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Thread: Argh!! Constant under extraction.....

  1. #1
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    Argh!! Constant under extraction.....

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hoping to get some advice on issues with my new machine. Got a Breville Barista Express for mothers day, based on reviews and feedback, seems like a good machine for price and fairly easy to use, however I haven't had a decent cup since getting it because of constant under extraction (insert poking knife into eye smiley face here!).

    I have changed the grind, put it on the finest setting to see if at least I would go from under to over (at least then I could tinker with the grind to get it right) but that didn't change a thing (still sour, watery and fast shot, and incredibly low registering on the pressure dial). Have looked at numerous U-Tube videos to check my dose and tamper and that seems to be okay (level of the tamper in line with the portafilter correct etc) but STILL no change (once again, sour, watery, shot of only about 15 sec from start to finish).

    This morning I changed from using a single wall filter to using a double wall filter, thinking that even though I am grinding my own, that not being the best beans it might be the problem (states in the manual that dosing / tamping etc is not as important with these as they help to regulate the pressure better then the single wall ones) Right! I thought, if I am the problem then surely using the double walled filters will get me somewhere........wrong. Still watery, sour and crap (and only raised the pressure gauge slightly, no where near the "ideal" zone). Last effort, for experimental purposes, was trying with some crap pre-ground coffee......didn't even register on the pressure gauge.

    I am wondering if I have a faulty machine??? Is there any way to test this?? Any tips that any of you more experienced people might have, that I haven't tried?? I would have thought that tinkering with the grind, dose and tamper would at least change the extraction a bit (like I said, even if I get over extraction) but next to no change is bizarre. Next step I guess is to contact Breville for advice.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cinders View Post
    Hoping to get some advice on issues with my new machine. Got a Breville Barista Express for mothers day, based on reviews and feedback, seems like a good machine for price and fairly easy to use, however I haven't had a decent cup since getting it because of constant under extraction (insert poking knife into eye smiley face here!).

    I have changed the grind, put it on the finest setting to see if at least I would go from under to over (at least then I could tinker with the grind to get it right) but that didn't change a thing (still sour, watery and fast shot, and incredibly low registering on the pressure dial). Have looked at numerous U-Tube videos to check my dose and tamper and that seems to be okay (level of the tamper in line with the portafilter correct etc) but STILL no change (once again, sour, watery, shot of only about 15 sec from start to finish).

    This morning I changed from using a single wall filter to using a double wall filter, thinking that even though I am grinding my own, that not being the best beans it might be the problem (states in the manual that dosing / tamping etc is not as important with these as they help to regulate the pressure better then the single wall ones) Right! I thought, if I am the problem then surely using the double walled filters will get me somewhere........wrong. Still watery, sour and crap (and only raised the pressure gauge slightly, no where near the "ideal" zone). Last effort, for experimental purposes, was trying with some crap pre-ground coffee......didn't even register on the pressure gauge.

    I am wondering if I have a faulty machine??? Is there any way to test this?? Any tips that any of you more experienced people might have, that I haven't tried?? I would have thought that tinkering with the grind, dose and tamper would at least change the extraction a bit (like I said, even if I get over extraction) but next to no change is bizarre. Next step I guess is to contact Breville for advice.
    Thanks for your story. But you need to give some more specific info for anyone to be able to help.

    What beans are you using? How old are they?

    What grinder are you using?

    EDIT: Oh and welcome!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve82 View Post
    Thanks for your story. But you need to give some more specific info for anyone to be able to help.

    What beans are you using? How old are they?

    What grinder are you using?

    EDIT: Oh and welcome!
    Sorry Steve, the Barista is the model that comes with a built in grinder. I am using beans bought at the supermarket at the moment (Café Aurora) as I haven't been able to get to a proper coffee place yet (three kids 5 and under in tow.....yikes!). I would have thought that although they aren't the best, I would get some change in my extraction if I changed a few things, especially using the double walled filter?

    Thanks for the welcome too :-)

  4. #4
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    Well you just answered your own problem = supermarket beans.....

    Go onto beanbay and order yourself a bag of Espresso WOW, roasted fresh to order then see how you go.

    Alternatively source some beans locally, find a local roaster and only by the beans if they have a roast date stamped on them. Anywhere from 3 - 5 days post roast up to 3 weeks you should see a dramatic improvement.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Yep, what Steve said.
    Bypass the supermarket.

  6. #6
    Senior Member David8's Avatar
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    And invest in some single walled filter baskets. That will also improve your coffee. But make sure you fix the bean freshness issue first, don't try supermarket beans with single walled filters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David8 View Post
    don't try supermarket beans with single walled filters.
    I agree Beanbay or a local roaster is your best choice, but...
    At risk of beinghunted down & burnt at the stake... if you really have no other option but the supermarket, they will work fine if you are careful and only buy packs with the correct "Roasted on",.. "best before".. or "use by" date.
    Its complex,.. but you are looking for beans that have been roasted and packed within a week or two ( 3 max).
    Some packs have a "use by" date that is 12 months forward of the date packed, others have an 18 month period so be careful.
    Gloria Jeans actually have a roast date and often are the freshest , as do Coles "select" beans.
    Harris and Vittoria have a 12 month "best before" period.
    For example, if you were buying today, you would want a best before date NO LESS than May 1st 2014
    If they have an April 2014 or earlier date, they are more than 2 weeks old.
    Pick a busy Smarket with a high turnover and you will find beans less than 2-3 weeks from roasting.
    Not the ultimate , but they will brew well and can give better coffee than the majority of cafe offerings.
    simonko likes this.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by David8 View Post
    And invest in some single walled filter baskets. That will also improve your coffee. But make sure you fix the bean freshness issue first, don't try supermarket beans with single walled filters.
    Cinders already has them


    Quote Originally Posted by Cinders View Post
    This morning I changed from using a single wall filter to using a double wall filter, thinking that even though I am grinding my own, that not being the best beans it might be the problem (states in the manual that dosing / tamping etc is not as important with these as they help to regulate the pressure better then the single wall ones) Right! I thought, if I am the problem then surely using the double walled filters will get me somewhere........wrong. Still watery, sour and crap (and only raised the pressure gauge slightly, no where near the "ideal" zone). Last effort, for experimental purposes, was trying with some crap pre-ground coffee......didn't even register on the pressure gauge.

  9. #9
    Senior Member David8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve82 View Post
    Cinders already has them
    My mistake. =) That's good to hear.

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    Thanks guys! Knew I had to get some decent beans, just didn't think that supermarket beans would make that much of a difference (hope I didn't make too many of you spit your coffee out at that remark ), going to bite the bullet and throw the kids in the car and head out for a look (I really want to solve this problem and get me a decent coffee!!). Just looked at the best before date on my pack and based on what you said above Blend 52, I am too embarrassed to let you know what it states.

    Shall be back with an update when I find some top notch beans :-)

  11. #11
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    I bought Vittoria because I have several friends who drink and like Nescafe - I didn't see the point of wasting my Custom Coffee beans non people who scoffed at the idea of different coffee. And with no exceptions they have loved the Vittoria. One of them now gets the good beans because he showed interest - might make a coffee snob of him yet...

    But that showed me it is quite possible to get reasonable coffee from supermarket beans. If you are getting watery and under-extracted fast pours it isn't the beans. The beans might mean you don't get the best of flavour but the grind, tamp and dose give you the proper pour and consistency. Even if the beans are average, changing one (or all) of those 3 things should give you drinkable coffee.

    And if single wall and double wall filters are giving the same result, I'd be looking at the process. And if the pour is coming through fast, I'd doubt it is lack of pressure from the machine - that would give a slow pour no matter what.

    Silly question, so don't take offence, are you tamping the coffee? I saw a girl at the pub I worked at simply level off the dose and put it on the grouphead - she thought that was what tamping meant. You should be putting a good firm pressure on the dose - I've seen 14 - 18kg weight recommended, but you can vary it depending on the grind and beans. Get hold of some scales and practice with the tamp to see what kind of pressure you are using.

    But if tamp, grind and dose are within a fairly broad range of correct and you are not getting any change in the coffee, then I'd guess the grinder is the issue. Grind some beans on coarse and then run the grinds between your fingers. Should feel a bit like sand. Then do it again on finest setting and it should feel like powder - a bit coarser than talcum but in the ballpark of that kind of feel. If there is no difference, your grinder isn't working as it should.

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    Bah! Now I am even more confused...........went and got some good beans, came home and put them to the test. The first shot was still under extracted but readjusted the grind setting and bingo, lovely strong coffee, with the pressure gauge reading in the normal range. I came on to post about it and read Journeyman's post, so decided to do a little experiment and re-test the old beans, kept the same setting as for the new beans and the first shot didn't raise the dial at all, and I thought "ha, must be the beans", went and did another shot for good measure and up the dial went into the normal range????

    As far as I am aware I haven't changed the dose or tamper (and yep I am tampering right, watched 3 U-Tube videos on it). It doesn't taste as nice as the new coffee and is still a little watery in comparison, but I am stumped as to what the heck I have done / haven't done.

    I will have a little more of a play with it, as I don't think I have the grind completely right yet but the experiment has been interesting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cinders View Post
    Bah! Now I am even more confused...........went and got some good beans, came home and put them to the test. The first shot was still under extracted but readjusted the grind setting and bingo, lovely strong coffee, with the pressure gauge reading in the normal range. I came on to post about it and read Journeyman's post, so decided to do a little experiment and re-test the old beans, kept the same setting as for the new beans and the first shot didn't raise the dial at all, and I thought "ha, must be the beans", went and did another shot for good measure and up the dial went into the normal range????

    As far as I am aware I haven't changed the dose or tamper (and yep I am tampering right, watched 3 U-Tube videos on it). It doesn't taste as nice as the new coffee and is still a little watery in comparison, but I am stumped as to what the heck I have done / haven't done.

    I will have a little more of a play with it, as I don't think I have the grind completely right yet but the experiment has been interesting.
    I suggest you eliminate the variable of your dose weight = get some scales.

    Search evil bay for 100g x 0.01 DIGITAL PRECISION POCKET JEWELLERY SCALES

    at $15 you cant go wrong.

    As for beans, just follow the less than 3 weeks from roast date rule and you will be fine. As mentioned above if you can find some in the supermarket such as coles finest or GJ that have appropriate roast date, they will still make pretty decent coffee.
    thegoner and Gustopher like this.

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    certainly dossing and tamping are important as well.

    lots of variables can lead to confusion

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    The good beans will give a different result to the supermarket ones. I have 2 different settings for mine and they 'drift' according to age, more so for the good ones than the sm ones.

    Did you try the 'feel' test? Another issue might be that some grinders do not clean out the grinds (grounds?) from the previous grind; you may have ground the new beans at somewhere close to the right grind and then the sm beans came with a dose of the good beans in front of the sm beans - I am not sure how that would affect the pour.

    Also I have noticed, when I am close to the right grind setting, a very slight difference in the tamping pressure makes a significant difference in the pressure reading and the extraction. I'm about to perform the Ray_C mods on my grinder for exactly that reason - currently it is too variable for me to get a consistent quality in my coffee - same beans, same amount, same (approx) tamp and I can go from bottom of the good pressure on the scale to above the top of the good pressure.

    Coffee making is an art but it should not be a psychic art.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    But that showed me it is quite possible to get reasonable coffee from supermarket beans. If you are getting watery and under-extracted fast pours it isn't the beans. The beans might mean you don't get the best of flavour but the grind, tamp and dose give you the proper pour and consistency.
    Stale beans don't do this unless you grind stupendously fine and/or overstuff.

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    Thanks once again everyone, have had a bit more of a play today and I think I have sussed the correct grind / dose & tamper with the good beans, might have a play around with the old ones and see if I can get them working (just because I am stubborn really) I did the grind test and had a friend who popped in blind test and she picked the ones that had been ground coarser so I think my grinder is okay.

    I have also changed the way I tamper slightly, saw a u-tube video of someone levelling off the portafilter with a small knife before tamping it (she "pushed" her mounded coffee amount down by gently "cutting" into it with the edge of the knife to evenly distribute it and then levelled it off with the side of the knife, then tamped it), this seems to have improved things for me. Might be the long way round of going about things but until I get better at it I think this might be the way to go.

    Thanks once again, and I am sure there will be more questions in time :-)

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    There's a thought - do you tap/bang your handle after you fill it? My process is:
    - half fill or a little more
    - shake gently to level out the mound
    - fill again until the mound is just at the level of the spout (done right, as I remove the pf the tip of the spout just slightly flattens off the mound)
    - shake again to level the mound
    - bang handle (the spout) on the cutting board beside where my machine is to 'settle' the grind - it will collapse reasonably evenly by a few mm's. (taking care not to let the handle twist in my hands and so spill my grind )
    - Tamp by pressing to required pressure, then release pressure and twist tamper to 'polish' the surface of the grind

    This gives me a good pour from my Custom Coffee beans and a drinkable one from the Vittoria beans. My grind is about 3 places different for the good beans compared to the Vittoria's. My tamp pressure is a bit lighter for the good beans.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
    There's a thought - tap/bang your handle after you fill it
    +1

    Be consistent, though. 2 taps/bangs will compress your coffee more than 1. One thing I've learnt is that being consistent is really important.

    I had the same problem as you (complete under extraction with mid-level Breville) and getting a better grinder fixed that problem for me.

    Cinders, the technique you describe above should work well (levelling before tamping). Keep experimenting and let us know how you go. Maybe get some more fresh cheap beans, as the old ones will mislead you.

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    To get the best out of roasted coffee beans they should be used between about one and three or four weeks after roasting and be freshly ground on demand. Many coffee sellers put the date roasted on their packets, however supermarkets generally use a date best used by, which can be up to two years after roasting. This is a guide to tell staff when to chuck it out.

    While coffee sold by supermarkets may once have made acceptable coffee when fresh, after several months on the shelf it is only suitable for garden mulch, not for making quality coffee.

    Barry

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    Same problem as original post!

    Hi there,

    I've been searching the internet for a solution for this similar problem. I've had the Breville Barista Express for a couple of months now and have been having the same problem as the first post. No matter how I adjust the grind, dosage, tamp it the shot is consistently under extracted running far to fast with the pressure dial barely going higher than the pre-infusion stage.

    I work as a Barista and use freshly roasted beans from our roastery (in-house) so I know that's not the problem like it seemed to be for the previous post.

    I've been able pull an ok shot everynow and again by stopping the grind and tamping 3 seperate times before actually extracting shot (which is just stupid). I've seen youtube videos where they are using the machine and pulling perfect shots everytime.

    Any ideas would be greatly helpful!

  22. #22
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    grind too coarse?

  23. #23
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    Hello and welcome Jeb.

    I had a Bes860 and had troubles getting it to grind fine enough.

    Take a look at:
    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-eq...tml#post526056
    and
    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-eq...tml#post514684

    Barry

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    Quote Originally Posted by jebwiseman1 View Post
    Hi there,

    I've been searching the internet for a solution for this similar problem. I've had the Breville Barista Express for a couple of months now and have been having the same problem as the first post. No matter how I adjust the grind, dosage, tamp it the shot is consistently under extracted running far to fast with the pressure dial barely going higher than the pre-infusion stage.

    I work as a Barista and use freshly roasted beans from our roastery (in-house) so I know that's not the problem like it seemed to be for the previous post.

    I've been able pull an ok shot everynow and again by stopping the grind and tamping 3 seperate times before actually extracting shot (which is just stupid). I've seen youtube videos where they are using the machine and pulling perfect shots everytime.

    Any ideas would be greatly helpful!
    These machines are finicky to say the least and all seem to vary a little. However, you should be able to get decent results straight out of the box without modification. It sounds like you have a faulty one, so I'd be looking to exchange it as you could void your guarantee.



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