Getting started with your 9Barista

Congratulations on your new 9Barista purchase! 

Using the machine is quite straightforward, but to make it even easier we’ve put this guide together to walk you through every step in the brewing process. We’ve included a few useful ‘tips and tricks’ at the end of the article.

Before you begin, be sure to set aside the spare boiler o-ring and safety ring, which you’ll find in a small brown envelope. Next, give your heat exchanger plate a quick rinse with soapy water and dry it with a towel or cloth, making sure it’s completely dry. 

Although it’s not completely necessary, we recommend that you run a cycle without any coffee the very first time you use your machine. To do this, follow steps 1, 3 and 4 below. When that’s complete, you’re ready to get brewing, this time following all the steps below:

Step 1: Adding water

Fill the boiler with 120g of water, or just below the ‘fill to here’ line. It’s important that you don’t fill beyond this amount or you may find that water spits out of the chimney. Next, screw the grouphead onto the boiler, taking care to do this gently so as not to spill any of the water. Tighten until you can see that there is contact between the top of the boiler and the bottom of the grouphead, creating a seal.

Step 2: Preparing the coffee

  1. Freshly ground coffee: We strongly recommend using freshly roast coffee beans and grinding them just before you use them, although you can also use pre-ground coffee if you must. We’ve written a blog post detailing our favourite grinders to provide some guidance if you don’t have one yet.
  2. Choosing your dose: One of the parameters you can adjust with 9Barista is the weight of ground coffee you use in the basket. We recommend starting with 18g. It’s a good idea to weigh out the exact quantity of beans each time, and only grind that much.
  3. Grinding the beans: The fineness of the grind is possibly the most important parameter when making espresso – it makes a big difference to the flavour. The grind size will determine how long the extraction takes; that is, how long the water is in contact with the beans for. We measure this by timing how many seconds it takes for the espresso to fill the portafilter, from when it first appears to when it stops rising. The aim is 25-30 seconds. Use the setting on your grinder recommended for espresso for the first attempt, and then adjust as necessary.
  4. Put the ground coffee in the basket: Put the ground beans into the basket (you may wish to use a funnel to help keep things neat and tidy). 
  5. Tamping the beans: Evenly distribute the ground coffee in the basket before you tamp, by giving the portafilter a shake side to side, or by sliding your palm over the top of the basket. Then when you tamp, carefully keep the tamper horizontal, while you apply a firm push downwards – around 5kg of force is enough. After tamping, simply put the basket cap into the basket, being careful not to disturb the coffee. We’ve written further advice on how to best prepare your coffee beans here.    
  6. Attaching the portafilter: You can now turn the portafilter back over and attach it to the grouphead. The portafilter will be sealed when the two handles are at 90 degrees to one another. When you first receive your machine it might be slightly stiff when closing the portafilter, but this is get much easier after a few uses. You’re now ready to put your machine on the heat.
Handles at 90 degrees on a 9Barista

Step 3: Heating the machine

  1. Heat exchanger plate: if you’re using a gas or induction stove, be sure to use the heat exchanger plate. Take care to only start the heat when the 9Barista is sitting on the plate. You may also need to use it if you’re using another type of cooker, and it’s taking more than 6 minutes for 9Barista to reach temperature and produce a coffee. Note: when using any stove other than induction, take care to keep the handles and chimney out of the direct heat wherever possible. You may need to place the machine with the handles slightly over the edge of the ring or the heat exchanger plate to be sure of this.
  2. Heat level: It can take a couple of cycles to determine the best heat setting. We recommend starting with a medium to high heat. If using a gas stove, use the ring which is closest to 3 inches in diameter.
  3. Brew time: We recommend timing your first few attempts so that you can be sure your machine is taking between 3 and 6 minutes to get up to temperature. If the machine is taking less than 3 minutes to start producing a coffee, you’ll need to turn the heat down on your next cycle, and if it’s taking longer than 6 minutes you’ll need to turn the heat up. 
  4. Extraction time: Once your machine has got up to temperature, steam will come from the chimney and then a short time after that espresso should start appearing in the portafilter. When espresso appears, it should take between 25 and 30 seconds to fill the portafilter. If it’s faster than that, you’ll need to grind your coffee more finely and if it’s slower you’ll need to grind more coarsely. You should notice an increased volume of steam for one to two seconds once the espresso has stopped rising. This is a good sign that the extraction is finished and you should take your machine off the heat.
  5. Pouring your espresso: As soon as the extraction has finished, take your machine off the heat and pour (don’t be tempted to take the portafilter off as it may still be under pressure). Your espresso should weigh between 35 and 40g. NOTE: It’s important that you don’t leave the machine on the heat once the extraction is finished. If the machine is left on the heat after brewing the safety ring will activate and if the heat exchanger plate is left on the heat it may be damaged. We suggest turning off the heat as soon as the extraction is finished.

Step 4: Cleaning and storing the machine

  1. Cool down: Your machine will be very hot after brewing, although the handles will be cool as they are insulated. You can either leave it to cool naturaly or you can run it under the cold tap.There’s no risk of damaging your machine.
  2. Vacuum release: When the machine is cold enough to grip, pull the pressure release tab on the safety valve – it won’t move much, but you’ll hear a hiss as the pressure neutralises. Doing this makes unscrewing your machine much easier and also protects the boiler o-ring.

    9Barista pressure release tab
  3. Disassembly: Next, simply disconnect the portafilter, taking care to do so carefully as there’s likely to be some watery coffee at the grouphead. Unscrew the boiler, knock the coffee grounds into a knock box or the bin, give everything a rinse and leave to dry. It’s now ready to be used again. Disassembling the parts over a kitchen sink can be a good way of keeping things easy to clear up.

Tips and Tricks

Grind while you heat: You can speed the process up quite a bit by putting your 9Barista on the stove to heat up while you grind and tamp the coffee. Be careful though, you’ll need to get the portafilter back on before the machine starts to deliver hot water. Only attempt this once you know you’ll be fast enough.  Be careful, the machine will be burning hot, and the wooden handles might be as well.

Making a second shot: If you want to make another shot immediately after the first, you can speed things up by cooling it down under the tap. You should be able to get a double shot every 5 minutes or so with this technique.

Pre-heat your cup: If you’re drinking straight espresso, you may find it helpful to pre-heat your espresso cup on the plume of steam that comes from the chimney as the espresso is brewed. Just be very careful not to put your hands directly into the burning hot steam.

Accessories

We’ve written an article about useful coffee accessories, which you can find here.

Grinders: One of the keys to achieving a delicious espresso is a good quality grinder. If your coffee is taking under 25 seconds to fill the portafilter and you’re grinding your coffee as finely as your grinder allows, you may wish to upgrade to a grinder specifically designed for espresso. We have some recommendations here – you won’t regret it!

Dosing Funnel: Dosing funnels helps you get your ground coffee into the basket without any mess. The 9Barista uses a standard 53mm espresso basket, so any funnel labelled as 53mm (or sometimes 53.3mm) should work absolutely fine with your machine. 

Troubleshooting

If you’re having trouble with your machine, we’ve written a number of support documents which should help you – you can find those here

Safety

When using your 9Barista espresso machine, please remember to follow basic, sensible safety precautions. 9Barista operates at high temperature and high pressure, and it’s important the user reads and follows all instructions before using the machine. Key points to be aware of are as follows:

  • Do not touch any metal part of the machine once it has been heated; it’s going to be hot! Only touch the wooden handles.
  • Do not leave your 9Barista on a heat source after it has made an espresso. If it is left for too long, it will overheat and the safety ring might need to be replaced.
  • Never leave your 9Barista unattended on a heat source.
  • If you hear or see steam appearing from the safety valve remove the 9Barista from the heat source, and either use a lower cooker power setting or less finely ground coffee with the next use of the machine. Under correct operation, the safety valve will not open.
  • Never attempt to unscrew the boiler or the portafilter from the grouphead when the machine is hot, as it may be under pressure.
  • While 9Barista is producing an espresso, steam will appear from the chimney. Keep your hands away, to avoid being scalded.
  • When disassembling the 9Barista machine, be aware that it might still contain very hot water. Always cool the machine down under a tap and exercise caution when separating the portafilter and boiler from the grouphead.