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This review is from: BES830XL Die-Cast Programmable Espresso Machine (Kitchen)
This may be a long review and I hope I am allowed the space to get all my thoughts in it since I have a lot to say. After a lot of research on the Internet and reading various reviews from posts and watching many YouTube demonstrations, I decided on the Breville 830XL. Yes, there were a lot of negative and even nasty comments, but the favorable comments outnumbered them by far. I received my first 830 XL on 14 Apr 2012. I was surprised that it was much smaller than it appeared in the advertisement and YouTube reviews. However it was very heavy, 10.3 kg (almost 23 pounds, net weight) and looked good and impressive on my kitchen counter. I had it ready within an hour for my first brew, even after spending time cleaning it and flushing the system out with its first hot water "brew." The coffee came out tasting not bad considering what other reviewers said about using cheap coffee and throwing away the first brews to get rid of the metallic taste of new metal. However I could not get the pressure gauge to work at all! Even after getting lots of advice on line, using a blog at "getsatisfaction.com", was I able to get the gauge ALMOST in the optimum pressure area of the dial. But this only worked using the double filter and tamping the coffee down with all the strength I had. I also went through various grinds and four different coffees, even fresh Starbuck coffee that was given an espresso grind just before my brewing. I emailed Breville and they agreed to send me another machine. I had the new machine in four days.
As I was setting this second machine up, I already suspected my problems were over because I noted the portafilter had much more resistance when turning it to the right. The previous machine went to the lock position almost without any resistance at all. Had I been familiar with espresso machines, I should have known this was the problem. Sure enough, my first brew of Starbucks sent the gauge into the optimum area at about 11 o'clock. I did note that my other coffees continued to have poor pressure results even with this new machine. I believe this is because the coffee I had been using with my older drip machines was not espresso ground and was old and scale. So the first thing new espresso owners should know is use only fresh, espresso ground coffee.
(Note: the above comments were written on 30 Apr 2012. It is now 12 May 2012). Here is what I determined by this date. It seems that PACKAGED espresso ground coffee will move the gauge only to the bare minimum optimum area, and this is using the dual walled filter. Fresh espresso ground bean coffee will move the gauge well into the optimum area using the single walled filter. So far, I have only used Starbuck coffee, buying the bean bag in their shop and having them grind it to espresso size, which is one grind courser than a Turkish grind. They don't charge extra for this grinding....at least in the shop I was in. My intentions now, are to buy my own burr grinder and experiment with other coffees and other subtle variations of the espresso grind. Having my own grinder will also allow me to grind smaller amounts of coffee while keeping the remaining beans doubled sealed in the refrigerator to keep them fresh and from absorbing odors. Yes, I know some coffee aficionados say NOT to put coffee in the refrigerator, but I think by the time the limited amount of beans are ground, they will be warmed off enough to use.
To sum this up, you have to really like your coffee to go through the procedures I did. There are also other time consuming matters you have to be aware of. You no longer have the luxury of getting up in the morning and having you pre-programmed coffee waiting for you. You have to prime the machine with hot water to clear the old coffee grinds out and to warm up the components and portafilter. I learned to use my coffee cup to collect this warm water because it serves to warm my cup as well. You then remove and dry the portafilter and fill it with the ground coffee, tamping it down. After the coffee is made I quickly empty the portafilter and drain water into another cup to clean the shower head of grounds. After finishing my coffee, I clean the machine with a damp cloth, empty the water and empty the drip tray. There will always be a lot of water in the drip tray. Now, I did not even mention steaming the milk since I drink my coffee black!
Conclusion. If you buy this machine, make sure the portafilter is snug when you lock it in, even when not filled with coffee. When you make your coffee for the first time keep an eye on the gauge to see how high it gets. If it stays out of the optimum area, try packing the coffee harder and/or use a double walled filter. If this does not work and you suspect your coffee is old or dry, get freshly ground coffee and go the help blogs on the Internet.
Sorry for this long review. In my former life, before I retired, I was required to write "after action" reports on everything I did and I cannot get out of the habit.
Added on 5 June 2012. I just wanted to mention that the plastic spoon/damper that comes with this machine is almost worthless. A simple coffee measure works better and the damper part does not give you the leverage needed to damp the coffee properly. I bought the "ruby" topped tamper for about $15 and this works much better. I now get perfect crema each time!
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 31, 2013 6:05:47 PM PST
Christy K. Brown says:
I agree that the spoon/tamper is useless. My question is, what size tamper did you buy? I know there are different sizes but I am not sure what size this machine requires. Thanks for the help!
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 1, 2013 3:47:16 AM PST
D. Meyer says:
Christy, I have been using the 49 mm tamper which I also reviewed (see below). I think a 50 mm might also work. Here is a review of the tamper I now have.
Red 49mm Espresso Tamper Stainless Steel Coffee
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