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Breville BES840XL Owner's Thread
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MJW
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 179
Location: Silicon Valley
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Aug 20, 2013, 2:27am
Subject: Breville BES840XL Owner's Thread
 

This thread is specifically for owners of Breville's "The Infuser" espresso machine to swap experiences.

There isn't that much information about this machine yet, and most of the info that is available comes from Seattle Coffee Gear (the Gail & Kat videos).

I bought one a few days ago and am pretty impressed.  I find it to be built well, solid, a pleasure to operate, and easy to control.  Making good foam is easy too.  Next time I steam I'll measure how long it takes.

Quick rundown of this machine:

- It's a thermoblock design with computer control.  Breville wants us to call it a thermocoil, it's a one piece block with a 1600 Watt heating element.  The block is aluminum with a stainless steel lined pathway for the water.

- 3 way valve relieves pressure at the group head and dries the coffee puck.

- Ball joint steam arm, single hole removable tip.

- Hot water outlet.

- 54mm stainless steel portafilter, traditional baskets plus double-wall "pressurized" baskets.  Pods are not supported.

- Pressure gauge -- with no numbers!

- Volumetric water delivery.  The machine has a flow meter and you can program how much water is delivered.  It is not timer based, it is volume based.

- There are two ways for manual control.  Either program a tall drink then press the button to interrupt the shot; or, hold down the brew button for manual pre-infusion, and release to begin brewing. Now you're in manual mode, press the button again to stop.

- Pre-infusion.  The brain runs the pump at low pressure for a few seconds before ramping to full pressure.

- Backflush.  If you can hold three buttons down for 5 seconds you're rewarded with an automatic 5 minute backflush procedure.

- Auto cool-down.  Transitioning from "steam mode" to "brew mode" is automatic.

Some observations so far:

- 30 seconds warm up has been my experience.

- Roughly 15 seconds from brew mode to nice dry steam.

- You can steam "forever" (that is until the reservoir runs out) and not worry about the boiler emptying.

- Going from steam to brew mode is just 5-10 seconds if I recall.

Some more subjective observations:

- I find the pours to be predictable and easy to control.  I don't get wide swings, pours are close to correct, taste reasonable.  I'm not there yet but I got close yesterday.  The gauge having no numbers is amusing but it's still useful.  This machine is anything but finicky.

- Steaming, likewise.  It almost feels like you can't go wrong.  Steaming on the Gaggia Classic by comparison didn't give good results for me (I was using the non-panarello modification).

I hope other owners will chime in and share their experiences.  Seems like a good machine to me, and it feels very different from the New Baby and Classic that I've used before.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,774
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Tue Aug 20, 2013, 5:57am
Subject: Re: Breville BES840XL Owner's Thread
 

I guess there is nothing wrong with another "owners thread" but my PERSONAL opinion is that we all gain much more in open discussion about all things rather than sticking to a closed loop of similar situated people.

The manufacturers would be glad to have a fan club on their sites but my PERSONAL opinion is that it divides us more than bringing us together. YMMV!

 
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!
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john1938
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Aug 2013
Posts: 13
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Breville BES840XL,BES920XL
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Tue Aug 20, 2013, 2:05pm
Subject: Re: Breville BES840XL Owner's Thread
 

I have had the Breville Infuser for about a week now and it seems pretty good so far.
I am not getting much of a reading on the pressure meter when extracting espresso. I am grinding the coffee as fine as my grinder will do it and am tamping with more than 30 pounds pressure. The meter barely gets into the grey area on the scale. Is this norma. I sent an email to Breville to ask about this and they tell me if the expresso is good and has nice creme it is not a problem.
What kind of a reading do you get on the meter?
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DeanOK
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DeanOK
Joined: 24 Sep 2012
Posts: 683
Location: OK
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Vario W
Posted Tue Aug 20, 2013, 5:08pm
Subject: Re: Breville BES840XL Owner's Thread
 

john1938 Said:

I have had the Breville Infuser for about a week now and it seems pretty good so far.
I am not getting much of a reading on the pressure meter when extracting espresso. I am grinding the coffee as fine as my grinder will do it and am tamping with more than 30 pounds pressure. The meter barely gets into the grey area on the scale. Is this norma. I sent an email to Breville to ask about this and they tell me if the expresso is good and has nice creme it is not a problem.
What kind of a reading do you get on the meter?

Posted August 20, 2013 link

I am not a Breville owner, but I looked at the manual to try and see what your issue is. Here is what is says in the manual on page 14:

The gauge needle, when positioned anywhere within the solid grey zone during extraction, indicates the espresso has been extracted at the ideal pressure.
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john1938
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Aug 2013
Posts: 13
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Breville BES840XL,BES920XL
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Tue Aug 20, 2013, 6:35pm
Subject: Re: Breville BES840XL Owner's Thread
 

DeanOK,
Thanks for your reply. My pressure gauge looks like the picture on page 15 in the manual which indicates "under-extraction"- it's not into the solid grey region of the scale reading. I am using a dual wall filter at the moment since my grind is not as fine as it should be.
The expresso is quite good and there is good crema but there is a slightly bitter taste so I suspect it is  a bit under-extracted. I have a new Grinder ordered which should be able to give me a finer grind so I will find out what it will be like using a single wall filter basket.
I don't have much experience with making expresso since I have onlu had a couple of very basic machines.
Originally I had a Cuisinart EM200 which I really liked but it quit working and I couldn't get it fixed so I bought a Breville Cafe Roma which I didn't care for much. The steam wand was useless.
I usually make Cappuccino so the steam wand is important to me. I find the Breville Infuser makes excellent steamed milk for my Cappuccinos.
John
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DeanOK
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DeanOK
Joined: 24 Sep 2012
Posts: 683
Location: OK
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Vario W
Posted Tue Aug 20, 2013, 6:45pm
Subject: Re: Breville BES840XL Owner's Thread
 

john1938 Said:

DeanOK,
Thanks for your reply. My pressure gauge looks like the picture on page 15 in the manual which indicates "under-extraction"- it's not into the solid grey region of the scale reading. I am using a dual wall filter at the moment since my grind is not as fine as it should be.
The expresso is quite good and there is good crema but there is a slightly bitter taste so I suspect it is  a bit under-extracted. I have a new Grinder ordered which should be able to give me a finer grind so I will find out what it will be like using a single wall filter basket.
I don't have much experience with making expresso since I have onlu had a couple of very basic machines.
Originally I had a Cuisinart EM200 which I really liked but it quit working and I couldn't get it fixed so I bought a Breville Cafe Roma which I didn't care for much. The steam wand was useless.
I usually make Cappuccino so the steam wand is important to me. I find the Breville Infuser makes excellent steamed milk for my Cappuccinos.
John

Posted August 20, 2013 link

Am I correct in assuming that dual wall is a pressurized basket and single wall is not? I am not familiar with this product or these terms at all. Maybe I should be... sorry.

You already have said that your grind is not as fine as it should be... so that is the first thing I would be suspicious of. Do you have a good grinder? Are  you grinding fresh coffee (less than 3 or 4 weeks old)?
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MJW
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 179
Location: Silicon Valley
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Aug 20, 2013, 7:11pm
Subject: Re: Breville BES840XL Owner's Thread
 

[EDIT: I'm too slow apparently.  DeanOK you are right "double wall" means pressurized.  John based on your description my guess is the same as DeanOK's which is that the grind is way too coarse so that even the double-wall basket isn't enough to raise the pressure.  You can still dose higher to try to compensate but you're already on the right track getting a new grinder and try moving to the single-wall baskets.  My (long) comments apply to those baskets.  I think you'll be in for a pleasant surprise.  Which grinder is it?]

John, welcome and, the short answer is from your description it does sound like pressure is a little low, and, if you can't grind any finer you could dose a little higher.  But, it is important which basket type you are using.

I've made shots that put the needle at between ticks 3 and 4, and shots that were near tick 7.

(My gauge has two screws visible and the left screw is right at tick 5.)

Tick 7 tasted bitter and tick 3.5 tasted OK.  Both flows were close to ideal but at the same time were clearly not correct.  The correct flow would be somewhere in the middle.

So.  For traditional espresso making, it seems to me you want to aim for the center of the gray area, from tick 4 to tick 5.  My uneducated guess is that tick 5 is about 1 MPa = 10 bar, but I would imagine there is some imprecision in the gauge.

Based on my limited experience going as low as 3.5 results in an OK shot.  Let me say that I am almost certain that that would not be proper pressure for a standard espresso shot.  But based on taste alone it was acceptable to me.

I'm using what Breville calls "single wall" baskets.  These are the baskets that are used to make espresso the traditional way, the "true" way.  I'm using the double (2cup).  Which basket are you using?

Which grinder do you have, is it the Smart Grinder?  In the past, the Smart couldn't go fine enough for espresso without modification, but Breville is supposed to have fixed that in current production.  It was a while ago they changed it, so I'd be surprised if you got an old one.

If you can't go finer you can likely dose higher, at least until you run up against the showerscreen.

If you can I would recommend watching Phil Knight demo the 900, Youtube has these videos and Breville USA has them on the 900 product page.  I've found videos very helpful in showing how to make the shot, and what to look for in the pour.  But, it is important to watch someone who knows what they're doing.  Most people do not.

You want to develop your eye for judging the flow of a shot.  You want a very thin dark stream, but unbroken.  Second, you'll want to stop the shot when it "changes to blond", and you'll have to ask Jim Schulman what that means... :-)

Just make sure we're using the same coffee baskets so that we're on the same page.
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john1938
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Aug 2013
Posts: 13
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Breville BES840XL,BES920XL
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Tue Aug 20, 2013, 8:28pm
Subject: Re: Breville BES840XL Owner's Thread
 

I am currently using a Breville BCG450XL grinder and have now ordered a Baratza Vario which should be better and I will be able to use the Single wall (non-pressurized} filter baskets. I am putting as much coffee as possible in the double shot pressurized filter basket now and tamping as hard as I can (about 35 lbs.)
I have watched the demo videos on the Breville site so I have some idea of how I should be doing things.
I will update this topic after I receive my new grinder.
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MJW
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 179
Location: Silicon Valley
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Wed Aug 21, 2013, 3:14am
Subject: Re: Breville BES840XL Owner's Thread
 

Sounds good John, you know what you're doing!  I'm definitely curious what your taste reactions will be, once the Vario arrives.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,774
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Wed Aug 21, 2013, 3:28am
Subject: Re: Breville BES840XL Owner's Thread
 

john1938 Said:

I am currently using a Breville BCG450XL grinder and have now ordered a Baratza Vario which should be better and I will be able to use the Single wall (non-pressurized} filter baskets. I am putting as much coffee as possible in the double shot pressurized filter basket now and tamping as hard as I can (about 35 lbs.)
I have watched the demo videos on the Breville site so I have some idea of how I should be doing things.
I will update this topic after I receive my new grinder.

Posted August 20, 2013 link

You should be using 16 to 18 g for a double, not filling as much as you can.
Tamping is not needed for a pressurized setup, it does nothing as all the restriction to flow is in the basket not the coffee bed..
Just level the grounds and all is well. Are you using a scale when "tamping"? 35 pounds is as hard as you can? You only weigh 35 pounds? That seems odd.

 
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!
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