No crema on my espresso

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.

#1: Post by stalemonkey »

Hi everyone,

I am new to using an espresso machine and still learning the techniques. I tried to make an espresso with my Breville barista express but I could not get any crema and the coffee came out very watery.
Here's my setup: I used 18g of lightly roasted beans, double espresso basket, finest grind setting. The extraction is so fast, around 16s for 36g yield. I could only get a very thin layer of crema. The beans are roasted on 4 May but I just opened it this week. What should I do to get a better espresso? Thanks!


#2: Post by Smitward »

Three things to think about.

Try fresher beans and see if that fixes the problem. This sounds like behavior of stale beans

A bottomless portafilter is really helpful to see if you have a lot of channeling which could also be a cause based off the description.

Lastly Light roasted beans generally have a thinner crema and require a finer grind in my experience, but what you're saying is running really fast. There are folks who favor turbo shots for light roasted beans, how did the shots taste?



#3: Post by tompoland »

A few things to try but it would be helpful to know the roast date (agree with Brandon they may be stale) and depth (Light, medium, dark).

In the meantime you can try grinding a lot finer.
Some people drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.


#4: Post by Pressino »

I used 18g of lightly roasted beans, double espresso basket, finest grind setting. The extraction is so fast, around 16s for 36g yield.

If that's the case, your grinder is not able to grind finely enough.


#5: Post by macal425 »

I have just transitioned from the Barista Express to a new machine, so have had around 18 months using the Express. You can get decent espresso from it, however it does have limitations and can be inconsistent. I have zero experience with light roasts, so the tips below may not be as helpful in your case. Not in any correct order:

1. Make sure you are using the non pressurized basket. It comes with a pressurized and non pressurized basket. I was using the pressurized one for a month at the beginning before I realized there was a difference.

2. I don't think it is a stale coffee as you said it had a roast date of May 2nd. Unless you got a bad batch, or it has been opened for a long while, that should still be OK. However, if you can get your hands on a bag from a local roaster that is super fresh, it wouldn't do any harm to start afresh with that new bag.

3. Since you have a light roast, you may have to grind as fine as possible. The built in grinder isn't great, but it should be sufficient to get something decent. Although, as you said, you have it set at the finest setting, you can go even finer than that. If you check the manual, you'll see that you can open up the burrs area and make even more micro adjustments. It's pretty straightforward.

4. You can also try dosing a little higher. Don't be afraid to go up to 19g with the stock, unpressurized, basket.

5. You can try tamping a little bit harder, but don't go overboard.

6. When your shots are running fast, what position does the pressure gauge read? I found that it should be around 1to 2 o'clock on the gauge. (for those that are unfamiliar with the Express, it doesn't show bars, just an ideal espresso range).

7. Since light roasts are generally considered to be harder to get right for espresso, you may want to start your journey with a med/dark roast. It will be more forgiving during the initial learning phase.

8. Always let taste be your guide. When you get something you think tastes good, make a note of the what you did to get there. You can then start making small adjustments to grind/dose/yield/temp to try and improve on that.

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#6: Post by Ken5 »

You said you are on the finest setting for your grinder, which I assume is the built in grinder on you barista express.

There is an an adjustment on the latest models that will give you finer settings. Look it up in the manual. It is not uncommon for new owners to have to make this adjustment, I think 6 is default. I had a barista express for a while and I had to change mine to 2 right out of the box.



#7: Post by erik82 »

Your roast date isn't the problem as 3 weeks post roast for light roasted beans is quite normal. Light roasts don't give nearly as much crema and syruppy espresso as darker roasts so this explains it for a bit. Your problem is clearly the grinder as you need to get around 30s and not16s as that explains all of the problems you're having. No pressure is no crema.

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#8: Post by Ken5 » ... Manual.pdf

Page 22 for instructions to adjust inner burr. Very easy to do.



#9: Post by erik82 »

I had a look at the manual and these type of machines aren't really suitable for light roasts. With adjustments to the grinder you'll probably get a somewhat better result but a separate premium grinder is the way to go if you're into light roasts. Just enjoy max medium to darker roasts which should work well.

stalemonkey (original poster)

#10: Post by stalemonkey (original poster) »

Thanks all for the tips! I will start with adjusting the grinder and using a darker roasts :D