Need help! New to espresso machines!


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May 16, 2016
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Hello there,

So like the title reads I'm very new at using espresso machines... I just recently purchased a cheap small machine as I don't desire much from it and
also I expect it should be good enough for a beginner. I'm only looking to make enough for 2 shots of espresso to 4 shots of espresso, in hopes to eventually create a larger latte... Unfortunately I haven't made it that far due to quite a bit of difficulties. At this time I'm not looking to spend A TON of money on equipment. The type of machine I'm using is a Sunbeam 4-Cup Steam Espresso Maker (BVSBECM160-033) I checked the reviews before purchasing and quite a few people had posted that it's a decent machine and produces good espresso.
The issue that I'm having is once the espresso is finished, it smells and tastes burnt, bitter and almost like a plastic/rubber type of taste as well.
Also I noticed the machine starts producing steam when pulling the shot, which I don't think is normal. Every time I check the portafilter basket, the remaining grounds are black and burnt looking.

This is my process:
- I grind fresh beans finely
- Use cold filtered water (I fill the water to the 2 on the Glass Carafe) There's a mark for 2 and 4.
- I fill the basket so the grinds reach the 2 marking in the portafilter and tamp it down. (I may be putting the wrong amount of
grinds in as that only fills the basket half way. Not sure. The amount I put measures to about 2 tablespoons.)

I've tried tamping it down with quite some pressure and I've tried with little pressure. Same results, except with less pressure the coffee was more watery
yet still burnt and such.
When pulling the shots, the coffee is very dark at first, then turns slightly lighter. The crema is produced half way through, then the coffee continues, and finally the crema dissipates once finished.

If anyone has an idea as to what might be wrong, please share. Kind opinions and advice are welcome.
Thank you.
There might be something wrong with the machine you bought. I checked it at amazon and it has just got 3 stars rating that is not a good one and means there are flaws. There are so many brands like Cuisinart, Black N Decker and Hamilton Beach that make these drip coffee makers in a feasible range and are rated good making better cup of coffee everytime. Go through this list of drip coffee machines and that might tell you as what you have done wrong.
Whenever you are buying any machine, do have a search about the best brands of that category before making a final decision.
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Why would you recommend a drip coffee machine to somebody looking for an espresso machine? A nice beginner machine is the Rancilio Silvia.

It sounds like you might be overextracting the coffee. A few things to try:

Fill the portafilter to the top and level it off.
Try to purge the steam before pulling the shot.
Try a slightly coarser grind. You still want fine, but some grinders can really overdo the fine setting.
If you haven't decided, you need to consider what style and format of machine you want.
Automatic: machine controls time and pressure – you just press a button for single or double shot
Super automatic: machine grinds, tamps, extracts, you just put the cup under and select the drink like a vending machine – some froth the milk, and can make lates, cappachinos etc, others have a wand and you steam it like on a semi/auto.
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After just getting my coffee to taste just right, from some advice on this forum.

My grinder stopped working. I was using a BES860 breville.
So after just having perfect tasting coffee by adjusting the extraction time manually, I am back to very average cup of espresso.

I am reminded of the first small coffee machine I ever bought. It had no bean grinder.
I am now temporarily grinding my beans in a nutri bullet.

I am getting a differnent strength and flavour each time. The coffee bean grind varies everytime I grind. If you do buy another machine.
I suggest one that will grind you beans. It really makes a big difference. How evenly you beans grind really affects the flavor. The pressure dial, and infulences the extraction time also.
Love coffee :)
I hate to burst your bubble but without spending at least $1K its hard to get anything I would consider 'great'. As someone mentioned Ms. Silvia is the best bang for the buck (but lacks steaming power IMO). With espresso, grind is CRITICAL... without a really nice grinder you will continue to produce average product. For this budget, I would actually consider a moka pot... it won't create espresso but it will create a nice concentrated coffee.