Beginner issues in the world of espresso

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.

#1: Post by Fendervogel »

Hi all!

First post here so bear with me. I recently bought a Sage Barista Express. First baby step into the world of making decent coffee at home. I own the thing for a week now and must have made about 4 liters of espresso in total. The problem is, I cannot get one decent cup of espresso out of the machine at all.

What I do:
Measure 18 grams of beans on an accurate scale
Grind 18 grams of beans in the (empty) hopper/grinder
Weigh the porta-filter + ground coffee which then is portafilter + 18 grams.
Extract a double shot of espresso. Using the scale + timer I make sure the yield is 36 grams of liquid coffee. for a 1:2 ratio.

Now here is where I experience trouble. the pre-infusion takes 10 seconds, the machine then dumps 36 grams of liquid espresso out in about 5 seconds. Pressure wise I am in the ''espresso'' zone of the machine but the whole process takes about 15 seconds in total.
Obviously this sounds like the grind is too coarse. So I set the grinder to the finest grind which is 1. The problem persisted.
I then opened the grinder to adjust the internal setting to the finest setting too. So now the grinder cannot go any finer in any way.

What am I messing up here....? :o

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#2: Post by smithflys23 »

I'm no expert, but it seems like this type of machine limits your ability to grind really fine. This in turn limits your choices when it comes to which beans you can use. Your machine probably won't be able to grind fine enough for really light roasts. You're probably going to have to try darker roast bean and see if that helps.

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#3: Post by walr00s »

My parents have this machine. With fresh medium roast coffee, I can sometimes get a decent 2:1 shot in ~25s. It's random though, same day, same coffee, same grind setting, sometimes the shot pours too fast sometimes it doesn't. The grinder on this thing is simply too low quality for consistent espresso without a pressurized basket. If your coffee isn't fresh, change it out, but ultimately if you don't have near infinite patience you're going to want to buy a different grinder.

Fendervogel (original poster)

#4: Post by Fendervogel (original poster) »

Exactly! I understand that consistency is important but this thing seems to literally vary per shot in terms of grind/pressure and time. Might be time to whip out the pressurized basket and see if that works better.

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#5: Post by MB »

The age of the beans after the roasted date will also make a significant difference. For espresso you get fresher taste and more resistance from 6 to 20 days. Any earlier and they tend to make a harsher cup. Some varieties or roasts stale quicker than others but you will get in the ballpark with this range.

To extend the range, you can freeze the beans in the bag and draw from that. Or, if you want to be more particular, you can fill up small canning jars and freeze those in order to use as needed and defrosting before opening. The freezing significantly slows the staling rate.
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#6: Post by SandraF »

More information would be helpful in order to give you a more tailored response.
What grinder do you use? What setting?

What beans? When we're they roasted? Are they dark, medium or light?

Water is saturating puck too quickly obviously.

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#7: Post by Ken5 »

What is the 'roast' date on the bag? As other have said, this is very important. If your coffee only has a use by date this is definitely your problem.

Not a bad idea to use the pressurized basket to see if it is the machine. Actually, I had the machine for a bit, and breville had me install the cleaning disk for one press, the rubber stopper, not the tablet, to see if pressure of the machine was good.

You make no mention about the prep after you dump the weighed grounds in the you stir and make sure the grounds are level? Do you tamp evenly and level? Bad channeling can cause fast pulls. Still think it is the freshness of coffee, but this step is important too.

I am not sure what to think about the 10 second preinfusion number that you stated. I had the bbe a bit and this is always the amount of time it took before the first drip even came out of the machine, evident when running the machine without the portafilter installed. So there is NO preinfusion going on during this time. Watching many YouTube videos on the bbe showed that all the bbe's behave this way.


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#8: Post by Ken5 »

Fendervogel wrote:Hi all!

What I do:
Measure 18 grams of beans on an accurate scale
Grind 18 grams of beans in the (empty) hopper/grinder
Weigh the porta-filter + ground coffee which then is portafilter + 18 grams.
Are you doing this math for each shot? Are you using a digital scale with a tare feature?


#9: Post by jgood »

As has been said -- make sure your beans are fresh -- try some different beans from a good roaster before you address anything else. Failing that working I would say it's the grinder...


#10: Post by slaughter »

I have the same machine and in grind setting 1 there might be times that the machine is choked and does not produce any coffee. you should definitely try different beans as the grinder is capable enough (although not the best). as for your shot time 15 seconds is very low. I got good extractions at 25 (including 10 sec pre-inf) and best flow at 30 seconds but the gauge was a little bit over the espresso range.

try with different beans and repeat all your steps and let us know