LETS MAKE SOME AWESOME SPRO WITH YOUR BREVILLE!
Breville home espresso machines are a great way to get into home espresso. They’re thoughtfully designed and can produce some fantastic-tasting spro. Dialing-in espresso can be daunting and result in lots of wasted coffee. We want to get you pulling awesome shots as fast as possible!
Before filling the hopper or turning on the machine, you’ll want to calibrate the grinder burr. Just unlock the hopper and remove it. Then, twist the upper burr from the “lock” position to the “align” position. If you haven’t done this in a while - or ever - it might take some force. Then just lift the upper burr out. This is a good time to clean out the grinder. You can use the brush that came with the machine or just a dry paintbrush. A small vacuum also works great.
The red dot on the upper burr aligns with a number. We’ll call that the burr calibration. The machine typically comes from Breville set to 6, but I found that to be far too coarse for our coffees. I’ve found a burr calibration of 2 works best. To change the calibration, take off the metal clip, then rotate the upper burr carrier so the red dot aligns with the number 2. Then replace the clip to lock in the calibration.
Put the burr back in, lining up the mark on the burr carrier with the “align” mark on the grinder, and rotate toward the “lock” position. When fully seated, it will give you a good clunk. Put the hopper back on, and rotate the lock handle.
Next, change the grind setting on the left side of the machine. So far, all of the coffees I’ve dialed in have fallen in the range of 5 to 14, with most closer to 10. The grind setting in our recipes corresponds to the number on the grind setting wheel aligned with the line on the machine. The Brazil Legender uses a grind setting of 11, so we’ll start there.
Go ahead and turn the machine on to get it warming up. Even though the machine will indicate it’s warm really quickly, I would suggest giving it about 10 minutes to let all of the metal parts heat up.
Add beans to the hopper. You may choose to single-dose in regular use, but for testing recipes, I would ask you just load up the hopper.
The portafilter basket we’re using is the single wall double basket that came with the machine. You’ll know you have the right one if it’s the bigger basket with holes across the entire bottom. If you take your basket out and find the portafilter is stained with coffee residue, soaking it in an enzymatic cleaner like Cafiza will clean it right up and make your coffee taste better.
Some of the interface I’m going to talk through is specific to the Barista Express, so if you have a different Breville like the Touch, Pro, or Oracle, you may need to reference the instruction manual which is really well done and available on Breville’s website.
If you’ve reprogrammed any of the temperature, pre-infusion, or shot volume settings, I’d ask you to reset them to the factory default. All you have to do to reset it is press and hold the “program” button until the machine beeps 3 times.
Ok, we’re ready to pull a shot.
Start by turning on your scale. Place the portafilter on it and tare the scale.
Grind into the portafilter, and check the weight. The amount of coffee in the portafilter is what we call the dose. Adjust you dose to within two tenths of a gram, or 17.8-18.2 grams, preferably right on 18.0. If you need to adjust the dose down, you can use a small spoon, but be sure to cut across the top of the grounds rather than digging down.
Next, tamp the puck. If you normally use any kind of distribution tool, I’m going to ask that you not use it for testing these recipes. You just want to tamp with enough pressure to remove the space between the coffee particles, so as soon as you feel it stop compressing, you’re done. You want it to be nice and level.
Lock the portafilter into the grouphead and put the scale under the portafilter. Put your cup on the scale and tare the scale.
Simultaneously, press the button to start the double shot and start your timer. At 10 seconds, you’ll hear the pump spin up, and you’ll see the pressure rise at 16 seconds. Keep an eye on the scale. You’ll want to stop the shot 4-5 grams before your target. For the Brazil Legender, that means pressing the button again when the weight is about 32 grams. Note the time when you press the button. The time we’ll use for recipes is from button press to button press. Once the shot finishes dripping out, record the weight in the cup, which we call the yield.
To reset the machine for the next shot, knock out the puck and use a cloth to wipe the portafilter basket clean. Press either program buttons to purge the group. Then replace the portafilter to keep it hot until you’re ready to use it again.
Stir your espresso and take a sip!
We are using a Breville Barista Express because it’s the most common machine y’all are using to make espresso with PERC coffee. It’s also an incredible value! There are some differences between the Barista Express, Pro, Touch, and Oracle models. The Express has 16 grind settings, the Touch and Pro have 30, and the Oracle has 45. Pro users should double the grind setting number from our recipes.
The current Breville Barista Touch and Oracle do use a different grinder burr from the Barista Express and Pro. While they look extremely similar, the adjustable upper burrs in the Touch and Express are not cross-compatible and they do not follow the same recipes. While most Barista Express machines need a grinder burr calibration of 2, most Barista Touch machines need a burr calibration in the 4-6 range. Unfortunately, this means our recipes are not a direct translation, but they should still be useful for understanding how coffees behave relative to one another, as with using any other espresso machine.
Older Barista Express models came with a non-adjustable upper burr. These older burrs are likely worn enough to need replacing now, and they can be swapped for an adjustable upper burr, Breville part SP0001801.
DIALING IN YOUR GRIND
While our recipes are getting most testers really close, most people will need to make a small adjustment to get to the best possible shot. For the Barista Express, each step in grind setting will adjust shot time by about 3 seconds. So if you pull a shot of the Brazil at grind setting 11, targeting 32 seconds and it runs fast, finishing in 26 seconds, you should be able to adjust the grind two steps finer from 11 down to 9 and be pretty dang close to the 32 second target!
If your shot runs too fast or your espresso is too acidic, adjust the grind finer (smaller number). If it runs too slow or your espresso is too bitter and drying, adjust the grind coarser (bigger number)!Some coffees may flow fast enough or slow enough to reach the limits of the grind settings for a given burr calibration. Changing the burr calibration is the equivalent of changing the grind setting 1-4 steps, depending on the burr calibration. This table still needs more validation, but gives an approximate map of grind setting overlap at different burr calibrations.
In 2022, we sent out coffees and dial-ins to over 50 Breville owners. We asked them to pull 3 shots of each coffee, following the dial-in we provided and report the results.
The interactive dashboards below are all of the data we collected. You can filter by coffee, machine, burr calibration, or grind setting. The "adjusted time" data represent what the shot time would have been if the yield had been exactly the dial-in yield.
We learned some extremely valueable things through this testing including
- Most Breville Barista Express machines perform similarly to each other
- Dial-in recipes will get most users within 1-2 grind setting steps of an ideal shot