Espresso Drink Assembly Question

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
okaychatt

#1: Post by okaychatt »

Why is pulling the shot, then microfoaming considered "wrong"?

I am very slow when creating espresso based drinks. Though it is sacrilege to assemble quads, I often throw caution to the winds, figuring I can dodge the Espresso Police yet again. Rest assured that lattes and capps are proportioned correctly.

I foam the milk, then pull two shots back to back.

My problem with quad shot drinks is that by the time I've finished grinding, distributing, leveling, tamping, and pulling the two double shots, the microfoam has separated. I usually tap/swirl the pitcher intermittently while doing the other tasks.

I suppose the answer is to not even attempt a quad drink when microfoaming is involved, but I thought I'd ask.

Would pulling the shots first, then microfoaming be such a venal sin? I have an S1, so having enough steam power is not an issue.

Edited to correct first sentence.
Kay

187

#2: Post by 187 »

I think the proper solution is to get a two group machine :)
Eat more lamb - Drink more coffee

Dogshot

#3: Post by Dogshot »

Hi Kay, I think you should have 2 baskets and remove your PF spring. Prepare both baskets, then pull both shots in as quick succession as your machine allows. Then steam and go. I think the conventional rule of steam then pull is more suited to the home user with a machine that is not as steam-capable as the S1. Your S1 can steam up a storm in no time (I once heard 8oz in 15 seconds?), so the time taken to steam should just allow your crema to begin settling (especially if you use a bottomless PF).

Mark

paisley

#4: Post by paisley »

I have a question along the lines of this so I hope nobody minds if I ask it here. Please forgive me if this is not proper home-barista.com questioning etiquette.

My first "real" espresso machine with grinder came by UPS on Monday. It is the Rancilio Silvia and Rocky (doserless) set. My shots of espresso are improving with each pull and every tidbit I read and implement. (thanks everyone for all the assistance) Frothing has actually been rather simple and improved drastically but I am sure this has more to do with all the years I spent working on froth via the previous Mr. Coffee Espresso steam toy I've had for some 18+ years. Espresso is getting better with my tamp techniques and froth is silky and smooth. Actually, frothing is the least of my problems. My biggest problem now consists of the espresso cooling too quickly despite using the passive warming tray on top and filling the mug with hot water from the steam wand. The other issue is my tamp because when I use two shot glasses to pull the shot I always end up with more espresso in one shot glass than the other. The only solution I have to the heat problem is to pour the shot(s) into a thermos-style travel mug I bought from the cafe near me. It keeps it hotter but still it cools too quickly for me to really enjoy it. Is there something else I can do?

I hear it is bad form to froth first and brew second because the Silvia has to come down in temperature to brew. Is there a way around this or is it best to keep brewing first and frothing second while attempting to speed up my work? Right now, I am a bit of a slowpoke because I am trying to be more consistent from shot to shot as well as the whole ordeal of learning to make espresso using a "real" machine too. I would be most appreciative for any tips or hints.

Paisley

User avatar
HB
Admin

#5: Post by HB »

okaychatt wrote:Would pulling the shots first, then microfoaming be such a venal sin? I have an S1, so having enough steam power is not an issue.
That's what most competitors do, i.e., pull two doubles in four cups, then froth. Some will froth two separate pitchers to help the evenness.
paisley wrote:It keeps it hotter but still it cools too quickly for me to really enjoy it. Is there something else I can do?
Preheating the cups boiling hot and moving quickly is about all you can do. The waiting issue is what drove me to upgrade from Silvia.
paisley wrote:I hear it is bad form to froth first and brew second because the Silvia has to come down in temperature to brew. Is there a way around this or is it best to keep brewing first and frothing second while attempting to speed up my work?
That's really the only choice. If you froth first, the chances of obtaining correct brew temperature drop precipitously.
Dan Kehn

paisley

#6: Post by paisley »

Thanks Dan. I'll work on speed next. I have frothing down well thanks to learning on the Mr.C and added tips from here. The new tamper (RSVP Gem Tamper) is helping me make great strides in tamping too. Improvement is coming by leaps and bounces, not leaps and bounds. Thanks to advice from you and a few others, I now have a tamper technique that works well. I use a pin to break up clumps. The NSEW tamping I did is not necessary any longer with the new tamper. I tamp straight down and twist evenly. The levels in the two shot glasses are more equal (1 to 1-1/2 oz per shot) and I pull the shots at 20 to 22 seconds with lots of crema, diminishing bitterness, and more honey-like flow than ever. BTW, the RSVP has a convex bottom like the included plastic tamper but at least it is the same dimension as the PF basket so it makes it easier to tamp evenly. Thanks again for the assistance.

Personal and only gripe/snipe with purchase:
I realized something that bothers me greatly regarding Rancilio, the company. Rancilio goes to great lengths manufacturing a high quality bestselling home espresso machine, certainly a top contender for #1. They didn't skimp on the machine considering commercial-grade parts such as the brass boiler, commercial size/weight PF, and stainless steel exterior with an iron frame. Why not include a stainless steel tamper? I plan to email the company regarding this because without a quality tamper, Silvia is no more than frothing attachment/hot water dispenser. My experience with contractors' books, DH's former company included, with six years of college studying accounting and business tells me changing the plastic tamper to steel would be negligible to the bottomline in terms of cost to the company. IMHO, the plastic tamper is an insult to the consumer's intelligence. Maybe this isn't the case at first but certainly it becomes so within the first few days to weeks. Rancilio Silvia is synonymous with quality to adding a real tamper would complete quality and provide the perfect beanie, no pun intended. (big grin)
HB wrote:The waiting issue is what drove me to upgrade from Silvia.
Regarding other higher-end machines, unless my coffee consumption increases dramatically, I feel Silvia will be with me for a long long time to come. Considering I drink only 1 to 2 cups a day, although I'm expanding to 3 to 4, I feel upgrading to a dual boiler and/or heat exchange isn't necessary. I can handle the little quirks with temperature as long as I work out a solution to the reservoir ordeal. I'm still contemplating that one and making progress.

Paisley

User avatar
HB
Admin

#7: Post by HB »

paisley wrote:They didn't skimp on the machine considering commercial-grade parts such as the brass boiler, commercial size/weight PF, and stainless steel exterior with an iron frame. Why not include a stainless steel tamper? I plan to email the company regarding this because without a quality tamper, Silvia is no more than frothing attachment/hot water dispenser.
Many Italian coffee bars use the tamper appendage on the grinder, simply lifting up slightly to tamp:

Image
Jon's mid-tamp from
How to make a beautiful "naked" triple espresso


Others grind fine, overdose, and don't tamp at all, letting the lock-in of the portafilter compress the puck against the grouphead. I wonder why they bother to include a tamper, cheapie or not. If they do offer an explanation, please let us know.
Dan Kehn

paisley

#8: Post by paisley »

Will do. Although I have to say that considering the outcome of the shots I am making and the earlier unmaking, I cannot imagine not tamping at all. (grin)

Paisley

User avatar
luca
Team HB

#9: Post by luca »

paisley wrote:Personal and only gripe/snipe with purchase:
I realized something that bothers me greatly regarding Rancilio, the company. Rancilio goes to great lengths manufacturing a high quality bestselling home espresso machine, certainly a top contender for #1. They didn't skimp on the machine considering commercial-grade parts such as the brass boiler, commercial size/weight PF, and stainless steel exterior with an iron frame. Why not include a stainless steel tamper? I plan to email the company regarding this because without a quality tamper, Silvia is no more than frothing attachment/hot water dispenser. My experience with contractors' books, DH's former company included, with six years of college studying accounting and business tells me changing the plastic tamper to steel would be negligible to the bottomline in terms of cost to the company. IMHO, the plastic tamper is an insult to the consumer's intelligence. Maybe this isn't the case at first but certainly it becomes so within the first few days to weeks. Rancilio Silvia is synonymous with quality to adding a real tamper would complete quality and provide the perfect beanie, no pun intended. (big grin)
Well ... I've got to disagree that Rancilio 'goes to great lengths' to manufacture any of their machines. Basically, it looks like it is just cobbled together from a bunch of commercial groups that they had sitting around and some switches and wires that they presumably didn't have to go to great lengths to source. The only real quality differences between a Silvia and a cheaper machine seem to be the case, the material that the boiler is made from, the lack of a froth aider and the commercial portafilter. Seems to me like it was intended to require the minimum design effort possible; the fact that it is awesome relative to anything else in the price bracket is really due, more than anything, to other manufacturers cutting even more corners on everything else. It has been said a million times, but there are lots of things that could be done at very little cost to improve the Silvia - eg. add microswitch so that you steam with the element on, some way of knowing how full the boiler is without removing the lid and an OPV designed to be adjusted. Given the length of time that the machine has been on the market and the seeming lack of improvements, I very much doubt that Rancilio would go and find a decent tamper. Presumably they outsource them, so the best bet is probably to find out who makes La Marzocco's 58mm plastic tampers and give their details to Rancilio.

Sorry; on reflection, that sounds a little harsh! I guess that it's just a result of having peeked inside a commercial Rancilio machine the other week; absolute dog's breakfast. For example, where every single other manufacturer uses an actively-heated grouphead, Rancilio just uses the exact same thing as on the Silvia. Might be OK at home, but not in a commercial environment.
paisley wrote:Thanks to advice from you and a few others, I now have a tamper technique that works well. I use a pin to break up clumps. The NSEW tamping I did is not necessary any longer with the new tamper. I tamp straight down and twist evenly. The levels in the two shot glasses are more equal (1 to 1-1/2 oz per shot) and I pull the shots at 20 to 22 seconds with lots of crema, diminishing bitterness, and more honey-like flow than ever. BTW, the RSVP has a convex bottom like the included plastic tamper but at least it is the same dimension as the PF basket so it makes it easier to tamp evenly. Thanks again for the assistance.
The Gem tamp looks identical to one of the EPNW tampers. I used to use one at the last cafe that I worked with; got great results by gently pushing the coffee bed down part way a few times to prevent grounds from rising up the edge, then tamping down exactly once. (This practically eliminated channeling as verified on the naked portafilter and is now my standard technique) A word of warning; be careful not to knock the tamper onto the ground; the handle shatters!

Hope that helped ... or at least was relatively amusing,

Luca

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HB
Admin

#10: Post by HB »

luca wrote:Basically, it looks like it is just cobbled together from a bunch of commercial groups that they had sitting around and some switches and wires that they presumably didn't have to go to great lengths to source.
If the lore of Silvia's origins are true, you're right, it was cobbled together. The story goes that Silvia was a "thank you" gift for resellers of their commercial line. The machine proved so popular among the receivers that Rancilio decided to sell it publicly. The rest is history.
Dan Kehn