Rancilio Silvia + Rocky tips

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
atao

#1: Post by atao »

Despite the fact that there are so many good blogs and tips out there (especially here at hb), I feel like its taken me quite a while to zero in on a routine that gives me good shots with Silvia + Rocky, but I have a routine that i'm pretty happy with. I thought i'd share it. Nothing new here, just a collection of known things, all ideas from others. Comparing my shots to some of the local SF shops, i feel like i'm doing pretty well now :). Below are the things that i think are important to help get good shots out of Silvia & Rocky.
  • bottomless portafilter - to see distribution problems.
  • 13-15g doses makes it a lot easier to get even extraction. grind into bowl on scale, stir to break clumps.
  • my distribution is easy: spoon in, shake level, light tamp
  • pid on silvia with timer to warm up each morning (my auber is usually set to 224 +/- depending on roast)
  • manual pre-infusion: crack steam wand for first few seconds of pull (i'm convinced this is significantly improving the consistency of my shots: i'd be interested to hear from others who've tried this)
  • protecting freshness of beans: only keep a few doses in grinder, rest in fridge, sealed. (i just realized my beans sitting in hopper were getting really beat up by the hot weather, duh)
  • cleaned and tape mod rocky (not really sure if this made a difference, but i think so. somehow, the pucks seem less muddy?)
  • getting the right temp required a bit of learning too. i feel like generally i have 3 metrics: ashy (too hot), sour (too cold), bitter (over extracted). this allowed me to go from shots that looked good to better tasting shots.
  • replaced shower screen bolt with smaller machine screw (i used a 10x32x1/2")
For anyone out there struggling with a silvia, good luck, things can get better! There are certainly other things i haven't done like checking brew pressure. Not sure if that's going to happen or if i'll just upgrade, but for now this is working pretty well.

-Andrew

chuckl

#2: Post by chuckl »

I have the same setup as you, Andrew, sans the PID. I noticed a big difference temperature surfing. That is, engaging the boiler to get up to boiling temperature by using the hot water and steaming nozzle, steaming some milk, then, after dosing and tamping, drawing a blank to let it blow off steam, and counting down to where I feel the temperature has dropped a bit from boiling, but not too much. A little trial and error, but the results seem to be more consistent now. does anyone have any other tips for temp surfing with a silvia without a PID?

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HB
Admin

#3: Post by HB »

chuckl wrote:A little trial and error, but the results seem to be more consistent now. does anyone have any other tips for temp surfing with a silvia without a PID?
There are lots of threads discussing temperature surfing on this site (e.g., Temperature surfing Rancilio Silvia, CoffeeGeek, and Randy's Espresso! My Espresso!). That said, some of the information presented in the older threads may be dated as I hear the thermostat set points have changed over the years, which means you'll need to tweak the timings.

FYI, Mark demonstrates the whole Silvia routine in this video:
Dan Kehn

jsdp

#4: Post by jsdp »

chuckl wrote: does anyone have any other tips for temp surfing with a silvia without a PID?
The technique that worked best for me on the new generation Silvia was when I started reverse temperature surfing and hitting the brew switch about 1 min 30 seconds after the heater light goes off (which is an estimated beginning brew temperature of 201-202 degrees). I also adopted turning on the steam switch for 10 sec (5-7 sec into the pull) to help stabilize the temperature drop during the pull. Another key factor was letting Silvia warm up at least 45 minutes (preferably 1 hour) to ensure that the brew group and portafilter are up to proper temperature. The combination of these techniques have helped me reproduce a consistently good shot without a PID.

Note that even though I was pleased with the consistency of my espresso, after about a year I eventually decided to invest in an Auber PID and have been very pleased with it. The ability to read and adjust brewing temperature with relative accuracy for each blend and eliminate the temperature surfing routine has been well worth the $160 investment.

Good luck and I hope some of this info helps !! :)

P.S. I also changed the dispersion screw using a 10-32 1/2" stainless steel hex socket head screw purchased from Home Depot to help eliminate potential channeling by the large OEM screw as Andrew suggests. Well worth the $1 investment.

Joe

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Psyd

#5: Post by Psyd »

I started reverse temperature surfing and hitting the brew switch about 1 min 30 seconds after the heater light goes off (which is an estimated beginning brew temperature of 201-202 degrees).
With two 'standard' t-stats out there nowadays, suggesting a temperature surf technique without disclosing which t-stat your technique works with is tantamount to suggesting that they get on the highway at eight in the morning, and take a left at exactly ten-thirty, but failing to tell them at what speed to drive.
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175

jsdp

#6: Post by jsdp »

Psyd wrote:With two 'standard' t-stats out there nowadays, suggesting a temperature surf technique without disclosing which t-stat your technique works with is tantamount to suggesting that they get on the highway at eight in the morning, and take a left at exactly ten-thirty, but failing to tell them at what speed to drive.
:shock: Sorry for the confusion.
jsdp wrote:The technique that worked best for me on the new generation Silvia was when ....
I thought my reference to the new generation Silvia was obvious that it was the 100°C thermostat since that is what has come standard on Silvia in the last few years. :roll:

sotavento

#7: Post by sotavento »

after having played with the machine for a year and then getting a PID, I definitely think it's the way to go. It makes a big difference in terms of getting predictable results. Mine also improved steaming significantly.

In terms of the original post, I would be careful with the timer to get the machine warmed up in the morning. I thought this was a great idea also, until one day I accidentally left the brew button on. I was careful and it worked well for quite a few months, but it only takes one mistake.
One morning I came down to hear the machine making a strange noise. I think it has been brewing for 30-40 mins. I shut it off, gave it a day's rest, and after giving it a few tries, it seems to be almost back to normal now.

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Psyd

#8: Post by Psyd »

jsdp wrote:I thought my reference to the new generation Silvia was obvious that it was the 100°C thermostat since that is what has come standard on Silvia in the last few years. :roll:
Sorry, I shouldn't have pointed that thing at you. I didn't think it was loaded.

It wasn't necessarily meant for you, but mostly a general helpful hint. OTOH, you and I know that the Silvia has had the 100C stat for a coupla years, but the newbie that has picked up a second-hand unit mightn't know which he has, and the suggestion will at least get him to ask what a t-stat is! :wink:
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175

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takeshi

#9: Post by takeshi »

sotavento wrote:In terms of the original post, I would be careful with the timer to get the machine warmed up in the morning. I thought this was a great idea also, until one day I accidentally left the brew button on.
I've found that if I clean my Silvia before shutting off via the timer that this is pretty much never a problem. The only time I've had this happen is when I've wiped Silvia down while the timer was off and bumped the brew or hot water switch without noticing.

sotavento

#10: Post by sotavento »

takeshi wrote:I've found that if I clean my Silvia before shutting off via the timer that this is pretty much never a problem. The only time I've had this happen is when I've wiped Silvia down while the timer was off and bumped the brew or hot water switch without noticing.
Yes, it worked great for me for about 9 months and I thought it was a great idea. Just one night, it was late, I was tired and I flicked the brew switch on.

One thing I'm wondering is if the pump is still OK. The first couple of brews after the incident were really bad, but then things seemed to have gotten back to normal. Maybe a bit less depth on the espressos. Or maybe I'm just being paranoid.
But I'm getting about the same extraction time (25 secs for 1 oz) for the usual amount of coffee/grind.

Any other signs I should be looking for?