Why is My Espresso Watery or weak?

Having a delicious cup of Espresso in the morning is one of the best ways to start your day. It boosts your mood and gives you the energy to jumpstart your day.

Espresso is supposed to be rich and thick with a wonderful layer of crema over it. But if you get a thin or watery cup of Espresso in the morning, it will surely ruin your mood for the whole day. 

There must be something wrong with your brewing technique if you always get weak or watery espresso.  

So, why is my Espresso watery?

There could be many reasons for a watery cup of Espresso. The quality of beans and roast might not be proper, maybe you are using the wrong grind size, the water temperature might not be correct, perhaps you are not using the right amount of coffee, or maybe you are not tamping coffee grounds correctly.

In this post, I will discuss all the reasons in detail, and if you read the whole post, I guarantee that you will never have to drink a watery cup of Espresso again in your life.

8 Reasons why your Espresso is coming out too watery and How to fix it

The perfect shot of Espresso should take 25-30 seconds. If your Espresso machine is taking longer than that, you will get a very bitter-tasting Espresso. And if you are getting a shot of Espresso in less than 25 seconds from your machine, the shot will be very thin or watery.

So, let’s dive into the details of each reason one by one and how you can quickly fix them to have a rich and thick cup of Espresso.

Why is my Espresso Watery?

1. Quality of coffee beans

quality coffee beans

The quality of coffee beans plays a significant role in brewing a great cup of Espresso.

There’s no shortage of coffee around these days, and that makes it possible for you to try out a variety of different brands. But choosing the best coffee for you can be a challenge.

I have tested different Espresso beans and prepared a list of the best Espresso beans. If you are serious about the taste of your Espresso, then you must know that quality of Beans matters a lot.

Some people prefer to have 100% Arabica Beans, while some prefer a blend of Arabica and Robusta. It entirely depends on your taste. In my experience, Lavazza Coffee beans are best for Espresso.

Always buy coffee beans that you can easily finish in two to three weeks. Never store coffee beans for too long as they lose their freshness as they get old.

You can buy pre-ground coffee beans for pulling a shot of Espresso, but the problem with pre-ground coffee is that they stale very quickly.

So, for ultimate freshness, it’s always recommended that you should buy whole-bean coffee and grind beans by yourself just before pulling the shot. Because as soon as you grind the beans, they start oxidizing and lose their freshness.

There is an ultimate rule for coffee aficionados, grind the beans within fifteen days of roasting and brew within fifteen minutes after grinding.

2. Use the right Grind Size

espresso grounds

The grind size for pulling a perfect shot of Espresso is fine or ultra-fine.

If you use coarse grounds to pull an Espresso shot, the water will pass through the grounds too quickly, and most coffee grounds will remain under-extracted. So, you will end up with a very weak shot of espresso.

Choosing a perfect grind size for Espresso might not be easy as it mainly depends on your taste. You can play around with the grind settings in the fine or ultra-fine region of your grinder for finding a perfect grind size. And select the one that results in the best cup of Espresso.

For Making a better shot of Espresso read a guide on Dialing in Espresso Machine

3. The right amount of coffee grounds for Espresso

If Espresso comes out to be too watery or thin, you might not be using the right amount of coffee grounds.

If you use fewer coffee grounds, your Espresso will come out too quickly, and it will be watery.

If you use too many coffee grounds, the shot will take too much time, and your Espresso might become too foamy.

According to specialty coffee association:

The ideal amount of coffee grounds for a single shot of Espresso is 7-9 grams and 14-18 grams for a double shot Espresso.

If you already have a small kitchen scale for yourself, That’s Perfect. Or you can also buy it from here.

In my experience, 16 grams of coffee grounds is perfect for pulling a perfect and thicker double shot of Espresso.

Read a complete review of DeLonghi ECP 3420. It is the Perfect Espresso machine for beginners

4. Your coffee may be under-extracted

Always remember! For pulling a perfect shot of Espresso, the right time is 25-30 seconds.

If your shot takes longer than that, then the coffee grounds will become over-extracted, and your Espresso will have a bitter taste. The reason for this might be too much fine coffee grounds that do not let the water pass through.

If you are getting a shot of Espresso in less than 25 seconds, then the coffee grounds will remain under-extracted, and the Espresso you get will be thin or watery. 

The reason for this under-extraction might be coarser coffee grounds which lets the water pass through them easily in no time, leaving the grounds under-extracted.

The other reason for under-extraction might be that you are using light roast coffee beans.

Lightly roasted coffee beans have less oil on the surface than dark-roasted coffee beans. So it lets the water pass through them easily, and the coffee grounds remain under-extracted.

Also Read: Why is Espresso pulling too fast

5. Use the right temperature

Not all Espresso machines will allow you to play with the temperature of the water. Most Espresso machines automatically heat the water in the range of 190 to 210 degrees.

So, why does temperature matter? The higher the temperature, the more extraction of coffee grounds will occur in lesser time, and the lower the temperature the less extraction will occur.

Over-extraction will essentially result in a bitter shot; on the other hand, at a lower temperature, the coffee grounds remain under-extracted and result in an Espresso shot that is too weak or watery.

The heavy barista-style Espresso machine has a PID controller and allows you to play with water temperature.

So what’s the best temperature for Espresso?

According to National coffee Association: Generally, the temperature of water in the range of 195 to 205 degrees is considered optimal for pulling a shot.

6. Your coffee roast might not be correct

Medium, Medium-dark, or dark roasted coffee beans are generally preferred for Espresso.

If you are using lightly roasted coffee beans for pulling a shot of Espresso, then that might be the reason your coffee comes out to be watery or thin.

Medium Dark or Dark roast is generally preferred for Espresso.

Lightly roasted coffee beans are less oily and remain under-extracted while pulling a shot. 

While dark roasted coffee beans are more oily and result in a thicker and intense shot of Espresso.

I usually prefer medium-roasted coffee beans by Lavazza for Espresso.

7. Tamp the coffee grounds properly

tamping espresso

Tamping is a very critical step in pulling a great shot of Espresso. 

If you don’t tamp the coffee grounds properly, the water will make its way through the coffee grounds without extracting them properly, and your Espresso will taste watery.

You should always make sure to tamp flat, evenly, and consistently.

  • If you apply too much force while tamping, the coffee grounds will become too compact. It will get difficult for water to make its way through the coffee grounds, and coffee grounds will get over-extracted, resulting in a bitter cup of coffee.
  • If you apply too little force while tamping, water will easily pass through the empty voids, and your Espresso will taste too watery.
  • If you leave the surface uneven while tamping, the water will channel through the place where there are fewer coffee grounds, and the taste of Espresso you get will not be consistent.

Make sure that the tamper is clean and dry before tamping. Apply enough pressure while tamping evenly in all directions, and then pull out the tamper gently.

8) Change your Portafilter Basket

If you are doing all the things right and still ending up with a watery or weak shot then your portafilter basket may not be appropriate.

The screens of your portafilter basket might be clogged with old coffee grounds; In that case, clean the portafilter properly.

It could also be that you’re dosing less coffee into the basket than it’s designed for. If your basket is designed to hold 18 grams of coffee then you must add 18 grams or plus minus 3 grams at most.

If you are pulling a single shot of Espresso using a double shot basket then you will surely end up with a watery shot as water run through it quickly without extracting the flavors.

Here’s a detailed guide on Espresso portafilters.

Final Thoughts on Watery Espresso

A watery or thin cup of Espresso in the morning is enough for ruining your mood for the whole day.
In this article, I have discussed 8 main reasons that may result in a watery Espresso cup.
You should look after these mistakes properly and always remember the main thing while pulling a shot of Espresso; It should take 25-30 seconds.


What does it mean if the espresso puck is watery?

A watery puck of coffee grounds after pulling a shot of Espresso may or may not be an indication of uneven extraction of coffee grounds.
It’s not a very serious alerting problem as long as you are satisfied with the taste of the Espresso you get.
If you want to get rid of the watery puck, you must be very careful about these two things.
The size of the coffee grounds must be even and consistent, and you must tamp the coffee properly in the portafilter.
Read a detailed guide on wet Espresso Puck

can you run an espresso shot twice?

Yeah, you can use the coffee grounds for the second time but keep in mind the taste of Espresso you will get with used coffee grounds will not be sweet and aromatic.
If you use the coffee grounds for the second time, they will become over-extracted, and the espresso will taste burnt and bitter.

Related Espresso guides:

Johny Morrisson is a passionate coffee enthusiast and an avid blogger dedicated to exploring the world of coffee.

Whether it's repairing or troubleshooting coffee equipment, reviewing cutting-edge brewing machines, or delving into the latest coffee trends, Johny's writing captivates readers and invites them on a flavorful journey.

When he's not writing, Johny enjoys traveling, seeking inspiration from different cultures and coffee traditions worldwide.