ECM Synchronika 4 hole tip — too powerful?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
benrudick
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#1: Post by benrudick »

Hi HB,

I've been amazed at the milk steaming with my new ECM Synchronika with 2 bar pressure. It makes the creamiest microcosm I've ever had.

The only slight annoyance was that, after shutting the steam off, it would sputter for a second or two as the pressure in the wand dispersed. I heard that was improved with a 4 hole tip, so I got an ECM one from 1st Line.

I put it on and HOLY MOLY. I feel like it's exploding my milk! Both in the 12 and 20 oz pitchers I'd end up at temperature super fast but the milk was way too bubbly. When I tried to keep the tip closer to the surface and spend more time in the stretching phase, I overshot my temp and scalded the milk. I feel like I'm "driving" too fast and can't steer properly. Upside is that it solved the sputtering problem after shutoff :)

Anyway - is my technique just lacking, or is there an inherent trade off between time and precision? And what technique works best with such a powerful setup?

For now I've gone back to my 2 hole tip.

Plinyyounger
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#2: Post by Plinyyounger »

Hi, the 4 hole compared to the two is night and day. Just adjust your technique. Once you get the hang of it you will like it. Something that may help since this is an area that can get overthought, try the 4 hole and put the pitcher on the tray, adjust the wand so the last 1/4 of the tip is in the milk and let it go. Use a thermometer if you want or just wait til the steaming tone changes when it reaches temp. Just aim the wand off center so you get a good roll.

If you are using a analog thermometer it may not be able to keep up with the 4 hole, so stop a little early. :D

P.s. nothing wrong with the wand extracting the last bits of steam for a moment or two after you are done, it's normal.

Nunas
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#3: Post by Nunas »

Heh, heh, been there, done that :D Trust me, it all boils down to practice. My first try blew much of the milk out of the jug. After a few tries I got the hang of it. My technique is to start with a buried tip, turn on the steam, then raise the tip up, expanding the milk to about the level I need (depending on latte cappuccino, etc.) This takes only a few mere seconds, which is lesson #1...xpand the milk as quickly as you can. Then lower the tip to avoid drawing in air to finish, which is lesson #2...one slight moment of inattentiveness will draw in more air or shoot milk all over the place. When this happens you still get foam, but by the time the heat is right, it's spilling out over the top of the jug! Finally, and this is something I do anyway, ALWAYS use a milk thermometer. The time it takes with 2-bar steam and a 4-hole-tip from start to finish is really fast, you will easily overshoot and scald the milk. All this said, I mostly foam enough milk for two 6-ounce cappuccinos, which is enough volume to be relatively forgiving once you get the hang of it. I can also foam milk for only one but this just makes things a bit twitchy. If we have company over, I switch to the 2-hole tip for single capps, more to avoid embarrassment :oops: than anything.

benrudick
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#4: Post by benrudick »

Thank you both so much! I've intersected with you both on previous threads and always found your feedback to be tremendously helpful.

I will do my best to tame this 4 hole dragon using your sage advice and report back :D

lagoon

#5: Post by lagoon »

Don't forget while the machine *can* run at 2 bar in the steam boiler, it doesn't *have to* if that doesn't suit you.

You've got the option to ease off the pressure to say 1.8 (by lowering the service boiler temp a few degrees). This will have the steam come out with a bit less violence.

Been a while since I owned one, but from memory 125C was 1.4 bar and 133C was 2.0? So somewhere in between might suit?

benrudick
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#6: Post by benrudick »

Update!

Having made 20 or so drinks and scraped a bit of milk off my ceiling, I am a devout convert to the 4 hole tip. It is, indeed, a whole new world.

My technique, as recommended above, is to quickly stretch the milk the desired about, which is a very fast process - 2-4 second - and then submerge the tip off center as to create a whirlpool and homogenize the bubbles. I can make a latte in under 10 seconds.

Formerly Id have to get just the right angle for a nice whirlpool - now, any position gets the milk moving, and the trick is to keep it in the jug :)

A misconception of mine was that I needed to produce small bubbles as I went, and that any which were too big would stay that way in the final product. Now it seems that I just need to get the stretch amount right (largely ignoring bubble size) and then the whirlpool will take care of the rest.

My analog thermometer is far too slow to keep up, so I've got a digital one from Decent in the way.

Thanks again for the advice and encouragement!

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BaristaBoy E61

#7: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

While I only use a 2-hole tip I always have a second pitcher heating up on the cup tray and pour the steamed milk from one pitcher to the other that was on the cup tray, sometimes more than one. Lastly I pour only into the pitcher that I will try to create latté art with only up to its optimal level for pouring. I find this 'Milk Sharing' technique 'tames' virtually any milk.

Lastly, as Nunas has already suggested, I too always use an analogue milk thermometer as I find that analogue registers the trend better than digital.

Hope this might help.

YMMV
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"