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Hi coffeesnobs, first ever espresso machine!

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  • Hi coffeesnobs, first ever espresso machine!

    So I just bought a new coffee machine, and thought Id say hi!

    Before-hand I did a lot of reading here to try and find out which is the best for my price-range. Im glad I found this place, as I was just going to get an ultra-cheap grinder, but ended up getting the Breville BCG450.  I was also going to get the Sunbeam EM0450 after its rave reviews for the price range, but I got the Breville grinder "for free". The machine is a Breville BES820. They had a deal for both grinder and machine and 1kg coffee for <$580-ish.

    So the grinder is apparently not the worst in the world according to you guys http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1197890644/2.  My only question there is how fine do I need to go?  Should I really grind on the near-turkish setting?  I assume the Breville is a pressurised machine from the pressure guage? (unnecessary pimping if you ask me!)

    So far in my life Ive made a total of about 7 coffees on an espresso machine (5 on this one!).  Theyre getting better!  I know theres far to go though.  My wife said the last one was better than some cafes    The first one was a bit depressing - no crema even though the Breville has the dual-wall fake thingo.  Can I exchange this portafilter or basket for another one?

    I am a bit disappointed with the machine though - for near $600 the hot water wand drips when youre not using it, and the steam wand (although it looked long in pictures) is quite short because it had a S.S. tube on it, which I dont like already.  It drips too.  And the steam is quite wet (I know a bit about steam from other areas).  Breville says that the initial steam needs to be bled, so stick it over the drip tray (and indeed it drips water) but after that its still sputtering with water.  I wonder if this is making my frothing harder?  I find it hard to get real microfoam - its a bit flat and bubbly at the moment.

    I would appreciate your comments on making the best coffee with my setup (please dont say "bin the Breville"!).

    Two final comments: Ive found the need for some sort of grinds bin already (where I can bang out the grinds), but I dont know what theyre called so Im struggling to search for them - any suggestions?

    Also, we just bought a Jura Impressa Z5 Generation II at work.  Its fairly impressive alright, but I still dont like the froth  Since there seem to be lots of questions about this machine Im happy to answer anything you want to know - I can take pictures, video, noise levels, measurements, whatever!

    well thanks for listening to my ramblings, I look forward to learning from you guys.

  • #2
    Re: Hi coffeesnobs, first ever espresso machine!

    If the Breville you got has a thermoblock then the steam is normally quite wet compared to a lot of boiler machines. At least all the people I know with thermoblocks get quite wet steam. Im not sure if there are any options on the machine to alter the steam settings?

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    • #3
      Re: Hi coffeesnobs, first ever espresso machine!

      Hi Iaindb,

      It sounds like you did your research before making the purchase! You might want to think about upgrading your grinder in the future - especiall as it was "free" with your machine.

      But that aside, you should be able to work on your milk stretching technique. There are 2 parts to getting silky milk:

      1. Stretching - This is when you are just breaking the surface of the milk with the steaming wand tip to get the scratching sound - this should not be an offensive screeching sound! The stretching must be done when the milk is cold. In a small 400ml jug you only need to stretch for a couple of seconds for a flat white, 3-4 for a latte/cap.

      2. Heating - After you have streched the milk you need to finish heating it - sink the wand tip under the surface and try to create a whirlpool. Its important not to break the surface of the milk again or you end up with big bubbles that wont pop!

      See how you go!! It sounds like your wife is already happy with the results!!

      You also are looking for a knock bin or bang bang for your old coffee grounds :-)

      I highly recommend looking for somewhere in you city/town where you can do a barista course. It will make life much easier if you are shown how to get the most out of your home equipment!!

      Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like any advice!

      Deb

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      • #4
        Re: Hi coffeesnobs, first ever espresso machine!

        Thanks for the responses!

        Steve - unfortunately there are no steam settings, just a "steam / off / hot water" 3-position dial. For some reason the steam seems a little better now - perhaps I wasnt bleeding it enough to begin with, or maybe it was too cold.

        Deb - Im following similar instructions that I got off this site for the milk. I guess practice makes perfect! Im just having trouble getting the bubbles small enough.

        My only two remaining questions are about the portafilter and filter basket (are they exchangeable?) and the grinding - how fine do I go?

        Thanks very much.

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        • #5
          Re: Hi coffeesnobs, first ever espresso machine!

          My only two remaining questions are about the portafilter and filter basket (are they exchangeable?) and the grinding - how fine do I go?

          Thanks very much.
          As a starting point grind as fine as table salt and adjust from there
          The tamped puck should just touch the water screen when you have the PF fully locked

          If puck is to low you will get weak watery coffee and if is to high you will break the puck causing channelling  

          KK

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          • #6
            Re: Hi coffeesnobs, first ever espresso machine!

            Originally posted by Koffee Kosmo link=1228199068/0#4 date=1228975312
            As a starting point grind as fine as table salt and adjust from there
            Thats quite fine! Ill try it out tonight!
            The tamped puck should just touch the water screen when you have the PF fully locked
            Whats the puck, and whats the water screen? I assume the water screen is the filter-type thing where the water comes out? How do I tell if it touches when I cant see it?
            If puck is to low you will get weak watery coffee and if is to high you will break the puck causing channelling
            Its not too watery. Whats channelling? As you can tell, Ive done this before!
            KK
            thanks!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Hi coffeesnobs, first ever espresso machine!

              Thats quite fine! Ill try it out tonight! Quote:
              Thats the best starting point

              Whats the puck, and whats the water screen?  I assume the water screen is the filter-type thing where the water comes out?  How do I tell if it touches when I cant see it? Quote:
              The puck is the coffee when pressed/tamped into the portafilter
              Just experiment by locking the PF  " on and off " . Adjusting coffee hight by adding or removing ground coffee until you see an indentation on the puck
              Then note the depth for future reference

              Water screen - Yes you assume correct

              Whats channelling?  As you can tell, Ive done this before! Quote:
              Its like a river and its tributaries cutting there own path without control

              KK


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              • #8
                Re: Hi coffeesnobs, first ever espresso machine!

                thanks heaps! Were having the in-laws over tonight, so Ill experiment on them

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                • #9
                  Re: Hi coffeesnobs, first ever espresso machine!

                  Originally posted by iaindb link=1228199068/0#3 date=1228973911
                  the portafilter and filter basket (are they exchangeable?)
                  No.

                  Portafilter is a compound word made up of "porta" and "filter".
                  "Porta" as in carry.
                  "Filter" as in filter.

                  So the portafilter is the handle thingy that "carries" the filter basket.

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