Espresso Puck is Wet: Troubleshooting

Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of BrewCoffeeHome.com. With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He's a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he's not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe. You can reach him at [email protected].


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Over my years as a barista, I’ve made countless espresso shots using various beans and machines. One thing I always do after pulling a shot is check the puck in the portafilter.

Sometimes, the pucks are watery and messy when knocked out. It’s not always bad, I’ve enjoyed many great shots that had a wet puck.

It’s always good to understand the reason behind it and improve the consistency of your shot. In this guide, I’ll share insights on managing wet espresso pucks. Let’s dive in.

Quick Takeaways:

  • A wet puck doesn’t necessarily mean the shot is good or bad.
  • Wet pucks are often caused by underdosing.
  • To fix this, check your basket’s capacity and ensure you’re dosing the right amount of ground coffee.
  • Espresso machines lacking a 3-way solenoid valve often produce wet pucks.
  • Using a puck screen can help prevent a soggy espresso puck.
  • A proper puck prep is important for puck consistency.

Assessing Espresso Quality by Taste, Not the Puck

After I pull an espresso shot, I always take a moment to taste it attentively. The puck’s moisture level doesn’t always dictate quality.

If the shot tastes balanced and satisfying, there might be no cause for concern, as some water remaining on or within the puck is standard after a shot has been extracted.

Water travels from the boiler to the group head, passing through the shower screen to reach the coffee bed. This water saturates the coffee and then gets pushed through during extraction.

So naturally, some residual water will remain when the pressure ceases.

Troubleshooting Soggy Coffee Grounds

Ensuring Correct Coffee Dosing

An overly wet espresso bed can often suggest that the amount of coffee used is insufficient. This is known as under-dosing, which can lead to too much space between the shower screen and the coffee, resulting in excessive water and a soggy puck.

wet-espresso-puck

Here’s an example to illustrate:

  • Basket Capability: 18 grams
  • Your Dosing: 14 grams
  • Resulting Puck: Extremely wet and sloppy

To prevent this, I always measure the coffee properly with a scale. A precise dose of coffee is vital for consistent and quality espresso shots.

Typically, you can determine the capacity of your espresso basket. Some have a maximum capacity of 18 grams, while others are larger, accommodating up to 22 grams.

If you already use the recommended dosage but still get the wet puck, try to increase the dose a bit, for example, from standard 18 grams to 18.2 grams. It may make a difference.

If you want to pull a single shot, don’t use the double-shot basket with a single-shot dosage.

Additionally, it’s important to find a balance, as overfilling the basket can impede water flow, which is also not desirable. Too much coffee in the basket can lead to uneven extraction, even if the puck ends up dry.

Espresso Machines Without a Solenoid Valve May Cause Wet Pucks

My Lelit Bianca, equipped with an E61 group head, and my Breville machines usually give me drier pucks. This is because they have a solenoid valve that purges any excess water after extraction.

lelit-bianca-e61-group-head

However, some of the cheaper machines I’ve tested are more likely to produce wet espresso pucks after extraction.

Without a solenoid valve, there’s nowhere for the water to go, so if you remove the portafilter immediately after extraction, you’ll find water still in the basket.

Addressing Uneven Tamping

Uneven tamping can cause inconsistencies in the coffee bed, particularly if the coffee bed isn’t leveled. This can prevent water from flowing evenly through the grounds, potentially resulting in a wet espresso puck and causing channeling.

I always use Weiss Distribution Technique (WDT) tools to break up clumps, a distribution tool to even out the coffee bed, and opt for a calibrated tamper over a traditional one. A proper puck prep can avoid lots of problems.

deep-wdt

A Puck Screen Can Help

puck-screen

An espresso puck screen is a thin metal mesh that sits on top of your puck. It helps distribute water evenly over your coffee grounds, leading to a better extraction.

Personally, I haven’t noticed a significant difference in taste, but it does make the puck come out dry and clean. It also keeps both the basket and group head much cleaner. It’s worth giving a try.

Final Thought

A watery puck might not be the most crucial factor, but it’s certainly worth your attention. Ultimately, what truly matters is your satisfaction with the flavor profile and the overall quality of your espresso. If you’re happy with the taste, you’re on the right track. Happy Brewing!

Common Questions About Espresso Puck Moisture

Fixing a Soggy Puck in a Breville Barista Express

The Breville Barista Express and Barista Pro are equipped with a solenoid valve that directs excess water to the drip tray, ensuring you don’t end up with a wet coffee puck, provided your dosage is correct.
The standard double-shot baskets are designed to hold 18 grams of coffee grounds. Using less than 18 grams might result in a wet puck.
However, if you’re dosing 18 grams and still find your puck is wet, consider increasing the dose by 0.1 to 0.4 grams.
This adjustment accounts for the varying densities of different roasts, which can affect the gap between the puck’s surface and the shower screen after tamping.

Water on Top of the Puck in a DeLonghi Machine

It’s relatively common to see a small amount of water on the espresso puck when using a DeLonghi machine. Most Delonghi semi-automatic machines, such as the Delonghi Dedica, don’t have a solenoid valve. Usually, this isn’t an issue as long as your espresso tastes good.

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Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of BrewCoffeeHome.com. With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He's a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he's not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe.