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I just bought an espresso machine, Gaggia Classic.I tried making an espresso from pre-ground coffee with the pressurised filter (Crema Perfetta) that comes with the machine and I found the coffee was extracted quite fast. For example, within 10 seconds I already get 30 ml of espresso from 7 grams of pre-ground coffee. Despite having beautiful crema, the coffee tasted sour. Did I do anything wrong? The dosing I used was generally recommended for a single shot of espresso, but I used the 2-cup pressurised filter instead of the other smaller one that's said to be for PODs. Question 1: Any recommendations for getting a better shot of espresso from these things that I already have?

I also would like to try the non-pressurised filter selling online as it's claimed to produce better quality espresso. I have learned that this kind of filter is commercially used with commercial machines that generate the brewing pressure at 9 bars. But my Gaggia classic is 15 bars, based on the specification document. Question 2: Will this higher pressure result in faster extraction when I use a non-pressurised filter? I have learned that there are other factors that help slow down the extraction time such as tamping and grinding size, but Question 3: Will these factors be significant enough to overcome the 15 bars? I don't want to modify anything in the machine like adjusting the brew pressure of which the method is shown on the internet.Thank you for your comments and answers. I'm totally new to making espresso myself, but I really love espresso.

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  • Welcome Christophe. I suggest you split your questions in case you will require more answers simply more than the first one. Even the first one itself is quite broad, I will now focus on that one. I have changed the title and leave the rest of editing to your taste. – MTSan Dec 27 '16 at 22:17
  • Good question(s)... and now you know more about the Stack Exchange format! Feel free to learn more about the format at the tour, and also see How to Ask and How to Answer. I hope you'll come back to ask or share more... – hoc_age Dec 31 '16 at 3:45
  • The two best things you can do to improve your espresso are probably buying a proper grinder and using fresh coffee (roasted 1-2 weeks ago). Especially when you stop using the pressurized filter that will make a big difference. – Niko Jan 8 '17 at 9:28
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The standard parameters of producing a decent espresso is previously discussed here: What are the standard espresso parameters (dose, mass/volume, time, etc.)?

As you can see from this answer, assuming that you have a semi-automatic home type espresso machine, if you want to stick with pre-ground coffee and cannot change the grind size, all you can change is the following three:

  • dose
  • time
  • tamping

Dosage is more or less stable in between 6 to 8 grams. Time is mostly the variable that decides either you produce a spectrum of drinks from ristretto to cafe creme. Thus, you should study on tamping. Illy suggests 20 kgf vertical force. But I assume your home-type machine may not handle such tight pellets. So, try to find the best by experience. (By the way, such devices are designed as 15 bars, but while they are in action they are automatically regulated to 9 bars.)

Some previous discussions on tamping is here:

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