Breville Barista Express - Acidic Espresso Shots

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.

#1: Post by optimist428 »

Hi guys
I am really grateful to have found a place where coffee enthusiasts and professionals help each other.
I am facing a problem with my breville barista express. My espresso taste quite acidic despite using a fine grinding setting on my Eureka mignon and despite having the pressure gauge on my machine at the max with a very slow extraction (18g aiming for 36ml shot but taking 40+ sec to reach that volume). I used 5 different types of coffee beans all are freshly roasted (medium) and still I wasn't able to get that balanced acidity that I got from the same grinder and coffee beans but with my friend's ECM synchronika.

What can I do to better my espresso shots in my situation?

Thank you so much

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#2: Post by lessthanjoey »

Forgive what might seem like a simple question, but are you sure the shots are acidic and not bitter?

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#3: Post by Jeff »

That is a good question.

If the beans are truly medium or medium-dark (no visible oil or sheen, even patches), I'd try loosening the grind and shooting for a more conventional 1:2 (for example, 18 g in, 36 g out) in about 25 seconds from pump on. That may be closer to a balanced cup, or at least another data point for taste.


#4: Post by klee11mtl »

Also just to make sure it wasn't a typo, if you are trying to use the traditional 1:2 ratio, your 18g in should be extracting 36g out and not necessarily the 36ml you posted.


#5: Post by K7 »

If the pressure gauge is near the max, it's operating at 13-14 bar (see my recent post on this). At this pressure and 1:2 ratio at 40+ sec, it's usually overextracted bitter mess, at least for me when I had the BBE,....unless it's channeling like crazy in which case it's a mix of sour and bitter.

Did you use a bottomless portafilter to confirm it's not channeling?

If not, you should get one asap to nail down your shot mechanics first.

[EDIT] Actually, depending on what you are after, you may not want to throw more money on the BBE by adding a new portafilter. Selling it to another newbie who will be quite happy with it (because great milk drinks and sometimes Americanos are still possible) and buying yourself a different machine may be the smarter thing to do.

optimist428 (original poster)

#6: Post by optimist428 (original poster) »

No. It taste acidic like a lemon

optimist428 (original poster)

#7: Post by optimist428 (original poster) »

I used a naked portafilter and I see the bottom sometimes squirting coffee once or twice during the extraction.
I used ml, but I meant gm of extracted coffee
Coffee should have tasted bitter based on the recipe and the parameters I explained in my message. But I don't know what I am doing wrong. Sometimes I would pull nice shots but I can't reproduce the results

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#8: Post by K7 » replying to optimist428 »

I found extracting at 13-14 bar like you are doing now is difficult because channeling happens more easily. It is doable, however, if your puck prep skill is good and can manage to avoid early channeling. In my experience with the BBE, I got much better results with significantly lower dose like 14 g w/ appropriately finer grind. You have a solid grinder in Mignon Specialita so you should be able to go very fine. You may try this:

- Fix dose at 14g.
- Grind fine enough so that you get ristretto type pour (may take more than 10 secs before seeing first drips)
- Pull multiple shots with different stopping points relative to blonding or turning translucent to search for the optimal tasting spot. I found that, at this high pressure and very fine grind, blonding (and the best tasting spot) tends to happen noticeably faster than typical 18g dose, 9 bar shots you see everywhere. So you may end up with something like 15 sec preinfusion followed by only 15 sec full pressure pour and maybe 1:1 ratio; YMMV.
- Ideally, you shouldn't see any channeling (minor dotting spritzes are ok at this high pressure IMO) until puck is more or less fully extracted. Because 14g puck is much thinner than at 18g, avoiding channeling will be more difficult, though.

One of those shots should at least get rid of the consistent sourness. If too bland, increase dose to like 15g and grind coarser. All in all it's not easy working at 13 bar, and straight ristretto shots were too strong to my taste. But I had some of the sweetest and most flavorful Americanos with Ethiopian coffees out of it. No problem with milk drinks, either.


#9: Post by Markedbycoffee »

I'm having similar issues too with my Breville when I tried my new Vario grinder.

Just got a baratza vario (slowly creeping up the upgrade path) but fresh Klatch house espresso beans ground at 2Q (18gm, double basket), 3Q (8gm), 4Q(8gm) resulted in no extraction. At 6Q (8gm) and tamp, nothing, only with 6Q and light tamp was there flow... but way too fast 10sec to get 20gm total.

The pressure gauge after pre-infusion goes to max in the no extraction attempts.

I'm disappointed that I can't use a fine grind on the machine--should I just dose way less? single--> what gm? double--> what gm? The other issue is that with lesser amount of beans, when I tamp, it hits the ridge inside (of the single) and I cannot get a good puck. The only thing that I noticed is that at fine grinds (2-4), the espresso compacts so much that it didn't seem like there was sufficient grinds except that I weighed the portafilter on the scale.

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#10: Post by Jeff »

I'd check that you're not using a pressurized basket. If you're using a conventional basket and can't find solutions in other threads about your machine (the BDB is a very different machine than yours), you might want to open a thread of your own. The challenges you face are very different than the content of this thread.