I’ve had this amazing espresso machine for more than 6 months now, I’ve resisted writing a review until now, because I wanted to make sure I figured out how to deal with some of the symptoms that most people are complaining about.
For those who complain about not being able to get the extraction needle to point in the right zone, there are some facts of life you need to understand. The 3 major components that go into an espresso extraction are: grind size, grind volume, and tamp pressure. There’s actually a 4th component, and that is the coffee bean itself. (Some will say temperature is a factor, which is true, but nowadays most machines are set to around 200 degrees F). The reality and truth is that depending on the bean you’re working with, if you’re not getting the correct extraction, you will need to adjust any of the 3 components I mentioned.
I learned this by having wasted lots of good and very expensive espresso beans. I’ve tried many different brands, from Lavazza to Illy to Klatch to Simon Hsieh’s Coffee, each brand, each roast is different. What I’ve learned is that each time you try a new bean, you will need to experiment until you get it right. Some beans require you to grind it fine (3), some you may need to grind more coarse (6). There is NO absolute setting for any espresso. Anyone who tell you otherwise has not tried enough espresso beans. What would make you a good barista is after a while you will get a pretty good feel of how much you should grind, how coarse or fine you should grind, and how hard you should tamp.
What matters most is the quality of the espresso. It’s perfect! On the Saeco fully automatic, the crema was good, but a tan color. On this Breville, the crema seems to have more texture and more of a golden tan color. When I finish the drink, there’s still some crema on the side of the cup. I didn’t have that with the Saeco. This produces a more pronounced crema. And i’m pulling single shots which is more difficult to produce a nice crema. If I were to pull double shots, i’d probably get a thicker layer. I am using the single wall portafilters. They’re not difficult to use, so I don’t think you’ll need to use the pressurized double wall filters which according to the experts produces a “fake” crema, whatever that means. I’m not an espresso snob and some of the negative reviews irked me. Some claim that this machine is a toy and can’t compare to some other machines. I’d like to see them in a taste test between a properly pulled espresso shot from this machine and a machine that they prefer. I highly doubt they could tell a difference. I’m Italian and go to Italy every summer to visit my relatives. I have an espresso or two everyday. I honestly cannot tell a difference between the espresso I have had in Italy and the one I have had in my kitchen with this machine.