Why Is My Coffee Puck Too Wet?

Making coffee can be therapeutic. From the aroma of the fresh coffee grounds to the sound of hot water brewing them. The entire process of extracting espresso can be charming, and getting the perfect coffee puck can be one of the most satisfying parts of the process.

Your coffee puck can be too wet if you’re not filling the basket with enough grounds, have mixed coarse and fine coffee grounds, or have tamped unevenly distributed coffee grounds too hard, causing pockets of air that trap water.

In this article, you will discover different reasons why a coffee puck is wet and if having anything other than a perfectly dry puck at the end is a problem. After learning more about when exactly you need a dry puck and when wet pucks are acceptable, you’ll find out more about improving your coffee puck. Now let’s get back to why your coffee puck is wet.

You Are Using Fewer Coffee Grounds

A coffee puck can be wet when the amount of coffee grounds in the scoop isn’t enough. You can also get a sense of this when you don’t notice resistance upon tamping your espresso. If you want to decrease your espresso’s potency, you can use a coarser grind or a different roast. 

Having fewer grounds might seem like the answer. Decreasing the coffee grounds can result in a decrease in your beverage’s potency, but it also affects the drink’s consistency. It is worse when the grounds are just enough to make it seem like the scoop is full. That’s when the puck comes out wet and the coffee too watery.

You Are Mixing Coarse and Fine Grounds

Mixing old coffee grounds and new ones isn’t a novel idea. People who drink coffee for the caffeine and not for the taste often dump new grounds into an old coffee canister that still has old ones. This isn’t usually a problem because the taste difference doesn’t bother them. 

However, when one purchases grounds of different consistency and dumps them onto finer or coarser grounds, it creates pockets of air and a tighter barrier in certain areas of the scoop. This can trap water, which makes the resulting scoop wet. If you have mixed your coffee grounds recently, don’t worry, you’re not destined to have wet pucks until you run out of your coffee stash. As long as you tamp the scoop properly, you can get a nice dry puck at the end.

You Tamped Fine Grounds Too Hard

Usually, coarser grounds can be responsible for wet pucks, but a scoop full of fine grounds is tempted too hard. It too can have air pockets that get replaced by water. If you’re tamping finer grounds, you should refill the scoop if you notice that evening out the grounds leads to a gap between the coffee grounds and the shower screen. 

When doing this, though, you should make sure that you don’t overfill the basket because when that happens, the coffee extraction time can increase, and the puck can stick to the shower screen.

Is Wet Puck a Problem?

Before you try to change anything to get a drier, tighter puck, you must ask if what you currently get is a problem. A wet puck isn’t a problem; it is just an indicator of coffee being brewed imperfectly. If you’re fine with the espresso’s taste and don’t consume coffee to be more alert, then a wet puck shouldn’t be a problem.

However, if you want to get the most for your dollar, you should aim for a dry puck, as it is evidence that you have gotten the right amount of essence out of the coffee grounds. In case your puck is wet to touch, you can even add old grounds on top of the old ones to get another cup. It needs to be said, though, that this approach is for those who really want to squeeze out every drop out of their coffee grounds, even if doing so results in a taste downgrade.

Uneven Extraction Has Occurred

If you’ve recently started making your own espresso, you’ve probably been warned about uneven extraction. A watery cup and wasted grounds are often noted as symptoms of unevenly extracted espresso. 

When water interacts asymmetrically with the grounds in the basket, some grounds are drier than others. Usually, the gaps in the puck allow water to pass through without brewing the tightly tamped portions. 

But sometimes, the bottom of the basket features evenly spread grounds with only the top having gaps. The consequent brew is not extracted fairly, and enough water is trapped in the gaps to make the resulting puck wet.

How To Get the Perfect Coffee Puck

To get the perfect coffee puck, you must ensure that all the grounds in the basket have the same level of fineness. It is possible to get coarse grounds in a perfect puck as well, but when both types are mixed, micro pockets of air become inevitable.

Aside from getting the same ground consistency, you must ensure fair distribution. For this, you have to tempt with a twisting motion and try not to apply too much pressure. The twisting motion evens the peaks and valleys in the basket, so all the grounds have the same chance of interacting with the water. Moreover, it keeps certain gaps from allowing water to pass through easily or get trapped.

Finally, you have to ensure that the grounds are filled to the right level. If you overfill the basket, the puck will stick to the shower screen. Fill the basket just a little below that level. Now you are ready to get the perfect coffee puck and the perfect espresso.

Final Thoughts

From crema to concentration, a lot of factors make the perfect espresso. And one of the indicators of its perfection is a perfect coffee puck. If your puck’s wet, try increasing the brewing time, but if it is still not dry, chances are

  • you haven’t added enough coffee grounds 
  • your coffee basket has old and new coffee grounds
  • you haven’t tamped the espresso properly 
  • your coffee basket’s filter is clogged

Tim S.

Tim loves roasting, brewing, and experimenting with coffee. After years of perfecting this craft, working as a barista, and owning a small coffee service in college, he has decided to share his knowledge with the world.

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