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Thread: I need a espresso maker support group

  1. #1
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    I need a espresso maker support group

    I really have learned to love so much about espresso. Until I started stepping up from a Mr Coffee PPF, to an Ascaso to now a Rancilio Silvia v3. Now I just dread making espressos in the morning because they come out so incredibly different each time. One day they will taste great, the next the channel like crazy or come out in the same manner, but taste disgusting. And then I decided I wanted to start making microfoam. Now I've added another level of stress. The steam power is so crazy strong the milk is hot long before it's turned to latex paint and the swirl is so ferocious it always spills straight out of the little 8oz frothing pitcher.

    I'm now sitting here drinking this gross milk drink that honestly would have been better at Starbucks (and that's saying a lot). I'm depressed, stressed, frustrated. Is there a weekly meeting I can go to?

    Rancilio V3 with Auber PID, which I installed.
    Baratza Vario
    17g of grounds = ~30ish grams of drink in 30secs.
    To do: buy VST basket and maybe new screen...

    Honestly, if I could just get the microfoam down I'd be happy.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    So, um, where do you live? In the absence of a 'support group', I'd advise getting some basic training, and making sure that you are using freshly roasted beans. I wouldn't buy a VST until you have sorted out your technique.

  3. #3
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Don't despair. It took me considerable time to get it right, especially the milk texturing. I second the suggestion of getting some training or at least have some one watch you and give you some pointers on your technique. I also agree that a VST basket or new shower screen isn't going to help you develop your technique. Pouring a good shot is more important than getting the milk right.
    What coffee beans are you using?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by flynnaus View Post
    What coffee beans are you using?
    I was using Intelligentsia Black Cat for a long time, mostly because I could get it at Whole Foods a block from my house and they get day-of roasted bags (which I let degass). I don't like their espresso in their cafes, but their beans are pretty forgiving. I recently made the witch to Sweet Bloom Hometown blend per the advice of a the new espresso cafe that opened up near me (what a godsend!). I burned a whole bag just getting the beans dialed in from Black Cat setting, and also at the same time started making my own water with Distilled water, epsom salts and baking soda. The taste changed for the better, but the consistency of shots from day to day is still all over the board.

    The foaming is another story. I probably do need someone to just show me how it's done on my Silvia. It's a single hole spout vs a 4-hole. The guys at the new espresso shop showed me on their La Marzocco Linea, but there is no comparrison. Microfoam in like 10 seconds.

    So maybe I'm just frustrated. I thought at least a new basket would help, but alas...

  5. #5
    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    You are grinding too fine. 17g should yeild 60mls in 30 seconds.

    Go back to standard baskets. They are all you need, use the double its more forgiving.

    If you are getting inconsistent results you have inconsistent inputs.either workflow or ingredients. Just change one thing at a time.
    Try the 5 cent peice check to confirm you have the right dose. This tells us more than you saying you are dosing 17grams.

    Once you've got it you'll be fine. This is a minor hiccup in your espresso journey
    level3ninja likes this.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by trentski View Post
    You are grinding too fine. 17g should yeild 60mls in 30 seconds.

    Go back to standard baskets. They are all you need, use the double its more forgiving.
    I read so many different opinions on this. I thought the triple Rancilio bottomless would provide more head room. I don't get the screw in the puck, but haven't tried the nickel. I've seen videos of 18g VST baskets on a Silvia produce 30g in 30 seconds. I'm just so turned around. I've never actually used the double filter basket once. I guess I can put that in place of the triple and still go bottomless...

    Here was today's shot. The machine is struggling, but if it doesn't it comes out fast and white. (Does that sound normal btw?)


  7. #7
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    Your over pressure valve isn't working. The surging sound the pump is making is not normal.

    The pump sound under normal extraction in a Silvia should sound rock steady. The over pressure valve drains the excess pressure generated by the pump allowing it to apply a constant pressure (around 9 bar) to the coffee puck.

    The machine will need the over pressure valve disassembled, cleaned and readjusted or simply replaced. Your pump should sound ok after that but if the pump is still surging then you'll need a new pump as well.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trentski View Post
    You are grinding too fine. 17g should yeild 60mls in 30 seconds.
    The OP described the extraction in grams, so 17g of ground coffee to 30g of brewed coffee isn't far from a standard pour (which would be 34g). 30g of brewed coffee may well be 45-50mls plus.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ben8jam View Post
    I was using Intelligentsia Black Cat for a long time, mostly because I could get it at Whole Foods a block from my house and they get day-of roasted bags (which I let degass). I don't like their espresso in their cafes, but their beans are pretty forgiving. I recently made the witch to Sweet Bloom Hometown blend per the advice of a the new espresso cafe that opened up near me (what a godsend!). I burned a whole bag just getting the beans dialed in from Black Cat setting, and also at the same time started making my own water with Distilled water, epsom salts and baking soda. The taste changed for the better, but the consistency of shots from day to day is still all over the board.

    The foaming is another story. I probably do need someone to just show me how it's done on my Silvia. It's a single hole spout vs a 4-hole. The guys at the new espresso shop showed me on their La Marzocco Linea, but there is no comparrison. Microfoam in like 10 seconds.

    So maybe I'm just frustrated. I thought at least a new basket would help, but alas...
    Saw your milk steaming vids. Your problem is not too much steam. It looked like you entrained too much air in one video (the one titled "trying to steam"), in the other, possibly not enough.

    I would get rid of the thermometer, put slightly less milk in the jug, move the tip of the wand to the middle of the jug and angle it slightly more to the vertical (pointing towards the middle).

    I tend to stop letting it entrain air once the jug is at around body temp and stop steaming when it becomes to hot to hold (which depends somewhat on the jug I am using).

    Also, I'd be very surprised if your steam "turned to hot air". It's more likely that running the steam for a while dries the steam out (dry steam is invisible, what you see in wet steam is actually droplets of condensed water). That said, I was amazed that you didn't burn yourself...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrJack View Post
    That said, I was amazed that you didn't burn yourself...
    Honestly, I need to start from square one I think with the steaming. As for the hot air, it wasn't even close to hot. But someone else on another board said their steam isn't hot either. Which totally makes no sense to me...

  11. #11
    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry O'Speedwagon View Post
    The OP described the extraction in grams, so 17g of ground coffee to 30g of brewed coffee isn't far from a standard pour (which would be 34g). 30g of brewed coffee may well be 45-50mls plus.
    Oops. I rarely weigh anything so missed that.

    Still think you are over-complicating things before you have an established working routine. A bit like saying "im having trouble driving this corolla, better get a ferrari".

    Aim for approx 60ml in 30 seconds. Fill the double basket, tamp and put a 5c peice on top. Lock it in and then take it out. If no imprint then dose more, if smashed inti the puck dose less.

    Not sure if you need to temperature surf a pid silvia. Might help you get a consistent base to start from if nothing else.

    If you are getting clear steam from your silvia and it isnt burning you, try holding your hand closer to the tip of the steam wand. Steam loses heat fast and really hurts when it burns you.

  12. #12
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    Or, don't try it. Burns from dry steam are nasty!
    MattyRay likes this.

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