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BES920 + Smart Grinder requires extremely course grain?

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  • BES920 + Smart Grinder requires extremely course grain?

    Hey folks

    Thanks to the wisdom found on these forums, I'm the new recipient of a BES920 + Smart Grinder + Breville Knockbox. I managed to get the whole lot for $1299 from HN, Alexandria. This is my first Espresso machine, and I've been watching a lot of videos about how to use it, but I'm having one issue in particular.

    I've read here that most people use an extremely fine grind with this grinder + espresso machine combination. However, I've had to go to the coarsest Espresso setting on the grinder to get it to pull a full shot in 30 seconds, yet it tastes very weak and a little bitter. If I go any finer, it takes about 60 seconds to pull a full-sized shot, which is way too long from what I've read. I'm using beans from Cafe Shenkin that were roasted 10 days ago according to the pack, and have gone through an entire kilo trying to get the setting right. I've ended up setting the grinder to double shot, coarsest Espresso grind, with the "adjust amount" setting to 50% less. I'm pouring this into the double shot, single wall filter. I'm getting a good sized Espresso shot in 30 seconds, but it tastes very weak. I'm also using the Razer tool to ensure the grind is at the right height in the portafilter.

    Any ideas what else I can try? I'm burning through the beans, but understand that's normal for an absolute noob like me. I'm planning on doing a Toby's Estate course in the near future (unless there are better Sydney home barista courses), but would like to be able to make a decent coffee in the meantime.

  • #2
    Hello and welcome.

    Sounds like you are doing the right things, perhaps the beans are not to your taste? Is the pour nice and thick and dark for the duration? Perhaps upload a video of your shot so people can see and help.

    Re your grinder being set on the coarsest setting on the espresso scale, that is irrelevant, it depends how "shimmed" your grinder is. Your "course" setting might be the equivalent of almost "finest" setting on another example of the same grinder, with the same resulting grind.



    • #3
      What artman said. The settings are pretty much useless as it depends on the shims.
      The jump from 30 to 60 secs in one click is a bit extreme!
      Mine can have big changes in dose between settings. Is it doing that?
      Could try the 60 sec grind and drop the dose?


      • #4
        Hey guys

        Thanks for the input. I think I have figured out part of the problem - I had been using large teacups to make the coffee, not the smaller coffee cups that are usually used with a single shot. As a result, it's no wonder that it's tasting milky, as I need to use so much to fill the cup. I've now started half filling them and it's much better. It still takes ages to pour when using a finer grind though, even if the coffee seems to have the right consistency as it streams out of the portafilter, with it almost turning into drops.

        I'll film a brew tomorrow to see if that helps troubleshoot the problem.


        • #5
          Just a quick update - I've tweaked my setup to the following:
          - double shot filter for use with large mug
          - set grinder to midway between coarse and fine, amount to 2
          - I'm tampering with much less force

          The pour is now coming out at approx 9bar, takes around 8 seconds to start flowing including pre-infusion stage, takes around 40 seconds all up to fill mug enough for two shots

          Overall much better, but the coffee is a little bitter (it's Mecca coffee) - my local barista is going to come and take a look to help out. Thanks again for all your advice.


          • #6
            Irrespective of your mug size, don’t pour more than 25-30 millilitres through the coffee puck for a single shot or twice that for a double shot. All in about 25-30 seconds. Add hot water or milk to your taste.

            10 day old Mecca beans should be perfect. Try to standardize your dose and tamp and then adjust the grind to get the right pour. As beans age they need a finer grind.

            I use a BES900 and Smart Grinder. I mainly use the single basket in a naked portafilter which will squirt in all directions if the dose and tamp is not correct.

            I have not done a Toby's Estate course. At times Breville offer a free course there when you buy a machine. One of their former trainers is now employed by Breville.