Getting a good shot from Silvia? - Page 2

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
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jesawdy

#11: Post by jesawdy »

Dave-

Not to spend your hard earned money, but to perhaps save you some time, coffee and frustration, you MIGHT be much happier if you PID Silvia, then you can remove all this temp surf nonsense and resulting unknowns and concentrate on your barista skills (dose, distribute, tamp, consistency), the coffee and refining your roasting skills.

I purchased a used Silvia, with PID, and have had it going since April. Most everything has been drinkable, but my palate has improved over time, and my frustration with Silvia was a bit high in late December (I had really spoiled myself using another machine I have). I dialed back the OPV to decrease the max pressure about two weeks ago, and have been much happier (see Adjusting Silvia OPV). I also finally caved to doing the WDT with Rocky, and yes, it certainly helps improve the consistency of even extractions, and reduces overall frustration. I've not committed myself to adding WDT to my daily routine, but with the Rocky, it makes a big difference.

For your SO's, lighter roasts and brighter coffees, I would try to do some of the finer grind, lower dose ideas that Jim Schulman had been advocating here in this forum (here and here). When doing this, I finish with a messier, soupy puck, but get even extractions, and it does in fact seem to tame things down and make a more enjoyable shot.

To reduce caffeine consumption and coffee usage (but maybe not your frustration level), you might trying pulling some singles. I've just had some very nice results pulling singles on the Silvia with a Cimbali single basket and the newly reduced brew pressure. In fact, these single shots have been the BEST EVER that I have pulled on Silvia. I haven't gone back to the Rancilio basket to see if I can get similar results yet. It is very easy to overfill the single basket I use, so I stop way short of where I think I would need to be with a double basket (no where near leveling the coffee at the basket rim), I WDT right in the singles basket (no yogurt cup needed, it's not full enough to spill out), tap the side of the PF sides a few times with my hand to "jostle" level the grinds, tamp, and pull my shot.

I would also advocate that you at least occasionally purchase some artisan roasted coffees from some of the site sponsors here. If nothing else, it will give you a benchmark to gauge your home roasting against.
Jeff Sawdy

ECM Manufacture: @ecmespresso #weliveespresso
Sponsored by ECM Manufacture
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HB
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#12: Post by HB »

dmorgen wrote:I didn't realize this. Is that 1.5 ounces using a double basket? Presumably I should use a very fine grind?
Actually Intelligentsia is well known for using a triple basket to pull ~1.5 ounce ristrettos. Jon's How to make a beautiful "naked" triple espresso explains the preparation in detail. I got hooked on triples for a short while and even wrote about it in The Neverending Novelty of Nakedness... Not.

Image
Triple from the Buyer's Guide to the Elektra A3
Dan Kehn

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jesawdy

#13: Post by jesawdy »

jesawdy wrote:I haven't gone back to the Rancilio basket to see if I can get similar results yet. It is very easy to overfill the single basket I use, so I stop way short of where I think I would need to be with a double basket (no where near leveling the coffee at the basket rim), I WDT right in the singles basket (no yogurt cup needed, it's not full enough to spill out), tap the side of the PF sides a few times with my hand to "jostle" level the grinds, tamp, and pull my shot.
Update - pulled two perfectly good single espressos of less than 0.75 ounces (with crema) in the "dreaded" Rancilio single basket this evening. Build procedure the same as above.

So the equation is Rocky + Silvia + PID + Reasonable Brew Pressure + WDT + 8 months Practice = Decent single shots!

FYI, My Rocky zero point is zero... I am usually at 8 or 9 for a double.... I dial down to a 5 for the single.
Jeff Sawdy

dmorgen (original poster)

#14: Post by dmorgen (original poster) »

jesawdy wrote:Dave-

Not to spend your hard earned money, but to perhaps save you some time, coffee and frustration, you MIGHT be much happier if you PID Silvia, then you can remove all this temp surf nonsense and resulting unknowns and concentrate on your barista skills (dose, distribute, tamp, consistency), the coffee and refining your roasting skills.

I purchased a used Silvia, with PID, and have had it going since April. Most everything has been drinkable, but my palate has improved over time, and my frustration with Silvia was a bit high in late December (I had really spoiled myself using another machine I have). I dialed back the OPV to decrease the max pressure about two weeks ago, and have been much happier (see Adjusting Silvia OPV). I also finally caved to doing the WDT with Rocky, and yes, it certainly helps improve the consistency of even extractions, and reduces overall frustration. I've not committed myself to adding WDT to my daily routine, but with the Rocky, it makes a big difference.
I figured that one of these days I would buy a PID to install. But I first wanted to be sure I like having an espresso machine, and Silvia was the right one. The problem with that, of course, is that having no PID makes things harder & taste worse! Also, I don't want to invalidate the warranty. (I'll have to lookup how long the warranty lasts!)

I'm using WDT. As far as I can tell, I'm getting good distribution. It's tough fitting the PF with yogurt container under the PF holder of the Rocky & still have the grinds go into it, but I'm managing! I first ground into a cup, which I then poured into the PF. But this is quicker, less hassle & I'm getting better results.
jesawdy wrote:For your SO's, lighter roasts and brighter coffees, I would try to do some of the finer grind, lower dose ideas that Jim Schulman had been advocating here in this forum (here and here). When doing this, I finish with a messier, soupy puck, but get even extractions, and it does in fact seem to tame things down and make a more enjoyable shot.

To reduce caffeine consumption and coffee usage (but maybe not your frustration level), you might trying pulling some singles. I've just had some very nice results pulling singles on the Silvia with a Cimbali single basket and the newly reduced brew pressure. In fact, these single shots have been the BEST EVER that I have pulled on Silvia. I haven't gone back to the Rancilio basket to see if I can get similar results yet. It is very easy to overfill the single basket I use, so I stop way short of where I think I would need to be with a double basket (no where near leveling the coffee at the basket rim), I WDT right in the singles basket (no yogurt cup needed, it's not full enough to spill out), tap the side of the PF sides a few times with my hand to "jostle" level the grinds, tamp, and pull my shot.

I would also advocate that you at least occasionally purchase some artisan roasted coffees from some of the site sponsors here. If nothing else, it will give you a benchmark to gauge your home roasting against.
More things to play with! :D

Thanks for your help!

Dave

dmorgen (original poster)

#15: Post by dmorgen (original poster) »

HB wrote:Actually Intelligentsia is well known for using a triple basket to pull ~1.5 ounce ristrettos. Jon's How to make a beautiful "naked" triple espresso explains the preparation in detail. I got hooked on triples for a short while and even wrote about it in The Neverending Novelty of Nakedness... Not.
I just printed out those articles & others I've come across. A lot of fun reading to do!

I've been wanting to try a ristretto. But that's supposed to be tougher to pull than a normal espresso, so I'd probably be wasting my time. I'll probably end up trying it anyway!

Dave

dmorgen (original poster)

#16: Post by dmorgen (original poster) »

jesawdy wrote:Update - pulled two perfectly good single espressos of less than 0.75 ounces (with crema) in the "dreaded" Rancilio single basket this evening. Build procedure the same as above.

So the equation is Rocky + Silvia + PID + Reasonable Brew Pressure + WDT + 8 months Practice = Decent single shots!

FYI, My Rocky zero point is zero... I am usually at 8 or 9 for a double.... I dial down to a 5 for the single.
"8 months practice" ...that's encouraging! :)

My Rocky zero point is also zero, ever since I took it apart to clean.

Dave

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DC

#17: Post by DC »

jesawdy wrote:So the equation is Rocky + Silvia + PID + Reasonable Brew Pressure + WDT + 8 months Practice = Decent single shots!
How long did it take you with doubles?

I've had my (new) Silvia for just over a month now and I'm up to about 1 good shot in 4. Before upgrading I was starting to love the whole espresso process. For me, Silvia has made pulling consistently decent espresso a frustrating chore :(

Haven't looked into any mods yet though, been concentrating on technique.

DC

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jesawdy

#18: Post by jesawdy »

DC wrote:How long did it take you with doubles?
I was more or less happy "out of the gate" with my Silvia, but I had purchased it used and with a PID already installed. That may have saved me significant frustration starting out.

Would I be as happy today with those same shots?... decidedly not. I was also getting pretty frustrated with Silvia about two months ago. I had spoiled myself with a much more forgiving machine, and I did not relish using Silvia much longer.....

I think these things in the recent past have helped me come to terms with Silvia... Of course YMMV... I just like the results I have had of late.

1) I have switched to only using a bottomless portafilter for the last few weeks. If you don't have one, I think you need one. I've had one, but it often leaked at the gasket, so I usually did not use it. When I did use it, things were more or less good, but not perfect. I don't think the bottomless adds anything in the cup, in fact I think I might would prefer for it to hit a spout to break some of the crema bubbles, but it is invaluable for feedback of shot building technique.

2) I dialed down the OPV on Silvia... she seemed to become more forgiving.

3) I now dose down to a more "normal" level.... before I was dosing 17-20 grams. I wish I could tell you where I am right now, but my scale is on the blink at the moment. I am probably much closer to 14 grams right now. When I started with Silvia, I was shooting for 15-16g. Right now, my tamper tells me that the dose volume is greatly less than 18g. (EDIT - I think my scale is behaving.... 16g dose, 25g beverage, 64% brew ratio)

4) I pull a lower volume shot for the most part now.... targeting ~1.5 ounce doubles. I will pull longer if the shot is holding up. I was pulling a larger volume before.

5) WDT - For Rocky at least.... I know WDT is "not a cheat", but I resisted forever. My technique is slightly different. I do not use a yogurt cup. The reason is that with my current basket of choice, I am not overfilling the basket. I grind into the PF, wisk with my WDT tool (a bamboo skewer) over the kitchen sink (very little spills out), and level with the skewer edge as well. I usually finish slightly less than full, so I "jostle", "jar" or tap the pf side to finish leveling the grinds . My tamp works equally well, whether it's 1 straight down tamp, or the NSEW 4 corner Staub tamp, polish or no polish. With the WDT technique described here, it is very low tech, very easy, and somewhat embarrassing as it seems to require no skills at all!
Jeff Sawdy

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jesawdy

#19: Post by jesawdy »

I think my scale is working again... it had an encounter with some moisture a few weeks back, weighing some known items tonight and it seems okay.

So, I'm not as dosed down as far as I expected... a shot this evening was 16g dose, 25g beverage, 64% brew ratio.

However, I was consistently at 18g+ dosing by volume alone with Rocky and various distribution methods. My grind is fined up a bit and I have quite a lot more headspace, I usually do not encounter the showerscreen even after puck expansion... once in a while, just a faint impression of the center screw. This leaves the pucks a little soupy, but the extractions are very even.
Jeff Sawdy

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DC

#20: Post by DC »

Hi Jeff,

The technique I've settled on is to grind into a jug, pour this into my pf (no tapping), WDT, distribute and level with a flat edge, and then do a nutating tamp followed by a hard tamp (flat RB 58mm, no polish, no tap). I don't know what dose this gives me, but after tamping the top of the puck is just below the top of the ridge in the stock Rancilio double basket. I seem to be grinding a lot coarser than most Rocky owners - I haven't checked the zero-point, but at this dose, I'm using a grind of 15-17 on the Rocky to get 30 second 50ml shots. I've stuck with it for consistency, but maybe it is time to get a scale.

I do use a naked pf, and probably 3 out of 4 shots channel after 20 seconds with a large bubble underneath the main cone, making the shots run short (the flow slows right down) and harsh-tasting. Over time I've seen some improvement - more even starts and no spritzies.

The naked pf did come with its own unbranded 'double' basket, but it's enormous and to be honest I've been frightened to use it:


L to R: Rancilio single, Rancilio double, Unbranded 'double' from naked pf

Assuming I'm not missing anything else, my machine seems to require the puck to be absolutely level in order not to channel. Obviously I don't always manage this :)

Thanks for the reply, I'll look into the OPV mod
Dave

Edit
jesawdy wrote:once in a while, just a faint impression of the center screw. This leaves the pucks a little soupy, but the extractions are very even
If that's the case, perhaps I am way over-dosed; the bolt routinely drills a hole in my pucks (before and after extracting). I'll do some guesstimated down-dosing and re-post if that solves my problems.