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

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?
GAW

#1: Post by GAW » Aug 10, 2019, 6:02 pm

I'm a new Breville Barista Express BES870xl owner. I have not been able to get close to a 25 second shot time or 1 ounce of espresso. Always between 15-18 second shot time (under extracted ?) and .75 ounce of espresso (over extracted ?) all in the same pull...regardless of the grind, regardless of the freshness of beans. Have called Breville three times with no luck. Any advice? Ready to return it before my 30 days are up. THANKS - GAW

- New machine - less than 3 weeks old; have used maybe 30 times mostly trying to pull a good shot.
- At 6,350 ft in altitude - I have read mixed posting as to whether this matters or not
- Single shot, using single wall filter basket
- 9-10g of coffee (in many combinations of grind and amount; but always 10g)
- I have used 3 day from roast beans and 7.5 week from roast beans; not much different in results except for better crema in the new batch; I also know I should let the new beans sit for a few more days, but live in a rural community and it is either super fresh or 4+ weeks old
- I have used grind settings from 1 - 13 for the 3 day old beans and 1-5 for the 7.5 week old beans. All between 9-10 g. Same results: under an ounce of espresso all under 18 seconds. At the lower grind it will get to the 12 o'clock spot on the pressure dial.
- I've tried increasing the shot volume but it gets to 1 ounce still under 20 seconds. If I let the shot volume run until 25 seconds then I get way over an ounce of espresso.
- Sometimes puck dispenses easily from portafilter, sometimes it is stuck and I need to get it out with a dull knife. Never seems dry, nor overly wet. Just damp.
- when single shot run without any coffee or portafilter, 1 1/3 ounces of water is released.
- Lots of water in the drip tray.
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This afternoon I moved to a double shot with still mixed results.
- I also adjusted the conical burrs down one spot to a finer setting (from a 6 to a 5) so I could get finer grinds.
- I weighed my beans and ran them through the Breville grinder manually until empty.

- size 4 grind; 17g of beans; 1.5 oz of espresso; 38 second shot time
- size 5 grind; 17g of beans; 1.875 oz of espresso; 22 second shot time
- size 4 grind; 16g of beans; 1.5 oz of espresso; 27 second shot time

- Can't seem to be able to get the full 2 oz and a 25 to 35 second shot time.

User avatar
bean2friends

#2: Post by bean2friends » Aug 10, 2019, 6:18 pm

Are you weighing your output?

GAW

#3: Post by GAW » Aug 10, 2019, 10:42 pm

I did weigh the output a couple of the times with the double shots. In some cases it was double the weight of the beans. In others it was not. I can't understand how that could be if I wasn't getting a full 2 oz though. And I measured the 2oz of volume with multiple tools.

Quester

#4: Post by Quester » replying to GAW » Aug 11, 2019, 9:46 am

Beans that are 3 days old are still outgassing. Wait at least a week. Beans that are 7.5 weeks old are too old—unless you are freezing them. As a gross generalization, in the 1-4 week range works well for most beans. Volume is hard to judge as the amount of crema varies. And that varies a lot as the been ages.

For now, only use the manual button and cut off your shot at your target weight. Then dial the grind in for time/taste. The volumetric function on the two Brevilles I've used varies a lot.

Finally, unless your prep is good, you are going to get variation from channeling. By prep, I mean distribution of the ground coffee in the portafilter and tamping. This takes time and practice.

GAW

#5: Post by GAW » Aug 11, 2019, 5:51 pm

Thanks. I guess since I'm not getting a long enough shot by hitting the one shot or two shot button, then I should hold it and let it keep going. That will not only increase the time but also the amount of espresso that is dispensed.

After reading a lot of posts it appears there is significant opportunity for user error rate with this machine, certainly not what I signed up for. I guess I fell for the marketing material.

How do I know that it is not a faulty/lemon machine versus me...$500+ is a large enough investment not to get a lemon?
Do people really improve their ability to pour a nice tasting shot or do they generally give up and settle for subpar tasting espresso?

gr2020

#6: Post by gr2020 » Aug 11, 2019, 7:31 pm

A suggestion - forget everything you've read about 2 oz being a "double shot". And everything else having to do with ounces of output.

Weigh your output - every time. Put a scale under your cup, and brew into the cup. When you get to the ratio you want (e.g. 34g out, for 17g in), stop the shot then. If your scale won't fit, get a thinner one that will read in 0.1g increments - there are some on Amazon for around $20, such as this one:

https://www.amazon.com/American-Weigh-S ... B001RF3XJ2

Now that you're weighing everything, and using the Manual button, your variables are more limited. Now you can see how much time your shot takes to get your 1:2 ratio. Shoot for maybe 25-35s. If it's too fast, under 25s, grind finer. If it's too slow, over 35s, grind coarser.

That will at least get you in the ballpark, every time, and build your confidence. Then you can start messing with any or all of these variables, all of which will change the flavors you get.

But just to say it one more time - forget about ounces of volume. Use weight only.

Bluenoser
Supporter ♡

#7: Post by Bluenoser » Aug 11, 2019, 8:41 pm

It is frustrating to not know if it is knowledge or equipment.

I agree to forget about volume.. Only use the scale. I actually recommend a small 0.01g scale you can get at Walmart (or Amazon) for about $20. The .01g scales are quicker to respond and I find them better than the 0.1g scales.

Double baskets are easier to learn on, even if you go through a bunch of coffee.

Don't worry about super fresh or super old coffee.. Go to Walmart and get some Lavazza Super Crema or whatever Lavazza they have for espresso that advertises crema.. You should be able to dial this in.. You aren't going for super taste, you are just trying to learn about the equipment..and they sell these bags in 2lb lots.. If I'm making a ton of lattes and don't want to use all my 'good' beans, I've used these.

Try to go with 17g in your double basket and aim for 34g out. Not sure if your machine has timer.. but just for the sake of proving in the process, aim for anywhere between 25-40 seconds from when you start the pump (not sure if this has built-in preinfusion). Again, volume is not what you want to shoot for at this point. Some people use anywhere from 15-20 g for double doses, but 17 is a good 'learning' point.

Now you should be able to get at least 2 grind settings that will give you 34g output within the 25-40 window.. make one of each and see which you like. You can use the scale to program the 'volumetric' buttons and then you won't have to weigh the output. But for a while, just use the manual method and scale until you get the hang of 'dialing' in beans.

Many people never use their single basket, but always use a double basket and use the double spout and put 2 cups under to get two single shots that way. (Or if you want a single, throw away the other single).

Dialing in singles is much harder so if you really want to do that.. wait until you get your technique better.

Now everyone says that the most important part of the equipment is the grinder and these can be quite expensive. A good grinder such as the Niche Zero is just under $1000, so the grinder in the 870 may not be able to give you all the precision you want.. but work with what you have. I'm guessing it has been designed to dial in virtually any 'normal' medium to dark roast espresso bean, even if not super fresh.

Quester

#8: Post by Quester » Aug 11, 2019, 10:17 pm

GAW wrote:$500+ is a large enough investment not to get a lemon? Do people really improve their ability to pour a nice tasting shot or do they generally give up and settle for subpar tasting espresso?
Take heart, someone with experience could dial in a nice tasting shot on your machine in a few minutes—but I certainly couldn't have when I first started seven years ago. It takes lots of learning and practice—don't give up.

I've owned two different Brevilles and also their Smart Grinder Pro. In my opinion, your limitation is mostly about your built-in grinder and not as much about the espresso machine. It's capable of making a very nice shot—just not the absolute best shot.

GAW

#9: Post by GAW » Aug 12, 2019, 1:21 am

Quester, Bluenoser, Gr2020: THANK YOU! Very good explanation. I can work with this and I am going to do exactly as you say. I have a scale that will work. I'll post tomorrow how it goes. THANK YOU again.

GAW

#10: Post by GAW » Aug 13, 2019, 12:33 am

I tried again today and after several attempts, I have thrown in the towel. Perhaps something to learn when I have more time to learn the ins and outs. I really do appreciate all the help and wish I had reached out earlier. Keep helping others because your explanations were the best hands down.

Off to buy a quality grinder and return to my french press.

Thank you.