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  • Argh!! Constant under extraction.....

    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
    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!

    Comment


    • #3
      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 :-)

      Comment


      • #4
        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.

        Comment


        • #5
          Yep, what Steve said.
          Bypass the supermarket.

          Comment


          • #6
            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.

            Comment


            • #7
              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.

              Comment


              • #8
                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


                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.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Steve82 View Post
                  Cinders already has them
                  My mistake. =) That's good to hear.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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 :-)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      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.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        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.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          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.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            certainly dossing and tamping are important as well.

                            lots of variables can lead to confusion

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              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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