Struggling with single wall basket and Breville Barista Express - Page 2

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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#11: Post by Ken5 »

pwnell wrote:I am using the built in grinder of the breville barista express. However even on 14 (breville recommended setting 5), being very very fine, it does not affect the pressure. 14 is definitely way finer than 5. It is so fine that the max setting on the grind amount produces about 13g, not 18g.
Something is wrong with the 14 being the finest, the smaller the number the finer the grind. From the manual;
There are 18 settings on the GRIND SIZE select dial - The smaller the number, the finer the grind size. The larger the number, the coarser the grind size. We recommend you start at the No. 5 setting and adjust as required.
The fact that the flow did not change much from 5 to 14 is the stale coffee. After trying the new coffee then worry about channeling.

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#12: Post by Ken5 »

pwnell wrote:Thanks for the advice. I'll try and get some fresh beans Monday.
Weird thing is it takes about 12 seconds from press of button to start of dripping - but then finishes 8 seconds later. According to the manual under extraction begins to drip at 1 - 3 seconds and is accompanied with low pressure, over extraction starts dripping after 8 seconds and is accompanied by too high pressure. Mine has elements of both - 12 seconds to start dripping, then no pressure at all after that.
This statement REALLY confused me when I had the machine, It always started to drip at 8 to 10 seconds. Then I ran the machine without the portafilter in place and the water does not even START to drip till 8 to 10 seconds, the same time that it takes the espresso to drip into the cup in a properly prepared bed of grounds. Obviously it comes out at the normal pressure at first drip and just pounds though a properly prepared bed.

So ignore that incorrect passage in the manual, not sure why it is there. Even so, I did get good shots from the machine.

pwnell (original poster)

#13: Post by pwnell (original poster) »

My machine is the 860 - no internal burr settings, and it adjusts from 1 (coarsest) to 14 (finest). I tried finest and it still channeled.

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#14: Post by Jeff »

On tamping, I would try just a simple, square-to-basket tamp with a hand tamper. Hard enough that you can feel the grinds firm up under the tamper. No twisting or tilting which can cause problems with puck integrity without any real gain.

Weigh your doses to at least 0.5 g, preferably 0.1 g. Don't trust a timer to give you consistent doses with different grinds, or even without changing the grind. Grinding finer often means grinding slower. With a timed grinder, you end up with less in the basket, which counteracts the additional resistance of finer grinds.

Fresh beans will help reveal the limits of that grinder. That Breville added adjustments in later models has me thinking you might want to start saving for a stand-alone grinder.

pwnell (original poster)

#15: Post by pwnell (original poster) »

So following the advice given here, I finally managed to get something usable out of the store bought beans:

1. I set the grind size to 16 (I said 14 was the finest but it actually goes to 16 assuming "one past 15 is 16" - it is marked as finest)
2. Dosed 18.0g
3. Tamped straight down - no twisting
4. Pressure went up to about 10:30 on the clock (so slightly below middle - but still good pressure)
5. Extraction was still not right - too much water, too watery, etc. but not nearly as sour as before.

I am thinking I am hitting the limit what my grinder can do with these beans.

So I just got my hand on fresh, locally roasted beans - roasted one week ago.

I set my grind size to 13 (a guess), ground 18g, tamped straight down and tried it - first try.

Pressure was perfectly in middle. I stopped extraction after 35 seconds - so 25 seconds of dripping. Extraction looked like honey - golden and syrupy. Lots of crema. Consistency was thick and dark. I got 36g out from 18g in - so 1:2 ratio.

Taste - it was sweet, intense and incomparable to the store bought beans. Not saying it is right - I can probably go slightly coarser, but this raised my confidence that it is not just me being a newbie - like you said, beans play a big role. It was actually a very nice espresso.

Thanks for all the advice. Now I can start playing around :)

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#16: Post by Ken5 »


Just be aware that as days pass sometimes the grinder setting needs to go finer. Also the next set of beans you buy might need finer, or hopefully coarser.

Weird that they changed the grinder numbers, though it makes sense since it seems everyone else uses smaller numbers for finer.


#17: Post by klee11mtl »

Good to hear the grinder is usable even if you are close to the max fineness setting. While the upper burr in your machine model is not adjustable, the implication on Amazon is a replacement upper burr for the current Barista Express would be compatible with your version so that could be a low cost upgrade. ... B00ZWOXWWW

Personally though, if you're going to spend money for improvement I'd consider a different grinder.

pwnell (original poster)

#18: Post by pwnell (original poster) »

Yep looking at the sette 270wi...