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Thread: My experiences with a SAECO VIA VENEZIA - Oct 2010

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    My experiences with a SAECO VIA VENEZIA - Oct 2010

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi to all out there in CoffeeSnobs world!

    First and foremost, I just want to begin by thanking all those who have posted their own experiences and tips on this forum; this place has been an invaluable wealth of knowledge for me as a newbie coffee enthusiast.

    Anyway, moving on - having read what others had to say about models in this price range and based on what I was comfortable beginning with; I chose the SAECO VIA VENEZIA.

    Whilst waiting for my new Sunbeam 0480 grinder to come in (this week hopefully!); Ive been getting my beans in 120g super fine ground from the local market; only buying 1 at a time every 2 days to make the best of a grinderless situation.

    PULL TIME (PRESSURISED PORTAFILTER)

    With light tamping (all thats required for the PPF - more on this later!), the shot would start at the four second mark and count through to 14-16 seconds total. *Based on YouTube vids and others posts, this was the recommended timeframe to produce espressos on this unit, and I was quite happy with the results - especially for my first espresso machine in the sub $500 category!

    PRESSURISED PORTAFILTER:

    Mixed emotions about the portafilter. *Found it was a great way to produce great looking espressos with a ridiculous amount of crema. But alas it was an empty feeling, as the crema was fake and in my opinion the amount produced was a little over the top. *After doing a bit of homework on google and reading others experiences; I decided to experiment with depressurising the portafilter.

    Now I wasnt comfortable doing any major modifications to the portafilter (Im all thumbs!), however I came across somone who had simply removed the internal spring (leaving the plastic pressurising contraption in place but not in use) and screwed it back together. *As this was all experimental and Id owned the unit for all of 3 days; I was comfortable doing this minor mod without fear of irrepairable damage!

    My first attempt showed me I had not tamped anywhere near as hard enough as the shot now began at the 2-3 second mark and finished around the 11-12.. *

    Second attempt I tamped very firmly using the NSWE method (until I can upgrade my tamp - this week too!) and this time got 3-4 second start time finishing at the 13-14 second mark. *The result I got was by far THE BEST SHOT IVE HAD SO FAR out of this machine. *As far from perfect my technique and experience has been, I can see a marked improvement in the look and texture of the shot. *Theres a lite >1mm crema on top (which i much prefer to the fluffy fake crema of before) and the shot actually has a much more defined and noticable taste. *The way I look at it though is the more I practise my tamping and once I can upgrade to one that fits the basket perfectly, the shots can only get BETTER from here...

    FINAL THOUGHTS:

    Feel free to experiment with depressurising the portafilter; at any time should I desire I can replace the spring and return it to factory settings as it were, but so far Im having much more fun and much better coffee without it!

    Hope this brief review helps anyone thats currently in the situation I was in! *Sorry I havent had a chance to do too much with the steam wand atm; not really my thing. *Will update after I have a chance to mess around with it some more!

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    Re: My experiences with a SAECO VIA VENEZIA - Oct 2010

    Hi and welcome to coffeesnobs :) Hopefully youre genuinely on the path of looking for the perfect coffee and not just flogging a brand name ;)

    Ive never seen inside a Saeco, nor owned one, so Im a little confused about your "mod". Usually the basket is pressurised, not the portafilter, by pressing two pieces of metal together - the upper with lots of holes and the lower with one hole. If you removed a spring in the portafilter I dont understand how this would un-pressurise the basket.

    But I would love to see photos (as would others here) of the pf and basket to show just what you mean.

    Id also have to say that 1mm of crema is a bit thin - does it last more than a few seconds or does it dissipate? Hopefully with your Sunbeam youll get an even better looking and tasting shot :)

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    Re: My experiences with a SAECO VIA VENEZIA - Oct 2010

    Quote Originally Posted by 464E46414B4D2F0 link=1286078775/1#1 date=1286148208
    Hi and welcome to coffeesnobs :) *Hopefully youre genuinely on the path of looking for the perfect coffee and not just flogging a brand name ;)

    Ive never seen inside a Saeco, nor owned one, so Im a little confused about your "mod". *Usually the basket is pressurised, not the portafilter, by pressing two pieces of metal together - the upper with lots of holes and the lower with one hole. *If you removed a spring in the portafilter I dont understand how this would un-pressurise the basket.

    But I would love to see photos (as would others here) of the pf and basket to show just what you mean.

    Id also have to say that 1mm of crema is a bit thin - does it last more than a few seconds or does it dissipate? *Hopefully with your Sunbeam youll get an even better looking and tasting shot :)
    I would suggest supermarket beans... FRESH off the shelf :D - But lets not go there ;)

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    Re: My experiences with a SAECO VIA VENEZIA - Oct 2010

    Sounds like a good start but as soon as you get the grinder all will change.

    You will then be aiming to double your times to start about 6-8 seconds and total pour time of 25-30 seconds.

    This is dependent on you buying FRESH beans.

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    Re: My experiences with a SAECO VIA VENEZIA - Oct 2010

    Hi folks,

    Have been experimenting and have been able to get a start at about 3-4 seconds going thru to 15-16 total. Next step will be to pick up that grinder this week and also a tamp that fits.

    Crema now is about 1.5-2.5mm as long as I give it a real good & proper tamp.

    Going to try putting the spring back into the PF tonight, do everything else the same and see how it compares.

    At work atm but will have to find the link/s I followed when I get home. Someone took a few pictures removing the whole inner workings but I wasnt game to do that just yet ;)

    Ideally Id like to just buy a new standard PF; going by what others have posted theres a part number floating around I might investigate.

    PS: hehe no dont work for Saeco or anyone like that. Just wanted to give people an insight into my mindset, budget and my decision making process!

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    A_M
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    Re: My experiences with a SAECO VIA VENEZIA - Oct 2010

    Quote Originally Posted by 655A65494B494A5A4D280 link=1286078775/4#4 date=1286234370
    Crema now is about 1.5-2.5mm as long as I give it a real good & proper tamp.
    Still very poor - depending on ya beans -

    A: If stale then - just what I would expect..
    B: If fresh you need to revisit your process ASAP as something is wrong

    In addition, If your using stale beans then every thing you do will change when using fresh beans..


    SO what beans are you using ? Who roasted / Date roasted on / How stored / How ground

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    Re: My experiences with a SAECO VIA VENEZIA - Oct 2010

    Hi AM,

    Okay; at the moment am using some freshly ground coffee from MARG RIVER KOFFEEWORKS which were roasted & ground (superfine) on 1/10. *Not ideal but Im still waiting for my Sunbeam 0480 so its the best I can do for now!

    Last night did two runs; the first was the adjusted portafilter without spring; and the second was WITH the spring replaced (factory setting) and everything else (tamp etc) done identically.

    On the first run, it ran from about 4-16 seconds and gave me about a 5mm crema which settled to about approx a 2mm. *Nice strong taste & texture.

    On the second run, it ran from about 5-18 seconds and gave me about a 12.5mm (!) crema. *The crema was very aerated and frothy; and eventually settled at just under 1cm. *Crema looks massive and much more defined but not 100% on the texture of the coffee itself. *Seems a bit watery on the bottom half of the shot (almost like a separation).

    Whilst the crema was much more noticable with the Pressurised PF I still want to run some more tests. *Have taken a bunch of photos that I will try to upload which show mid pull, at completion of the shot and after about 60 seconds settled. *Unfortunately it was an iPhone so the quality wont set the world on fire but you should be able to see enough to get an idea of what I mean!

    Ultimately next step will be to just buy an unpressurised PF and play around with the unit some more. *Want to try to pull them closer together so I can conduct a better comparison.

    PS: *Looking at how the plastic contraption works in the PF, the spring seems to be pushing up the base to hold that shot just a bit longer before the pressure of the hot water forces the spring tight and opens the floodgates. *I could be wrong (probably am), but looking at it (pics coming!) thats the impression that I get.

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    Re: My experiences with a SAECO VIA VENEZIA - Oct 2010

    Im having a hard time finding any pics about the mod and I dont really understand what the spring actually does, so if you can post a couple of pics of the portafilter, even as it is without any modding, I might get a better idea :)

    The reason your second shot wasnt so great (even though it had better numbers) was probably because of this pressure. It creates a "fake" crema, so not surprised the taste isnt great.

    Dont fall trap to the numbers game - dont stick to numbers because its whats in the cup that counts. The best shot you can get might be a shorter one for now, until you get your grinder, when the numbers will all change again!

    If its watery it could be indicating channelling, where the water cuts a short path through the grinds due to your tamping & dosing, and due to the "shower". Some pics of your puck after extraction would help. Look for cracks or holes. Sometimes the water goes around the edge of the puck.

    Does your tamper fit the basket well, or are there gaps at the edges?

    Good to hear your experimenting, but drink what tastes best and look forward to your other accessories ;)

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    Re: My experiences with a SAECO VIA VENEZIA - Oct 2010

    hi iaindb;

    Thanks for the tips. Have definately got some internal pics to upload - will try to do so tonight if not got plenty of time at the weekend to get them up here. Does the forum allow direct pics upload or should I find a site that will host them?

    In regards to channelling, Ive been packing them quite solid and the puck post extraction is a nice firm cake that requires the assitance of a plastic tool to dig it out. Definately no looseness or watery remnants.

    my tamp DOES have room around the edges. Will be looking to pick one up today that will hopefully fit the 53mm basket. For now ive been doing a central tamp, then going North / South / West / East and finishing with another central tamp. Hopefully tonight I can upgrade and make the job easier!

    Will be picking up my new grinder 0480 after work tonight - just got the call ;). Picked up some fresh beans from the roaster near work and will definately be experimenting tonight...

    MORE TO COME! :P
    PS: Thanks for the feedback and contributions by all.

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    Re: My experiences with a SAECO VIA VENEZIA - Oct 2010

    cool, I use http://photobucket.com/. They host the photos and provide the code to place a thumbnail here for you. You just copy & paste it into the edit box.

    I remember with my Breville it took a while to get decent shots - I think this is the bane of cheap machines - not only are you learning, youre also trying to make the tolerances of the machine much finer than it was designed.

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    Re: My experiences with a SAECO VIA VENEZIA - Oct 2010

    Hi, Im just new here and have just ordered the saeco VV and a sunbeam grinder from our local electrical store. It fitted with my budget and from what I have been reading it seems like a decent little machine for the money. It has been great reading your findings with the machine, thanks.

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    Re: My experiences with a SAECO VIA VENEZIA - Oct 2010

    Quote Originally Posted by 626A62656F690B0 link=1286078775/1#1 date=1286148208
    Ive never seen inside a Saeco, nor owned one, so Im a little confused about your "mod".Usually the basket is pressurised, not the portafilter, by pressing two pieces of metal together - the upper with lots of holes and the lower with one hole.If you removed a spring in the portafilter I dont understand how this would un-pressurise the basket.
    Thats how most pressurised machines work, but not the Saeco. The Saeco uses a perfectly normal basket - one with lots of holes, no double bottom. It uses a mechanism built in to the portafilter itself to do the pressurising. The floor of the portafilter has a small hole in it, with a spring loaded pin blocking that hole. This spring loaded pin holds back the flow until the pressure becomes high enough to compress the spring, which then allows the flow through the portafilter. Removing the spring removes the back-pressure, allowing it to function much like a conventional machine does.

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    Re: My experiences with a SAECO VIA VENEZIA - Oct 2010

    Very interesting :) Its kind of like an OPV, but at the bottom end instead of the top.

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    Re: My experiences with a SAECO VIA VENEZIA - Oct 2010

    Good day,

    New to the forum but have been reading for a while and has helped me to pick my tools:

    Used Ibtertal burr grinder (second hand from here)
    Used Saeco Via Venezia (second hand from Ebay)
    New 51mm tamper (fairly generic).

    Ive been into coffee for a while after getting to know one of my lcoal Baristas and so far am happy with the investment.

    After gutting the portafilter, the coffee is better, but has taken some time to get the grind right. I had started off with a coarse grind and tamping down hard, now with a finer grind (not sure how to compare as there are no measurable adjustments) with much lighter tamping, all seems to be coming togeather.



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