My attempt - Silvia and Rocky, the video - HELP NEEDED! - Page 2

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
jonbauer (original poster)

#11: Post by jonbauer (original poster) »

HB,

Thanks for your notes. Yeah, I was steaming all wrong. I learned a lot today. I was only turning on the steamer part way - I have been listening to the CoffeeGeek podcast, and dude said something about not wanting that loud ripping sound, and instead - wanting a low ripping sound - dunno what he meant, but I do know now to turn it all the way on.

No, I just have the stock steam tip installed. After reading everything here and talking to Dave, I made one of the best frothed milks I've seen so far this afternoon. If I were in school, I think I'd get a solid grade on that part now.

I've ordered a naked portafilter, and will read up on the recommended re-distribution stuff later.

I'm planning to post a new video tomorrow morning to show off my updated skillz and learn some more!

- Thanx y'all!
- Jon

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HB
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#12: Post by HB »

jonbauer wrote:...dude said something about not wanting that loud ripping sound, and instead - wanting a low ripping sound - dunno what he meant, but I do know now to turn it all the way on.
Mark is referring to a low rumbling sound that indicates big bubbles. Control the depth and angle, there's (almost) no such thing as too much steam pressure in my book.
jonbauer wrote:That last video is gone now. Poof!
Would you please put it back so others can learn from it? I spent about 45 minutes looking at it and formulating a response. On a board like this, it's better to show one's mistakes than one's triumphs. Thanks...
Dan Kehn

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jesawdy

#13: Post by jesawdy »

HB wrote:Would you please put it back so others can learn from it? I spent about 45 minutes looking at it and formulating a response. On a board like this, it's better to show one's mistakes than one's triumphs. Thanks...
I'm with Dan on this one. It was very good to see that video, and it was not any different, if not better than when the rest of us started out. I think your original video and the following comments would be very helpful to other's just getting started.
Jeff Sawdy

jonbauer (original poster)

#14: Post by jonbauer (original poster) »

Ok, a few things:

1) Yes, I spilled some milk. No use crying.

2) Dave - when I flush the pf, it take a lot of water to force the element to turn on! I had to restart several times since the small cup wasn't cutting it.

3) What's with the drip?

4) I don't see much crema in my espresso! Argh!

5) The Silvia runs out of steam pretty quick! Do you always have to stop and re-start?

6) Take a peek at the picture of the puck at the end. Is it correct to have an indentation from the screw in the grouphead? Does that mean I'm packing too high?

Critique is appreciated. Don't hold back - not that you have! I can take it... Really. :-)

Thank you ALL!

- Jon

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HB
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#15: Post by HB »

I merged your second attempt with your original thread to show the obvious improvement after only one day. That said, let's get to it.

DOSING: Consistent dosage for consistent extractions. By rattling the portafilter on the grinder fork, the dosage will be slightly different for each shot. Let the portafilter fill to the same level each time, tap a couple times if you wish to updose, then continue. If you have an accurate 0.1 gram scale, consider calibrating your routine (also see Exercises for tuning your barista techniques for more ideas). Once you consistently dose to within 0.5 grams, put the scale in the drawer.

DISTRIBUTION: Looked pretty good, but you may wish to try the Stockfleth's move, especially since Rocky's distribution is quite uneven. Better yet, try the sure-fire WDT.

TAMPING: Much better than last time, but I recommend skipping the tap because you increase the risk of breaking the puck-basket adhesion, all for a few loose grounds on the sides. Instead you may wish to try a "Staub tamp."

EXTRACTION: I only viewed the video once, but it seemed like the onset of the pour was very fast. A dwell time of 5-6 seconds is typical; 3-4 seconds for a Silvia says channeling to me (current Silvia owners please correct me if I'm mistaken, it's been a few years since I used one). Tighten the grind and check the dose with a lock-in / remove check. The puck surface should not be grated. As a starting point, try placing a nickel on the puck and see if it is untouched. If so, increase the dosage. If a dime is touched, decrease it. A distinct screen / screw impression in the puck is a good thing because the puck should expand to meet the dispersion screen.

The crema production looked a bit weak and the color seemed light. How did it taste? See Diagnosing the Taste and Appearance of an Extraction for suggestions.

STEAMING: Huge improvement in the quality of the steaming compared to your first video. I didn't cringe even once (yea!). You may wish to introduce more air in the beginning, not in the end as you did. That's why you had airy foam that didn't blend well with the crema. That's great for "white caps", but if you want richer microfoam, stretch early and texturize later.

The stalling of the steam isn't normal. Again, I would have to look again at your video, but I believe the problem is (a) you didn't purge enough headspace; to get a good head of steam going, blast more water out of boiler before starting, and (b) it is critical that the heating element be going BEFORE you start releasing serious steam. That is, force the heating element on by purging a little steam, immerse the tip, pause a couple seconds to let the boiler build up steam but before the heating element goes off, let 'er rip. If the heating element goes off while steaming, you'll lose pace and suffer the stall you saw.

Tricking the heating element on works for all machines below about 1.5 liters; it's an required step for Silvia. See Steaming Performance of the Rancilio Silvia Flash Review:
As discussed in the previous section, surfing addresses Silvia's brew temperature shortcomings. Steaming, on the other hand, requires more than a consistent routine. It requires more intuition and a clear understanding of Silvia's steam "hills and valleys." Below is how you can learn about these ebbs and flows, thereby becoming one with your machine:
  1. Bleed out condensation from the steam wand with a 5-10 second blast into a pitcher.
  2. Cut it off, wait thirty seconds.
  3. Open the valve full blast for 10 seconds onto the counter (or drip tray if you prefer). Observe the amount of force.
  4. Wait 30 seconds, blast again. Continue this for a few minutes, noting the cycling of the boiler.
  5. Refill the boiler, take a break.
  6. Start over, this time focusing on (a) forcing the boiler light to illuminate when you want by bleeding steam, and (b) keeping the light on for as long as you desire while steaming.
Also experiment with longer and shorter delays (15 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute). Consider taking notes of your observations.

Now try the same thing, but instead of spraying the countertop, use nine ounces of water in a 20 ounce pitcher. This time you'll focus on creating a "standing wave" or swirling turbulence. The goal is to acquire an intuitive feel for when Silvia is in the perfect steam zone versus the wimpy steam zone. It isn't easy to froth microfoam with wimpy steam. You'll get a lot of medium-sized bubbles that won't break when you thunk the pitcher on the countertop. The perfect steam zone also carries a caveat: Too much in too small a pitcher and you'll paint the walls (no joking, I've done it more than once). I suggest nine ounces of milk/water and a 20 ounce pitcher until you have a good feel for the cycles I'm talking about. Then you should try a twelve ounce pitcher and a single-sized amount of milk, say six ounces.
The thunking and swirling looked good. You might try foaming a little less and swirling more aggressively to "polish" the top. Place the pitcher firmly against the countertop and move it in a circular motion. You won't spill that way and will be able to get the milk to swirl up an inch or two along the sides. It should look like thick white paint when you're swirling if you've microfoamed correctly.

DRIPPING: What can I say? Confirm the gasket is squeaky clean (scrub, scrub) and torque it on tighter. The machine is too new for the gasket to already be hardened. Gaskets last a year or two, longer if you cycle the machine off when not in use and don't over torque the portafilter.

Nice progress!
Dan Kehn

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OlywaDave

#16: Post by OlywaDave »

jonbauer wrote:
Ok, a few things:

1) Yes, I spilled some milk. No use crying.
Yup no worries...
jonbauer wrote:2) Dave - when I flush the pf, it take a lot of water to force the element to turn on! I had to restart several times since the small cup wasn't cutting it.
We take our drinking building steps in a little bit different order. There isn't really a wrong or right, just which works better for you or the end user. You know.

I steam before I prepare the shot so I can have the freshest shot vs. freshest milk. After steaming the boiler is a much hotter temperature than you should extract a shot at and so that is why I run a flush my Silvia's group/boiler to drop the boiler temp closer to extraction temps. My making the element light kick on is peace of mind that when it goes off I am at a decent shot temperature.
jonbauer wrote:3) What's with the drip?
Yeah I had problems with a drip at times as well. Tighten the PF and you should be fine. Eventually the gasket will seat properly against the basket.
jonbauer wrote:4) I don't see much crema in my espresso! Argh!
True... Can't explain that.
Beans fresh? Like under a week old? The shots looked stringy a bit which may be the beans. If you are sure beans aren't the culprit mess with the grind vs tamp ratio. Someone else may provide better insight here.
jonbauer wrote:5) The Silvia runs out of steam pretty quick! Do you always have to stop and re-start?
Well I do but my model is older too, so my advice there might be dated. Just make sure it isn't dumping hot water into your milk. If it is all steam, it is all good.

jonbauer wrote:6) Take a peek at the picture of the puck at the end. Is it correct to have an indentation from the screw in the grouphead? Does that mean I'm packing too high?
I might get railed for this but I never worried too much about that with Silvia. However this could have something to do with the lack of crema... possibly. Without being there (video is the next best thing) it is difficult to say, but I would say experiment til youu get what you want.
jonbauer wrote: Critique is appreciated. Don't hold back - not that you have! I can take it... Really. :-)

Thank you ALL!

- Jon
Damn Jon! BIG improvements already as Dan said too. You'll have 'er down in no time. It took me a couple solid weeks of concentrated effort too. You seem to have the right attitude and I know you'll be pullin great shot with the best of them. just your neighbors at Ritual.

Sorry I didn't post my pics. We were out of power still Friday, Saturday ended up being a holiday shopping day with the girlfriend then her company party at Batdorf & Bronson, Sunday I bottled 15 gallons of hard cider, shopped again, then another get together that night! I did make espresso but I made then drank. Man the holidays are always so crazy.

Dave
David White
EspressoParts.com

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gunman45

#17: Post by gunman45 »

Will just throw in my two-cents worth.

I have had my Rancilio Silvia/Rocky Combo for a little over a year. I have just upgraded to the Mini (just because I am lousy at judging quantity) and purchased a bunch of stuff today from Espressoparts.com to expand my horizons. I make mostly milk based drinks and the Silvia is a great steam maker. My ritual is as follows:

1) Fill pitcher with milk and leave in refrigerator.
2) Flush portafilter into shot glasses until it sounds like the boiler light is about to come on (I am used to the sound it makes and I can shut it off a second or so before the light, which does comes on).
3) Wipe inside of portafilter clean, dose, tamp, polish and insert.
4) Dump water from shot glasses into steam wand flush container and position under portafilter.
5) When boiler light extinguishes (I will install a PID this week), pull shot and turn on the steam switch at the same time (here I have a count-down timer set at 1:30 which I start)
6) After shot (25-30 sec), purge steam wand of all water.
7) While waiting for the count down I clean up the portafilter.
8) When timer hits 0:00, second purge of all water (8-10 seconds) and then I barley submerge the wand into the milk to start the foaming process. It should not even look like foam; it should look like dull milk (no shine, no big bubbles).
9) When temp reaches 100, I completely submerge the wand into the milk.
10) Dump hot water from my latte mug and pour in the double shot.
11) Clean shot glasses.
12) When milk reaches 150, I shut it off and clean the wand.
13) Group head clean up, etc.

My Latte mug is clear and it is hard to tell that I have foam until I pour it into that mug at which time I find that I have to let the milk pitcher settle for a couple of seconds because of the quantity of foam...

Foam, not a problem, but even after a year my dose/tamp needs work.........sigh!

Forgot to mention, the brew light is on the whole time during the steaming process.

My beans are the culprit (over a 10 days old). That and I can never, ever, regardless of what I try get the same quantity into the portafilter (hence the Mazzer Mini with Doser).

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OlywaDave

#18: Post by OlywaDave »

Dan I have to say the HB forums are the best. It is a great place where everyone can toss away their egos and help folks who are passionate about coffee make great espresso.

Jon, Dan is right about the videos, if you are comfortable with it keep them up so that others who may be a little more introverted than yourself can learn too. But then make sure you post your triumphs too, cuz HBer's are all about the triumphs.
David White
EspressoParts.com

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OlywaDave

#19: Post by OlywaDave »

So does everyone steam milk after pouring a shot??? Man I am out of the loop eh?

My thought behind steaming before my shot is that I don't want my freshly extracted espresso sitting there 2 minutes or so as I steam and texture milk. In my opinion the Silvia user is far better off steaming, keeping the pitcher somewhere warm (on top of Silvia), and swirling it now and again to prevent foam separation.
David White
EspressoParts.com

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#20: Post by RapidCoffee » replying to OlywaDave »

Hi Dave. You're not out of the loop; single boilers just put you in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. Steam first and temperature stability during espresso extraction degrades. Pull the shot first and the espresso sits waiting while your boiler gets up to steam temperature for frothing. That's why I'm a proponent of HX machines (or DBs) for milk-based espresso drinks.
________
John