galvarez Senior Member Joined: 6 Oct 2012 Posts: 2 Location: san diego Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Sat Oct 6, 2012, 2:54pm Subject: Good practices and modifications for Breville Cafe Roma
Hello everyone, this is my first posting and I would like to first of all say hello to everyone here. I have spent quite a bit of time reading and learning but this is my first posting. I would like to know your recommendations. I have a Breville Cafe Roma that we got for our wedding 4 years ago and a Capresso Infinity grinder. I made an attempt at upgrading the grinder first but it was a no go with the significant other. Her response was around the lines of "You want to spend five hundred dollars on a ....... grinder??????" So there goes that idea. Hopefully when the grinder dies I will be able to upgrade but for now this is my setup. I did however just purchase the single wall filters and have been experimenting with those. I can produce pretty good shots (I like them but have no idea how good they are in reality) I believe following the multitude of basic advice you can find online but one thing I notice is that my shots don't have a lot of crema. The have some but not a ton. I am attaching a picture of a shot I made. Also, if I time the shots I can never get the single shot to come out in 25 seconds, only the double shot. The single shot takes about 10 seconds. I am assuming it is because I have a double portafilter basket and there is nothing I can do about it. Does anybody have any idea how to improve my shots? I am roasting my own coffee but I could try buying an espresso blend instead and playing around with that. Any advice from somebody with experience with this machine?
Here is the picture: https://www.evernote.com/shard/s3/sh/0f75d0cf-8acf-4bcc-ba0a-40abc6b0f8a5/e09897582869b8fa27dde015baf403ce
marlap Senior Member Joined: 5 May 2012 Posts: 48 Location: Montreal Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Starbucks Barista Athena Grinder: Braun KM 30 (modded)
Posted Sat Oct 6, 2012, 3:40pm Subject: Re: Good practices and modifications for Breville Cafe Roma
Welcome aboard Coffeegeek galvarez. I'm a bit of a newcomer myself, but will try you help the best I can.
It seems to me from the context of your post that you are using your double sized portafilter basket to extract a single shot, this won't work. What you should be using is a single sized basket. The single sized basket has less holes (half of a double-sized, I presume) to impede the flow somewhat, which will extend your extraction time for single shots. I've read never-the-less that single shots aren't recommended because they are never as good as extracting doubles. I assume you are using the Golden Rule as a guideline for adjusting the measuring and timing your shots:
DOUBLE SHOT: Equals 2 to 2.5 fluid ounces of water pulled through approximately 14 grams of ground coffee in about 20 to 25 seconds.
SINGLE SHOT: Equals 1 to 1.5 fluid ounces of water pulled through approximately 7 grams of ground coffee in about 20 to 25 seconds. (this assumes a single-shot basket.)
Also, if you are using a non-pressurized portafilter (highly recommended), try adjusting your tamping pressure (around 30 lbs) and try adjusting the fineness of your grind.
You mentioned that you're experimenting with single wall filters, I don't quite understand. Are you talking about paper filters, which shouldn't be used in espresso, just the basket is enough.
One last piece of advice, try lowering your expectations on a grinder to a two to three hundred dollar range, maybe your wife will live with that. You can always get an OE Pharos grinder, of purchase a used grinder of Craigslist, or even from another Coffee Geekster.
galvarez Senior Member Joined: 6 Oct 2012 Posts: 2 Location: san diego Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Sat Oct 6, 2012, 5:08pm Subject: Re: Good practices and modifications for Breville Cafe Roma
Hello marlap thank you for the reply. Let me try to clarify. The espresso machine came only with one portafilter that has two holes at the bottom. In this portafilter you put either a single or double filter depending on what you want to do. The issue is that even no matter what size filter I use the coffee comes out at the same rate, meaning that it takes around 10 seconds for a single shot and 20 seconds for a double.
Most of my experimentation has been with the single but I have gone from around 7 grams to around 11 grams and tamped as hard as I possibly could and that still did not slow it down enough to get the magic 20 second time.
Also, the reason why I said I am using the single wall filter is because this machine comes with a pressurized filter which I used from when I bought the machine until last week when I found out they started making regular filters that are non-pressurized for this machine to allow people to play around with fineness and tamping pressure.
qualin Senior Member Joined: 30 Jun 2012 Posts: 669 Location: Calgary, AB Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3 Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A Vac Pot: Looking to buy Drip: Manual Roaster: Considering?
Posted Sat Oct 6, 2012, 9:11pm Subject: Re: Good practices and modifications for Breville Cafe Roma
It is acceptable to pull a double shot in 20 seconds, but ideally you should aim for as close to 25 seconds as possible. That is not a rule BTW, that is a guideline. Again, it comes down to the taste in your cup and not really a hard fixed value. If it tastes good, good enough!
Unfortunately, the Capresso Infinity is not a suitable grinder for espresso. (At least, not from what I've read from the reviews on this site.) It is a suitable grinder for everything else coarser though.
There are two ways you can slow down the flow. The first way is to overdose, but you can only take that so far. For example, It gets difficult to lock in the portafilter on my Silvia if I dose more than 17 grams using a double basket, so I don't bother. The second way is to make your grind finer. For that, you need a grinder which is precise enough to grind fine for espresso.
If you try to grind too fine with a grinder which isn't meant for it, you'll get inconsistent grind and you'll get ultra-fine grinds which will pass through the portafilter basket and end up in your cup, while leaving behind the coarser grinds in the basket. (At least, this was my experience.)
If budget is a limitation, you should either consider a used grinder from this forum like what Marlap said, or consider something like a Lelit PL53, which is about the $300 range. That's a good entry level grinder. I wouldn't spend anything less than that to start with.
$500 for a grinder is actually a decent budget and will get you a Baratza Vario-W, which is an excellent espresso capable grinder, but also can do double duty as a proper coffee grinder for other types of coffee. (You just need to recalibrate it if you want to go for coarser grinds. That in itself is an extremely easy process.)
The way how I justified my coffee grinder purchase with my wife was that this will literally be the last grinder I buy for a very very long time. That is the truth, there won't be any upgradeitis with mine for a very long time! :-)
As soon as I switched from using my Rocky to my Mazzer, the quality of my shots went up immensely. Suddenly, the crema on my shots was much thicker and my drinks had a considerably creamy taste to them. The biggest difference? No grinds in the cup.
I'm not saying that you _NEED_ to buy a Mazzer, that's just what I went with after I got fed up with the limitations of my Rocky. (I guess giving it a good cleaning probably wouldn't have hurt either.) The old saying, "You get what you pay for", could not be more true here.
Baratza's Vario is on par with that of even the highest quality commercial grinders when it comes down to what you get in the cup. (At least, this is what I've read from what people have said on this forum.) I personally don't own one of these grinders myself so I can't really say what my personal thoughts are on them.
Going with a "Single Walled" Basket realistically is the only way to go and I'd say that you are getting decent crema from the looks of it. However, what would be better is if you extracted into a shotglass to find out how thick the crema really is.
A lot of people seem to focus on the machine as being the core part of the manufacture of a decent espresso, but it really is the grinder that makes all of the difference. A really good grinder can "choke" any espresso machine. If you can't choke your machine on even the finest setting, your grinder just simply isn't good enough. Period.
I wish you the best of luck.
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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