Breville Barista Express Low Pressure (EASY Fix!)

Last Updated on May 18, 2023 by Jorian

The Breville barista express is a great mid-range espresso machine. But sometimes you can experience some problems with the pressure.

Your Breville espresso machine not reaching the right amount of pressure can have a variety of causes, in this article, I will cover all of them and tell you how to fix it!

Why Is The Pressure Low On My Breville Barista Express?

The most common reason why the pressure is low on your Breville espresso machine is because the grid size needs to be adjusted and you need to use the correct amount of coffee, around 18 grams.

Tamping the coffee firmly and descaling the machine regularly are recommended. It’s also important to use fresh coffee beans and adjust the top burr grind setting for finer coffee grounds if needed.

Alternatively, your Breville espresso machine might be broken. In that case, it’s best to contact their customer support.

Scroll down to get some more detail on these problems.

Breville barista express low pressure

Table of Contents

When you’re brewing an espresso the pressure dial should be around the 12 o clock mark. There are a few different reasons why the pressure dial on your Breville espresso machine isn’t reaching this level and could be low. The most common reasons are:

Your Breville Barista Express Isn’t Working Properly

To make sure that your machine is in good working condition. The first thing you want to check is if the pressure gauge is working at all when you didn’t even put any ground beans in the basket yet.

Make sure to put the pressurized basket in the handle and press the start button. The pressure indicator should move to at least half its dial.

If this is not the case, there might be something broken in your Breville Barista Express and your best shot is to contact Breville customer service.

They might know a fix or they will offer you a new machine if you’re still under guarantee.

You’re Not Using The Right Grind Size

The most common reason why your machine isn’t reaching normal pressure has to do with the grind size of the coffee.

If the coffee grind size is too coarse the water can run through easily, so your machine doesn’t have to use a lot of pressure and you won’t get a good shot of espresso. You will get an espresso with a lot of crema on it but it won’t be a strong espresso and it will likely be very sour. 

Depending on the age of the coffee beans this is usually the case when you’re using size 10 or above. I like to use grind size 9 for espresso, but it could be different for you depending on the beans you use and the taste you like. You have to try out a few different grind sizes to find the one you like.

A good analogy is to think about it like sand and rocks. If you have a bucket of big rocks and you pour water on it, the water will flow right through.

But if you have a bucket of sand and you pour water on it the water will just sit on top of the sand. It would take a lot of pressure to get the water through.

ground coffee beans

You’re Not Using The Right Dose of Ground Beans

When pressing the ground coffee beans in the portafilter with the tamper, you should just be able to see the silver ring on the tamper when you fully press it down. If you can’t see the silver edge of the tamper it’s a sign that you’re not using enough ground coffee beans.

If you want a good espresso always use the two-cup basket with the right amount of coffee. Because the Breville Barista Express is built for the two-cup basket.

When you bought the Barista Express it came with a “razor tool”. This tool allows you to measure out the exact amount of ground beans you need in the portafilter, which is about 18 grams of coffee.

For a professional barista-style brew, consider using a scale to precisely measure out 18 grams of coffee for your espresso.

You’re Not Tamping The Coffee

Tamping your coffee helps slow down the water as it passes through, which requires your coffee machine to apply more pressure for the brewing process.

Your Breville Barista Express has a tamper on the left side, attached by a magnet.

Simply remove the tamper and use it to press down on the coffee in the portafilter. Apply firm pressure to compact the coffee, ensuring it becomes densely packed.

tamping coffee

Your Breville Barista Express Needs To Be Descaled

Descaling is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of maintaining your Breville Barista Express, and it can significantly influence the pressure in your machine.

When you use your Breville, mineral deposits build up inside over time. This buildup is referred to as ‘scale.’ Scale can impede the flow of water, affecting the pressure that your machine can produce.

The hotter parts of your machine, like the boiler and the pipes leading to the group head, are particularly prone to scale buildup. As such, regular descaling is vital to keep the machine functioning at its best.

Here is a guide I wrote on how to descale your Breville Barista Express.

Regularly descaling your Breville Barista Express can prevent mineral buildup that affects the pressure in your machine, ensuring that it consistently produces great espresso.

As a rule of thumb, descaling every 2-3 months is typically sufficient for most, but this could vary based on the hardness of your water and how frequently you use the machine.

Adding descaling to your regular maintenance routine will not only help with pressure issues but also extends the lifespan of your machine.

The Coffee Beans Are Too Old

The freshness of your coffee beans can greatly impact your Breville Barista Express’s pressure, water flow, and the ultimate taste of your coffee.

Freshly roasted beans can contain too much carbon dioxide, making the water flow too slow and the pressure too high. This is why it’s often recommended to wait a few days after roasting before brewing espresso.

However, the off-gassing process also means that beans are slowly losing freshness. The same gases that escape from the coffee beans are important for protecting the coffee’s flavor.

Once the gases have largely escaped, the beans are more susceptible to oxygen, which can cause them to become stale. Resulting in a fast water flow and the pressure can’t build up in the machine.

Light and medium roast coffee beans have a lot less co2 in them than darker roast coffee beans. But light and medium roast beans can also hold co2 a lot better than darker roast beans resulting in them staying fresh longer.

It’s advised you consume dark roast coffee beans within a month. Light and medium roast coffee beans can stay good for a bit longer.

Make sure to store your coffee in a cool and dark place, It’s best to keep the temperature at or below 70 degrees.

Adjust The Top Burr Grind Setting

The grind size of the top grinder is probably size 6 since that is the default size from the factory.

To change the size. First, unplug your Barista Express. Then remove the coffee bean container on top. Now you can see the top grinder, simply turn the top grinder a quarter counterclockwise, then pull it out.

When you’re not getting enough pressure you want finer ground coffee beans instead of coarser. So you need to adjust it to a number lower than 6. Simply take the pin out and align the red dot with the number five or four.

To put it back turn the top grinder clockwise until you hear a clicking sound.

cup of breville espresso


It can be quite hard to get the pressure right on your Breville Barista Express, but playing around with some of the things mentioned in this article should get you there.

To recap, when the pressure is too low on your Breville espresso machine these are the things you could try:

  1. Check if your machine is working properly
  2. Adjust the external grind size
  3. Use the right dose of ground coffee beans
  4. Tamp the coffee properly
  5. Descale your machine
  6. Use fresh coffee beans
  7. Adjust the top burr grind setting

I hope this article helped you to get the right pressure on your Breville espresso machine and that you can enjoy a nice shot of espresso now!

Thanks for reading!