Breville BES870XL - short shot time & not enough espresso ?? - Page 2

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?
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#11: Post by Bluenoser »

I went through this process about 1.5 years ago.. From all my reading, I've found that getting into espresso is not cheap, when buying new. I think the best price/performance is a Breville Double Boiler (920 model) and a Sette 270 grinder. (Although for a bit more the Niche Zero is really the grinder to buy). This combination will make absolutely excellent espresso from all the owners I have read here. My $2500 HX just broke after 14 months, so even the expensive prosumer machines can be prone to failure.

The cheapest way to get into the game is to get used equipment, but if the previous owner wasn't careful about what water was used, you might inherit "calcium scale" issues. Scale will clog up the insides and can ruin heaters and other parts. Water is super important, but the easiest method I've found to get good water is simply use a 5 gal Reverse Osmosis water jug (refilled from corner store) and add 3rd wave water crystals specially made for espresso machines (and pretty cheap).

Everyone said the grinder was super important.. and I am finding that is true. My Sette has been very solid.. But it doesn't do French press grinds. It's almost like $1000 for a Breville DB and $1000 for a Niche Zero and you are pretty well assured to be good for 5 years learning about espresso. The Niche will also do drip grinds. But I went into this thinking $500 was too much. Needless to say my $350 machine lasted exactly 2 months.. :)

Others here have had great experiences with spending much less money. But I think they did some/much rebuilding.

Now I've been about 4 months of frustration and about 8 months of really enjoying making espressos and lattes for friends.. I can even do latte art now.. It is a great hobby.. readjust your sights and see if you can find any local experts that might be able to come over and help out.. Maybe the grinder is the limiting factor.. maybe just cleaning the burrs might help.

Many vendors have "open box" and "demo" sales and these should be well cared for and can offer much better value. Also Black Friday has some great sales.

Buy the Niche Zero for your French press and you can return to espresso later :)


#12: Post by facesnorth »

I came here today due to a similar problem. I've owned my BES870XL for a few weeks, and have been only using the automatic pre-programmed brew buttons. I've been doing single shots and I dialed the grind in so that the pressure gauge hits the middle, with a tamp right to about the correct spot (checked with the razor thing). My grind generally ends up being about 3. And the pre-programmed single shot button only gets me to about 6 seconds (start counting after pre-infusion, when the gauge shoots up to the middle).

I hadn't realized I can do a manual shot, or re-program the buttons. Do people basically always use these machines manually? Or re-program the buttons each time you get a new coffee? If I'm going manual, I know to shoot for 25 seconds or so on the shot, but how long should I pre-infuse for? [correction: 25 seconds to hit my target weight after dialing in grind size]

Some other side questions:

Is it bad to leave the beans in the hopper? Doesn't this age them quicker?

Balance between weighing coffee and getting to the Breville-specified level on the portafilter. Breville says to use the razor to get the level to that level. Should we prioritize this, then whatever weight that ends up being (tare, the empty portafilter, then weigh again after tamping)? Or should we be prioritizing weight without regard to the level it comes to on the portafilter? This is a point of confusion for me.


#13: Post by facesnorth »

So I just tried to a couple of a double shots completely manually. I manually ground at a setting of 4 until the portafilter was overflowing, then I brushed the excess off until it was even with the top. Then I tamped down, and it got right to about the Beville-specified level. Then I weighed and it came to 15.5g.

Then I got ready to brew. Put the glass on the scale and tared, and pre-infused for a few seconds, then timed my shot as I watched the scale. I got to about 11 seconds and the weight hit 31g. I pressed the button to stop, and it was already at 36g. Anyway, way too short.

I dumped everything and put the grind setting to 3 and repeated the process. This time it weighed 16.5g (actually depending where I moved it on hario scale, I noticed it shifted to 16 or 17). When I brewed, I got to about 13 seconds and the weight hit 33g. When I pressed to stop I was at 38g (so I need to push the button a little before my target). But anyway I'm already at a grind of 3 and I'm only hitting 13 seconds. The coffee tasted pretty gross, worse than what I've been making the past few weeks by just pressing the button.

I'm afraid I'll go all the way to 1 and still not hit my 25 second target. Am I doing something wrong?


#14: Post by Stanford55 »

I'm curious to know if folks have made the internal adjustment on their grinder? I found the stock setting on mine was RIDICULOUSLY coarse (It's been awhile but I think it was on 8; I dialed it down to 2 with good results).

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#15: Post by Bluenoser »

facesnorth wrote:
I'm afraid I'll go all the way to 1 and still not hit my 25 second target. Am I doing something wrong?
I'd say no.. so it sounds like the grinder in the 870 is marginal for good espresso. A few things can cause problems.

1. Distribution. If you get 'channeling' then the water will go through a crack in the 'puck' and flow very quickly. You'll get a sour extraction. After you level off the top of your portafilter, rap the bottom on the table to settle the bottom of the grounds. Then put about 20 lbs of pressure in your tamp. You just need to get all the air out. You really need a 'bottomless' portafilter to see if you are getting channeling. Don't jar your portafilter when you lock it in place.

2. The beans might be such that they need a really fine grind. Try to get medium to medium-dark espresso roast that has been roasted within a month (2 weeks is optimum). Some beans will work better with a marginal grinder. I use very different settings for my Decaf beans than I do for my normal beans.

Crank the grinder down to its lowest setting and see what happens.

Grinders can be very expensive, so one device that has both grinder and espresso machine needs to make some compromises.

Edit: there is a video at: that shows how to adjust the TOP burr to give you a better range for your grinder. This may solve everyone's problem. As person previously mentioned, looks like there used to be 2 external settings for the grinder.. looks like you need to take the top burr off now. I don't see any mention of this in the manual..


#16: Post by Stanford55 »

It's on page 23, but I overlooked it when I got the machine.


#17: Post by facesnorth »

Appreciate the reply, tamp seems OK. tested it as to your request and it seems to have "passed". at this point I'm wondering how people are happy with this machine. Looking for replies from people happy with this machine and why.


#18: Post by Quester »

I wondering if you guys are not only grinding much too course, but compounding that by wiping the excess coffee off the top instead of tapping to compress. I know when I grind, the coffee is well above the top of the portafilter—it's why I use a dosing funnel. On my first grinder (a Breville Smartgrinder Pro) I had to stop part way through the grind, tap a bit, and then continue grinding. Then tap some more. I always weighed for consistency.

Could one of you who are having this problem tell us how much your dose weighs? That would help a lot.

I recently got a Breville Infuser for my daughter and am using 17.5 grams for the dose. I think that's the same 54mm portafilter you guys have with your built-in grinders. And I'm using the single-wall basket. Including a 6 second infusion, a 34 gram shot takes 32 seconds (this obviously changes with different beans and changes in grind—but that's a good target.)

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#19: Post by abdullah.ahmad »

Hi Everybody,

I experienced the same on first months of owning that model and it's still exist with till now. I was using double shot Double wall Basket filter with moderate tamp what ever the coffee condition was, the extraction was acceptable and taste, but when i shifted to normal double shot basket i faced the competition to get it properly.

Advise: Go for more finer on single wall basket plus not less than 19g in basket with little push up on tamp :!: .

The preinfusion gauge will show high pressure than normal that may showed on double wall basket reading, and probably you'll get extraction time gone higher for same volume of yield, try to get scale shot glass if you don't have. Don't give up .. keep breathing for sake of this machine as it's new.

fyi this model completed two and half years with me, but little upset with grinder as the grinding clock became unstable once i change the dial.

Overall it's worth every pinny paid for and it's time to get it retired for personal reasons. :?
Abdullah Ahmad


#20: Post by facesnorth »

Stanford55 wrote:I'm curious to know if folks have made the internal adjustment on their grinder? I found the stock setting on mine was RIDICULOUSLY coarse (It's been awhile but I think it was on 8; I dialed it down to 2 with good results).
I have not modified the internal adjustment, only because on the seattlecoffee review that I watched, Gail said I shouldn't have to modify it. I have generally had it at 3 or 4, but I've lowered it to 1 or 2 to try. Not sure if it matters but appearance wise it definitely does not seem any where near course. It seems extremely fine.