the Oracle® Troubleshooting

The frothing isn’t working.

  • Steam Wand – There are two steps needed to ensure that the steam wand is not a factor in any frothing result issues. The steam wand needs to be purged before and after every use and should be cleaned after every use as well. Purging prior to texturing milk allows the water that is in the wand (the cooled steam, condensed back to water) to be purged out prior to frothing. Purging after use allows any milk residue that may have gotten into the steam wand tip to be pushed out. Cleaning the exterior makes sure that there is no residual build up on the tip or around it.
  • Non-Fat and Non-Dairy Milk – When frothing milk, the lower the fat content, the ‘bigger’ the foam. The results will be a lot of foam with larger bubbles in it. Non-fat milk is best at this. Due to a lack of fats, the liquid is able to create and maintain larger fluffier froth/bubbles. If the goal is ‘microfoam’, the smaller-bubbles and more silky textured foam then fat is needed. If the froth is not the consistency that is desired, using a higher fat content milk is suggested. This is also true with non-dairy types of milk. Some non-dairy milk types are best used with the manual frothing setting as the results can vary from product to product.
  • Low-Fat Milk – The higher the fat content of the milk, the higher the temperature will need to be in order to create the foam. Low-Fat or 2% Milk is a mixture of the silky fat enhanced milk and the bubblier non-fat milk. It will take longer to get the quality and volume that is intended with a higher fat content but the results will be closer to the silky texture.
  • Whole Milk – Whole Milk is about 4% fat content and will take a higher temperature and longer heating/frothing time in order to reach the resulting silky foam.
  • Freshness – Regardless of the milk chosen for frothing, it is very important that the milk be cold and fresh. The colder and fresher the milk, the better the froth/foam results will be.
  • Cold Frothing Jug – The standard for frothing jugs is actually the exact opposite of that for anything touching the espresso: colder is better. The higher the temperature of the milk, the more the fats break down so the colder the milk is when frothing begins, the longer the steam has to froth and texturize the milk. We do not recommend that you store the frothing jug on top of the espresso machine. If you are using a frothing jug at room temperature, the milk will froth just fine, however, having it chilled in the refrigerator or freezer extends the frothing time.

The importance of water

Using the right water is essential to achieving the best flavor from coffee and making sure the machine operates without interruption. We do not recommend using highly filtered or demineralized water such as reverse osmosis, ultra filtered, demineralized or zero-filtered waters. The machine is not designed to operate with these kinds of filtered water as there is too little or no mineral content which is required for the sensors within the machine to operate. These types of waters can also alter the taste of the coffee from what one would normally expect.

If these types of waters must be used, we recommend adding in a small bottle (6oz) of spring or tap water when filling the water tank to provide the minimal content of minerals required for the machine to operate without hassle.

The shot isn’t right

The Shot Results

Espresso can visually look three ways: Over-Extracted, Under-Extracted or Balanced. Each of these has distinct characteristics and can easily be identified.

Brew Results

Under ExtractedOver ExtractedBalanced
Too coarse of a grind, too dry of a bean, older beans: Bland taste, fast flow during extraction, pale in color with whitish créma, single shot volume will be approximately 1.5 oz in 20 seconds and a double shot volume of approximately 2.75 oz. in 30 seconds.Too fine of a grind, too oily of a bean, beans roasted within the last 5 days, i.e. too fresh: Bitter taste, dripping and dark flow, dark créma, single shot volume will be approximately 0.75 oz in 20 seconds and a double shot volume of approximately 1.5 oz in 30 seconds.Evenly balanced grind for the bean: Sweet creamy taste, a thick steady flow like warm honey, carmelly créma, single shot volume of approximately 1 oz in 20 seconds and a double shot volume of approximately 2 oz. in 30 seconds.

The Roast

  • The Roast – The darker the roast, the glossier the surface of the beans will be. This means that the oils have been roasted to the surface and these will need to be used fairly quickly to prevent evaporation of the oils. Letting glossy beans wait in unsealed containers will dry them out and, when brewed, will produce a result that is lacking in the normal, rich créma.

The grind can make a difference

  • Fineness vs. Coarseness – The grind of the coffee is very important. Twenty coffee beans ground on a very coarse setting will take up more room then twenty beans ground on an incredibly fine setting. If darker, oilier beans are used, the grind will need to be fine to make sure that the highest amount of oils are utilized during extraction. Milder roasts will not need to be as fine in order to get the same quantities of oil and flavor intensity. If the beans are older, the grind, again, will need to be a bit finer in order to make sure the most oils possible are extracted. However, too fine of a grind can cause the water to only drip out during extraction, making the espresso taste a bit burnt and causing the flow to be restricted, the results generally being a smaller amount of espresso then usual. Too coarse and the water will flow out too quickly, leaving the espresso weak and will cause the resulting espresso volume to be more then expected, over 1oz. per single shot or the 2oz. than double shot.
  • Freshness of Grind – The freshness of whole beans is important as well. Espresso should be extracted within a minute or so of grinding. Look for whole beans with a ‘Roasted On’ date and not a ‘Use By’ date. The ‘Roasted On’ date will allow you to choose the beans that closest match your desired freshness and should usually be used within 30 days of roasting. Never store beans in the freezer or refrigerator. These can dry out the oils prematurely, causing the beans to actually be altered and your grind will need to change quickly to adjust to the differences.

BES980XL Bean Roast

  • Pre-Ground Coffee – We strongly recommend that pre-ground coffee is NOT used in this espresso machine. However, just for information, here are some of the issues to look for. Pre-ground coffee will also allow more of the oils to evaporate before they can be used. The results of using pre-ground espresso that has a roasted on date that is very much in the past is that the espresso will be lacking the full créma, may be less aromatic, and may come out watery, thin. Keeping pre-ground espresso in an air-tight container and making sure that it is finely ground to provide the most surface area for the water to pull out the remaining oils can help with these issues for pre-ground espresso.
  • The shots tastes sour or too sharp

    • The Portafilter and Filter Basket – When the espresso is brewed, the temperature of the liquid coming out of the machine, before it hits the coffee, is around 200°F (generally between 195°F and 205°F). While some heat loss is expected and even desired to get the espresso to a comfortable drinking temperature, too much can alter the flavor of the coffee. If the espresso is cooled too much during brewing, the flavor can be sharper or sour. To help in preventing this, we recommend that the portafilter, with the metal filter basket inserted, be locked into the brew head with no coffee in it and a single shot be run through it. This will heat up the metal to a temperature much closer to the water brewing temperature and help prevent that sour flavor. Once the water is through, remove the portafilter, dry it thoroughly, and add in the coffee to begin the shot. The Oracle® is equipped with a self-heated group head. Simply locking the portafilter into the group head while the machine is heated will heat up the portafilter and filter as well.
    • The Cup – Once the water leaves the portafilter, it is falling down into the cup. If the cup is cold it can greatly reduce the temperature of the espresso prior to drinking. Between 160°F and 180°F is considered a comfortable drinking temperature. However, the hot espresso entering a cup that is significantly lower in temperature than the water brewing temperature of around 200°F can cause the liquid to drop below that comfortable level. This can cause the espresso to taste off and not be at all appetizing. We recommend that when the portafilter is being pre-heated with a single shot with no coffee, the water falls into the cup. Let the water stay in the cup, heating it, until immediately before extracting the shot. The Oracle® is also equipped with a cup warming tray on top of the machine. Placing the cup there while the machine is heating will begin the warming process.

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