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Amateur just getting started with a Breville - not happy with the results but I know I have lots to learn so I'll start with an aspect I am curious of - consistency. The Breville guide says the consistency of the shot flowing down should be of honey. First thing I say with my experience is no way, no how - mine flows through the filter like standard liquid. Things I know I need to ensure:

  • a better grind - I am not using a burr grinder (yet)
  • getting the grind right - not too powdery
  • water temp - not sure what to do about this - the machine has control of that

But let's start with the consistency - should it really be like honey? If so, I'm no where near that and how can I be?

enter image description here

This is what I'm talking about - how the heck is it so thick; and the color...

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It's not really about consistency but more about getting the right extraction time for the coffee/water ratio.

The rule of thumb is to get a shot in approximately 25 seconds, with a 1:2 ratio of coffee/water. So you'd have 16g of coffee in your portafilter, to get a 32g expresso shot.

That's the baseline. When you achieve that, you can start experimenting with different ratios and times.

How are you grinding your beans? If you don't have a grinder you only have the dosage to play with, and it's gonna be really difficult to get to that baseline.

  • I am using a cheap blade grinder - I know I need to get a burr grinder. When I see video's a the shots starting to come out it's that light, thick, bubbly, creamy sort of liquid - mine juts looks like coffee. What am I doing wrong? Do I just not have a good enough machine, not good enough beans, the wrong grind, all of the above? You say extraction time - do you bring this up because if I get a 32g shot in less time that means the water flows too fast and thus it's not packed hard enough and/or the grind is not powdery enough? – awakened Feb 26 at 0:54
  • This is an example of what I'm expecting, just a picture: caffeineinformer.com/coffee-overdose-14-shots-of-espresso – awakened Feb 26 at 1:02
  • You're right that if you get a 32g shot from 18g of coffee in less than 25 seconds, it means your shot is too fast. Your first step would be to get a burr grinder. If on a budget, you can get a refurb Sette 30 for 199$, or even better, a Vario for 299$: baratza.com/product-category/refurb Then, use the unpressurized basket that came with your machine and you should be able to get something decent! – Jean-Philippe Allard Feb 26 at 14:38
  • Manual burr grinders set to their finest settings also work. Something like a Hario grinder would work fine, and much cheaper than a powered one. Just be prepared for a good 5 minutes of cranking that thing. – Netduke Mar 1 at 21:24
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The quality of your espresso is going to depend on two things: Your grinder and your water. Water is pretty easy to keep track of as long as you have water with a balanced pH and, preferably, filtered through magnesium. This has more so to do with taste. But, if your grind is not consistent, you're going to have a world of issues. It sounds to me like your grind is not fine enough. Or worse, you have some grind particles that are bigger than others. There are plenty of grinders out there that won't break the bank that can be used for consistent espresso grinding.

  1. Breville BCG820
  2. Baratza Virtuoso
  3. Baratza Sette Etc...

Pay attention to your tamping, too. If you're not tamping properly, you can get channels and the machine will not extract the loosely tamped grounds. Different coffees will have different viscosities, but for the most part, yes, it should be thick.

Your shot time should be no less than 25 seconds. I have found the sweet spot to be around the 29-31 second mark. Especially if you're pulling doubles (16g-32g, 17g-34g, etc.). Keep practicing and keep watching videos. But first thing's first, buy a good grinder.

  • silly question - why are the sizes of an espresso shot referred to in grams and not ounces? I understand the grounds would be in grams, but wouldn't the amount of the shot in the cup be measured in fluid ounces? – awakened Feb 27 at 17:00
  • Let's imagine it's because only the US still uses ounces of any type. Water weighs 1kg/litre, water with coffee in it not hugely different. – Tetsujin Feb 27 at 17:52
  • I find grams to be easier to keep track of and calculate. With oz, you can have something like 5.4oz, and that's way more complicated than saying you have 153g. But that's my opinion. – Izack Redmon Mar 3 at 23:03
  • How many bars of pressure should a machine have for cappuccino? I see a website saying 9 bars; my breville says it has 15 bars. Are more bars more or less pressure - meaning are 9 bars more or less pressure than 15? – awakened Mar 6 at 23:54
  • Don't forget bean freshness. I actually just bought a Breville Barista Express yesterday. using a super-market bean, I was not able to properly extract without using a pressurized porta filter. No matter how finely ground or how hard I tamped, the water just gushed out. I switched to a freshly roasted bean (only 4 days old) and it properly extracted on the first try (28 second pull) – SaggingRufus Apr 24 at 17:20
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Honey sounds weird to me - you do want it to run out in 12-25 seconds and you want it to be thicker than water, but honey is an exaggeration I'd think, to encourage you to get it to run slow. Burr grinders are much better, but try grinding finer, pressing harder to tamp your coffee down, and get the most consistent stuff out of your grinder you can (try scooping the fine stuff out of the bottom). Inconsistent bits will let the water sneak through the path of least resistance, making your coffee weak, bitter and run like water. If you can't change the water temp, you can affect the contact time ( how long your grinds are in touch with the water) by changing the grind size. Using a spice grinder I usually grind for a few minutes and shake it upside down to loosen the soft stuff while grinding.

  • 12 seconds would be very under extracted 20-30 is a typical shot – SaggingRufus Apr 24 at 17:20

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