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djkidman

Help - sour espressos from Sage Barista Express

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Thanks everyone, truly. I think the complexity comes not from the fact that there are a number of variables, but that changing a variable often has more than one consequence.

 

Still, no going back! Looking forward to trying a different bean soon.

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Dear djkidman,

I am pleased to see - if pleased is the word - that you are going through exactly the same perplexities as well as routines as I am with this machine. It is astonishing how incremental changes cause huge discrepancies in quality or function i.e. one degree of fineness adjustment can cause a choke, or the same bean, the same amount, the same tamp can run nicely one day and require adjustments by MANY degrees of grind/amount the next and this when the ambient temperature is little changed and the beans just as fresh. The pressure valve is odd. The pre-infusion takes just as long for me as with you and now some coffee actually starts to come out after those approx ten seconds while the needle is still in that range. I recently had an engineer here - and my machine was purchased in late November - to replace the solenoid valve. He suspected this at once. It is apparently a common problem, even in new machines, which is a little disturbing. I was having more than the usual anomalous issues and absolutely no luck with any bean, any grind, any amount and it is now 'working'. I too was doing everything - descale, portafilter 'clean me' operation, filter changes. And I rarely use the milk wand or hot water spout (except for Americano now and again) and there is often a drip down into and under the storage drawer. This is still occurring, by the way. The engineer detected no leaking issue, so i think this is a quirk of the machine. The very honest and pleasant engineer also recommended a descale AND filter change in London every two months. I shall do that. I daresay for £500 odd, this is what we are going to face up to in a home machine. The engineer has the Dual Boiler at home, not the Oracle. He says the DB (at twice the price) is actually no more sophisticated than the Barista Express we have, but far better for the milky-drink fans.

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Thank you for this - I try to put just enough in the hopper for the day for fear of the beans altering in makeup. Is this correct?

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djk,

May I ask do you reset the programme for length of shot each time or just do a manual operation? And 1:3 on 16g meaning 16g dose for 48g in the cup??

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Thank you MWJB - this is all so helpful. I have been having very similar problems as djkidman.

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If you find your espresso varying from shot to shot (i.e. one pulls ok but the next is too fast) then it could well be the amount of beans in the hopper, if this isn't happening dont worry about it too much. If it is then find some type of weight for the beans that are in there (like a bean bag) or fill the hopper and empty it after your done.

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I keep a couple of small bean bags shaped around the centre. They work well & very necessary as I only ever put just enough beans for immediate use.


Ron 

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Hi Mach, thanks for your posts and sorry for the delay in responding. Interesting that we have been having similar issues, although I must say that having reduced the dose from 18g to around 16g-16.5g, and tending to pull at around 1:2.5 / 1:3, the shots have tasted a lot better and are generally consistent and well balanced in taste.

 

In terms of the program length and whether I operate it manually: I have not changed the default water dose for '2 cup'. I press it once (ie put it into automatic mode), but have scales under the cup. I leave it to run (which includes its 10 seconds pre-infusion) and then I manually press the 2 cup button again to stop the pour when I get to the quantity of espresso I want. So as an example I would measure 16g of ground coffee, and press the '2 cup' button to stop it when there is about 36g to 40g of espresso poured into the cup (depending on the extraction ratio I am seeking). Another 4g or so will drip into the cup after pressing the 2 cup button to stop the pour.

 

It usually takes about 30 seconds to pour (including the 10 seconds pre-infusion time, which I include in the timing because my understanding is that pre-infusion increases the flow rate once the pour starts) with the pressure gauge very close to the top of the 'ideal extraction zone' or whatever it is called.

 

I hope this all makes sense - feel free to ask if it does not, as it is good to try and help out a fellow Barista Express owner!

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Super interesting thread. I'm also struggling with my barista express but not nearly as advanced as you guys. Will let you know how I get on over the next few trials.

 

My main issue has been actually getting consistency in the tamp at the same grind settings. I find that if you use the built in grinder and don't do anything more, then you never get pressure on the gauge and extraction is always sub 15s no matter how hard you tamp.

 

On the other hand, if I grind in small amounts and tap the portafilter between each grind then I can get good pressure and decent extraction times (I'm still below 25 s).

 

Anyway I'll get some more concrete details in the next post and let you know if I have any success. Only had the machine a few days ;)

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My main issue has been actually getting consistency in the tamp at the same grind settings. I find that if you use the built in grinder and don't do anything more, then you never get pressure on the gauge and extraction is always sub 15s no matter how hard you tamp.

 

On the other hand, if I grind in small amounts and tap the portafilter between each grind then I can get good pressure and decent extraction times (I'm still below 25 s).

 

What boots2u says, and also pay attention to distribution. If the grinds are not distributed somehow evenly in the basket prior to tamping, then the coffee will get compacted differently in different places as it has different densities in the basket, thus leading into "channeling" as the water will simply find the path of least resistance. What you describe when you grind a little, tap and grind some more, you are effectively the distributing those grinds better in the basket, so the water hits an uniform puck offering the same resistance throughout.

 

You may want to look into Distribution and WDT (Weiss Distribution Technique), which consists in stirring the grinds in the portafilter prior to tamping.

 

Good luck!

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Been a lurker for a few months since I bought my BE.

 

Registered to say a big thanks to all the folk adding advise and helping out here. I thought it was just me going nuts not being able to "properly taste" the espresso I was making as no matter what I did it was always kind of sour. Now I've got some new starting points and inspiration to give it another crack.

 

Curiously I was also using Red Brick to try and dial myself in and then moved to Rave Fudge blend to see if I got a different taste.

 

djkidman - What scales did you end up getting that fitted under the portafilter okay?

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I often have this problem with the SBE. I finally get a nice shot and try it again at same settings the next day (and same bean) and it does not work at all - chokes.

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My apologies djk,

I am not very good at negotiating the site and finding out how and when one receives a reply!

I have received a whole new replacement machine and am just starting up again. I am still having curious results, i.e. on a setting that works fine with a bean (I am on Atkinsons Prototype now), in this case 5 on the grind and 3pm on the amount for a double that then goes haywire next morning. Then I played with grinds between 4 and 6 and increased the amount to 4pm and had under-extraction according to pressure gauge. In the afternoon, I was back to being more or less successful at 5 on the grind and 4pm amount and I jiggle the portafilter as the grounds descend so that they fall as evenly as possible before tamping. It is possible I am being a little inconsistent with my tamp pressure, I don't know, but it shd not account for such wild variations in resulting shots . . On advice from Sarah at Hilltop Brews, I am going to just use the shot buttons on manual and go by my Hario scale for timing and volume. I must say I am not ALWAYS in the mood for going through three shots to get a good 'un . .

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Hi,

 

I have been facing similar problems. I will try increasing the brew ratio to 1:3. I was trying to pull a double ristretto with a dose of 16 g and an output of 23 g. The shots were not very good though. They were sour and had some bitter notes. Any suggestion would be much appreciated :)

 

 

Hi Mach, thanks for your posts and sorry for the delay in responding. Interesting that we have been having similar issues, although I must say that having reduced the dose from 18g to around 16g-16.5g, and tending to pull at around 1:2.5 / 1:3, the shots have tasted a lot better and are generally consistent and well balanced in taste.

 

In terms of the program length and whether I operate it manually: I have not changed the default water dose for '2 cup'. I press it once (ie put it into automatic mode), but have scales under the cup. I leave it to run (which includes its 10 seconds pre-infusion) and then I manually press the 2 cup button again to stop the pour when I get to the quantity of espresso I want. So as an example I would measure 16g of ground coffee, and press the '2 cup' button to stop it when there is about 36g to 40g of espresso poured into the cup (depending on the extraction ratio I am seeking). Another 4g or so will drip into the cup after pressing the 2 cup button to stop the pour.

 

It usually takes about 30 seconds to pour (including the 10 seconds pre-infusion time, which I include in the timing because my understanding is that pre-infusion increases the flow rate once the pour starts) with the pressure gauge very close to the top of the 'ideal extraction zone' or whatever it is called.

 

I hope this all makes sense - feel free to ask if it does not, as it is good to try and help out a fellow Barista Express owner!

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Hi,

 

I have been facing similar problems. I will try increasing the brew ratio to 1:3. I was trying to pull a double ristretto with a dose of 16 g and an output of 23 g. The shots were not very good though. They were sour and had some bitter notes. Any suggestion would be much appreciated :)

If it tastes sour then it's probably under extracting. If you're dosing 16g, try letting the shot run for longer (say 32g) and see if it taste better.

 

If it still taste bad it could be a distribution issue.


Sage DB; Mazzer Major; VST 15g, 18g & 20g Baskets;TORR Trapez & Perger Tamper

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Hi,

 

I have been facing similar problems. I will try increasing the brew ratio to 1:3. I was trying to pull a double ristretto with a dose of 16 g and an output of 23 g. The shots were not very good though. They were sour and had some bitter notes. Any suggestion would be much appreciated :)

16g> 23G is almost certainly nominally under extracting ...


I write a blog, it's nothing to do with coffee ...

https://rjwinc.wordpress.com

Instagram - rjw_inc

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Thank you for your suggestions. I tried running the shot longer (16g in, 38g out, 30 seconds, 93 degrees) by grinding coarser and went easy on the tamping. The taste was much better but slightly bitter. I guess I need to grind slightly finer.

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Don't stop the shot at 30sec, stop it when the ratio you are shooting for tastes good, adjusting taste by grind. Then record time, be aware of shots that are greatly different time-wise, to those that taste good.


“Coffee evokes the most insane reactions in people”, Rene Redzepi.

 

https://markwjburness.wordpress.com/

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Thanks all for your help. It is great for newbies like myself to be able to access such expertise. I pulled the best shot so far today! 16.5 gm in 30.2 gm out in 30 seconds. I had always struggled to differentiate between 'sweet' and 'sour' but now I can. The sage double boiler automatically selects a shot duration of 30 seconds but there is the option to choose volumetric settings.

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