BARISTA WITH BREVILLE
Home baristas are nurtured every day, very often after getting their brand new espresso machine with BrewRatio. We often notice that many new home baristas are struggling to brew a tasty shot of espresso. The taste of an espresso will, of course, depend on personal preference and on many other factors such as the type and freshness of the coffee bean used, the coarseness or fineness of the grind, and the tamping pressure. We recommend you to experiment by varying these factors to achieve the espresso taste you prefer.
Below are some tips which we find it useful for beginners to get started with, especially with Breville machines.
1) Fresh Coffee Beans
You can never get a full flavoured espresso if you are not using freshly roasted coffee beans. The formula is as simple as it is. If the coffee beans isn’t fresh, the shot’s extraction will be weak. Ideally, coffee beans are ground just before the shot extraction within a minute. As such, we do not recommend pre-ground coffee for espresso extraction. Coffee beans are best stored in an air-tight container and kept in a cool, dark place to retain it’s maximum freshness.
When we mention fresh coffee beans here, we are looking at coffee beans that are freshly roasted and consumed within day 4 – 21 from the roasted date. Avoid getting coffee beans that show you expiry date only. We are looking at the roasted date instead. So, is time to stop getting coffee beans from supermarket and switch to fresh coffee beans from BrewRatio for your optimal coffee extraction requirement.
2) Start Dialing In
Different coffee beans need different grind setting. There are no one perfect setting that works with all coffee beans. That is why you need to start dialing in with the correct grind setting for your coffee beans, seeking the optimal extraction. Keep a record on your coffee beans grind setting so you can easily switch between different coffee beans and get back to your optimal setting without any difficulty.
Adjust your coffee grinder setting to adjust the fineness or coarseness of the espresso grind for optimal espresso extraction.
The grind size should be fine but not too fine or powdery. The grind will affect the rate at which the water flows through the ground espresso in the filter, which affects the taste of the espresso.
- If the grind looks like powder and feels like flour when rubbed between fingers, it is too fine and the water will not flow through the ground espresso even when under pressure. The resulting espresso will be over-extracted, too dark and bitter, with a mottled and uneven crema on top.
- If the grind is too coarse, the water will flow through the ground espresso too quickly. This will result in an under-extracted espresso, lacking in flavor, and without the thick crema on top.
3) The Brew Ratio
Yes, the brew ratio and this is how we got our name. To get your optimal espresso flavor, you need to dial in with the correct brew ratio. The brew ratio we are referring here is the weight of the amount of coffee grounds in your portafilter vs espresso shot yield.
Below are a general guideline of brew ratio from Breville, for Breville.
- Single Shot Filter (makes 20ml of espresso) – Around 10g coffee ground
- Double Shot Filter (makes 36ml of espresso) – Around 18g coffee ground
The dual wall technology of Breville espresso machines helps beginners achieve an especially rich crema. Best results are achieved using freshly ground coffee and the right grind setting.
A single shot of espresso is made from about 10 grams of ground coffee (or a pod) in the Filter. Brewing time (from the moment you start the pump) is approximately 25 seconds and produces a shot glass-worth of 20ml of espresso. A double shot of espresso is made from 18 grams of ground coffee, takes 25 to 35 seconds to brew, and should yield about 36ml of espresso. Once you get the consistency, you can adjust your brew ratio (weight in amount of coffee grounds vs espresso yield) to adjust your coffee taste.
4) Tamp It Firm
One common mistake that a new barista often made is not tamping hard enough. But how hard is hard? We are looking at somewhere around 13 kilo of tamp pressure. Breville recommends at 15-20 kilo, either are fine. A good tamp creates resistance (with evenly compacted coffee) that makes the brewing water work hard to saturate the grounds and extract all of that great coffee flavour. The water pressure pulls oils from the grounds, creates the bold taste and rich texture you will expect from a quality espresso.
But if the coffee grounds are loose and uneven, water will find the gaps and move through them instead of extracting flavor, and your brew will be watery and flavourless.
If you find the default tamper that comes with your espresso machine is hard to work with, why not upgrade your tamper with BrewRatio?
5) Make It Flat & Level
Another common mistake new baristas often made is while they focus on tamping hard, the coffee tamped are not even or level. To achieve both firm and level tamp could be quite a challenge for new baristas. Fear not, a levelling tool is to help you with that. A leveller is a distribution tool that you place in your portafilter and spin to create an even, level surface on your puck of ground coffee. Thereafter, tamp it to finish off before inserting to the group head to brew.
6) You Need The Right Pressure
If you have done it right so far, the last thing you want to monitor is your pump pressure. You can’t really adjust the pump pressure here. The pump pressure you will be seeing on the gauge are achieved by a mixture of how fresh is your coffee, how you dial in your grind, how firm and level is your tamp. Use the gauge to tell if you are doing it correctly.
If you are using the Barista Express, the Infuser, the breville dual boiler or any machines that come with an extraction pump pressure gauge, you would want to monitor your shots with that. We are looking at 9 bar extraction pressure for optimal espresso flavour. And how do we achieve that? The same ingredient applies; fresh coffee beans, the right grind size and amount, properly tamped and levelled.
7) Sum It Up
Some common reasons for a weak or over extracted espresso:
- Not using fresh coffee bean. We recommend getting only fresh coffee beans from BrewRatio. Ideally, fresh coffee beans are required to be consumed within 4 – 21 days after roasted date.
- Coffee grind setting not correct. If espresso tastes sour, the grind is too coarse – dial in with a finer grind. If espresso tastes bitter, the grind is too fine – dial in with a coarser grind.
- Coffee grind amount not correct. Please ensure 10g coffee ground for single shot and 18g coffee ground for double shot. To ensure that, get a coffee scale from BrewRatio.
- Coffee not tamped firmly enough. Please ensure a firm tamp around 15-20Kilo on coffee ground. Alternatively, upgrade your tamper with BrewRatio.
- Coffee grounds in portafilter are not levelled. Invest a leveller with BrewRatio. This ensure your espressos are always consistently levelled.
A good crema is a result from fresh coffee beans, the right grind size and amount, and coffee ground properly tamped and levelled.
Lastly, if the filter holes are blocked, you’ll also get a poor crema. It’s important to clean your filter after each extraction. Used grounds should be thrown away with domestic waste. A knock box will bring in huge convenience for discarding used coffee puck. Discarding used grounds in the sink can cause the drain to become blocked.
A final encouragement from BrewRatio – keep trying. There is nothing more fulfilling than drinking a shot of espresso made from your very own hands and your home!
Tried everything above but still getting weak extraction? In this case, the fresh coffee beans that you are using might need a finer grind which the default upper burr setting is not able to help you achieve.
Below are the guidelines which you can follow to further change your bean grind setting.
The secret is on your upper burr setting – For all Breville Grinders
Some types of coffee may require a wider grind range to achieve an ideal extraction or brew. A feature of Breville barista grinders (build-in or stand alone) is the ability to extend this range with an adjustable upper burr. We recommend making only one adjustment at a time, until you achieve the grind setting which gives you the optimal 9 bar pump extractions.
The factory setting of the upper burr is default at 6. The minimum at 1 for finer grind, maximum at 10 for coarser grind. A smaller number will bring the upper burr closer to the bottom conical burr which results in a finer grind. Tweak the upper burr setting 1 by 1 in combination with your grind size dial to achieve your optimal extraction. Combine both setting to unlock different grind settings to match your fresh coffee beans’ need. Happy grinding!