Breville / Sage Barista Express Water Pressure Issue

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.
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Joined: 4 months ago

#1: Post by PlungerPaddy »

Good Afternoon fellow coffee lover!

After reading benefits of using double-walled filter baskets online about a month ago, I started using my double-walled double-shot espresso filter basket on my Breville Barista Express machine. After not being happy with the results maybe a week later I swapped back to using a single wall basket. My machine has never struggled with getting to pressure when I use a single wall basket anyway, and I found the double wall basket was creating too much pressure in the machine, even after grinding my beans coarser.

After about 3 weeks now of using a single wall basket: a tried and true method I have been using for the life of the machine and many machines before this, it seems the machine is not operating as intended. I dont know if the double-walled baskets have anything to do with the sudden failure of my machine however i thought it was worth mentioning.

Water is still pumping through the machine, just with no pressure. Steam and hot water are working as usual, however, when I try to pull a shot, there isn't enough pressure to push any liquid through the shot. when I check my puck it is moist, so water has been getting through to the coffee, however, not enough pressure to push through with any extraction power. Also occasionally the machine does reach pressure and a large audible clicking sound can be heard as if something inside the machine has kicked into gear, however it is alwasy in the last few seconds of the shot so no drinkable liquid is extracted. I have attached a few videos one of the clicking sound and pressure kicking in, and another of the usual machine not getting any pressure throughout a whole shot, although towards the end of the video, the clicking can be heard.

Normal extraction
Pressure extraction
I have just cleaned and descaled my machine on the weekend however this didn't remedy the problem.

Does anybody have any suggestions about parts I should try replacing? I thought either the pump or solenoid was to blame. This is the 3rd Barista Express machine I have owned, the other 2 lasted 5 years before dying, and the first machine I tried to get repaired by a professional however I ended up needing to replace the machine anyway. I am a bit handy and it is a cheap coffee machine anyway so I'm not interested in paying a professional for a repair. I have only had the machine for 2.5 years and have always kept the machine in good condition, i was previously a barista and know how to clean and descale coffee machines.

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Joined: 2 months ago

#2: Post by TheBrad »


I am having the same issue. I have replaced the solenoid a few months ago and everything was working great. Recently the machine has started doing exactly as you describe - puck is damp, I can get steam etc. Without grounds I can get water through the grouphead and occasionally I can get a good shot. Then the next shot three minutes later there is not enough pressure to get water through the grounds.

I don't notice that clicking noise, but I do get an obvious shift in sounds as though the pump is giving up. The result it that all the water that should be pushed through the grounds are being expelled into the tray instead. Do you have that same issue? Have you been able to resolve the problem?


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#3: Post by WWWired »

Hi all :) Unfortunately the videos appear not to play (are they set to "unlisted" or "private"?).

Remove any filter you have installed for testing.

Remove the Shower Screen (undo the hex screw in the area where the portafilter is slotted into when making espresso and carefully remove the metal screen) . . . check in the area for any coffee organics and in the single dispersion hole next to the hex screw hole for any obstructions or signs of mineral scale or coffee organics.

Use new filters for the next two to three months, changing frequently (every other week or three weeks perhaps) to dissolve any mineral deposits slowly with regular fresh filtration use. A good Drop-In-Filter that does ion-exchange (literally swaps out the Calcium and Magnesium for Sodium/Salts) will work magic (either a no-name or BWT type Drop-In-Reservoir-Filter pouch/pack) . . . these are available online for near the same price a those Brittle-filters . . . check in Stefano's Espresso Care in the "Resources" section at the top of the page or with another site sponsor like Whole Latte Love who sell these if you'd like to see what they look like (search for Water Softner filters perhaps).

Possibly try resetting the machine a few times (press and hold the PROGRAM button down for several seconds until it beeps three times) . . . this will reset everything to Factory . . . the BES870 is actually a very sophisticated machine that uses a PID system including an NTC thermal sensor to provide data feedback to its micro processor . . . it can do adjustments over time based on different operator performance demands.

It is possible if different pressure/resistance demands have been made on the machine that an o-ring may have deteriorated or begun to develop a fault. Constant compression and relaxing in the fittings can, over time, during thousands of extractions result in o-ring deterioration (as can to a lesser degree any use of chemicals such as descalers/coffee detergents for cleaning). If the machine is experiencing lower than normal flow-rates/volumes-per-unit-time, it may be either a blockage or an inability to develop resistance (pressure) if an o-ring is leaking to the world's atmosphere. Replacing all the o-rings regularly (search BES870 o-ring replacement kit or search for #007 o-rings for Breville) is a worthwhile consideration :) Pumps and Solenoids are generally pretty solid components . . . o-rings, not so much around the two-year mark and if a machine has been running for over a year or two with no maintenance or inspection, those o-rings might be interested in a bit of Florida property where Pickle-Ball is popular ;) . . . Replacing water filters more regularly for a period of a few months to improve water quality can also assist in a return to full machine function by slowly dissolving away any really deep and tough mineral scale deposits. If replacing o-rings, be sure to check on the Capillary hose that connects to the Pressure Gauge as it is sometimes overlooked when replacing o-rings.

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#4: Post by TheBrad »

Thanks WWWired. I had cleaned the machine recently including removing the screen and use filtered water. When I replaced the solenoid and fittings a couple of months ago I did have an issue with an o-ring being pinched at the t-fitting for the hose on the brew line which resulted in it leaking water all the time. I swapped that out and the leak disappeared - do you think there could be a blockage or the incorrect o-ring on that connection that could cause this issue?

You mention the Capillary hose to the Pressure Gauge - I cannot seem to find a diagram of that. Would you have a link handy?

I also tried running a one cup program without the portafilter on I did get some water through the grouphead, but most of it went to the drip tray. Would the Over Pressure Valve divert the water? I get steam from the wand and the hot water outlet no problem.

Many thanks!

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Joined: 2 years ago

#5: Post by mangoie »

As far as I can see there is nothing wrong with your Barista Express.

The first video with "normal extraction" is actually a way too coarse grind (or low dose) because the pressure gauge is not showing any movement.
With the second video you are actually choking the machine hence why the pressure gauge goes basically to max pressure setting.

Remember that pressure is generated when water flow encounters resistance, with an espressomachine the resistance is made with finely grounded coffee in the portafilter. For a proper extraction the pressure needle should be in the "espresso range" of the pressure gauge, between 10-12 o'clock.
Oh, en you should ditch (in my opinion) the dual wall filters if you want to tasty espresso.

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#6: Post by TheBrad »

Thanks Mangoie - the video's are similar to my situation. However for me, one shot pulled will be good, then next shot there's no pressure, the grind setting is the same, and the water all goes to the drip tray. I have tried coarser settings on the grinder and the water still goes to the drip tray.

PlungerPaddy (original poster)
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Joined: 4 months ago

#7: Post by PlungerPaddy (original poster) »

I've already given up since my original post was a few months ago and bought a new machine, can't live without a morning coffee for 2 months. I sold my 3 previous machines cheap to one of my friends who is going to attempt to repair them and then probably sell them.

How are you doing TheBrad, I hope you have fixed your machine. I don't remember if there was a lot of water coming into the drip tray, I would assume. Sounds like you have a similar issue though, one shot would be perfect, but for the next ten, no extraction whatsoever, damp puck, until I heard the clicking sound then all of a sudden working perfectly.

Thanks for all the help WWWierd, I will let my friend know to potentially try one of those water patches or to just hard reset the machine. I did open the machine up and all the seals and hoses seemed in perfect condition with no visible scale build-up in any area of the machine. I did descale and clean the machine quite regularly. I will send my friend this thread for advice, would be great for him if the bag filter things worked!

Mangoie, there is something wrong with the machine. I know the pressure gauge goes crazy in the second video but I was just overfilling to try and get the machine to demonstrate the clicking sound. Both the videos were filmed with the same grind amount and settings using the barista express grinder, so not the most precise but a similar ballpark. The dual wall filter basket was just an experiment I was trying for a few weeks, but I agree they should be ditched, single wall makes a much nicer drink!

Thanks all for your help, these machines frustrate me!!

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Joined: 2 months ago

#8: Post by Tarrynitup »

Hey there!
I'm new, hopefully posting in the correct spot. My issues are similar but different enough I wanted to ask for help.

I'm having an issue with my breville barista express, Bes870xl. With regards to no pressure at all showing on the gauge or water coming out of the showerhead. There is cold water coming out of the hot water and steam. All the water gets released into the drip tray and is cold.

The previous owner used vinegar for many years to descale. After being told not to due to corrosion, and wanting to fix a buzzing/ rattling noise he tried to replace the solenoid valve. While disassembling he broke a piece of the diffuser and give up sold it to me.

I have since taken the whole espresso part of the machine apart to get the diffuser screws, replaced the dual solenoid valves, water pump and safety valve.

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Joined: 2 months ago

#9: Post by TheBrad »

I have tried a few more troubleshooting tasks without success.

- I had reset the program in the past, but tried it again.
- I replaced the pump, which made no difference.
- I have tried to block the portafilter and I can get the gauge to spike. It will for a second and then it backs off, but it takes about 30 seconds to build the pressure, but it does not purge into the tray as it does when I have grounds in the portafilter.
- I tried to pull a shot after all of the above, and it does the same thing, which is no pressure, will pull through a small bitter amount of espresso and purges a lot of water into the tray. It's as though it senses the grounds and diverts the water - which it does not do when the portafilter is blocked.

If my logic is correct - then the solenoid valve is not pushing water up through to the group head as the water travels though the solenoid valve assembly, but just draining it to the tray. I replaced the solenoid valve assembly a couple of months ago because it was leaking water in several places. I can get water up through the group head with an empty basket in place, but there is very little resistance of course.

So could I make the assumption that if the solenoid valve is not the issue, then it must be the group head? I removed the small hose that runs from the solenoid value to the group head and there is some rust or brown sediment on the o-ring. Has anyone experienced this? I am thinking of removing the boiler and group head, just concerned that it might not go back together.

Any suggestions would be appreciated - I can't admit defeat now. Thanks!!

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Joined: 2 months ago

#10: Post by TheBrad »


After the previous post I started pulling hoses to see if there was anything plugging them. There was not, however I noticed that one of the hoses that goes into the right side of the boiler was missing a small metal grommet that caps off the end of the hose (every hose has one). I had a look way inside the boiler and there it was. So I guess after nine years it was pulled out of the hose.

I removed the boiler from the top of the unit by removing the two screws holding it in place. It shook out easily, replaced everything and I have pressure and a consistent shot.