What makes certain equipment more / less sensitive to basket prep?

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?
sprockettyz

#1: Post by sprockettyz »

So i have a silvia, and I find it SUPER sensitive to basket prep.

- I can get a god shot, and totally lose it 2 hours later, despite doing almost eveyrthing the same.
- I find that it is also quite sensitive to grind size. 12 hours of time going past may mean need to re-dial in the grind size.
- Channeling happens more frequently than with with my other machine (Flair pro 2)


Couple of questions:
- Assuming same baskets used, are there other machines that are less sensitive to slight differences in basket prep (eg. grind size, distribution + tamping) ?
- If so, what makes those machines less sensitive? Technically, machines just push water through at a certain temperature and pressure. Why would one machine be less susceptible to channels etc?

OR am I just overthinking things and I will face these same issues REGARDLESS of machine?

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB

#2: Post by another_jim »

Silvias are among the more finicky machines; while manual levers are the least finicky.

The factors are how quickly the pressure ramps up. If it takes time, the puck has a chance to soak and repair any cracks before the pressure blows it apart. If it happens very quickly, the pressure will split cracks wider and create channeling. A manual lever will be most forgiving, since you can ease off the pressure if the puck gets wobbly.

The Silvia will work fine if you use it as it was designed, with 14 grams in the double or 7 in the single. The space above the puck will take time to fill, and the puck will have a chance to soak before the pressure hits.

But, of course, nobody does that, since Italians, for some mysterious reason, know how to build machines, but not how to use them :roll:
Jim Schulman

sprockettyz (original poster)

#3: Post by sprockettyz (original poster) »

Thanks for the reply Jim,

That makes sense.

My experience with my Flair Pro is that:

I could do the same grind size 12 hours later, and recraete the exact same shot (of course eyeballing the flow while manually applying pressure).
The silvia would be totally off though (from perfect shot to watery spurting mess)

You've also opened my eyes up to the world of what happens to pump as water forces its way through --> This may be why some machines are more / less susceptible to puck prep??


While I'm happy to put in the effort for consistent basket prep routine, but within say +/- 10% difference each time.
It feels to me like Silvia would require max 2-3% basket prep difference each time, or it will throw a watery flow fit!
For flair pro 2, i could do consistent shot after shot as long as i generally follow the same routine.24 hours later, i may need to do 1 or 2 shots for dialling in again, but then consistent again after that.


Assuming I stick with a pump machine, would changing machine help with my challenges?
I don't know if changing to another less sensitive machine will really help, or will I end up in the same boat, and eventually need to hone my skills further?

I was thinking of:
Lelit Elizabeth
Lelit Victoria
Breville dual boiler (but somehow the consumerish feel puts me off)

Thanks in advance!

User avatar
happycat

#4: Post by happycat »

on the gaggia classic you can open the steam wand at the start of a shot to reduce initial pressure going to the group head. Then close it up again. Don't know if that's an option for the silvia.
LMWDP #603

sprockettyz (original poster)

#5: Post by sprockettyz (original poster) replying to happycat »


Hmm i THINK it possible.... I don't have a pressure gauge yet, but i'll try this anyway.

Right now i just do a manual preinfusion (on / off the coffee switch, and let it sit for a while, then turn on the pump again)

--> But this itself might have messed up the puck because its basically ZERO --> Full pressure.

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB

#6: Post by Jeff »

Moving up from the Silvia, or adding a PID, will help control temperature. This should reduce your shot-to-shot variability.

If you haven't already checked the OPV setting, you might want to do that. I found that 8-9 bar on the gauge into a blind basket gave me more tasty shots than the "factory" setting that might be as high as 10-11 bar.

As I recall, the Sivia's water distribution wasn't terrible, which is a common problem with entry-level machines. Some close to drill a hole in the puck with their poor dispersion.

That you can get reasonable repeatability with your prep in the Flair suggests to me that you don't have any glaring faults in your grinder or prep. Which grinder are you using?

Thankfully, as you've found, there are some great machines in the price range you're looking at. What you generally get (or at least should get) with the step up will be first repeatability, and then a bit of adjustability. For a while, I had a Silvia in on location and a classic E61 HX in another. My best shots from the Silvia were on par with those from the E61. The "problem" was that the average shots from the Silvia were noticeably poor compared to the E61.

What are you looking for in a machine that the Flair doesn't provide you? I've got a Robot and it's a machine I'll take to work with me when that time comes.

sprockettyz (original poster)

#7: Post by sprockettyz (original poster) replying to Jeff »

I have a DF64 grinder, and a Niche Zero on the way. --> Previously had a rocky which gave TERRIBLE consistency (even with Flair), but things are quite good now with the DF64.

Ideally i'd go for a machine that has
- Less sensitivity to puck prep
- Relatively fast startup time (that's why eyeing the Lelit Elizabeth)
- Pressure / Pseudo Flow control (possibility) --> Technically, this is possible even on the Silvia via a) Dimmer mod on the pump, or b) Needle valve after the pump. Theoretically, this could be possible with any pump machine with a similar design?

Lastly, looks nice that I won't want to upgrade again :)

Right now on my mind are
Breville Dual Boiler (nice price, dual boiler, + mods for pressure / flow control. supposed good consistency, but consumerish feel + not sure on long time reliability? May end up upgrading)
Lelit Victoria (Similar to Elizabeth, but with single boiler. I'm not going into high volumes, so this could be OK?)
Lelit Elizabeth (Seems like a decent choice, faster startup, looks nice, some interesting tech features,)
Lelit Bianca ($$$, and not sure about startup time..> Might be an endgame machine for me?

Also open to any other options!

vit

#8: Post by vit »

sprockettyz wrote: Right now i just do a manual preinfusion (on / off the coffee switch, and let it sit for a while, then turn on the pump again)

--> But this itself might have messed up the puck because its basically ZERO --> Full pressure.
From my remembering, doing that on machines with 3 way valve (which I think Silvia has) isn't a good idea, because when switching the pump off, whole pressure is discharged through the valve. It's not a problem with cheaper machines without a 3 way valve / with "coffee valve"

User avatar
happycat

#9: Post by happycat »

sprockettyz wrote: Hmm i THINK it possible.... I don't have a pressure gauge yet, but i'll try this anyway.

Right now i just do a manual preinfusion (on / off the coffee switch, and let it sit for a while, then turn on the pump again)

--> But this itself might have messed up the puck because its basically ZERO --> Full pressure.
As vit said, you absolutely do not want to do that. The puck will be destroyed.

Try the steam knob trick and see how it goes. Open at start of shot for a couple seconds, then close.
LMWDP #603

JRising
Team HB

#10: Post by JRising »

happycat wrote:on the gaggia classic you can open the steam wand at the start of a shot to reduce initial pressure going to the group head. Then close it up again. Don't know if that's an option for the silvia.
It absolutely is!