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Breville 800ESXL, can it make a good shot?
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protozoider
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Oct 2008
Posts: 6
Location: FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Wed Oct 22, 2008, 7:40am
Subject: Breville 800ESXL, can it make a good shot?
 

I've had this machine for about a month now and have yet to drink a good shot of espresso. I got a good deal on this 800ESXL from woot.com as a recertified machine. Now I'm just trying to figure out if I have no idea what I'm doing, this machine sucks, or this machine is broken. I'm hoping for broken because I can get it repaired. Anyway, here is the insanity of this situation and all I have done. Fortunately we got these beans free as my friend works at starbucks and gets free beans.

I started out with a La Pavoni grinder with 19 settings and using the lowest one. I got weak espresso, and watery. So I tried some professional grind. Same result, but a little more flavor. I came to the conclusion, after reading vast amounts of coffeegeek, that a pressurized filter will NOT make espresso. Ever. It just can't. I know because it hasn't worked. Every shot no matter what the grind or tamping pressure was exactly 10 seconds. So on to the next step. I got a new tamp, Terry's RSVP tamp on amazon, and a krups non-pressurized 2 cup filter. Since everyone said this is how to make a good espresso from this machine I tried it. Now I find my shot is a lot stronger, but more difficult.

So I tried 4 different grinds done with a Bunn professional grinder that was recently tuned. I found a grind that worked best, I even found pretty much the right tamping pressure. The shots still came out lacking a lot of flavor. It was either sour or bitter and not a whole lot of just flavor. I've gotten better taste from a press. Now my concern is that the temperature is off or the pressure is wrong. How do I know? How do I know it's not me? Other people who are new to this have gotten this to work. I can't, no matter what I do, get a good extraction. It's driving me nuts and I'm quite depressed about it. I have done at least 50 pulls using 3 different types of beans and have yet to get a good one. It's recertified so should I just tell Breville there is something wrong with it and request a replacement? I've read a few tricks on this site and I'm going to give those a try. I want a good espresso but I really can't justify spending over $300 when I don't drink it every day. I drink a few times a week, but the major thing was I don't have any local shops. I can't go get a good espresso unless I want to go to starbucks and get a meh espresso. I've had a good espresso made with costa rican beans and that was delicious. How can I get that kind of flavor out of this machine?

At this point I'm ready to rid of it, but I want a concise answer, is this machine going to make a good shot?

edit: I intend on trying a ristretto tonight. I'm not sure if it will turn out like a real ristretto but I'll pull it before the bitter part. I'm also going to try letting the first second drip into the tray. The first part of the shot always looks almost black. Some professional pulls I've seen on youtube never get a black extraction like this.
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Noonievut
Senior Member


Joined: 9 Sep 2006
Posts: 472
Location: Toronto. Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Rocky DL
Vac Pot: Other - Aeropress, Clever,...
Posted Wed Oct 22, 2008, 9:48am
Subject: Re: Breville 800ESXL, can it make a good shot?
 

No.

I had the same machine a while back.  I started with a krups grinder and the pressurized basket, the shots weren't very good.  When I bought a Rocky, freshly roasted/quality beans, with the krups double basket, the shots were far better, but still not great.  At that time I was drinking them with milk and didn't mind the espresso this way.  It wasn't very good straight.

I would say that an aeropress, decent grinder, and high-quality/fresh beans will make a better tasting drink.

I think lots of us (myself included) started this hobby because we wanted espresso, straight or with milk.  So we shop around and get affordable equipment.  However, I would rather have a good coffee (aeropress/frenchpress) than a bad espresso any day.  If only I would've known that in the beginning.
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protozoider
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Joined: 22 Oct 2008
Posts: 6
Location: FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Wed Oct 22, 2008, 10:27am
Subject: Re: Breville 800ESXL, can it make a good shot?
 

So is there an affordable answer? I just don't think there is a single good reason to spending hundreds of dollars on a small drink. Even if I love it, even if it were an obsession, I just could not do it. A french press is not espresso, but for a $20 piece of equipment... it's way more acceptable. I have no tolerance for bad coffee, I'm incredibly picky.

What I really don't get is how are there so many people who say this makes great espresso or even better espresso than a cafe? Do these people even drink straight shots? Do they know what espresso should taste like? Why am I not as happy as those 20 or so reviewers on this website who say this thing makes great drinks?
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wenus2
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Joined: 2 Oct 2008
Posts: 621
Location: Reno, NV
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Astoria, Oscar, GB5
Grinder: Mazzers
Vac Pot: TCA-5
Drip: Drop...clever
Roaster: Behmor
Posted Wed Oct 22, 2008, 11:55am
Subject: Re: Breville 800ESXL, can it make a good shot?
 

Unforunately, the opinion of the masses generally has little value.
This is especially true when the subjest is espresso in the US.
Most of the reviewers would likely recognize a caramel macchiato as the holy grail.
Which is fine... as long as you're one of those people.

Enter: Sites like this.
Review sections for people like us (certifiable).
Discriminating reviews for the discriminating user.

I too suffer from Champange taste and a beer budget.
At some point you have to decide: do I make the investment, or do I settle for mediocrity?

 
enjoy the journey
-jw
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Noonievut
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Joined: 9 Sep 2006
Posts: 472
Location: Toronto. Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Rocky DL
Vac Pot: Other - Aeropress, Clever,...
Posted Wed Oct 22, 2008, 12:22pm
Subject: Re: Breville 800ESXL, can it make a good shot?
 

protozoider Said:

So is there an affordable answer? I just don't think there is a single good reason to spending hundreds of dollars on a small drink. Even if I love it, even if it were an obsession, I just could not do it. A french press is not espresso, but for a $20 piece of equipment... it's way more acceptable. I have no tolerance for bad coffee, I'm incredibly picky.

What I really don't get is how are there so many people who say this makes great espresso or even better espresso than a cafe? Do these people even drink straight shots? Do they know what espresso should taste like? Why am I not as happy as those 20 or so reviewers on this website who say this thing makes great drinks?

Posted October 22, 2008 link

I hear you about the reviews.  I will say that the machine paired with a good grinder, beans, krups basket makes a better espresso than many cafes I've been to...but that's not saying much.

You can look out for used equipment, maybe an entry level Gaggia.  You'll need a decent grinder and good beans either way though...so all in it will more likely cost $300 or more.

Good luck.
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arpi
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arpi
Joined: 8 Oct 2008
Posts: 583
Location: Baltimore
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus III-R
Grinder: Compak Compak K10WBC -...
Drip: Chemex
Roaster: Quest m3 Fresh Roast Plus 8
Posted Wed Oct 22, 2008, 1:36pm
Subject: Re: Breville 800ESXL, can it make a good shot?
 

Hi. I have this machine and for for me it works fine. I don't know if they all work the same or if I have no sensitivity :) The trick for me was to find the 25 second shot. As I grind finer and time the shot, I taste the coffee. The flavor changes with the different grind settings. When I get to the 25 second shot, my flavor is sweeter. Now, it does not pour in a steady stream like I thought at first, but more like series of pockets of cream. At the begining it looks as if nothing would come out. I have two small espresso cups that help me measure the shot. They are marked in ounces. To tamper, I use a long needle to stir the coffee in the portafilter. Then I fill more, and then with the back of a knife I even out the top of the portafilter. Then I tamp. The grind is the key. Ground coffee from Illy will not work the same since it is a different grind setting. I don't know if a grinder with steps will work OK since it is not that easy to find the right spot unless you are lucky. I don't know if better machines are more forgiving to the grind setting.
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Iluvdabean
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Iluvdabean
Joined: 7 Mar 2005
Posts: 1,252
Location: Kentucky
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra/Gaggia...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso/K-A Pro...
Drip: Bonavita BV 1800 TH
Roaster: Nesco 1010/Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Oct 22, 2008, 9:35pm
Subject: Re: Breville 800ESXL, can it make a good shot?
 

I had one and it was a big big bummer. I finally got that filter so plugged nothing would clean it. If you look at the filter basket it has actually two screens the top one has mutiple holes yet the second one has one small hole. This is thier idea of a pressurized portafilter and its a disaster. If you try to tamp a fine gound coffee made for espresso to 30 lbs eventually it gets plugged and no water comes out. I think they even know it can happen cause it comes with a little plastic handled needle like probe your supposed to use if it gets plugged. I tried that,I tried soaking it over night and I tried a garden hose at full pressure. No use, it was plugged. Since I was never eally getting good espresso from it I took it back and got a Gaggia Classic. The difference is beyond words. I just dont think the Australians know what they are doing at Breville,I am sorry to be so blunt,but its just they way I feel. I think these forums are an excellent way to get advice and if I would have come here first and asked a few questions I could have saved myself a lot of grief. The Gaggia is used everyday,my wifes really into it now and looks forward to her Lattes that I make. I read somewhere if a machine has a pressurized portafilter just avoid it and I agree with that. There are better choices out there. So in answer to the orignal question I dont think it makes a good shot of espresso nor do I think its a good machine. I think they use the small hole to give a fake crema. Its past off as a new type of machine and is supposed to look modern but its not really very good.
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compliance
Senior Member


Joined: 9 Aug 2008
Posts: 89
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Brewtus IIIv
Grinder: Compak K10, formerly Le'lit...
Drip: Hario doo-dads
Posted Thu Oct 23, 2008, 12:48pm
Subject: Re: Breville 800ESXL, can it make a good shot?
 

At least you got it cheap from woot.  You might be able to get most of your money back if you throw it up on craigslist.  Then pick up a used Gaggia for about $100 (which is what I have and it's been working well, also from craigslist).
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aliciaicila
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Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 4
Location: USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Oct 24, 2008, 5:40am
Subject: Re: Breville 800ESXL, can it make a good shot?
 

Hi coffeegeeks,

I hope that it's ok to add to this question with my own.  I just got this machine yesterday and am afraid that my experience so far is horrible.  My questions follow.  (We did not pay full price for the machine).

We have a burr grinder and an old Krups steam machine.  The difference between the liquid that comes out of the breville (cool, watery, with fake crema on top that is produced by a trick of the machine and not the ground beans/water pressure itself) and the old Krups (hot, strong espresso) is incredible.  Seriously, I think my tap water is hotter than the liquid that comes out of the breville.  The color of the shot is probably like drip coffee.  Sure, there is fake crema, but it's not fooling me!  The quality of the crema that first comes out of the Krups (before the rest of the hot steam beats it down) is superior to this!  That is the whole reason we wanted to upgrade: we wanted to make stong quick shots of espresso like those we get in the cafes in Spain, but I guess the only thing we were missing from the Krups was the crema remaining after the rest of the steam made its way out.

Am I doing something wrong?  Do I not know what real espresso is?  In my Krups machine, we also use more coffee per shot, which is impossible in the Breville.  

I think that I am going to return this machine, but thought that someone might be able to tell me whether the machine is simply defective or whether this is truly what the breville should be producing.

THANKS!!! aliciaicila

On edit: Like the original poster, I can see myself spending a lot of time trying to make this machine work.  But, I can see that it could turn into a futile obsession, such as what seems to be happening in the op's case.
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arpi
Senior Member
arpi
Joined: 8 Oct 2008
Posts: 583
Location: Baltimore
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus III-R
Grinder: Compak Compak K10WBC -...
Drip: Chemex
Roaster: Quest m3 Fresh Roast Plus 8
Posted Fri Oct 24, 2008, 10:44am
Subject: Re: Breville 800ESXL, can it make a good shot?
 

Alicia, to get coffeo from like Spain you need to buy 'torrefacto' and if you want 'cafe con leche' use milk like in tetrabrick like parmalat, which is sold in the supermarket Giant. I've put together a little tutorial for the breville here. Good luck.


"Espresso minitutorial with the Breville 800ESXL"
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