Ways to a great single espresso with a single basket

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
Philblack

#1: Post by Philblack »

Being a Silvia owner for years and having spent hours figuring how to achieve a good single shot with a single basket, here's my feedback.

Many literature has been written on how you only can get a good single shot with a double basket. However, with all the techniques and equipment available now, I think we can manage to have a very good single shot without the hassle of wasting coffee or getting caffeine shocks too often !

Equipment:
1. A naked portafilter (no need for presentation)
2. A "La Marzocco" single basket which is the best single basket I ever used
3. A 40 mm tamper especially for the basket (steel or aluminum and not the one shipped with your machine)

Steps:
1. Use a finer setting than usual. As a Rocky grinder owner, I set it to a step down
2. You'll need to pour more than the usual 7g of coffee. Chose between 8-9g
3. Pour the coffee until the narrowed part of the filter basket (the main filter chamber) is full. Take your 40mm tamper and proceed to a light tamp so the rest of the remaining grams will not mess too much on the side of the filter
4. Pour the rest of the coffee in the filter (you may wish to help the coffee go in the center of it with your finger)
5. Proceed to a first 30lbs tamp
6. Use the other side (wood or plastic tab) of your tamper to gently tap the portafilter in order to make the remaining coffee go in the center. Don't tap too much since it could break your puck
7. Proceed to a second 30lbs tamp. Be careful to not over tamp
8. Clean the remaining coffee of your filter
9. You are done.

Make sure everything goes well during the extraction (ie side channeling) referring you to extraction techniques, such as the WDT.

Voila!, you'll achieve a creamy rich taste brown espresso.

One of my friend called it the "LaRoc Shot"; well...why not.

I'd be happy to improve the process. So don't hesitate to add info to this post.

Take care.

Philippe

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another_jim
Team HB

#2: Post by another_jim »

You're instructions sound pretty good, although a lot of work.

Did you ever get a good, no channeling shot from the Silvia single basket? I spent an afternoon trying, and I don't think it's possible. This basket could be the reason why singles have been so unpopular among US enthusiasts.
Jim Schulman

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jesawdy

#3: Post by jesawdy »

As I said in Getting a good shot from Silvia?, I've had some good success with singles on Silvia. My preferred single basket at the moment is a Cimbali, but I have had good results with the Rancilio basket. The LM single basket is on my "want" list next time I have a parts order. Here are my comments from that thread:
jesawdy wrote: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.
With a Rocky, it is usually 2 clicks below my typical double setting.

I think it is more difficult to diagnose naked singles shots, as the colors are different. What I consider the blonding point on a single shot appears lighter in color than a double. The in-cup final color is about the same. And man, it's not much to drink.

Honestly, I don't know why I don't pull singles more often, I think they taste better. I've oft wondered if the taste preference is a result of Jim's findings in SOME ASPECTS OF ESPRESSO EXTRACTION, and I am getting closer to a "proper" extraction on a single versus a double. In fact, when I think about, it seems somewhat illogical that a 7 gram dose brewed in 25-30 seconds would ever taste exactly the same as a 14 gram dose also brewed in 25-30 seconds, even accounting for surface area of the basket, contact area and time, etc.

I haven't put the pencil to it and done any brew ratios on singles that I can recall. I should do that.
Jeff Sawdy

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another_jim
Team HB

#4: Post by another_jim »

jesawdy wrote: ... but I have had good results with the Rancilio basket.
I obviously need to brush up on my barista skills; the flows I got from it always looked like they belonged in some twisted waterpark.
Jim Schulman

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#5: Post by RapidCoffee »

I've had noticeably worse luck with singles on my QuickMill Vetrano than my Rancilio L7, which I attribute to the E61 grouphead on the Vetrano. Perhaps due to less headspace, the E61 group seems significantly more susceptible to overdosing than the Rancilio group. In particular, it's proved nearly impossible to avoid overdosing single baskets on the Vetrano. Unless I downdose well below the rim of the single basket, the puck hits the showerscreen as I lock in, ruining the pour.

The QuickMill single basket is even worse than the Rancilio single basket in this regard. Perhaps a 40mm tamper is the secret weapon...

Image
Rancilio single basket on left, QuickMill on right
John

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DC

#6: Post by DC »

I've found 8g gives about the right headspace for the Rancilio single basket, any more than that and I am overdosed. Rocky 3 to 4 clicks finer than what I use for a double.

The problem for me seems to be the basket's shelf. At this dose there is only a thin layer of coffee on it, which doesn't seem to be enough to get a good seal between coffee and basket. Each shot starts nice and drippy but after a few seconds it turns blonde-gusher on me. After the shot, the puck is gouged on one side where it has lost adhesion and come away from the basket. I tried grinding very fine to compensate, but the same thing happened. I'm also not convinced tamping (at least with a 57/58mm) has much of an effect in this basket other than polishing the surface.

I haven't been able to improve on this, but based on how the shots start, I think if I could they would be ok.
Dave

Philblack

#7: Post by Philblack »

another_jim wrote:You're instructions sound pretty good, although a lot of work.

Did you ever get a good, no channeling shot from the Silvia single basket? I spent an afternoon trying, and I don't think it's possible. This basket could be the reason why singles have been so unpopular among US enthusiasts.
Everytime I used the Silvia's, results were poor. Putting aside the fact the coffee flow was always too fast with a correct grinded coffee, never did I arrive having a no channeling shot.
It's very tempting to grind a much finer coffee to force achieving your 25-30s espresso with the Rancilio single basket, but you burn your coffee taste. Isn't it the goal to almost achieve the same taste as with your double shots ?

jesawdy -> As far as the Cimbali single basket, I have to give it another try

The interesting thing with the LM single basket is that there is a real chamber in the filter (a filter in the filter) to hold your 7g of coffee, which is not the case in many other single baskets. When you are done and then take out your portafilter, you can also see if the extraction went well. Indeed, during the latter the coffee will expand. If you did a good job preparing the coffee in the filter (adapting the WDT and tamping well), you'll see the coffee expanded evenly.

Siglo

#8: Post by Siglo »

Its nice to see that other have the same problem as I do with the QM single basket. I havent had one shot thats been ok with that basket. Its almost impossible to get the right amount of coffe without getting it hitting the showerscreen. Whats the solution? Get rid of the basket and buy a new one? Or weigh the coffee with a digital scale?

/Siglo

SLC

#9: Post by SLC »

I have also had a lot of difficulty with the Rancilio and QM single basket. I gave up on them. The LM single is outstanding. Very rarely off. Lately I have been using a 12g basket in order to make a single shot. I underdose and that seems to give a perfect amount of headspace.

Mark

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DC

#10: Post by DC »

Mark,

What do you think is the reason for the difference? Is it just the amount of coffee that the LM holds?
Dave