Breville 870xl -under 18 sec shot time & under an ounce of espresso - What's wrong

gaw

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Aug 9, 2019
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Breville 870xl -under 18 sec shot time & under an ounce of espresso - What's wrong

I'm a new Breville Barista Express BES870xl owner. I have not been able to get close to a 25 second shot time or 1 ounce of espresso. Always between 15-18 second shot time (under extracted ?) and .75 ounce of espresso (over extracted ?) all in the same pull...regardless of the grind, regardless of the freshness of beans. Have called Breville three times with no luck. Any advice? Ready to return it before my 30 days are up. THANKS - GAW

- New machine - less than 3 weeks old; have used maybe 30 times mostly trying to pull a good shot.
- At 6,350 ft in altitude - I have read mixed posting as to whether this matters or not
- Single shot, using single wall filter basket
- 9-10g of coffee (in many combinations of grind and amount; but always 10g)
- I have used 3 day from roast beans and 7.5 week from roast beans; not much different in results except for better crema in the new batch; I also know I should let the new beans sit for a few more days, but live in a rural community and it is either super fresh or 4+ weeks old
- I have used grind settings from 1 - 13 for the 3 day old beans and 1-5 for the 7.5 week old beans. All between 9-10 g. Same results: under an ounce of espresso all under 18 seconds. At the lower grind it will get to the 12 o'clock spot on the pressure dial.

- I've tried increasing the shot volume but it gets to 1 ounce still under 20 seconds. If I let the shot volume run until 25 seconds then I get way over an ounce of espresso.

- Sometimes puck dispenses easily from portafilter, sometimes it is stuck and I need to get it out with a dull knife. Never seems dry, nor overly wet. Just damp.

- when single shot run without any coffee or portafilter, 1 1/3 ounces of water is released.

- Lots of water in the drip tray.
 

shadow745

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Aug 15, 2005
1,592
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Central North Carolina
Sounds like you've really tried all sorts of things to figure this out, BUT I'd recommend getting rid of the single basket. Honestly singles are a joke and usually lead to frustration/wasted coffee. Problem is most singles baskets have an aggressive taper and require meticulous puck prep/tamping/finer grind to get close to being usable. Switch to a non-pressurized (standard) double basket and enjoy something worth drinking. If you're looking for less volume simply extract the double short.

I'm not a fan of the appliance grade stuff Breville pushes and honestly think they know little regarding espresso regardless of who works for them.
 
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gaw

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I moved to a double shot with still mixed results.
I also adjusted the conical burrs down one spot to a finer setting (from a 6 to a 5) so I could get finer grinds.
I weighed my beans and ran them through the Breville grinder manually until empty.

size 4 grind; 17g of beans; 1.5 oz of espresso; 38 second shot time
size 5 grind; 17g of beans; 1.875 oz of espresso; 22 second shot time
size 4 grind; 16g of beans; 1.5 oz of espresso; 27 second shot time

Can't seem to be able to get the full 2 oz and a 25 to 35 second shot time.

Thoughts?
 

shadow745

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Aug 15, 2005
1,592
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Central North Carolina
I know some get caught up in trying to achieve ____ oz. in ____ seconds, but there are so many variables involved with espresso that every coffee is going to be different. Instead of focusing on numbers how did those extractions taste, as that's what really matters? Getting the flavor profile/texture you like from particular coffees is key, then trying to duplicate it once you lock onto what works for you.

Based on lots of posts/complaints on various forums the 870's integrated grinder does hold it back in terms of really dialing things in. I know some have calibrated it to grind finer and did achieve better results, but that would be your call on going a step further.

You say your coffee is either really fresh or a bit stale due to your location, etc. When you have experimented as per the numbers mentioned how was the coffee stored, grinder cleaned before/after each daily use, etc.? Those things are often overlooked and even a few grams of stale coffee can seriously throw off extractions.
 

Musicphan

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May 11, 2014
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Kansas City
Yes. I can let the water flow more.

So the numbers of 1.5 oz & 1.875 was manually stopped? I'm trying to understand how you are operating your machine. From my understanding when you select the 1 or 2 shot functions on that machine its volumetric and will dispense X amount of liquid.
 
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gaw

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So the numbers of 1.5 oz & 1.875 was manually stopped? I'm trying to understand how you are operating your machine. From my understanding when you select the 1 or 2 shot functions on that machine its volumetric and will dispense X amount of liquid.

I can do a custom program to let more water distribute. And in theory if I let it go longer, I'll increase the shot time and the amount of liquid dispersing. I'm going to try that and see how it goes.

I'm just concerned that there is something wrong with the machine that it is not putting out enough pressure for the right amount of time. It does go to the 12 o'clock spot on the pressure gauge. It just doesn't stay there very long. Appears I can fix the ability to grind the beans more with the burr adjustment that comes with the newer 870XLs.

Just want to make sure I don't have a lemon.
 
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gaw

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So are you using the auto or manual?

I am using auto. But I'm going to start fresh in the morning and just use manual and weigh my shots. I'm going to shoot for 1:2 (ground beans:espresso output) in a 25-35 second time range using a double shot basket (but single walled). Something like 17g:34g. I'll see how things taste at that point.
 

Musicphan

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May 11, 2014
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OK - now that we know you are using auto... I would say that it is not programmed to dispense enough water for a full 2 ounce shot. I would assume its calibrated to dispense 2 ounces of water - period - without considering how much water is absorbed by the coffee puck. Ignore the auto for now and focus on manual extraction...
 
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gaw

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OK - now that we know you are using auto... I would say that it is not programmed to dispense enough water for a full 2 ounce shot. I would assume its calibrated to dispense 2 ounces of water - period - without considering how much water is absorbed by the coffee puck. Ignore the auto for now and focus on manual extraction...

Thanks all for the guidance. I made several attempts today with unsatisfactory results. I've given up and have packed up the machine to return.

I'm off to find a quality grinder and return to my French Press...certainly not a latte like I had hoped...but at least I will have something to drink in the morning.:coffee:

Thank you for taking the time to help. Please keep sharing your talents with other because they are very much appreciated.
 

Musicphan

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May 11, 2014
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Kansas City
Do they taste bad? As Shadow mentioned... you can't look at coffee as input X and getting out Y. Each coffee can vary so much ... go by your taste buds.
 

shadow745

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Aug 15, 2005
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Central North Carolina
Thing is espresso takes a lot of time/effort/patience to really achieve something good consistently. Seems many think once they buy decent equipment, get decent coffee, etc. they will hit the espresso peak fairly quickly. I will be the first to say espresso is never mastered as so many variables change on a regular basis it leaves you chasing after it.
 

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