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Thread: HELP! Barista Express driving me to Nespresso

  1. #1
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    HELP! Barista Express driving me to Nespresso

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all,
    Long time Lurker, first time poster. I have the breville Batista express, and I love it... BUT, for the life of me I can't seem to pour a good single shot, whether I use the single or double wall basket. Straight after the pre-infusion, the needle shoots to the edge of the over extracted zone! I get a barely drinkable shot. This doesn't happen on the double shot baskets. I have tried different brings in both extremes, different doses and light and heavy tamp.
    What am I doing wrong?
    I've even bought a nespresso because I need a quick easy coffee in the morning!

    Please help me folks :-)
    Cheers, Patrick

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    Hi Patrick

    IMHO, any machine with an inbuilt grinder destroys the beans within a few hours (beans hate light, temp, moisture and airflow). It gets worse, after grinding, coffee oxidises beyond my drinkability threshold within 15 minutes, so any quantity of retained grinds within the beast for longer than that kill off the next coffee rather effectively.

    Whilst I am sure I could give the thing an A to Z cleanout and make a few decent coffees, I would not try to drink one from the same machine next day... Kinda defeats the convenience aspect doesn't it?

    I would either bite the bullet and get a decent grinder and machine (extra bench space & hassle) or get a Nespresso type thing and hunt around for the best and freshest capsules you can get (CS sponsors? I know at least one does them).

    At the risk of being flamed, a West Perth daily roaster here does good capsules which are worth drinking: you take your machine to them and they dial it in using whichever of their coffees you prefer. After that PITA procedure, you just order more capsules as needed based on no more than 20 days of usage. Always fresh, just be aware that changing your type of roast often requires another setup...

    Let your palate & SWMBO (if any) make the call.

    FWIW, I would make the bench space, however that is why I am in CS.

    Cheers

    TampIt

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    Thanks tampit for the reply, but this doesn't explain what might be happening... why can I pour a really nice double but not single shot? As for the pods... I am very happy visiting the Nespresso Boutique for my capsules, I like their whole experience... but I want my $800 machine to pour a single shot damn it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by patrickbbe View Post
    Thanks tampit for the reply, but this doesn't explain what might be happening... why can I pour a really nice double but not single shot? As for the pods... I am very happy visiting the Nespresso Boutique for my capsules, I like their whole experience... but I want my $800 machine to pour a single shot damn it!
    might be more to do with single shot baskets being much harder to get right... id say put more milk in it if its too much taste or bite the nespresso bullet =p.

    keep in mind what tamp it says would also mean that any grinds retained in the grinder would probably be too fine still - so try dumping out 7-14 g of grounds before expecting the grounds coming out to be the new, adjusted setting grind. maybe that could be whats missing in the equation?

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    What happens if you under-dose the double basket and try a single pour?

    How tapered is the single basket? If it has a significant taper, physics says your tamp is going to over-compress the grind in the base of the basket. Maybe try grinding a little in there to bring it halfway up the slope, then tap & tamp lightly; give a light polish. Then do it again to halfway up the slope again, then tap & tamp lightly and polish. Then grind to the top, tap and tamp lightly, polish and try the pour.

    My thoughts are that this will give several layers in the basket, but they will all be lightly tamped rather than the 15kg tamp normally used. So the wider tamp above each one will not have the amount of compression effect on the lower part of the basket.

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    Quote Originally Posted by patrickbbe View Post
    Thanks tampit for the reply, but this doesn't explain what might be happening... why can I pour a really nice double but not single shot? As for the pods... I am very happy visiting the Nespresso Boutique for my capsules, I like their whole experience... but I want my $800 machine to pour a single shot damn it!
    Hi Patrick

    timdimdom is quite correct: singles are way harder to master. My longer version is that using that machine of yours: not possible unless you clean it all out and use beans freshly poured into the hopper. Then you can spend a few hours dialing it in and you will eventually get it sorted using your single IF your grinder will cope with the variation AND you can figure out the dosing required. Then you have to clean the whole machine out and remove all the extra beans and store them properly until you want to make one more coffee. Seems like too much of a fiddle to bother with.

    The other nasty: Most home grinders retain at least 2 to 5 grams, which will turn any single into trash unless you cannot taste the difference between stale / oxidised and fresh. You can look up a few grinder threads and get far too much info about that subject. FWIW, I recently bought a Mahlkonig Vario (just under $700) mainly due to low grind retention (max 0.5 gram via extensive lab tests, average 0.2g) plus grind particle size consistency for espresso for my home use. Too early to tell whether I am mistaken, but so far so good. Not a recommendation, just a clarification so you can see how highly I rate this issue. Also, I mainly make singles at home these days as a 7g VST basket and a naked portafilter together with a decent SO medium roast is strong enough to haunt your taste buds for over an hour. I hesitate to recommend that combo, as I went through a lot of grief sorting it out.

    A quick example: using my old SB EM480 grinder and a 6910 with one of my usual medium SO roasts: double 15g basket: grind on 9 (out of 25, "normal espresso range" is supposedly 11 to 16), slight overdose and progressive tamp with a really hard first and last tamp. Single 7g basket: grind on 14, underdose by 10%, gentle tamps all the way. See what I mean? It took me nearly a month of tearing my hair out to get the single to work consistently AND it was completely counterintuitive (to me anyway). Background: Been making coffee in an espresso machine since 1970, formal training in 1979, still often used by guys I knew back then to sort out their commercial machines today if they hit a brick wall. Still have a commercial grinder & machine (2 group La Pavoni) amongst others at home, although I prefer to use the domestic stuff unless I am dealing with at least 4 coffees.

    FWIW, even some very upmarket brands make "integrated beasts" like yours, and I have never managed to get a decent "day two+ coffee" out of any of them. Mind you, I have zero tolerance of oxidised or stale coffee. Having lived in the US for a while, the locals there can relish stuff that I would not even consider drinking.

    That is why I suggested either a decent separate grinder (and by virtue of necessity another machine) or to go with after market capsules. BTW, a lot of people are calling them pods. The "tea bag" type of coffee machines (i.e. Philips & maybe Saeco?) are the ones that originally used the term pod, so even that is confusing these days. Not quite interchangeable!

    Anyway, I hope this helps, as I feel you have a choice between quality and convenience looming large.

    Cheers

    TampIt

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    Patrick

    I'd suggest there are many people on this site (including me) who have much more expensive setups but who struggle with single baskets. They're just plain difficult.

    You're getting good results with a double shot, just stick to that. It's not like the extra 7 or 8 grams of coffee is going to cost you much extra in terms of purchasing coffee.

    I look at the single basket that came with my Giotto and scratch my head wondering how I could get an even distribution of coffee along with an even tamp. I'm sure it's not impossible, but would take a lot of effort to get right.

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    Most people can't drink coffee fast enough by themselves to go through even a small bag (250g) of coffee before it goes stale. I'd recommend just drinking a double, and cut it early if you need to. It will probably taste better that way anyway. Single baskets have a variety of issues and can be hard to dose and tamp, sometimes you need a finer grind.
    Carlstephen likes this.

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    Senior Member Erimus's Avatar
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    I purchased this model just over a week ago and can confirm that single shots are quite problematic with this machine and I was having the same problems as you, ie over extraction.
    However, after going through over 1kg of beans I think I've nailed it. I'm grinding at 4 for shop beans and 10 for fresh beans. When filing the single basket just fill it to slightly over full about half an inch over the top, also shake the basket as it's dropping in and then lightly push it down with your fingers level with the top of the basket and then a light tamp, you'll have to experiment and you will get it in the grey range. Almost forgot make sure none of the holes are blocked in the basket, hold it up to the light. I'm hitting around 11 o'clockish on the gauge using this method. No problems with 2 cup basket.
    All in all a great machine for the price, a little finicky to start with, but great lattes, I cant buy a better one, I don't drink black coffee.

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    Why are you having problems with the single pouring faster than the double?

    Because the flowrate depends (inversely) on how much resistance to flow there is, and if all else is the same, there is less resistance if the puck is thinner (such as in a single). You can try grinding finer, or just use the double.

    My normal coffee at home has a 'triple' shot (with equal parts milk), and I had a couple of small take-aways this week which had 'five shots' - so I never use my single anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJack View Post
    Why are you having problems with the single pouring faster than the double?

    Because the flowrate depends (inversely) on how much resistance to flow there is, and if all else is the same, there is less resistance if the puck is thinner (such as in a single). You can try grinding finer, or just use the double.

    My normal coffee at home has a 'triple' shot (with equal parts milk), and I had a couple of small take-aways this week which had 'five shots' - so I never use my single anyway.
    Grinding finer has nothing to do with this problem imho.
    I think the reason is because of the sloping sides in the basket, as someone else has already mentioned in this thread.

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    I said it in another thread, but single baskets on near anything just don't seem to work, or require waaaaaay too much fine tuning, the opinions of TampIt are interesting reading, makes sense, but either which way, little volumes of ground coffee are gona be way more sensitive to work with, and those sloped baskets are a pain for the extraction.

    Best think I ever did, was to just give up on single baskets, drink doubles, even if your not doing like over dosed large doubles, you can have some wiggle room in a double basket for fine tweaking, while mentioning that, dono if it's considered lame, but small set of jewelers scales were the best coffee accessory I ever got (had some laying around), started weighing my grinds in a tared basket one day cause static etc effected 'fill', with the scales it's so easy to get a more repeatable shot.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brevillista View Post
    Grinding finer has nothing to do with this problem imho.
    I think the reason is because of the sloping sides in the basket, as someone else has already mentioned in this thread.
    Not sure why I thought the OP was suffering from quick shots! Grinding finer certainly wont help increase the flowrate

  14. #14
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    Watch Phil McKnight from Breville demonstrate the Barista Express.

    I had a BES860 and had trouble getting it to grind fine enough.

    Take a look at:
    Advice reg Breville BES870 Barista Express
    the Barista Express

    Barry



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