Need help with consistency on my Breville Dual Boiler

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
Kelseyscoffee

#1: Post by Kelseyscoffee »

Hello!

I just recently opened a micro (100sq ft) coffee shop in the front of my dad's chocolate shop. I'm an esthetician by trade but I'm a coffee enthusiast and do it as a hobby. Since the pandemic I thought I can turn this into a little business. But boy I did not realize how hard it is to produce a quality shot of espresso consistently!! One day it's good, the next decent, the next disgusting! I've gotten sour, extremely sour, tolerable, good, bitter, burnt, bland and dry. The whole spectrum.

This is my setup and routine

* Breville Dual Boiler (I know, but it's all I could afford right now)
* Baratza Sette 270 Wi
* Acaia Lunar scale
* Distributor
* WDT tool

I turn on the machine and give it 30-45 minutes to heat up. I pull a dummy shot and wipe the basket. Grind 20g, distribute then tamp with firm consistent pressure each time. I warm up the shot glass then insert and pre infuse for 7 seconds and my output is 30g within 28-35 seconds.

Normally that works fine for me. Today though it was astringent, bitter and had a terrible aftertaste for hours. Not even milk and sugar could mask it. So I went finer and finer but still terrible. I did clean the machine and adjusted my grind setting to 3A and that seemed to do the trick... for now!

I am surprised how frequently I have to adjust. One day on the setting it's great but the next day same setting it doesn't taste the same. I've only been using an espresso machine for 3 weeks and I hope it'll get easier to dial in shots. I'm wasting so much of my beans. :(

Edited to add... I forgot to mention. I'm using local beans that I get every 2 weeks. They say it's a medium dark roast. My dad's friend who is a real espresso aficionado says that the outside of the bean is "scorched" while the inside is still light. Maybe it's partly the bean?

Any advice is so appreciated!

pcrussell50

#2: Post by pcrussell50 »

In order of likelihood...

1) beans
2) grinder
3) machine least likely

Still in a shop environment where you are pulling shots over a long stretch, (say, an eight hour shift), it is not unusual to need to make many fine adjustments to the grinder to retain dial-in. And that's on expensive large commercial grinders whose settings do not drift as much as they are likely to on a Sette. TL;DR if you are going to be pulling shots all day, you are going to need to accept the notion of chasing your grind setting over the course of your shift. Every barista starts his shift by dialing in the day's grind. He does not count on it to be right on the money, right off the bat.

Also, the darker the roast the less you are likely to need pre infusion. You can try setting the pre infusion to zero. The description of "scorched on the outside and light on the inside" is a little troublesome and needs more looking into. Or trying another bean.

As for the BDB, it is probably one of the most consistent machines you can buy at any price. It has multiple PIDs terminating in an actively heated group head. That puts it into saturated brew group territory for temperature stability. More than one pro barista has made this observation.

BTW, good on you for caring enough what you put out, to taste it and want to make it better.

-Peter
LMWDP #553

pankrakes

#3: Post by pankrakes »

Hi Kelsey

I have the exact same setup (except my Sette is not a W). One thing I recently noticed with my Sette is the micro adjustment drifts towards course during the grind. Its a commonly known issue with the Sette. Baratza sent me a piece of felt that creates more friction between the adjustments and now it doesn't shift at all, and my shots are significantly more consistent.

When you grind, watch the micro closely. If you see it shaking or moving slightly, tighten the three screws under the micro adjustment (you can do this without taking the burrs out).

If your grinder isn't drifting at all, its either the beans, as you and Peter stated, or your puck prep. The Sette and the BDB reveal bad puck prep very easily.

Read some posts about proper puck prep: single dosing with RDT, WDT, etc. As a newbie myself, focusing on those items really helped me understand my issues with puck prep. Once I understood where my issues are with puck prep, I stopped blaming the Sette for my issues.

Quester

#4: Post by Quester »

I agree with Peter that it's probably not your machine-unless it's an anomaly. When I first got my BDB seven years ago, I was using it on Saturday's to make coffee for 25 people as fast as possible. There were two of us teaming up, so the limitation was steaming. Which is why I purchased a GS3 AV. But in terms of quality of shot, the BDB was right up there with the GS3. And I still own the BDB.

It would be helpful if you had a bottomless portafilter and videoed your routine and the shot pouring. Without seeing the bottom of the basket, you are flying blind.

Also, I almost always adjust the grind slightly as I'm making lots of coffee. There are so many factors, like air temperature, humidity, burrs getting warm.

Finally, some roasters are producing inferior roasts, or inconsistent roasts. I would suggest trying some roasters recommend by people on this forum. And if you are ordering enough beans at a time, you could talk to one about a wholesale account. Some roasters will do this for quantities as low as 5 lbs.

tennisman03110

#5: Post by tennisman03110 »

I'm far from an expert, but have the same setup, minus the "W" on the grinder. I only make a shot or two a day, but it's super consistent. And very good. I never used to drink espresso out much, but I'm blowing away everything I've had minus some local specialty shops (Black and White brewed by the roasters themselves)

I agree it's not the machine, assuming it's new, or at least working properly. The concern I see in your post in the shot time variation. If you keep ever else the same, 7 seconds range is a bit high.

I suspect beans. You receive them every two weeks, but is there a roast date? I start my coffee anywhere from 5 days (darker) to 10 days off roast. I notice little variation across the entire bag, which can be up to 3 weeks. Only minor adjustments to micro grind setting once or twice a week as beans age. My Dual Boiler is stock without any mods.

Luckily, beans are the easiest variable to test. Try something freshly roasted from a larger roaster, plenty of options on this site. Then you can determine, or at least eliminate, a possible failure point.

ping279

#6: Post by ping279 »

Hi Kelsey,

I have the exact same setup at home and suspect it could be the grinder or actually grinding technique. For the beans that I normally use, I will have to adjust the fine adjustment towards more fine every couple of days or so. Say I start with brand new beans at a setting of 6F. After 2-3 days I'll normally be somewhere around 6E. It doesn't take much in my experience, most of the time I'm adjusting by a half stop (halfway between letters). Also like Anthony said... "One thing I recently noticed with my Sette is the micro adjustment drifts towards course during the grind", I have noticed this as well but it doesn't always happen. Just something to be mindful of. I've found that as long as I keep an eye on it when grinding, it hasn't been too much of an issue. My procedure is grind 10g, tap and settle those grounds, make sure the grind setting hasn't moved, then grind the remaining 10g.

When you are grinding finer to try and fix the problem, are you also pulling the shot for longer? Could be that you've gone finer but the time didn't allow for the shot to be fully pulled. My current beans (Mexico med-dark roast) I have found taste best when ground to where the pressure gauge reads 8.5 bars pressure at the beginning of extraction. The espresso will just trickle out but I will let it run for a total of 36-40 seconds. I also have my machine set to 7 seconds of pre-infusion. You mentioned you're doing 20g in and 30g out, maybe try pulling closer to 40g out? I also do 20g in and have found most beans don't like much less than a 1-2 ratio.

pankrakes

#7: Post by pankrakes » replying to ping279 »

Nathan, Baratza is very well aware of the micro adjustment shifting. There's a pdf on their website to fix it. Basically tighten three screws below the micro adjustment. If it still shifts, they'll send you replacement felt for free. Mine hasn't shifted once since I installed the felt. With new felt you can actually over tighten the screws to a point you can't turn the micro without the macro shifting. So it took a bit of adjustment but now there is just the right amount of friction in the micro where I can adjust it without the macro turning, but it doesn't move for days.

Jeff

#8: Post by Jeff »

Beans do age over the span of a week or two, often needing a little adjustment in grind to get a similar flavor shot. Shops often "bump" the grind one way or another several times a day. Seldom, though, is it a big change.

Generally, if the espresso is too bitter, a coarser grind will help bring it closer to balance. So your description was puzzling to me. Maybe it was the cleaning that fixed things? Do you flush and wipe the screen after each shot? Old grinds or water partially wetting the puck before the shot started could impact flavor.

If the beans are as your friend described as scorched in the outside and light on the inside, you might want to try another coffee. Once you find a bean you and your clients enjoy, you can look into buying smaller quantities or split-and-store approaches so you're generally pulling during its peak age.

pcrussell50

#9: Post by pcrussell50 »

Jeff wrote: Generally, if the espresso is too bitter, a coarser grind will help bring it closer to balance. So your description was puzzling to me.
IME, hanging out on espresso forums, some people confuse sour and bitter and often intermix them. Not saying that is the case with the OP, just that it is a thing.

-Peter
LMWDP #553