Step by step guide to dialling in your Sage Barista Express

In this blog we will be giving you a step by step breakdown of easily dialling in your Sage Barista Express – and other Sage espresso machines – to get the best out of your espresso machine and coffee beans.

Step One-

When we talk about the Iron and Fire coffees for espresso we are referring to a double shot in the single walled basket that you will receive with your Sage machine.

We will also be using a set of scales that can weigh to 0.1g.  We will be talking about the coffee input and output in terms of grams, so having a set of coffee weighing scales will be really handy. You can purchase a good set relatively cheaply on the internet so there is no need to splash out.

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Step Two-

With our coffees we tend to put in around 19g of coffee into the hopper. We don’t fill our hoppers, as we like to keep the coffee in there as fresh as possible sealed in the bags 🙂

So, weigh out 19g of coffee, tip that into the hopper and grind the coffee into your Sage portafilter (these are best warmed before hand).

To grind your beans, we would suggest starting off at a grind size of 5 for the Barista Express and the Barista Touch or a grind size of 14 for the Barista Pro. Start with this and we can make adjustments later. Let this grind until you can hear the tone change in the grinder to a higher pitched sound.

Step Three-

Next, we want to prepare our coffee puck. This will take a little bit of practicing but making sure you are consistent with this as it will help you so much in preparing an amazing espresso time after time.

First of all, give the portafilter a gentle wiggle whilst it is still in the grinder saddle – this will help collapse the coffee mound built up in the grinding process and will stop mess on your kitchen worktop. Next, you want to ensure the whole coffee bed is level with no air pockets so, using your index finger and thumb, create an L shape and distribute the coffee evenly around the bed. This is called the Stockfleth Method and you can find great videos on Youtube on how to do this.

Next, get your tamper and give the coffee bed a firm tamp ensuring the tamp stays level on top of the bed.

Step Four-

Now it’s time to pull a test shot. Lock your portafilter into the showerhead of the machine and grab your set of scales again. Place your cup underneath the spouts of your portafilter, tare off the scales and press the double shot button on your machine and start a timer at the same time. We are now aiming for an overall brew time of between 25 seconds to 30 seconds (dependant on the coffee), with an overall output of around 40 – 45g in the cup. Don’t be alarmed if on the Barista Express the pressure gauge is past the ‘espresso range’ and the coffee doesn’t start pouring from the spouts in the first 9 seconds, this is doing something called pre-infusing.

Step Five-

Now it’s time to analyze your shot. First of all how does it taste? A good espresso should have a balanced taste, not too sour, not too bitter and have a slight sweetness to the taste. If your coffee is within the guide you should be close to the optimal taste of the coffee. If your shot ran a little too fast (below 25 seconds), you may notice that the coffee has an overpowering sourness in the cup. Take your grind number to a lower number (if your shot ran in 15 seconds, you may want to set the grind setting to a 3 for example).

If your shot took a little too long to pour, you may notice an unpleasant bitterness in the cup. You will now want to take the grind setting slightly higher (for example, if it ran in 35 seconds, take your grind setting from a 5 to a 7). You should now repeat the steps 2 to 5 and notice an improvement in your shot flavour.

If you find that even at setting 1 that your shot is still running too fast, you may need to adjust your internal burr setting. This is easily done, but does take some care. Our next post will go through burr settings on your Sage coffee machine to help anyone struggling with it.

We hope this basic guide helps you to get started in the world of home espresso, but if you have any questions then please feel free to get in touch as we are always happy to help. Remeber to check out our recommended coffees for your Sage coffee machine