Espresso is a beverage brewed using hot, high-pressure water forced through a bed of roasted coffee. Despite being one of the most widely consumed coffee formats, it is also the most susceptible to variation. We report a novel model, complimented by experiment, that is able to isolate the contributions of several brewing variables, thereby disentangling some of the sources of variation in espresso extraction. Under the key assumption of homogeneous flow through the coffee bed, a monotonic decrease in extraction yield with increasingly coarse grind settings is predicted. However, experimental measurements show a peak in the extraction yield versus grind setting relationship, with lower extraction yields at both very coarse and fine settings. This result strongly suggests that inhomogeneous flow is operative at fine grind settings, resulting in poor reproducibility and wasted raw material. With instruction from our model, we outline a procedure to eliminate these shortcomings.