Silvia / Rocky and 14-16 gram dose, any tips?

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ChrisC

#1: Post by ChrisC »

...split from Vibiemme Domobar Super/E-61 tips by Moderator...

Question for Randy, and I hope I don't end up high-jacking this thread: you mention that overdosing was a habit you picked up on the Silvia. Do you think it's required on the Silvia? After reading threads like the one on reexamining overdosing, I've been trying to do a 14-16 g double on my Silvia, grinding everywhere from 'a little finer' to only one click above true zero on my Rocky, as Jim Schulman suggested, tamping everywhere from 'hard' (well past the clicking point on my Espro, so more than 30 lbs) to just the weight of the tamper, and I can't get anything that tastes like anything I'd drink.

Do you think it's possible to dose this low on a Silvia and get something worth drinking? I haven't gone back and checked, but I think most of the advocates for returning to a traditional dose are are higher-end machines than the Silvia.

Thanks, and again, hope I don't drag this whole post off-track...

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Randy G.

#2: Post by Randy G. »

ChrisC wrote:Question for Randy, and I hope I don't end up high-jacking this thread: you mention that overdosing was a habit you picked up on the Silvia. Do you think it's required on the Silvia?
Unfortunately I learned about under/over/dosing after Silvia was sold and gone, but from what I have read and learned about my machine and making espresso in general over the last few months, I think with ANY machine it is critical that there HAS to be some headspace before the pull began. By reports, Silvia, more than some other machines, is sensitive to dosing- too much and the puck cannot expand, and too little creates under-extraction. There is a fine line between the two. I would recommend getting a digital scale that can measure in tenths of a gram.

The other improvement for Silvia is PID. The button thermostats on Silvia (and other similarly-priced machines) are a joke when it comes down to trying to produce consistent espresso.
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ChrisC

#3: Post by ChrisC »

Thanks Randy. I have a PID and a 0.1 g digital scale, and I learned previously that there's a limit to how much coffee I can stick in the basket with Silvia because of the headspace required (this is why Stockfleths has never worked for me, because it ends up packing in too much coffee -- I just level NSEW with little to no compression). Downdosing to achieve this doesn't seem to work for me though -- I work instead with a coarser grind and a heavier tamp, with a dose around 19-20 g. Any time I try to go finer grind, smaller dose, lighter tamp, I get a disaster in the cup. Channeling, choking the machine, sour underextractions, the whole gamut of bad espresso.

Are there any Silvia (and especially Silvia/Rocky) owners who have successfully dosed around 14 - 16 g, that could provide some tips?

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jesawdy

#4: Post by jesawdy »

ChrisC wrote:Are there any Silvia (and especially Silvia/Rocky) owners who have successfully dosed around 14 - 16 g, that could provide some tips?
Chris, I had good success with both the 14 gram and 18 gram ridgeless baskets and 14 - 16 gram doses. What sort of baskets do you use?
Jeff Sawdy

ChrisC

#5: Post by ChrisC »

(You know, I just knew this was going to get split off to its own topic, but it was just too tempting, having the chance to interact with Randy directly after reading his site for over a year now.... Anyway, thanks Jeff, this will probably get more attention now. :-) )

I've been using the La Marzocco style double ridged and ridgeless. What were your grind and tamp like when you were having success?

Thanks,
Chris

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Randy G.

#6: Post by Randy G. »

ChrisC wrote:(You know, I just knew this was going to get split off to its own topic, but it was just too tempting, having the chance to interact with Randy directly after reading his site for over a year now.... )
You are far too kind...

As a general rule concerning all the various factors, the rules are general in nature. If there could be one rule it is that the espresso rules are not rules, but general starting points to get new baristas pointed in the right direction. Look at it this way: 202 degrees and 14 grams and 135 pounds of pressure and a thirty pound tamp are the starting line— good espresso is the finish, and the race is a long one.

So many times I have sipped an espresso I made and found it not very good. It is no great intellectual feat to realize that something was wrong. The difficult thing is to know what to change and at the same time not changing anything else— the one variable in the scientific process. But the goal is taste, and that is subjective and not so scientific, so there is an art involved as well.

So the real challenge is not getting the basics down but learning how to modify them to work best for you. It's been just over seven years of near-daily experimentation and I still feel like a newbie. Every time I get a few days of consistent results, something happens— and usually, not something good. Most recently I found myself over-dosing, and when I repair that fault all the stars seem to fall back into line.

By next month we might all find the need to invest in USB powered, electron microscopes. But for now, the correct dose to leave headspace seems to be the most important factor that I was missing. Your espresso liters per kilometer may vary... :wink:
Espresso! My Espresso! - http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
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jesawdy

#7: Post by jesawdy »

ChrisC wrote:I've been using the La Marzocco style double ridged and ridgeless. What were your grind and tamp like when you were having success?
Chris-

I had good results with a less than level dose (of course weighing the dosed basket would be the best approach), WDT, jostle level or tap the sides of the PF to level the dose as best as possible, and I had developed a pretty hard tamp over time. I think that you could alternatively tamp a bit light and grind a bit finer. With other grinders I skip using the WDT.

When Jim Schulman first advocated that folks try smaller doses, I was using the Silvia and Rocky and I often turned to the 18g LM/Synesso basket and a 14 or 15 gram dose with a slightly finer grind. The extractions seemed to benefit from the added headspace, but the resultant puck will be very wet and soupy.

I am switched back to Silvia at home right now, paired with a Mazzer SJ and she is punishing me a tad bit. Many mornings I skip and use the Alexia which is at work at the moment. :oops:
Jeff Sawdy

japa_fi

#8: Post by japa_fi »

I have silvia with LM type basket with ridges. My doses are usually at 16g range (depends bit about the coffee used). I grind to the basket and level with a knife. Levelling with fingers would cause more coffee in the basket. With this dosage there is sufficient (IMO) head space for the puck to expand during the brew. I get good and consistent results..

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Randy G.

#9: Post by Randy G. » replying to japa_fi »

To test for sufficient headspace, grind, dose and tamp, then lock the PF in place. Remove it before pulling a shot and see if there is an imprint on the coffee. I would suggest that there should not be a mark. Once you have adjusted the volume of coffee to that level you can the adjust grind. A little less coffee can mean a slightly finer grind which can also allow a slightly more gentle tamp which gives the coffee a better chance of migrating the fines to slow the pull, all combining to allow for a better extraction... SEE! Espresso is so easy! :wink:

Also, if the scale only measures in full grams, a display of "16grams" might mean 15.5 to 16.4 grams, and add to that the +/- error range for that scale. On Silvia, which is sensitive to dose, a half gram can make a difference.

One of the effects of these change can be a soupier puck than that to which you are accustomed. Ignore it. What matters is what's in the cup...
Espresso! My Espresso! - http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
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ChrisC

#10: Post by ChrisC »

Thanks to all for their helpful tips. I'm leveling with a finger now and after measurement, realized I'm only getting about 17.5 grams. Leveling with a knife might get me around 16 -- so perhaps I'm not as far off as I think.

Still don't know how Jim Schulman is pulling off those 14 gram doses with the Rocky set to one click above true zero though -- I mean, I know how he can set the grinder and dose that much, but not how he gets good coffee out of it. :-) Again, I'm presuming he's not using a Silvia. Maybe it's the E61 preinfusion...?

Randy, it's been a while since I checked, but I don't think I've ever been able to completely avoid at least a slight imprint from the screw on the Silvia. Last time I posted about it, the response seemed to be that others did too, but didn't worry about it unless the screen actually touched the puck.

And yeah, I stopped worrying about the puck a while back -- mostly now I get a firm one, since I started tamping harder, but it's really an afterthought. As in, after I taste my espresso. :-)

Again, thanks to all.