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Quick pressure drop out during brew - am I doing something wrong? (Brevile DB)
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landdolphin
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Joined: 11 Mar 2014
Posts: 8
Location: Dallas
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Mar 11, 2014, 8:08am
Subject: Quick pressure drop out during brew - am I doing something wrong? (Brevile DB)
 

Machine: Breville BES900XL Dual Boiler
Grinder: Baratza Preciso

Recently (didn't used to happen) I've noticed that during my shot brew the pressure gauge on my BDB lowers rapidly after the first 5-10 seconds. I will preinfuse at 60% pressure for about 5 seconds (pressure gauge stays at 0), then will shoot up to 9.5 bars or so like normal, and once a flow starts the pressure steadily decreases until the end of the shot (it will pretty quickly drop down a bit, then steadily decrease a little more). Sometimes it only drops a bar or so, but I just pulled a shot (at a finer ground too) and the pressure dropped all the way down to 7-7.5 pretty quickly, and steadily dropped below 7 until I stopped the shot. Dosing - I have measured my dose a few times, right at 16 grams, but I generally over dose just a little and smooth the top out with my finger and push the rest off. I just ran through a cleaning process with one of their tablets and didn't notice any difference. I have moved recently and I know the water I'm using now, although still filtered, is harder then I'm used to; but I've also tried bottled water and see similar results.

I have tried a few different roasts - what I'm using today is Paradise Roaster's Espresso blend that I roasted last Friday (3/7/14), so 4 days old. I've also tried other blends from local roasters with similar results.

For what it's worth, I notice that the flow rate doesn't change too much as the pressure drops, but the color lightens instantly...so I'll only get about 10 seconds of dark brown and as soon as the pressure drops it will lighten up. I get about a 25-30 second 2 oz shot. I have tried different grind settings, different beans, and so on. Not sure what I'm doing wrong or if it's something going on with the machine. I have tried a blind portafilter (with the blackflush stopper) and the pressure seems to be perfectly stable.

Disclaimer: I am still very much a novice to espresso, but trying to learn!
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,205
Location: Monrovia, CA
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Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Tue Mar 11, 2014, 8:14am
Subject: pressure drop
 

Channeling, resulting from poor puck preparation.    

There are 43,642 ways to screw up (one guess as to how I know that), and I can't tell what you're doing wrong based on what you've written.  Some common problems include getting the puck out of level, whacking lumps into the grinds with a slap shot, breaking up the puck by tapping the pf with the tamper, failing to seal the edge, overdosing the basket, not breaking up clumps, etc., etc., etc.  Not to mention changes in the weather affecting static and clumping.  

Check the top of the puck for level before locking the pf into the head.  If you tap the pf at any time during prep, stop (at least for now).  Try a longer pre-infusion.  Try a shorter pre-infusion.  Try the "Stockfleith maneuver." Try "WDT."  Clean and recalibrate your grinder.  If none of those things help, get a naked (aka "bottomless") pf and you'll get enough visual feedback to at least help you diagnose your problem.

A naked pf is good for other things besides diagnostics.  It's much easier to keep clean than a spouted pf, and it gives better mouthfeel as well.  On the other hand because some of the flaws it reveals aren't really flaws at all, it can trick you into chasing pointless perfection.    

4 days post-roast is too soon to brew espresso.  If you wonder why yours tastes harsh and bitter -- not enough rest.  Days 6 - 10 are best.  A little bit stale is better than a little bit under-rested.  If you only roast once a week, days 6 - 12, are better than days 5 - 11.  Just my own tastes, but I'd rather drink 18 days post roast than 4.  Also, under-rested coffee is more prone to gushing and channeling during an espresso extraction.

Rich
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landdolphin
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Joined: 11 Mar 2014
Posts: 8
Location: Dallas
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Mar 11, 2014, 9:05am
Subject: Re: Quick pressure drop out during brew - am I doing something wrong?
 

Thanks Rich. I do have a naked portafilter, and I know that I am guilty of tamper tapping at times :-)

Let me note a few things I've noticed as far as feedback from the naked portafilter. The biggest thing I notice on many pours are dead spots. Sometimes I'll also get 2 or 3 streams drip down at first before it combines into one. Lastly, and this bit may just be in my head, but when I look at pictures online of "the perfect pour," my spout angle is a lot more flat... for instance this Click Here (www.home-barista.com) versus Click Here (img.howcast.com)

I will try WDT method later today and see what happens, will upload a video if I need more help ;-)

Edit: I just re-read your post and noticed your comment about rest time and age. I did not know that days 6-10 are best, I usually let rest 3 days and start using on the 4th, but I will definitely get some 1 week "old" beans today when I get out and try that tonight. I roast outside and it's been too cold lately to roast, but the weather has gotten nice lately so this is the first batch of the year that I've roasted :-)
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ericcomposer72
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Posted Wed Mar 12, 2014, 7:25am
Subject: Re: Quick pressure drop out during brew - am I doing something wrong?
 

I had a Breville, and it did the same thing after I owned it for about 6 months. However, after the puck was partially extracted (12-18 seconds), the pressure would kick back up again, resulting in a really messed up shot.

Since it's a Breville, I wouldn't be surprised if it was the same issue. I also wouldn't be surprised if Breville didn't acknowledge there is a problem, and tried to blame puck preparation, etc. With mine: I didn't have any verification (and had my unit replaced after another mechanical failure occured), but I'd guess there is a problem with the pump.
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uscfroadie
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uscfroadie
Joined: 2 Aug 2008
Posts: 398
Location: San Antonio
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: GS/3 Strada MP, BDB; owned...
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Drip: Nope
Roaster: owned Behmor
Posted Wed Mar 12, 2014, 8:05am
Subject: Re: Quick pressure drop out during brew - am I doing something wrong?
 

It's a very easy thing to check to see if it's the machine's fault.  Insert a blind basket and press any of the dosing buttons.  If the pressure against the blind basket does the same thing, it's the machine's fault.  If it doesn't, it's not.  99.99% of the time, it's not.

Given he's already done this -

landdolphin Said:

I have tried a blind portafilter (with the blackflush stopper) and the pressure seems to be perfectly stable.

Posted March 11, 2014 link

It's not the machine's fault.
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landdolphin
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Joined: 11 Mar 2014
Posts: 8
Location: Dallas
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Wed Mar 12, 2014, 8:37am
Subject: Re: Quick pressure drop out during brew - am I doing something wrong?
 

Other then the pressure needle pulsating slightly with a blind basket (which I assume is normal), the pressure against a blind basket seems fine. The pressure tops out at about 10, 10.5. It does make one feel a lot better to blaim their machine though instead of themselves ;-)   (and hell, the warranty on this guy is up in 2 months so I'm going to be hyper critical on everything until then...).

Anyways - I recorded a video that is fairly indicative of what my average shot pull looks like (after concentrating more on reducing channeling). This one might've started off ever so slightly darker, but I'd say it's pretty average. I noticed that WDT method didn't really lengthen the time it took to blonde, it just made the output more even (no deadspots, for instance).  I also lowered the temperature from 202 to 199. What do you all think? I'm using the same roast as yesterday, so it's on day 5 post-roast now...if you all think the roast needs more time I'll gladly take that response because I think everything I've brewed since I remember noticing this 'issue' has been probably less then a week and a half old.

Pressure wise - the shot started just at or above 9.5, and lowered down a bit throughout the shot...not as much though, but still I believe it finished the shot at around 8. I can take another video that shows the pressure gauge in the shot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhJ0qw9wxZ8

Thanks!
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