Sour espresso with Rancilio Silvia - bad grinder? - Page 2

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?
WestfordChris (original poster)
Posts: 8
Joined: 2 years ago

#11: Post by WestfordChris (original poster) »

ShotClock wrote:Hi Chris

I just looked at this grinder on amazon, and think that it might be a problem. Certainly, as previously suggested try to grind increasingly finer until you can choke the machine. Taste a few shots as you do this, it should get progressively more bitter.

I think the issue with grinders at this price point is that the alignment is often very poor. If this is the case, you won't be able to grind finer and progressively increase the resistance in the puck to control the rate of water flow. Often, hand grinders are recommended at this price, alternatively you can find something in the classifieds here like a Niche Zero for $500-600.
I am not sure I follow, are you saying excess fines will cause bitterness? I definitely can grind fine enough to totally block the VST basket. I could believe that the burr is wobbling on the motor shaft causing excess fines.

I am ready to click buy on a Niche, but, oh jeeze, it is a CONICAL burr grinder. :D James Hoffman waxes on poetically about that grinder, but it feels like a sales pitch to me. If I would spend $1500, or ideally $1000 for a grinder to go with my Rancilio, which one would you suggest?
ShotClock wrote:
The VST basket might make things worse too, as it has little resistance of its own. Something like the espresso parts HQ 14g basket (actually more like a 20g basket) might be better, and is available fairly cheaply.
I have the stock 14g Rancilio basket, maybe I should try that?

What is the correlation between the quality of the basket, the quality of the grinder, and bitter taste? I am not sure I understand yet.

I think I have a good machine, a "great" basket and live 10 miles from the George Howell roastery so my beans are fresh. I am not sure what else it could be.

Thanks,
Chris

WestfordChris (original poster)
Posts: 8
Joined: 2 years ago

#12: Post by WestfordChris (original poster) »

baldheadracing wrote:Looks good. Just a couple minor points:
- It's important to be consistent with the taps. Try to do the same every shot; and
- I know that it isn't what the cool kids recommend, but try tamping hard for the time being.

Also, I would set aside for the moment the VST basket. The stock basket should enable a little coarser grind.
So I was pushing "hard" with the tamper but the barista at Whole Foods suggested a really gentle tamp. It all feels meaningless since we are pressing the puck with 130 PSI which exceeds the amount of pressure I can put it in.

Another question, should I shoot for 25-30 seconds with 20g in and 40g out and see what I get? I am able to achieve that, but the results are bitter, but maybe that is a result of my too high 221, PID temperature.

Alright, I have a bunch of things to try tomorrow.

Chris

User avatar
baldheadracing
Team HB
Posts: 6175
Joined: 9 years ago

#13: Post by baldheadracing »

WestfordChris wrote:So I was pushing "hard" with the tamper but the barista at Whole Foods suggested a really gentle tamp. It all feels meaningless since we are pressing the puck with 130 PSI which exceeds the amount of pressure I can put it in.
It isn't meaningless as we are trying to control what happens before the pressure buildup.
WestfordChris wrote:Another question, should I shoot for 25-30 seconds with 20g in and 40g out and see what I get? I am able to achieve that, but the results are bitter, but maybe that is a result of my too high 221, PID temperature.

Alright, I have a bunch of things to try tomorrow.

Chris
I'd start with what parameters currently tastes best.

I try to change one thing at a time, and always repeat at least once to confirm the effects of the change.

and Have fun!
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

ShotClock
Supporter ♡
Posts: 414
Joined: 3 years ago

#14: Post by ShotClock »

I think that the advice to experiment with the stock basket is great. If you can choke the machine, it's unlikely that your grinder is preventing you from getting an acceptable shot.

My comment about adjusting the grind finer and tasting the results were just a suggestion to get you to "dial in" by taste. There's a James Hoffman video on this, and a number of excellent articles and videos on this site from Dan Kehn, Jim Schulman and others that i have found extremely useful. Briefly put, coarser grind result in a faster running shot, which will taste sour. Finer grinds result in slower running shots, which taste increasingly bitter. In between these, when the grind is just right, we have sweet, syrupy deliciousness!

I'd also recommend trying a few local roasters - i like George Howell, Barismo, Great Barrington. Apparently Broadsheet in Cambridge is very good, but i haven't tried it yet. Excellent espresso in an excellent cafe is even better - I'd recommend Barismo in Arlington or Cambridge, George Howell in Boston or Newton, Broadsheet in Cambridge. I'm just down the road in Concord, and unfortunately it doesn't seem like there's much worth drinking in the area, despite the presence of GH.

WestfordChris (original poster)
Posts: 8
Joined: 2 years ago

#15: Post by WestfordChris (original poster) »

Great results today, I think my problem was PID temperature.

I set the PID to 216 and let it sit for 2 hours.

20g in 20g out.

first pull, 18 seconds, good taste, but I was trying to get to 25-30 seconds
second shot, 36 seconds, uneven extraction on the portafilter and bitter.
third shot, 30 seconds, almost perfect.

I did all of this through controlling grind. I am going to try to dial in further tomorrow.

Chris

Tseg
Posts: 5
Joined: 2 years ago

#16: Post by Tseg »

Interesting. I'm also new to the Silvia with Aubin PID and use a Sette 270wi grinder. I started out the gate with an 18g VST, 36g out. My pulls did not taste that great, a bit sour. I eventually switched to the OEM 14g basket and pull 28g. I also ensure 45 minute warm up with naked PF in for the first pull of the day. I also have been ordering fresh roasted Fuego Ethiopian that arrives dated 3 days after roasting. I'm also mastering flat white and cappuccino frothing. I'm really enjoying how it is all dialed in and now consistent good flavor... 2 drinks per day. If I had higher cabinets and deeper counter to fit a bigger machine I likely would have already spent $3K for an upgrade, but the Silvia is max height and depth for my cabinets so I'm somewhat forced to figure out how to optimize my Rancilio. I may have to plan a $20K kitchen makeover to fit a bigger machine someday. But for now, at least I can say my Silvia daily coffees taste satisfying to me. Good luck on your journey.

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB
Posts: 6623
Joined: 19 years ago

#17: Post by Jeff »

WestfordChris wrote:I am not sure I follow, are you saying excess fines will cause bitterness?
I've found that grinding too find with a medium or darker roast, or one that is relatively free of roast defects, can result in unpleasant bitterness for my tastes, and be overly revealing of those roast defects.

I find that, with medium and lighter roasts, grinding too fine can also lead to astringency, which can be interpreted as "sour".
I am ready to click buy on a Niche, but, oh jeeze, it is a CONICAL burr grinder.
So what? I think most people buying flat grinders these days are buying a grinder that, especially for the beans they use, is, at best, comparable to the Niche Zero in the cup, and inferior in terms of work flow.
If I would spend $1500, or ideally $1000 for a grinder to go with my Rancilio, which one would you suggest?
Niche Zero, any of the better "Titan Conical" grinders on the used market (I'm partial to the Compak K10 WBC, which single-doses very well.) I'd look at the DF64, burrs are a good question. Until you know what you want, I'd just go with the no-upgrade Italmills.

George Howell is generally very good coffee. I "cut my teeth" on Coffee Connection in The Garage a long time ago. I do order from them reasonably often. Depending on what you order from their "drip" selections, I would consider them medium or medium-light, rather than the "light" that many are talking about when they are talking about high-extraction, modern, flat-burr sets.
What is the correlation between the quality of the basket, the quality of the grinder, and bitter taste? I am not sure I understand yet.
For most people, especially those still working on developing their skills and taste, VST and other high-flow baskets are a "horrible" basket. There are very few advantages for classic espresso and home users for a VST basket over another precision basket with modest flow, such as the EPNW 14 (doses like an 18). The higher flow rates mainly just make them tweaky at time when people are trying to learn consistency and how changes in what they do impact what is in the cup at the end. It is further complicated by many of the entry-level machines running at what I consider excessive pressures, due to either how their OPV is set, or the lack of one completely.