Latte lover needs help...

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.

#1: Post by Ssbsonya »

OK I am a former Starbucks addict who bought a breville barista pro and now I'm making my own lattes, 2 to 4 per day, and having hit or miss luck. Tried different beans and of course I'd like to stick with one bean and I found a roaster that roasts the day you order them and you get them about two or three days later -blue macaw- so they should be very fresh. They use 100% arabica and do not put any robusta in them. They are very dark (I like dark/strong coffee) and they are actually kind of oily? Almost wet? I sometimes towel them off before I put them in the hopper because once it clogged.

So when I do manage to get a yummy casing latte/cappuccino I'm super excited, but as I sip it , as it cools, (or if I nuke it) it begins to taste like battery acid (for what I would imagine battery acid my taste like) I have played with the grind size, usually between eight and 10, I did take the hopper off and move that burr grind size down one click, I leave it at 13 for volume, and it does it's standard double shot button press which results in exactly 15 seconds extraction time.

I am getting very little crema, and the first beans I tried were Lovato super Crema even with my new freshly roasted all arabica beans I am not getting much crema. and watching the shot pool, it appears to me that it's flowing fast, I have never seen it slow like quotation warm honey quotation so I kept dialing the green size down finer, but it never did change the taste. And since it seems to taste bitter (I think?) I kept thinking I should dial it down to a finer grind. I can hold down the button manually, to extract longer, but I'm not really sure when to stop.

Any tips hints suggestions ideas will be appreciated. I really don't want this to become a second job, I just want a delicious double tall latte 2 to 4 times a day. And I am using skim cow milk for my frothing and I think I'm doing that pretty good. I am able to get the consistency of melted ice cream on top which is what they say, so hopefully it's not my milk turning sour or something. Please help me fellow coffee addicts!!

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#2: Post by Nunas »

Your description of the beans leads me to think that this is the root of the problem. IMO, espresso beans should not be oily. Oily beans are usually too darkly roasted or they are old (yes, I see that you've commented on the freshness of your supplier's beans). The biggest issue with oily beans is that the oil will remain in the grinder and gum it up due to the oil retaining some of the fines on the surfaces. This oil is vegetable oil and it will go rancid. The 'acid' taste is sometimes referred to as a vinegar taste and it is usually caused by the beans. I suggest you give the grinder a good cleaning and try some medium to medium-dark beans. You can play with the grind and the dose to find a suitably strong coffee with these, I'm sure. Like you, I used to use very oily beans roasted very dark, in the mistaken belief that this is what espresso should be made from. I now roast my beans to just before second-crack, which produces a fairly dark but not oily bean. At the most, after being aged for a week there is just a hint of sheen on the surface of the beans.
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#3: Post by slipchuck »

Sounds to me like you need to buy a 0.1 gram scale and weight the dry ground coffee. 18grams is a good starting point.
Then weight the amount of liquid coffee
it should weigh around double the dry coffee at around 36grams.
This should happen between 25 to 30 seconds

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#4: Post by Jeff »

I agree that a lot of the bitterness is likely coming from the beans. A "medium" roast, as I call it, will have no visible oil. A "medium-dark" roast will be a darker "chocolate" brown, with either no oil seen, or perhaps just a hint of a few, barely shiny drops. Regrettably, labels on bags or websites aren't very helpful without knowing how a given roaster defines their "medium" or "light".

Some coffees, especially what I call medium-dark or darker, need to be cut short to help keep excessive bitterness out of the cup. This might mean grinding for a 1:2 shot in 25 seconds, but stopping somewhere before it "goes blonde".


#5: Post by klee11mtl »

Like you, I was a former Sbux regular and purchased my Barista Pro in the early COVID days.

I'm going to echo slipchuck's recommendation. You can get a 0.1 gram scale on Amazon for about $20 if you don't want to spend on a high end one. Relying only on the grinder timer ("13 for volume") won't give you the consistent coffee volume you'll want and definitely will vary greatly when using different coffee beans. With my machine, I like 1:1.75 - 1:2.75 in 22 - 32 secs depending on coffee so I also concur with his numbers.

From the times others have mentioned, you can see that 15 seconds is really short. Even shorter on this machine considering the default setting for a double includes an 8 second pre-infusion. From the info you provided, sounds to me like you don't have enough coffee and/or you need to grind finer. I don't find the included Razor tool to be very useful but it might help you here before you get your scale. After you have filled your basket and tamped, use the Razor. If your coffee level doesn't reach the Razor, you definitely don't have enough coffee in the basket.

I've used very oily beans (Peet's Major Dickason's) with this grinder and was able to get good extractions so I would not lean towards the beans as your problem as long as they are fresh. Oily beans are generally darker roast so as Jeff alluded, you'll probably want those on the shorter time frame. If you're going to stick with the oily beans though, you should consider running grinder cleaning beans through them regularly since you've already mentioned clogging.

As for the milk, my wife drinks 1% lattes and I drink the 2%. IMO, the 2% is significantly better tasting. At least until you develop some consistency, my suggestion would be to use the same milk you normally order from Sbux as your baseline.

Don't give up on yourself or the machine. The learning curve isn't that bad and once you get the hang of it, this machines makes VERY good lattes.

Ssbsonya (original poster)

#6: Post by Ssbsonya (original poster) »


OK my Brevell barista pro was awesome at first, I felt like my lattes tasted almost like my triple grande's at Starbucks. I tried some great beans off of eBay that roast and then ship the same day supposedly and they were fine. Even my first batch I bought from Starbucks was fine. Then I started my second batch of Sumatra blend from the same roaster off eBay who is a top rated seller if that means anything, and started having troubles. Watched 1 million videos, read 1 million forums, learning a lot but still confused and really don't wanna spend all weekend trying to dial in my coffee. I just wanna drink a latte...3 times a day.

I even started tasting the espresso as recommended, and looked at that coffee wheel of taste, and still I'm not sure if it's sour or bitter. I think it taste like nail polish remover. Or what I'd imagine that taste like. It never flows slow, it's not getting choked - it flows fast to me and it seems to be watery in consistency. I used to have no crema (but the latte tasted decent) but now that I have the grind dial down lower, I have decent crema but it still taste awful. To make matters worse I've now tried four different beans and I can taste a bit of a difference but I still can't get rid of that awfulness/chemically taste.

I'm gonna try to post a video I've taken the grind side all the way down to two and all the way up to 12. my internal burr is now at four and my shot times are as long as 35 seconds and as short as 15. I feel like I'm tamping very consistently in my grind amount is usually 13 to 15. I don't weigh it, I'm sorry I really don't want to get a scale. Thanks for all your help!

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#7: Post by slipchuck »

Try locally roasted beans that are 3 to 7 days old

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#8: Post by chipman »

I don't understand purchasing thru ebay when the major roasters all operate their own online stores.

Ssbsonya (original poster)

#9: Post by Ssbsonya (original poster) »

Thank you so much for your reply, I am now weighing the coffee and I'm getting a good 15 to 18 g in consistently but when I weighed out for it's 55 g which makes sense, because it's a double shot so it should weigh 55 g however all of these postings talk about getting twice as much out so why am I getting so much coffee out?

I've had the grind size all the way down to one and all the way up to 12 a higher grind makes the coffee more palatable but weak and a fine or grind it makes it-I don't know stronger? Richer? but also has that chemically taste.

when I taste the shot, it taste like what I might imagine paint thinner taste like. I just can't seem to get a good taste and I know I am consistently tamping And consistently getting 15 to 18 g in. The razor trim shows set my puck is spot on full, or a little over full.

And, even if it taste decent at first, as it stands -or if I dare to heat it up, that chemically taste gets worse and I end up having to dump it out.
The automatic double shot rarely goes over 15 seconds and I get 55 g out in 15 seconds! What does this mean?


#10: Post by walr00s »

The automatic double shot rarely goes over 15 seconds and I get 55 g out in 15 seconds! What does this mean?
It means you're not getting enough puck resistance and the water is passing too quickly over the coffee grounds probably at too low a pressure. If you're using a naked basket, the first place to start is with a finer grind. If you're using a pressurized basket...I'm not really sure how to fix it, probably higher dose.
when I taste the shot, it taste like what I might imagine paint thinner taste like.
To me, this screams bad beans. Even a massively under-extracted shot like what is described above should just taste watery and very sour. "Chemical tasting" to me suggests that you need to go buy some freshly roasted (4-14 days old) beans.

I would then take those beans and dose consistently, probably high (so 18g every time, 15-18 is a fairly large range), grind probably as fine as your machine will let you, level and tamp quite hard. If the water runs through that puck in less than 25 seconds, it may be time to investigate a higher quality grinder.