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Topic # 128716 21-Aug-2013 09:48
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I have acquired a new in the box (but possibly 5+ yrs old) Breville BarVista coffee machine. Although I have followed the directions exactly, I am quite disappointed in the end result.
The coffee is not piping hot, it seems "weak" and the crema is very frothy rather than creamy. Is this just a budget machine and I am expecting too much from it?
 

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  Reply # 882012 21-Aug-2013 09:59
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Is it this one:
http://www.productreview.com.au/p/breville-barvista-espresso.html

We have a Sunbeam machine at home - its 6 or 7 years old and gets used every day.
Pretty happy with the results - better than many coffees I have paid for.

It doesnt have the strongest pump in the world so I find it best not to overtamp the coffee.

So I suggest maybe you experiment with how you do that as that can also affect the crema.

Also have found that the grind of different coffees make a great difference (to crema and flavour) so we have settled on Lavazza ground coffee and I really like the flavour and it makes a really good crema as well. (I expect to hear howls of derision from people that have their coffee beans imported from a special valley in New Guinea and roasted by fairies breath in a little shed on the outskirts of the Coromandel and airlifted by carrier pigeon to their house each day) - but try a couple of different products and see if that makes a difference.

Finally - Coffee should never be overheated - it will be very bitter if the temperature is too high. But if its too low then it wont extract the coffee and you might not get the crema - could be that yours has a temperature problem. I dont know how you can check or fix that if that is the issue.




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  Reply # 882018 21-Aug-2013 10:03
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Did you run a couple of shots through before the one you're going to drink, or at least run water through to warm everything up?  How long has it had to come up to temp?



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  Reply # 882074 21-Aug-2013 11:13
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Yes, thats the one.
I ran some water through first, seems to only take about 30 secs before the 'heating" light goes off.

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  Reply # 882078 21-Aug-2013 11:15
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Ah - so you were just too quick?

How is the coffee now?




Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself - A. H. Weiler



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  Reply # 882080 21-Aug-2013 11:19
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I left the machine on for 5 min even tho the heating light had turned off. Water is now hotter so I will try another extraction. I noticed the water tasted quite metallic so perhaps I need to pump more water through to flush it out.



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  Reply # 882082 21-Aug-2013 11:24
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OK, that is better, obviously it needs longer to heat up. Crema is still too frothy but maybe thats a function of the coffee, I just grabbed something called Caffe Aurora 100% Arabica Expresso Ground Coffee. 
Water stiil is metallic so I will pump a few litres through while its hot.

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  Reply # 882108 21-Aug-2013 11:46
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That's a very similar machine to mine.

I find the longer it is on to warm up the better, despite the "thermoblock" that theoretically allows the water to heat instantly.

If I leave it on for around 10-15 min before use, I get the best coffee possible.

Using fine-ground coffee, not too heavily tamped, works really well for me.
I have (in desperation) used slightly coarser ground coffee which was meant for a plunger and have had frothy crema and weak coffee.

Heating light is largely irrelevant. I never take any notice of it.




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  Reply # 882116 21-Aug-2013 11:59
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I have a similar machine, it can produce excellent coffee, just takes a bit of practice to deal with its quirks.

Give it a while to warm up - at least 10 mins (I turn mine on first thing when I get up, then have a shower etc, by the time i come back to it, ready to go)

Get these depresurized/single wall baskets. These let you use fine ground coffee and tamp the hell out of it, to produce thick creamy crema (with freshly ground coffee). The frothy crema that you are getting is a symptom of the double-wall/presurised baskets that come with the machine - they are designed to give you crema no matter what dirt you put in the filter basket. A single-wall basket means that you will get zero crema if you use stale coffee, but allows real crema if you get everything right.

Put 1:4 vinegar to water in the tank and run it through the machine to give it a clean/descale. You will have to run several tanks worth of water through afterwards to get all of the vinegar out. Its worth doing this regularly



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  Reply # 882120 21-Aug-2013 12:09
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Wow, thanks for all the good advice,  off to try some single wall baskets.

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  Reply # 882124 21-Aug-2013 12:13
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I think the finer the grind the thicker the crema - but if its too fine your machine might choke on it.
Might be worth trying another brand/grind - sounds like your machine isnt a dud - just quirky!

Ten minutes isnt long to wait for it to warm up - make some toast/cereal while it heats up.
If the machine was new in the box its best to give it a good flush - so you are onto that.
I see there are some Breville cleaning tabs:
http://www.priceme.co.nz/Breville-Espresso-Machine-Cleaning-Tablets-BEC250/p-884405463.aspx

The vinegar trick should work just as well - just make sure you use white vinegar!




Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself - A. H. Weiler

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  Reply # 882133 21-Aug-2013 12:35
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nickb800: The frothy crema that you are getting is a symptom of the double-wall/presurised baskets that come with the machine - they are designed to give you crema no matter what dirt you put in the filter basket. A single-wall basket means that you will get zero crema if you use stale coffee, but allows real crema if you get everything right.

Put 1:4 vinegar to water in the tank and run it through the machine to give it a clean/descale. You will have to run several tanks worth of water through afterwards to get all of the vinegar out. Its worth doing this regularly


Both of these. Was just about to post the same thing, but noticed NickB had already posted it. I had one with a plastic widget in the bottom of the basket. The coffee was forced through the plastic widget and gave it the frothy crema look. It was also a place water sat and when opening it up, it was not very pleasant. Pulled it out and it worked fine without it. Also made better coffee.

Clean it through with vinegar or descaling tablets. Can be bought trademe and various other places. 




Try Vultr using this link and get us both some credit:

 

http://www.vultr.com/?ref=7033587-3B




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  Reply # 905536 1-Oct-2013 09:34
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Just an update..............

Did the vinegar descaling and bought the single wall baskets - result was no crema this time ! I decided the coffee I had (Australian) was to blame so I purchased some Atomic online (great service from those guys) and hey presto ! perfect crema and a great taste so I am now a very happy chappy :-)

Next  thing to do is try some different brands, any suggestions?

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  Reply # 905537 1-Oct-2013 09:39
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Havana is my favourite... XBlend is a good one.

You can order online from Havana and they'll deliver to your door.

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  Reply # 905541 1-Oct-2013 09:44
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Coffeelab all the way! They'll deliver too, popping it in the post on roasting day, and they have a great selection of single origins beans.

Don't buy beans at supermarkets and such like, rare to find fresh beans that way (often they are as much as 6-9 months old, and despite the vacuum packing start deteriorating after the first week and are essentially useless within several weeks).

Once you maintain the machine well, get your routine down pat and get fresh beans you'll soon be getting the best from that machine. I suspect a fairly low quality ceiling despite optimising everything else regardless, but should be able to get a reasonable brew.




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  Reply # 905542 1-Oct-2013 09:47
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A confession :-) I am buying ground coffee as I dont have a grinder yet, next on the list.

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