Help Dialing in Rancilio Silvia and Baratza 270

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
bcparfitt

Postby bcparfitt » Mar 12, 2018, 10:51 am

Ok folks, I'm hoping to crowd source my espresso brewing experience a bit... I've pulled quite a few shots (probably 15lbs of coffee worth) with the Silvia/Baratza 270 combo and have only managed a couple of really good shots. Most of the time, it's too bitter or sour.

I am hoping to share grinding and brewing details along with photos to help me improve my techniques.

I'll start with my most recent shot...
Bean is Nizza from La Colombe that I picked up on a recent trip to DC.

Grind directly into PF, slight shake to distribute, and then level using my finger to swipe
Tamp - light pressure on tamper to level, then firm pressure until I feel resistance. I don't know how to judge 30lbs of force, so I'm just being consistent in how hard I push each time. I'm not leaning into it.

Silvia Temperature set for 207F
Pre-infuse for a second
Pause a second
Shot pulled in 27 seconds

Dose is 17g in, final pulled shot was 42g out. I've included photos of the shot below.
Image
Image

My observations.. Not a smooth shot. Some fruit and a little nuttiness there, but somewhat caustic in the throat.. Bitter.
Shot volume seems about right, i.e. 2 oz (incl crema).
Shot weight also seems to be in the ballpark, though a touch on the heavy side.. 17g in to 34g out is the target versus the 42g I got out.

Questions: Do the volume and weight seem correct? Anything jumping out at people as glaring problems from what you see so far?

I will try to post a video of a shot using similar conditions later tonight.

Thanks in advance for all your tips, suggestions, and help.

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Jake_G

Postby Jake_G » Mar 13, 2018, 8:24 am

Hey Brian, welcome to the community!

You've got a pretty capable setup on your hands, so give it a little time and practice and you should be well on your way to enjoyable espresso! I highly recommendchecking out Randy Glass' website and particularly his easy guide to better espresso at home.
bcparfitt wrote:Most of the time, it's too bitter or sour.

Sour and bitter are typically at opposite ends of the temperature spectrum. Are you doing a quick flush to stabilize your boiler temperatures before every shot? Sour can also come from over extraction due to channeling. Are you using a bottomless portafilter? They are a very helpful tool in diagnosing extraction issues.
bcparfitt wrote:Silvia Temperature set for 207F
Pre-infuse for a second
Pause a second
Shot pulled in 27 seconds

This makes me assume your Silvia is PID controlled. Keeping everything else constant, I would adjust your temperature lower until shots are consistently sour, and then adjust them higher until they are consistently bitter. The sweet spot for a particular roast should be somewhere in the middle.


bcparfitt wrote:Questions: Do the volume and weight seem correct? Anything jumping out at people as glaring problems from what you see so far?

While there is nothing wrong with higher brew ratios (17:42 is roughly 1:2.5, so a bit on the lungo side, but still in normale range), I find that they are more difficult to nail consistently than a ristretto or a normale closer to 1:2. Basically, you are asking more of your grinder and prep with respect to uniformity and distribution to run that much water through the bed without opening up a channel, blonding or highlighting some other error in the process. If the shot was great, then by all means, carry on. But it wasn't, so I think it's fair advice to start out a bit tighter until you are getting something you are consistently pleased with. Personally, I would shoot for something in the 1:1.5 to 1:2 range until you decide you want to chase after more yield in the cup, but above all else, keep whatever brew ratio you decide on constant until you get consistency in the cup. Change only 1 thing at a time...

I find shot time to be the least important of the variables. I tend to pull a 1:1.5 ratio for straight espresso with the goal being a steady pour that completes at the first sign of blonding. I go a little longer for milk based drinks, and with my aggressive preinfusion, I don't worry much about how long the shot takes, I just monitor the pour and adjust grind to ensure I'm still getting a good extraction when I reach my desired yield.

You're in the ballpark with your yield and time, but are probably blonding early, at 20 seconds or less, given your struggle with flavor and higher yield. I would stop the shot at the first sign of blonding and then adjust the grind such that this occurs when you reach your target yield and is in the 30 second range. I'm not certain your pulsing preinfusion is doing you any good, but it probably isn't hurting anything, either... Silvia's vibe pump has a fairly soft ramp up curve, so you could probably eliminate some shot-to-shot variability by just locking on and pulling your shot. At least until you're satisfied with the consistency of your shots.

Cheers!

- Jake

User avatar
Radio.YYZ

Postby Radio.YYZ » Mar 14, 2018, 12:32 am

bcparfitt wrote:Ok folks, I'm hoping to crowd source my espresso brewing experience a bit... I've pulled quite a few shots (probably 15lbs of coffee worth) with the Silvia/Baratza 270 combo and have only managed a couple of really good shots. Most of the time, it's too bitter or sour.

I am hoping to share grinding and brewing details along with photos to help me improve my techniques.

I'll start with my most recent shot...
Bean is Nizza from La Colombe that I picked up on a recent trip to DC.

Grind directly into PF, slight shake to distribute, and then level using my finger to swipe
Tamp - light pressure on tamper to level, then firm pressure until I feel resistance. I don't know how to judge 30lbs of force, so I'm just being consistent in how hard I push each time. I'm not leaning into it.

Silvia Temperature set for 207F
Pre-infuse for a second
Pause a second
Shot pulled in 27 seconds

Dose is 17g in, final pulled shot was 42g out. I've included photos of the shot below.


Shot looks nice! but taste is what matters.

- What grind setting on sette?
- What level are the beans roasted? Are they oily? If the beans are darker roasted i'd try to pull a 1:1.5 shot and then increase yield by just time, if the beans are super dark roasted the 1:2 i found or even higher will extract more bitters, 1:1.5 is my sweet spot for dark beans.
- "Sour shots" if they are not acidic but actually sour is just under extracted shots.
Good Coffee: Technique/Knowledge > Grinder > Beans > Water > Machine

BoulderGeek

Postby BoulderGeek » Mar 14, 2018, 1:01 pm

FWIW, my Silvia needed 223F on the PID to stay just shy of the steam flash point when it hit the grouphead.

This is at 5400 feet of elevation, lighter barometric pressure.

I tend to brew with medium roast beans, or blends of medium 60% and French or Italians roasts in ~40% concentration.

My Silvia gives great crema. Is it a new machine? Could it need backflush and/or descaling? My Silvia definitely changed its flavor and shot performance when it was needing a clean.

bcparfitt

Postby bcparfitt » Mar 14, 2018, 3:24 pm

Jake,

Thanks for the reply.

To expand on my initial post...

Jake_G wrote:Are you using a bottomless portafilter?

Most of the time until I think I have a bean or extraction figured out which is rarely ever.

Jake_G wrote:This makes me assume your Silvia is PID controlled. Keeping everything else constant, I would adjust your temperature lower until shots are consistently sour, and then adjust them higher until they are consistently bitter. The sweet spot for a particular roast should be somewhere in the middle.

Yes.. I have a PID controller and typically pre-warm for minimum of 30 minutes along with a pulled hot water shot through the PF before actually pulling the espresso shot. I like the idea of the temperature changes to work through bitter-sour range. I'll give that a whirl

Jake_G wrote:You're in the ballpark with your yield and time, but are probably blonding early, at 20 seconds or less, given your struggle with flavor and higher yield.

In general, I find that I almost always blond too early. To deal with this, I grind finer but typically fall right off the other side of the curve.. i.e. Nowhere near a 2 ounce shot in 30 seconds.. Typically shots will run 45-50 seconds this way.

I'll get a video of a shot posted up tonight using my current settings for some more feedback.

Thanks again for the info!
Brian

bcparfitt

Postby bcparfitt » Mar 14, 2018, 3:29 pm

Radio.YYZ wrote:- What grind setting on sette?

6a for this bean currently. This is one of the lower settings I have used. Most of my home roasted stuff I hit at 7-9 on the coarse ring before fine tuning with the lettered steps.

Radio.YYZ wrote:- What level are the beans roasted? Are they oily?

Not overly dark.. I'd put them at City+ based on my limited roasting experience. Definitely not oily.

If the beans are darker roasted i'd try to pull a 1:1.5 shot and then increase yield by just time, if the beans are super dark roasted the 1:2 i found or even higher will extract more bitters, 1:1.5 is my sweet spot for dark beans.
- "Sour shots" if they are not acidic but actually sour is just under extracted shots.

bcparfitt

Postby bcparfitt » Mar 14, 2018, 3:36 pm

BoulderGeek wrote:FWIW, my Silvia needed 223F on the PID to stay just shy of the steam flash point when it hit the grouphead.


After a little testing, it seems I get steam flashing right around 207F. I'm only at 600+ feet ASL. Plenty of heavy atmosphere here.

BoulderGeek wrote:I tend to brew with medium roast beans, or blends of medium 60% and French or Italians roasts in ~40% concentration.

Same here.. Mostly medium roast (City+). I've recently started using some blends that are roasted locally just to take my own roasting variables out of the equation. Unfortunately, still haven't been able to successfully extract decent shots.

BoulderGeek wrote:My Silvia gives great crema. Is it a new machine? Could it need backflush and/or descaling? My Silvia definitely changed its flavor and shot performance when it was needing a clean.


Machine is just about a year old now. I backflush weekly.. Descale about once a month... But good reminder here. I need to descale this weekend!

BoulderGeek

Postby BoulderGeek » Mar 14, 2018, 4:34 pm

Wow, you're definitely more fastidious an owner than I am!

I backflush only once a month and descale twice a year. :oops: :cry:

I don't know, it sounds like you are doing everything right.

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Jake_G

Postby Jake_G » Mar 14, 2018, 4:39 pm

What basket are you using to dose 17g?

bcparfitt

Postby bcparfitt » replying to Jake_G » Mar 15, 2018, 10:52 am

I believe it is the double basket that came with the Silvia...

40-100-102

https://photos.app.goo.gl/LHy5dTl9htDlYYfh2