Geeking out on home espresso machines so you can keep it special

Breville Basket Challenge Part 1

It’s a pleasure to see so many people enjoying, preparing and serving White Horse Coffee for their family and friends at home. Sometimes keen observers come back to us with questions on how best to use our coffee at home, so we’ve been geeking out and brewing countless cups to help you, the ‘home barista’, to get more out of your home espresso setup and the way you like to brew! 

By the way, it there is anything you would like us to look at please let us know here

Over the next little while we will be running some tests on the standard baskets provided by Breville in their espresso machines, brewed with White Horse Coffee. 

In this first test we have used the Breville Barista machine and grinder setup, grinding beans fresh for each shot, and testing the two different baskets available for this machine. We compared the double basket (21 grams) with the single basket (14 grams), as well as the double wall variants of each basket.

Breville espresso at home 2

Breville espresso at home 3

Future testing will include

  • Using a refractometer to test the extraction of all these baskets.

A refractometer is a tool which refracts light through brewed coffee whereby giving us an unbiased and objective appraisal of how well a coffee is brewed, the light passes through the coffee and picks up the amount of particulate that is suspended in the sample, we call this the TDS or total dissolved solids. Yeah totally geeky we know but, this is how we keep it special

  • Using pre-ground coffee and seeing what results can be obtained. Unfortunately not everyone has a grinder, however I think it is still possible to get great results at home with your White Horse Coffee if you choose to pre-grind.

Our first test 

To do this test we weighed the amount of coffee grounds we put into the basket, aiming for a 23 gram dose. Contrary to what manufacturers say, the specified capacity of a basket is not the amount the basket can take, and often the coffee will taste better after fiddling around with the dose.

Generally, the best results are achieved by adding an average of 2 grams more than the stated basket capacity, in this case 23 grams into a 21 gram basket. We then weighed the liquid espresso resulting from each shot, and measured the time it took to reach the volume we had preset. Here is the raw data from this test.

  • In = the weight in grams of ground coffee in the basket
  • Out = the weight in grams of the espresso shot
  • Time = how long it took the shot to extract into the cup
  • Grind = the size setting on the Breville grinder

Single wall 21g basket

IN OUT TIME GRIND
23 52 26 12
23 50 30 12
23 50 29 12
23 52 27 12

Once we were happy with the way the coffee was tasting with the single wall basket, we moved on to the double wall basket in the same size.

Double wall 21g basket

IN OUT TIME GRIND
23 44 52 12
23 38 52 12
23 43 55 12
23 40 54 12

Here you can see that the trend is a much longer brew time, as the double wall basket really slows down the extraction, and some of the espresso is trapped in between the walls of the basket. Hence if you are using a double wall basket you may need to lengthen your preset (shot time) in order to get your desired volume. On the other hand, these baskets may be particularly useful if you pre-grind your coffee, or if you can’t get the coffee to extract slow enough. 

Single wall 14g basket

IN OUT TIME GRIND
14 25 35 12
12 27 23 12
13 24 28 12
13 24 28 12

I’m going to say something that will probably cause me to be the laughing stock of the coffee industry, but I got a really good feeling about these baskets, and the preliminary test results were excellent, from my perspective.

The coffee felt right being dosed at 13g into these baskets and the coffee seemed to brew well. I will do further testing here, using a refractometer, but I was very happy with these baskets. If I had this machine at home I’d consider using this basket for brewing my own coffee. 

Double wall 14g basket

IN OUT TIME GRIND
13 26 20 12
13 26 33 12
13 26 30 12
13 26 32 12

Now, this was interesting, and probably demonstrates why baristas don’t like these single wall baskets. The tapered design of the 14 gram basket compared with the straight wall design of the 21g basket seems to cause channeling, where water forges a single path through the coffee rather than spreading evenly through the coffee cake. Water follows the path of least resistance and hence it seems that because of this basket design the double wall variant makes little to no difference to shot time, as opposed to the larger basket where it almost doubled.

Breville espresso at home 6

Here’s the rub … 

I had a great time geeking out with the breville, it brews awesome coffee, and I would happily recommend it to customers.

I will be testing further, but I personally can say that the 21g single wall made nice coffee, the 21g double wall could be useful to some users, the single wall 14g basket was a real surprise and brewed nice coffee, and the double wall 14g basket didn’t seem useful at all. But stay tuned, we are going to give the double wall 14g basket another few tests.

If you have any comments, please reach out to us and make a comment below. 

Domtron

26 comments

    1. Hey Gary,

      Part 2 will cover testing of the VST and the standard basket, with both tasting and using a refractometer to measure extractions.

      Please stay tuned for the next article!

      Cheers
      Dom

    1. Hey Steve!

      YES: It is very possible, it’s actually funny you should say that as we had coincidental interaction with a sunbeam rep at our Flora street store this morning.

      Sounds like you are about to embark on your own experimentation!

      Cheers
      Dom

  1. Thanks so much for all of the coffee advice it’s made my home coffee experience a lot of fun and I love my little breville barista machine and now it’s getting even better with you help. ☺️
    Thank you..
    Min

  2. Interesting, thank you! Any word on when Part 2 will come? 13g seems like a large dose for a single. I’m curious to know which VST basket you choose to compare to the Breville single wall 14g basket.

    1. Thanks Sophie, our brew guides are the best way to ensure every guest is catered for to the best of your ability.

  3. Good and informative article. Would you confirm the type of filter you have used? The ones I have with the Barista Express looks the same however the user manual advise them to load with 7 and 14 grams of coffee respectively.
    On the other hand, you conclude the 1 cup double wall as useless. Is it due to the coffee quality or just being redundant to the single wall and doing the same in and output metrics?

    1. Hey George. Thanks for your comment. I’m going to have to look into it a bit more for you. This article was written a few years back and we need to write a follow up article. So please stay tuned. We will be back with some more info soon.

  4. Hi Dom,

    Very good writing. Would you help me clarify 2 points:
    What Breville basket you were using? Was it the 54 or 58 mm? (I have the 54 for Bar Expr and Breville spec them as 7 and 14 baskets.)

    What made you say the single basket with the double wall is useless. Was it the quality of the coffee or simply the redundancy? (Does the same as the single wall.)
    THX

    1. Hey George. All our testing is done on the Breville EM6900 which all take a standard 58mm basket. The machine which take the 54mm baskets can make exceptional coffee as well, but do so with far less consistency and clarity of flavour. Thanks George.

  5. Hi mate I know you were previously asked this but did you ever get around to running the same test on a sunbeam machine? Would be curious to see the results, especially as I own a sunbeam machine 😉 though I think I have mine down pat now after a few tests and lots of coffee wasted haha

    Cheers

    1. To be honest i’m thinking about hitting up sunbeam again and seeing if they would loan me a machine to test. Which model would you suggest?

  6. Very interesting experiment! I’ve got the Breville Dual Boiler with a Sette 270Wi grinder and have noticed that the usual proposed time for double shots (25-30 seconds) doesn’t really work with this machine, extraction is too sour but at 45-50 seconds mark, it hits the sweet spot. Why do you think that is?

    1. Firstly how many days old is the coffee you are using?
      There is no right or wrong. for some reason i like my white knight espresso blend at 40 seconds at our accounts in adelaide.
      Maybe its the micro climate there.

  7. Hi – interesting set of results but I have some slightly different experiences with the single vs. double shot baskets which you might have some (geek level) views on; I generally use the double shot basket (with grind setting 3-5 on the supplied Breville Smart Grinder) but not sure of the exact volume IN. I tap and tamp pretty hard and get about 40 ml of good coffee. When I use the single dose basket with the same grind and tamp pressure, I often get NO coffee out at all. I can tamp really gently and get a slow drip-drip but the flow is completely different from the double dose.

    Any ideas…? The machine’s been recently warranty serviced by Breville (local service agent) but could it be pump issue (the pressure shows the good 8 to 9 bars when brewing)? Could the pre-infuse be set wrong?

    Any ideas would be gratefully received.

    Thanks

    Greg

    1. Hey Greg, i respect your next level query.
      It is not a practise we teach or even practise to fluctuate tamp pressure, it can be done for sure, but i just am not sure it is brewing a nice flow espresso, great infusion sure, but consistent flow maybe not.
      I do believe in single and double baskets, the big issue is that i beleieve they use two very disticnt grind settings which is not viable commercially as most people do not want to invest in 2 grinders.
      The issue is that the single basket is not a direct half of the double volume and the truncated design seems to concentrate flow, in my experience they both work, but require two very distinct grind sizes.

  8. Hey guys, good to see some reviews on these Breville’s!
    I’m having a hard time tossing up between this Dual Boiler and the Pro/Express. From what i can tell, the Dual Boiler is a much better machine, but I keep getting told that freshly ground coffee and having control over your grind will make the biggest impact on change of flavour in the beans and is more worth having than a “better” unit – so i tend to get steered more towards the Pro and have the in-built grinder (i’d also prefer less space taken up). Do you think it makes THAT big of a difference and it is more worth getting the Dual Boiler and using pre-ground coffee to start and then move onto getting a good grinder and fresh beans down the track, or go for the Pro and take advantage of the inbuilt grinder and just use beans. For the same price it’s my struggle at the moment.
    Thanks!!

    1. The machines that i have used and have had great experiences from are “the oracle” and “the dual boiler”.
      The Barista series they make often leaves me dosing a little lower than what i feel is ideal, because of the gap between the dosing forks that hold the handle and the top of the drop where the grinder drops grinds into the basket is a little insufficient.
      If you on average dose around 17-18g it might be fine for you.
      I would always recommend getting a grinder to grind fresh as much as you can.

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