Need help pulling a decent espresso...

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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#1: Post by KodaKoda »

Hi guys, have watched a dozen youtube videos but cannot quite understand why I'm not getting good results.

I have a Breville Express and use Arabica beans from Amazon (will probably buy them fresh going forward).

I use the double basket with 18g of coffee and it runs for about 20 seconds but yields about 58g of liquid. The liquid amount at first made me think I was under extracting, but my pressure gauge is consistently near the top (around 12-1 o'clock). I tried to go finer but my grind size is already at 2 and my Burr size is at 3 so I don't think that's the problem.

One way I found to increase the extraction time to 26-28s is to increase the coffee grounds to about 20g, but in that scenario I'm still extracting 50g+ of liquid (not to mention overfilling my double basket beyond the temp line). I would also say the coffee tastes kinda bitter but I am no tasting expert so would not really base any diagnosis on that point...

Any experts here who could point me in the right direction :( Thank you!!

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#2: Post by beans+crumble »

I agree with you that you should switch to freshly roasted beans that you pick up at a local roaster/cafe or ordered online from a roaster that delivers fresh beans. Old beans will give you poor results and funky extractions. Start with better beans and work from there.

Your dose of 18g for a double basket is a good starting point. When I had a BBE I liked more of a 16g dose and used the standard 1:2 ratio (i.e. 16g in to 32-34g liquid out in roughly 25-30 seconds).

My recommendation would be buy better quality beans and then start the dialing in process. Hang in there as it can be very frustrating at first but once you get past the learning curve it's a lot of fun!

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#3: Post by Milligan »

I remember having issues at first with the BBE. The Breville doesn't have a well set OPV (over pressure valve.) If you are pegging the dial then you are getting around 15-16bar. With that much pressure coming on in a finely ground puck you are probably causing major channels or fracturing the puck. Mine reacted one of two ways when it over pressured at the extreme: choked the machine due to puck compaction or broke the puck causing a gusher. Breaking the puck is a bit less common due to the deep basket but it can happen.

Check this thread out: Breville Barista Express brew pressure and channeling issues

You want to be at the low end of the espresso dial range. If I were to have kept my Breville I would have done the OPV mod. I'd recommend grinding coarser and trying to stay lower in the espresso dial range. It is a bit hard to dial in the machine due to it not limiting pressure but the machine is really meant for milk drinks and not straight shots IMO.

Also, always use fresh coffee (7-10 days past the roast date is optimal.)

KodaKoda (original poster)
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#4: Post by KodaKoda (original poster) »

Thank you so much I will take a look at the thread. If I reduce my quantity and grind coarser, I feel like my flow rate becomes too high. Is there something else I need to change?

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#5: Post by beans+crumble »

I would only change one variable at a time otherwise it will get very confusing and very frustrating very fast! I would choose a dose and leave it. Then adjust the grind settings to see if you can get any improvement.

The typical order of business is to: (1) pick your beans, (2) decide on your dose [usually based on your basket size is a good place to start] & yield (i.e. 1:2, 1:1.5, etc), & then (3) adjust your grind setting your desired recipe... Continue to adjust step 3 until you get to what you want. Adjusting the dose is usually one of the last things I will try if I just can't get where I want to be with grind adjustments.

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#6: Post by Milligan »

KodaKoda wrote:Thank you so much I will take a look at the thread. If I reduce my quantity and grind coarser, I feel like my flow rate becomes too high. Is there something else I need to change?
Yes, it sounds strange but I think in your situation you may need to go coarser because the puck is breaking or channeling at high pressure. The combo of very high pressure and a fast shot has me thinking of puck integrity. If you go coarser then your puck won't break or channel and pressure should be lower. Worth a shot for sure.

Lastly, stale coffee can cause a gusher easily but you usually don't have the high pressure. It would typically be low pressure and fast instead of high pressure and fast. You also won't get much crema. Coffee will look "dead" as it comes out.

I'd stick with the same dose you are doing as long as the puck isn't touching to shower screen. Then back off the grind. It may be a fool's errand if the coffee is stale.

Let us know how that goes and we can go from there.

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#7: Post by macal425 »

I had the BBE for around 1.5 years, until I upgraded a few months ago, and got quite adept at using it with the limitations it has, so hopefully I can help you.

It looks as if you are doing a lot of things right, so my initial thinking is that the beans are to blame. I would definitely start with some fresh beans before getting frustrated and changing everything you do. I would also start with some medium/dark roast beans which will be more forgiving and, in my opinion, are a better bean to learn on the BBE.

After you get some fresh beans, there are a couple of things I noticed from your post that stood out and should be addressed.

1. You stated that the pressure gauge is usually at the 12-1 range. I found that if the gauge was not at least at the 1-2 range, then I was getting fast, underextracted pulls. This suggests that the grind is not fine enough for the beans that you are currently using. Hopefully new beans will get you to that range.

2. It seems as if you are using time as your output decider, rather than weight. You should be using weight, eg 36g if a 1:2 ratio, then seeing how long it takes to pull that ratio. You can then adjust the grind, or the dose to get closer to the preferred time. Around 30 seconds is a usual guideline, however, it should be considered a guideline only. I have had some really good drinks with pull times of 40+ seconds. However, on the flip side, if it is less than 20-25 seconds, it is usually undrinkable for me. Watery/sour.

3. While the built in grinder is OK, it does have its limitations. You are not going to get a good, consistent grinds with it. This can be frustrating as you get to a point where you are doing everything exactly the same, but you get inconsistent drinks. Unfortunately, that is one of the things you have to live with with the BBE.

4. At some point, you may want to consider getting a bottomless portafilter. While it won't affect the quality of the shot, it will help you diagnose issues. Even if you don't know how to diagnose issues, posting a video here will get some expert responses to help you.

Let us know how things go when you get fresh beans and enjoy the learning experience with the BBE. It is a good machine for starting out and learning. However, if you get serious with the hobby, you will outgrow it at some point.

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#8: Post by cannonfodder »

You could review Dans espresso introduction video series.
/newbie-int ... resso.html

Get some good, freshly roasted beans or something from a good online roaster
Get a good espresso grinder

I would start there.
Dave Stephens