Keil Senior Member Joined: 18 Apr 2014 Posts: 4 Location: Sk Canada Expertise: Just starting
Posted Fri Apr 18, 2014, 8:01am Subject: Breville Cafe Roma
So first of all I do understand just how low end this machine is. I just picked it up as a first machine to get the process of making espresso figured out because if I really get into it I'm sure I will want a very good one. (Researching the quickmill andreja and the ECM technika) I made a few shots last night with horrible results and I thought I would spend most of today trying to figure it out for myself before asking for help. Well after my first shot this morning I realised I need help before I waste my whole bag of coffee.
Long story short last night my shots were too fast and this morning they are painfully slow, with the same grind and approximately same tamp.
Coffee is an espresso blend roasted locally on April 2. I'm using the breville smart grinder. It has 15 settings classified as 'espresso' I started yesterday in the middle of this range. I put in one scoop of coffee as suggested in the manual, tried to distribute it evenly in the filter basket. Tamped about as hard as I thought I should. The shot started coming out in about 3 seconds and by 11 or 12 seconds the shot was coming out very blonde or even white. It tasted okay to me but I have a very uneducated palate and everything about the way the shot came out told me I did it wrong. A shot that comes out too quick suggests to me that the grind is too coarse so I ground a little finer. I tamped about the same, I didn't think easing up on the tamp would help. Shot was still way too quick. I ended up getting right down to the finest grind and the shot was still starting to come out at 5 seconds and was blonde/white well before 20 seconds. I decided to give up for the night, think about things, and try again in the morning. This morning I decided to use the double shot filter because I didn't like the shape of the single. used the same grind I left off with last night, as fine as my grinder goes. Used double the amount of coffee. My shot barely comes out at all! I turned it off at 45 seconds because I thought maybe it would be bad for the machine to run for so long but I barely had anything in my cup! Now I'm an espresso rookie but I remember science class. In an experiment you only change one variable at a time and I only changed from a single to a double so I changed back to the single, went to pull another shot and again I barely had anything in my cup at 40-45 seconds! My first thought is to coarsen the grind a little bit but the shot was super fast yesterday with the same fine grind.
I told myself I wouldn't get discouraged if this low end machine didn't produce good espresso but I didn't expect this wildly different set of results. Any suggestions would be appreciated...
Sadly, your grinder is not up to the task, it is an OK grinder for other use but espresso is a cruel task master.
You need to use a scale, a spoon, measuring scoop etc, is not accurate enough and neither is filling the basket.
To make it even harder, I doubt that you have a standard coffee basket but rather the pressurized one that is ever so common on the low starter machines. Tamping has little to do with how the shot develops, it is there to remove all the air space so that the coffee bed presents a consistent resistance to flow. Consistency is a term you will learn to either love or hate.
Just because a grinder can grind "fine" that is not enough for espresso, it requires a grind all it's own, the shape and size of the particle is what I am talking about, not just fine like I said.
The rough rule of thumb. 14 to 18 g of ground coffee (the same each time) in a double basket, tamped to someplace about 30 pounds (consistency is more, much more important than the pressure) ground to take 25 to 30 seconds to get a ~ 2 floz shot of coffee, pulled at 195 to 205 F
Adjust parameters from there.
The machine should warm up and that takes time, it is not enough to just have the light go on or off (depending on who made the machine) all the metal needs to warm too, most machines will take about 30 minutes to equalize and become stable for a ...... consistent temp through the pull.
In real life, my name is Wayne P. Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
I have a good scale just being completely new to making espresso I thought I'd go with the manual which said to use one level scoop, or two for a double, using the scoop provided. Weighing the basket with and without coffee I found the weight of a scoop of coffee to be roughly 5 grams. I thought that seemed light but again went with it because it was in the book. On your advice I just tried using 14 grams and it is quite a bit better.
I did read a few different places that this grinder is not a great one for espresso but I already owned it so I hoped it would at least help me get by while I figure out what I'm doing. Is that a reasonable thing to hope for or is it too much of a handicap to making a proper espresso?
The double basket is much easier to master - and unless your Roma came with un-pressurized filter baskets, the Smart grinder will work fine (might work fine anyway). If the double basket is pressurized (new ones shipped with this model machine are) Don't worry about tamping too hard and be aware the shot might pull a little faster than the guidelines you read concerning shot timing - most of that info relates to a 58mm non-pressurized basket that can hold over 14g with ease. I 53mm basket with 14g or less grounds is still a thick puck. This makes things easier - single baskets are harder to work with since the puck is thinner by comparison.
Keep those baskets rinsed after every shot too - the space between where the grounds go in and the coffee comes out is pretty hard to clean once crud dries out in there.
I chew coffee beans with my teeth while gargling with 195 F water to enjoy coffee. What is this "coffee brewing" device you speak of?
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