good rule of thumb is to adjust the grind a little finer each time until you reach your ideal extraction time (around 25-30 seconds for a double shot). This will help ensure that the water has time to extract all of the delicious flavors and oils from the coffee, resulting in a rich, smooth espresso.


Another factor that can affect the creaminess of your espresso is the dose. If you’re using too little coffee, you’ll end up with a weak, watery shot. Too much, and the espresso will be over-extracted and bitter.

Start by dosing according to the recommended amount for your equipment, and adjust from there based on the taste of the espresso. Keep in mind that different blends of coffee may require slightly different dosing.

Tamping Pressure

The pressure used when tamping the coffee (packing it into the portafilter) can also have an impact on the creaminess of your espresso. If you’re not using enough pressure, the water will pass through the coffee too quickly, resulting in a thin, watery shot. Too much pressure, however, can cause the water to be unable to penetrate the coffee, resulting in a blocked shot.

Aim for a consistent, even tamp using around 30 pounds of pressure. This will help ensure that the water passes through the coffee evenly, resulting in a creamy espresso with a thick, luscious crema on top.

Water Temperature

The temperature of your water can also affect the creaminess of your espresso. If the water is too hot, it can scorch the coffee, resulting in a bitter, unpleasant flavor. If it’s too cold, the flavors and oils in the coffee won’t be fully extracted, resulting in a thin, watery shot.

Most espresso machines are designed to heat water to around 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 Celsius), but you may need to adjust this slightly depending on your specific equipment and the type of coffee you’re using.


Finally, it’s important to keep your equipment clean to ensure that your espresso is as delicious and creamy as possible. Coffee oils can build up in the portafilter and group head, clogging the flow of water and resulting in a thin, watery shot.

Be sure to clean your equipment thoroughly after each use, paying special attention to areas where coffee oils tend to accumulate. This will help ensure that your espresso is always as smooth and creamy as can be.


Pulling the perfect shot of espresso is an art form, and achieving that velvety smooth texture takes practice, patience, and attention to detail. By experimenting with different grind settings, doses, tamping pressure, water temperature, and keeping your equipment clean, you can achieve a rich, creamy espresso that will have your customers coming back for more. So don’t give up – with a little persistence and some careful tweaking, you’ll soon be pulling shots that are smooth like silk!

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