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Thread: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

  1. #1
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    Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Im not sure if Ive made the right decision but I jumped onto evilbay a couple of days ago and bought myself a used Saeco VV.
    Now Im praying that when I pick it up and bring it home it is still in a reasonable condition.

    Can anyone give me some tips on prepping this machine and checking for any obvious faults?
    The only tips I have come across so far are just the usual give it a good clean and descale. Is that all I need to do?

    BTW, I recently bought a Breville BCG800 grinder and have read up on unpressurising the PF

    Last question - where can I purchase a reasonably priced tamper?

    Appreciate all the help I can get* :)

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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    I must he the 1000th newbie to ask the same questions over and over. Forgive me as Im a total newbie to espresso machines.

    What Ive done so far:
    - Given the machine a good scrub and descaled with a solution made from 1 litre of water and half a cup of CLR
    - Unpressurised the portafilter
    - Flushed fresh water through the steam wand and brew head to rinse off descaling solution
    - Removed outer sleeve of steam wand leaving just the inner plastic sleeve with needle point hole
    - Opened up the machine cover and removed/washed the tube that the pump uses to draws water from the reservior
    - Tried to remove the other tube (which looks like is used to flow back from the pumped into the reservior) but had to stop because it felt like it might snap off. There was a bit of residue in this tube that I was unable to clean
    - To prevent channeling I gave the screw in the brew head a half turn to loosen it up

    This is what Ive tried to produced using the machine:
    - went through a few cups of milk with the frother but only managed to warm the milk with a thin layer of bubbles on top
    - Made 6-8 bad double shots of espresso

    One of the issues I am having is not knowing how much steam the wand is supposed to produce. From memory when turning on the nozzle it starts sputtering for the first few seconds then produces visible steam which lasts for 5-10 seconds. Then I get barely visible steam which lasts for about 20-30 seconds until the boiler light turns off.

    As for the espresso making part. I ground my supermarket bean (practice bean) on the finest setting but no shot flowed out due to clogging up. I adjusted the grind up a notch at a time and got a shot to flow out at the 5th notch. I believe I might have skipped the 4th. At the moment Im producing a bitter, bland and watery shot. I believe Im getting a 60 ml shot to pour in about 15-20 seconds. Way too short.

    Im going to pick up a tamper tomorrow. Will this make any difference to the supermarket bean (Harris Colombian) with best before date July 2012?* Is it possible to know the roast date from the best before date?

    I have a local roaster where I live west of Melbourne. Theyre not thqt well known but I might pick up some freshly roasted bean there.

    Am I allowed to mention the name of roaster and/or parts supply shops on these forums.

    Also, do I need to worry about cleaning the last tube that I couldnt remove?

    Forgive me for the extremely long post.

  3. #3
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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    Quote Originally Posted by 333432352822410 link=1317310998/1#1 date=1317639741
    Im going to pick up a tamper tomorrow. Will this make any difference to the supermarket bean (Harris Colombian) with best before date July 2012?* Is it possible to know the roast date from the best before date?

    I have a local roaster where I live west of Melbourne. Theyre not thqt well known but I might pick up some freshly roasted bean there.
    A tamper is absolutely essential in getting anything half decent out of any machine.

    Roasting dates on store bought coffee usually allow for a 1 year best before date from roasting date. So a July 2012 date usually indicates a roasting date of July this year, although I have seen certain br ands that have stretched the best before date to two years.

    Use cheap store bought beans to get a feel for things and get the machine producing acceptable shots with decent crema and taste. Once you have achieved this, use a quality fresh roast to make a decent coffee. Youll probably find the grinder settings need to be slightly coarser for a freshly roasted bean than a store-bought (stale) one, but you should need no more than two or three shots to fine tune by then.
    ;)

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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    I dont know why you would bother with cheap supermarket beans when you can buy fresh roasted quality (award winning even) beans for $24/kg.

    If it was saving a heap of money, fair enough,* but good beans dont have to cost the earth. Having said that, I prefer to roast my own.

    And yes the tamper is essential. Shot will change dramatically.

  5. #5
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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    Quote Originally Posted by 676066617C76150 link=1317310998/1#1 date=1317639741
    As for the espresso making part. I ground my supermarket bean (practice bean).... At the moment Im producing a bitter, bland and watery shot. I believe Im getting a 60 ml shot to pour in about 15-20 seconds. Way too short.
    Gday rustic.

    This is typical with stale coffee...

    Will this make any difference to the supermarket bean (Harris Colombian) with best before date July 2012?* Is it possible to know the roast date from the best before date?
    Theyre probably putting 2 years on it. It was quite likely roasted in July 2010 and was stale by the end of August 2010.

    You really need to source some high quality fresh stuff if you hope to move forward from here. Good beans will make a massive difference (more than the difference between a cheap and a great tamper).

    Why not grab a popper and a CS sample pack and have a go yourself?

    Good luck

    Chris

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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    Quote Originally Posted by 060E00080A10100C0008630 link=1317310998/3#3 date=1317674848
    I dont know why you would bother with cheap supermarket beans when you can buy fresh roasted quality (award winning even) beans for $24/kg.

    Having said that, I prefer to roast my own.
    Ah, I wish I lived in an area where that was the case! Jealous!

    But, yes, I agree. I roast my own and once you start roasting your own, there is no turning back!

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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    I have two of these so have had lots of practice and can now get very acceptable milk. Before you steam the milk, you need to give the steam a bit of a blast to get rid of any water in the wand. I use a 600ml jug and fill it to just below the start of the channel leading to the spout. I place the steam wand down against the closest edge of the jug with the tip just under the surface. The jug is held at an angle at this stage. As the milk steams and stretches, I straighten the jug slowly and lower it to keep the tip just under the surface. You will see the mik swirling in the early stages of the process. I can stretch the milk to around twice its original volume.

    This may not be text book style, but it works for me. I hope you can make it work for you too.

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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    Thanks for all the tips. Ill give them a go.
    Cheers

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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    I ended up getting freshly roasted bean and a 52mm tamper.
    The coffee is much better now but I still cant get 60mls to pour longer than 20 seconds. BTW, Im using the finest grind setting.

    The store I got the tamper from did not stock a 53mm tamper and told me they are difficult to get. There is about 1-1.5mm clearance when placing the tamper inside the filter basket.

    Is the size of my tamp a big issue?
    If so, should I get another one or is it even possible to purchase a smaller basket?

    I only have a double shot basket so I was thinking about purchasing a 2 x 52mm baskets (single and double shot).

    Also, I am still having issues foaming the milk. Will practice a few more times before asking for advice.

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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    Quote Originally Posted by 727573746963000 link=1317310998/8#8 date=1317898872
    The coffee is much better now but I still cant get 60mls to pour longer than 20 seconds. BTW, Im using the finest grind setting.

    The store I got the tamper from did not stock a 53mm tamper and told me they are difficult to get. There is about 1-1.5mm clearance when placing the tamper inside the filter basket.

    Is the size of my tamp a big issue?

    If so, should I get another one or is it even possible to purchase a smaller basket?

    Also, I am still having issues foaming the milk.
    You may find that because the is a small gap at the edges when you tamp the grinds down, you will get channeling down the sides. Channeling is where an uneven tamp causes the water to flow (channel) throughout the less firmly tamped section and as such the resulting coffee is less than perfect.

    This may be why youre unable to pull slower shots.

    Getting smaller baskets is not an option. They wont fit the portafilter.

    As for the milk, there are some very good tutorial videos on YouTube, but it does take some practice.
    ;)

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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    Quote Originally Posted by 303731362B21420 link=1317310998/8#8 date=1317898872
    BTW, Im using the finest grind setting.

    If youre on the finest setting, you may want to look up the Breville "shim kit."

    Quote Originally Posted by 303731362B21420 link=1317310998/8#8 date=1317898872
    Is the size of my tamp a big issue?
    It shouldnt be too much of an issue, see the NSEW tamp which helps with the spacing down the edge of the basket.

    Quote Originally Posted by 303731362B21420 link=1317310998/8#8 date=1317898872
    I only have a double shot basket
    The double shot basket is fine, I wouldnt bother with the single IMO, its much more difficult to get a great shot.

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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    Quote Originally Posted by 353E262C3031333A30285F0 link=1317310998/10#10 date=1317907249
    It shouldnt be too much of an issue, see the NSEW tamp which helps with the spacing down the edge of the basket.
    Can I combine a NSEW tamp with the following method?
    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1171315322/5#5
    HalfFill
    LightTamp
    Fill
    Tamp

    Quote Originally Posted by 2F243C362A2B29202A32450 link=1317310998/10#10 date=1317907249
    The double shot basket is fine, I wouldnt bother with the single IMO, its much more difficult to get a great shot.
    Can I put a single dose in a double basket?

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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    Quote Originally Posted by 4A4D4B4C515B380 link=1317310998/11#11 date=1317959827
    Can I combine a NSEW tamp with the following method?
    I dont see why not, but that method is used to address another issue: updosing.
    Try the 5c test to see how your dose is currently sitting.

    Quote Originally Posted by 4A4D4B4C515B380 link=1317310998/11#11 date=1317959827
    Can I put a single dose in a double basket?
    No, unfortunately the double shot basket isnt designed in that way.
    You can try and pull a double ristretto, yielding ~30-40ml from the double basket and see how you like that.

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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    How did you go with the 52mm tamper? Does it work ok? The VV basket is 53mm i believe but they are very hard to find at a reasonable price.

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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    The 52mm tamper seems to work OK. Although I still wish it was a tighter fit so that I dont have to apply the NSEW tamping technique. Its something I dont have to worry about.

    The other thing I dont like about this tamper is that its a convex. A flat tamper would feel heaps better while compressing the puck NSEW.

    I need a lot more practice to get a consistent dose and still need to try out the 5c test.

    This is my technique, I would welcome any suggestions:
    1. Fill basket with grinds till it reaches the top
    2. Distribute grinds evenly with my finger in a sweeping motion
    3. Tap portafilter on bench to allow the grinds to settle
    3. Fill the basket to the top again
    4. Distribute grinds evenly with my finger in a sweeping motion
    5. Tap portafilter on bench to allow the grinds to settle
    6. Using bathroom scales I tamp North at about 10 pounds
    7. Tamp South at about 10 pounds
    8. Tamp East at about 10 pounds
    9. Tamp West at about 10 pounds
    10. Tamp Centre at 30 pounds
    11. Tamp Centre at 30 pounds again and polish without any pressure
    12. Lock in portafilter
    13. Turn on the brew button and pre infuse for 3 seconds
    14. Turn off the brew button and wait 3 seconds
    15. Turn on the brew button to pull shot

    When done properly the puck has a pretty consistent texture throughout after pulling a shot. When done improperly the puck crumbles or falls apart when knocking it into the sink.

    Im a bit worried that micro channeling could be occurring around the edges of the basket due to the convex shape of my tamper. How would I check this?

    There are two other things I wont get into at the moment.
    - Ive done a bit of searching for Milk texturing techniques for the Saeco VV but havent come across any detailed instructions.
    - Temperature surfing techniques

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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    It certainly sounds as though you are being very thorough with your dosing technique. I must say that i havent yet got a real exceptional shot out of the venezia.* The best i can do is reasonable. But maybe im expecting too much out of it as i use a nice HX matchine at work all day. I certainly find the preinfusion technique helps a lot.

    Temperature swings wildly on the venezia as Im sure you are aware. I bought a digital temp guage on ebay from a guy who makes up little kits for the Silvia, but they work well on any boiler machine.
    It has a temp probe that you attach with some heat proof tape to the outside of the boiler. While it doesnt tell you the actual water temperature,* it does give you a consistent reference point for where in the boiler cycle the current temp is. For example my machine varies from about 91c to 74c, as in the boiler will cycle and heat to around 90c, where it will switch off and then progressively cool to around 74c where the boiler will switch on again.* I find my best shots are pulled at around 86c or so.
    The temp guage eliminates the need to temp surf, and for only $20, its great value.

    Its also quite good for steaming milk. I find that because the boiler is so small on the venezia, it runs out of puff before you have finished steaming enough milk for one latte. To counter there seems to be two techniques. One is to start steaming till it begins to run out pressure. Stop, wait for boiler to cycle and create more steam, then finish steaming.
    or two; start steaming quite early on the steamer heat cycle* so the the element is always heating while you are steaming which creates more pressure. I prefer the later techinque and can get quite resonable microfoam. I use the temp gauge to judge when to start steaming.*


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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    Quote Originally Posted by 3F383E39242E4D0 link=1317310998/14#14 date=1319181386
    The 52mm tamper seems to work OK.
    A good tamper is to coffee as alloy wheels are to cars - its really of little importance to performance for the average machine but it looks and feels great. 1mm is no drama. Would you put alloys on a 1995 corolla? Id save my cash until I could spend it on a better machine.

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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    Ha ha. Yes, fair point!

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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    Quote Originally Posted by 69434F401F2E0 link=1317310998/15#15 date=1319677305
    I find that because the boiler is so small on the venezia, it runs out of puff before you have finished steaming enough milk for one latte. To counter there seems to be two techniques. One is to start steaming till it begins to run out pressure. Stop, wait for boiler to cycle and create more steam, then finish steaming.

    Thanks for that tip.
    I thought there may have been an issue with my machine because the steam would run out before the milk is ready.

    Another thing to note is that there seems to be more steam on the second and third cycle. I guess this is to do with the boiler being fully primed on the first steam cycle which means theres less volume in the boiler for steam.

    Thanks for your suggestion with the temperature gauge. I wouldnt have thought I could pick one up for such a low price.

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    Re: Just bought a used Saeco Via Venezia

    I got a little inspired by randyrob ( http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1229668955/57#57)
    and cut the ridiculous plastic spout off the bottom of the portafilter on the weekend. Surprisingly it seemed to make a significant improvement to the taste of the shots. There is still plenty of unnecessary metal in the way, so i think Ill get a hole saw and get ride of that too.





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