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  • Help: getting more flavour from my coffee

    Good morning all,
    I've had my Breville Barista Express (BES870) for about 12 months now; this is my first espresso machine. I had a barista come over and help me pull good shots, and I'm happy with what I can make at home. However, like all of us I'm looking at the next step - I'm finding my coffee lacks subtleties and flavours. The beans I'm using are from the two cafes where I exclusively eat-in/take away my coffee - so I'm directly experiencing the difference from commercial equipment to my humble BES870. Essentially what I'm trying to achieve is pulling more flavours out of my coffee, at the moment my coffee tastes good - but it has a lot of strength and not much else.

    The built in grinder on my machine is set at its finest setting, and my shots tend to pour out quicker than I’d like. I have tried dosing & tamping more which does effect the shot time, but still doesn’t get me the flavour profile. I’m tempted towards a Rancilio Rocky thinking that a finer grind would help bring out more of the coffee.
    Am I on the right track with my thought process?
    To close, I completely understand I’ll never achieve the same quality with my $700 machine as what a $20k machine paired with a $5k grinder would – I’m just trying to close the gap a bit!

    Cheers,
    Joe


  • #2
    If your shots are pouring too fast then they may not be in contact with the grounds long enough for flavours to be infused. You can buy spacers for a Breville grinder to help enable a finer grind but not sure for an in-built one like yours.

    It is likely a higher quality grinder will improve your coffee. There's also quite a gap between your grinder and a $5k grinder with many options between. A Rocky is a good 'intermediate' grinder; so are the Compak K3 models among others. Also consider sourcing different beans eg from Bean Bay.

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    • #3
      Thanks flynnaus - I will look into spacers but like you said, not sure what can be done with mine given the grinder is built into the machine.

      I know the Rocky seems to get a good wrap around here so that was my first thoughts in terms of upgrade. I'd rather buy a second-hand unit as I'm not a heavy user, one or two shots per day and half a dozen (max) on weekends. I just want something that like I said, will close the gap a bit and get me some more flavour. I suppose I just need some guidance on whether a 'finer grinder' is the solution.

      Would me filming me doing a shot and sharing it on here assist? Won't show the flavour obviously, but would it help?

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      • #4
        Where are you located Joe? I've got a HG One if your anywhere near point cook you can have a crack with. See if that changes the flavours in your coffee. If it does maybe a lido2 from Chris at talk coffee would be a good option for you

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        • #5
          I'm in Canberra, but appreciate the offer Luke!

          Don't know anything about hand/manual grinders - would have to do a bit of homework on this.

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          • #6
            Are you drinking espressos? Or milk based coffees? Which cafe are you referring to? There's no problem mentioning their name.

            If you're only making a couple of cups a day a quality hand grinder might be the go.

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            • #7
              I mainly have milk based coffee but recently been having espressos and long blacks.

              I'm getting my coffee from Ona and Kingston cafe in Belco.

              Not sure how I feel about a hand grinder. I think I'd prefer a normal one, but I guess my preference isn't founded upon anything.

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              • #8
                Just ask Ona to sell you the smallest amount they are willing, pre ground.
                Take it straight home and play with the dose and tamp and see if that gets you near where you'd like to be flavour-wise.
                Then you can decide how much you're prepared to spend on a better grinder.
                Because if the grind pleases your palate, then purchase the best you can afford!

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                • #9
                  If you have the means to buy a new grinder, take your Breville to a shop that sells grinders and see if you can try out one or more shots using different grinders. Consider going for the best grinder you can afford so that when you eventually upgrade your machine, you don't have to upgrade your grinder as well.

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                  • #10
                    That's a really good idea Kevo, hadn't thought of that! I take it the 20 minute odd drive won't be long enough for the ground coffee to start losing its freshness?

                    Cheers flynnaus, not sure what is around here but that'd be handy if the option is available.

                    One thing I've really noticed watching baristas is that the coffee in the basket looks much more spongy when they tamp and looks quite effortless. I had one barista tell me once that because they grind so fine they only do a quick, small tamp - I just can't help but feel that could be one of my limits with the current a Breville setup.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Joe91 View Post
                      One thing I've really noticed watching baristas is that the coffee in the basket looks much more spongy when they tamp and looks quite effortless. I had one barista tell me once that because they grind so fine they only do a quick, small tamp - I just can't help but feel that could be one of my limits with the current a Breville setup.
                      Hi Joe
                      That certainly is the case. Most commercial machines can handle a much finer grind. I've ground beans for a few friends who have Breville type machines, and have had to go a fair bit coarser than my own espresso setting for them so it doesn't choke up. That's not to say that you can't get good results from your machine with fresh beans and a more consistent grinder - but it will need adjusting to suit the capabilities of the machine.

                      You do have some good places down in Canberra - ex-sponsor Cosmorex (now BeanRoasters?) in Fyshwick, just around the corner from ONA, has a good range of grinders and machines (I bought my setup from them originally and dropped in a few weeks ago, and they had a great range). Something like a Macap M2 would be a great investment - and if you then ever need to change machines, you wouldn't really need to step up from there

                      Cheers Matt

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                      • #12
                        Thanks Matt - I forgot completely about Cosmorex. Will give them a visit on the weekend.

                        One thing I'm not sure of though is why my machine may choke with a finer grind?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Joe91 View Post
                          Thanks Matt - I forgot completely about Cosmorex. Will give them a visit on the weekend.

                          One thing I'm not sure of though is why my machine may choke with a finer grind?
                          The magnitude and consistency of pressure at the group head, among other things.

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                          • #14
                            Thanks Barry - forgive my ignorance.

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                            • #15
                              No worries. Cosmorex is definitely worth a look on the weekend. They sell the Macap range now, I picked up an M2M from them a year ago or so which is a great little grinder (on decaf duties now, as I luckily picked up a 2nd hand Macap M4D from a forum member).

                              Hand grinders do offer great bang for buck for the right person.

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