So this has happened to me: I bought a pack of pretty well-looking coffee, using the same approach as for other coffee beans (even the ones from the same "brand") I prepared an espresso, and (to my surprise) got a coffee puck so unbelievably porous that all water just passed through it without any apparent resistance. Of course, no pressure means no crema and no real flavor was generated in this process, so I went for debugging it.

So far, I tried changing the grind to "basically dust" (porlex 0 clicks :] ), trying all possible extraction schedules and pressures, tamping with way more than 20 pounds of pressure, and cleaning my already clean grouphead just to be Super Sure, but all water just goes through.

All other coffee behaves normally (fortunately!). That leaves me wonder what's the actual problem. I can rule out a problem with the age of the beans (I've made reasonable coffee from older ones), and there's no roasting flaw that would be apparent.

  • Is there any known property of the coffee that affects the porosity this much? (I guess this can make sense for some preparation methods, but really not for espresso... I'm asking mainly for some possible extra coffee chemistry knowledge that I could have been missing, not really for debugging these precise beans -- I can use successfully them elsewhere.)
  • Is there anything else to do with it, given I've already maxed out grind, weight, brewing pressure and all other things?

ADDITIONAL DETAILS (edit): Beans were Indonesia Mandheling arabica, mix of several varieties, altitude 1100-1600m, wet-hulled. It seems they were roasted just under 2 months before the experiment, packaging seemed okay to me. The roast is relatively dark with a tiny bit of oil visible here and there (just below "full city" I'd guess). The bag has the usual degassing valve. The puck didn't look particularly chanelly (top: not perfectly level but no noticeable dents/holes or prominent problems, bottom: almost uniform color with a slightly "brighter" middle). I unfortunately don't have that particular coffee anymore to try more.

  • Based on the migration agreement between Seasoned Advice and Coffee SE I am sending this to Coffee SE: This post needs specific coffee knowledge.
    – Stephie
    Apr 24, 2021 at 21:37
  • What does the puck look like after the extraction? Do you see any channels? Does the puck come out (after brewing) like you're used to with other beans?
    – JJJ
    Apr 24, 2021 at 21:46
  • Is this a flavored coffee by chance?
    – R Mac
    Apr 24, 2021 at 23:51
  • Hi! Thanks for migrating the question! Answers: The puck looks perfectly normal, channeling seems unlikely to me. I retried and have to say that it doesn't come out "cleanly" but breaks a bit, but nothing too harsh. The coffee is not flavored, nor decaffed nor anything. I'm adding details now.
    – exa
    Apr 25, 2021 at 7:13
  • 1
    Channeling becomes more likely if the coffee is ground too finely, so try putting the grind back at a normal level. If you can, take a picture or two of a spent puck. Channeling can cause what you're describing, but I'd be surprised if it's that if you've brewed other beans just fine before. Also is this an all dark roast blend it medium+dark? Lastly, does the bag the coffee came in have a one-way degassing valve?
    – R Mac
    Apr 29, 2021 at 22:38

1 Answer 1


Answering my own problem -- the coffee was just improperly stored.

I have acidentally reproduced the perfectly same problem with other (good) beans (RIP, beans). I accidentally left them in an open bag overnight in a relatively wet environment. The result could not hold water again, with all side effects as with the original problematic beans (not really good crema, ...)

I noticed that the beans don't give any bloom, even if prepared as a brutal pour-over with 100C water. I kinda guess that the bloom (or anything related to it) caused some swelling in the coffee puck that just makes the water passage much harder. Alternate explanations welcome though.

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