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Thread: Silvia Double Basket - Help!

  1. #1
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    Question Silvia Double Basket - Help!

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi, I hope somebody can please help!

    I have had a Silvia for 2 years and mainly used a single basket (8g).

    I have found, like has been often said, it is a challenge as there is little room for error.

    I decided to have a go with the standard double baskets which are allegedly more forgiving but I have not had much success.

    Machine is on for at least 45 minutes before use with the group handle inserted.

    The Silvia has a PID (installed by site sponsor) and temperature is set at 94C/95C.

    I use beans aged 3 days to 3 weeks after roasting, usually bought locally.

    Tamp pressure is 15kg – I have some scales.

    Currently, weighing out 17g beans in basket and grinder (Compak K3P) is on a fine setting,

    Recent 5c test shows not much more head room.

    Result is about 60 mls in 25ish seconds.

    Pour starts after about 4 seconds, its dark and flows immediately then starts to blonde around 10 seconds and just gets blonder after that.

    Coffee just does not taste good – bland and or bitter.

    I have played around with different grinds settings/dosing levels but all I seem to get is either too fast a flow or drops that don’t develop into a decent flow.

    None of the slow flowing honey like appearance with the coffee.

    I have read through some similar threads in Coffeesnobs but don’t seem to have found anything to try next.

    What am I missing?

    I admit that I do not really understand how the grain size of the coffee affects the taste.

    Am I expecting too much from the Silvia.

    In the past, results with the single basket varied but could ‘occasionally’ produce a better tasting coffee just difficult to repeat.

    Maybe I should I just go back to the single basket but I feel I am missing something…

    Any help would be appreciated...

  2. #2
    Coffee Newbie okitoki's Avatar
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    Just wondering....
    Is the PID set to only 95C? is the temperature of the boiler on the outside or inside? My understanding is that with the probe being on the outside, you will need to set the temp higher... I think standard setting is at 105C? I found that if I my temp is set too low, it does come out less syrupy and more watery and flat blackish shot instead (same for my Giotto if I didnt warm machine up enough)

    are you sure it is not sour?

    I actually get better result with the double basket than the single....

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    Thats interesting. Ive used a single basket on my Silvia but put it away as soon as i took it out. Mind you, i dont have a PID installed and temperature surf my Silvia.

    Your shots seem to flow as it should in theory (25ish second shot).

    What beans have you been using?

    Do you have any photos of your shots? Maybe that can shed a bit more light on what the issue is.

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    Hi okitoki,

    The PID was set up by the installer and goes between 94C and 95C - I assumed they knew what they were doing as this is a service they have been offering for a while.

    Sometimes, the shots have been sour.

    The pucks are solid, a little spongy and can be a bit wet on top.

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    Hi alphaoscar,

    I used different beans all the time.

    With the single basket I used to occasionally get acceptable results with some beans but using the same type of beans with the double basket, I am not getting as good a result.

    The shots look like a lot of 'Youtube' shots, just not the good ones wit the slow start building into a good flow staying 'darkish'.

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    Since you're using scales, try tamping to 1/3rd that pressure (5kg) and grinding finer producing the same volume in the same time. Any change?

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    Quote Originally Posted by axisa View Post
    Since you're using scales, try tamping to 1/3rd that pressure (5kg) and grinding finer producing the same volume in the same time. Any change?
    I've never thought of varying the tamp pressure before as there is an often referred to popular '15kg pressure for tamping'.

    I have tried what you said.

    Kept the tamp pressure at 5kg and varied the grind finer.

    Got to a point where the flow starts earlier but blonds later.

    There is an improvement to taste.

    I'll experiment further tomorrow.

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    My PID runs at 106 (Auber kit). This is boiler temp. Should give me about 97 brew temp at the head.

    Throw away the single basket. I used mine once and never again.

    I dose by grinding to a small pile then collapsing with a bench tap, then add a little more and lightly tap down to flat with my finger, making sure all air is out. I then extend my pointer finger all the way till it kinda bends backways a bit and use that to scrape out some of the grinds, leaving me with a shallow concave top. I then tamp with a decent pressure. This usually doses enough that I am close to the most I can get in there. If I haven't scraped enough out with my finger prior to tamp it can be hard to put the group handle into the brew head.

    I was shown this way at a barista course I did earlier this year and my shot consistency has increased markedly, even more so with the recent PID addition. Before hand I was under-dosing and my shots were all over the place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mentasm View Post
    My PID runs at 106 (Auber kit). This is boiler temp. Should give me about 97 brew temp at the head.

    Throw away the single basket. I used mine once and never again.

    I dose by grinding to a small pile then collapsing with a bench tap, then add a little more and lightly tap down to flat with my finger, making sure all air is out. I then extend my pointer finger all the way till it kinda bends backways a bit and use that to scrape out some of the grinds, leaving me with a shallow concave top. I then tamp with a decent pressure. This usually doses enough that I am close to the most I can get in there. If I haven't scraped enough out with my finger prior to tamp it can be hard to put the group handle into the brew head.

    I was shown this way at a barista course I did earlier this year and my shot consistency has increased markedly, even more so with the recent PID addition. Before hand I was under-dosing and my shots were all over the place.
    Hi mentasm, any chance if seeing a pic of your basket before the tamp, just curious about the diff styles of dosing on the silvia ?

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    MO Check your PID settings, before you adjust any other technique. Mine (an Auber) also sits on 106C before the shot is pulled. I tried varying the temp up and down by as much as 4 degrees. at 102C I could not drink the coffee, I would guess at 95C your coffee would taste similar or worse. Check with whoever you bought it from to confirm.
    I would often find if the portafiller was difficult to engage it was due to too much coffee in basket. I now dose less, grind just a little finer to compensate, replaced new rubber gasket after 4 years and shots have improved.
    IMO though, check those PID settings first.
    Cicarda
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    Quote Originally Posted by mentasm View Post
    My PID runs at 106 (Auber kit). This is boiler temp. Should give me about 97 brew temp at the head.

    Throw away the single basket. I used mine once and never again.

    I dose by grinding to a small pile then collapsing with a bench tap, then add a little more and lightly tap down to flat with my finger, making sure all air is out. I then extend my pointer finger all the way till it kinda bends backways a bit and use that to scrape out some of the grinds, leaving me with a shallow concave top. I then tamp with a decent pressure. This usually doses enough that I am close to the most I can get in there. If I haven't scraped enough out with my finger prior to tamp it can be hard to put the group handle into the brew head.

    I was shown this way at a barista course I did earlier this year and my shot consistency has increased markedly, even more so with the recent PID addition. Before hand I was under-dosing and my shots were all over the place.
    Thanks mentasm - I will try out your dosing technique.

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    I'll take a pic and post tomorrow. Maybe even a vid if I can be bothered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cicarda View Post
    MO Check your PID settings, before you adjust any other technique. Mine (an Auber) also sits on 106C before the shot is pulled. I tried varying the temp up and down by as much as 4 degrees. at 102C I could not drink the coffee, I would guess at 95C your coffee would taste similar or worse. Check with whoever you bought it from to confirm.
    I would often find if the portafiller was difficult to engage it was due to too much coffee in basket. I now dose less, grind just a little finer to compensate, replaced new rubber gasket after 4 years and shots have improved.
    IMO though, check those PID settings first.
    Cicarda
    Hi Cicarda,
    I checked with the PID installer who confirmed that 95C was what it should show.

    Perhaps, they have wired it differently?

    Just for the sake of it, I tried shots at 95C and 105C - the 105C shot tasted pretty bad so I am thinking the PID temperature is about right.

    I am still experimenting with the dosing level - it seems to be better to get as much in as possible (without being too much) rather than under dose.

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    Is it an Auber PID?

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    Quote Originally Posted by axisa View Post
    Since you're using scales, try tamping to 1/3rd that pressure (5kg) and grinding finer producing the same volume in the same time. Any change?
    Hi axisa,
    I have kept the tamping pressure at about 5kg and have noticed an improvement.

    One unexpected benefit is that I am getting fairly even amounts from both spouts - this is something I have rarely managed.

    This makes me wonder whether my tamping technique at 15kg shows up an unevenness of pressure - it looks even (I check) but maybe underneath it is not so good and causing some channelling?

    My technique after filling the basket is to tap a couple of times on the bench to collapse the grains and then often do some WDT to break up any clumps and to try and even it out, then tamp.

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    hard to tell with channeling without a naked PF. I notice a small amount of unevenness, but the end result in the cup is the same. If yoru are square when tamping it shouldn't make much of a difference. Look at your basket after tamping. If the packed coffee grounds look like they are evenly tamped into the basket you've done OK

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pdockley View Post
    Hi mentasm, any chance if seeing a pic of your basket before the tamp, just curious about the diff styles of dosing on the silvia ?
    Here is a pic pre and post tamp. Hopefully you can see well enough.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  18. #18
    Senior Member gonzob's Avatar
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    For further info, I run my PID'd Silvia at 104C. I'm able to pull quite decent shots after only 5 or so minutes heating. I find I get more consistent results if I don't tamp. I put 18g in the Synesso basket, smooth it over with an old credit-card scraper with a convex curved edge, then tap the portafilter gently on the bench to get rid of the airspaces. It actually pours faster and blonds quicker if I tamp (??).

    Gonzo

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    Interesting. I've never seen or heard of anyone not tamping at all. Would be interesting to find out if your grind is quite a bit finer than those of us who tamp. Doesn't make much sense for a tamped basket to pour quicker than a non tamped one to my mind at least. The harder I tamp the more restricted the flow is.

  20. #20
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    The critical components are dose and distribution. Doable? Absolutely, but there is more room for error if your natural distribution is a tad rough. A tamper helps normalise the density of the coffee bed and will reduce the likelihood of channelling. Once you hit that brew button/lever etc, you have a 130PSI tamper inbuilt ;-)

    Chris

  21. #21
    Coffee Newbie okitoki's Avatar
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    Similar to the Orphan Espresso's Slap shot technique?

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    My vote is still with the pid.

    please ask the installer for details that will confirm that. Silvia pids typically measure the outside of the boiler, not the inside. The temperature does make a huge difference, and may have tasted bad if you didn't adjust grind and tamp to suit what is actually the correct temp!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by gonzob View Post
    For further info, I run my PID'd Silvia at 104C. I'm able to pull quite decent shots after only 5 or so minutes heating. I find I get more consistent results if I don't tamp. I put 18g in the Synesso basket, smooth it over with an old credit-card scraper with a convex curved edge, then tap the portafilter gently on the bench to get rid of the airspaces. It actually pours faster and blonds quicker if I tamp (??).

    Gonzo
    Thats very strange. I would of said the opposite. An untamped PF would have less restriction on the flow of water as apposed to a compacted/tamp PF.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Freojohn View Post
    Hi, I hope somebody can please help!

    I have had a Silvia for 2 years and mainly used a single basket (8g). In the past, results with the single basket varied but could ‘occasionally’ produce a better tasting coffee just difficult to repeat.

    I have found, like has been often said, it is a challenge as there is little room for error.

    I decided to have a go with the standard double baskets which are allegedly more forgiving but I have not had much success.

    I admit that I do not really understand how the grain size of the coffee affects the taste.

    Am I expecting too much from the Silvia.

    Any help would be appreciated...
    I read this post at about the same time as another post in
    VST Vs Rancilio standard basket post 9

    "Stock Silvia baskets? Rubbish. Bin them. You'd just about be better with a bit of tin can and some flywire..." from a CS sponsor. Although I do not agree with all his points, esp. about VST's, I have a few Silvia baskets in my collection and they are massively inconsistent within the same size. Bin them & buy VST's (my choice) in a 7g (only available in ridged: boo hiss) & a 15g ridgeless. FYI, I am fairly sure the Silvia single is / was 5g.

    FWIW, my guess is you have an ok single and a dud double. If you can get (mostly) good coffees out of whatever roast you have been using, the 7g is probably all you need. True, the 15g is more forgiving, however unless you do two at a time it is overkill unless the roast lacks flavour. Adding a naked p/f to the mix would probably be a good move (rationale: if you can get a single Silvia to work, you will be able to nail a naked / VST fairly rapidly).

    "grain size of the coffee affects the taste": Easy, a good espresso actually works best if there is narrow range of particle sizes (a few fines to impede the flow, whilst most particles are the same, markedly coarser size).

    The classic analogy I have heard many times over the years is:-
    Visualise a bucket with a lot of small holes in the bottom. fill it with large marbles. Poor water into the top and it will flow rapidly though it. Put smaller marbles in and repeat. The water will take longer to flow through. Add enough dry sand to fill a lot of the space between each marble. The water will take a lot longer to flow through, as the sand provides more resistance to the water flow. Take out all the marbles and fill the bucket with sand. The flow will be very slow.

    That is more or less what adjusting the grind does: All grinders will generate some fines as the individual beans crack and explode as they go through the mechanism. Most particles will be whatever size you set the grinder to. The smaller the particle, the more resistance and the slower the flow.

    "Am I expecting too much from the Silvia.": IMHO no, you are not. Getting good singles out of one using a standard basket is a real achievement. Think how much of an improvement you can gain with a decent basket.

    Hope this helps.

    Have fun


    TampIt

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    The Silvia has a PID (installed by site sponsor) and temperature is set at 94C/95C.
    Sorry, but you have to get an explanation of this it is way out of the "NORM" for a PID'd Silvia.
    I suspect the installer has programmed the controller with an "Offset" on the temperature display to show what the brew water temp "Should" be whilst the actual boiler temp is in reality somewhat higher.
    You need to clarify if this is the case and understand what that offset actually is.

    There have many versions of a PID installation reported both on this forum and other sites, but i have never heard of one with a operating boiler temperature setting of less than 100-102 C, with the "normal" setting being about 104-106 C and some up to 109C.
    Now, yours MAY be a different type of install, but if so, its quite unique and it would be good if we were all made aware of its existence .

    For a little background,......
    ....the PID temp sensor HAS to be on or in the boiler in order to control the heater element with a minimum response time, and since the Silvias, group is remote to boiler, it cools the brew water from boiler temp to brew temp as it flows, ...so naturally the boiler water (and PID sensor) temp HAS to be higher than the required brew temp ( typically 94-96C ).
    You can perhaps see why some of us find it hard to believe a PID boiler setting of 95C can give a correct brew water temperature

  26. #26
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    I'm surprised no one other than Tampit has mentioned filter baskets, as he says, the Rancilio baskets leave a lot to be desired, the single is not worth bothering with, the double is better, however still leaves much to be desired.

    I owned a Silvia for nine trouble free years, one of the few changes I made was to replace the Rancilio double with a LaMarzocco, vast improvement, I bought a VST double when they were first released and was less than impressed, used it for a while in an attempt to get the best from it but found it to be quite finicky, so back to the LaMarzocco, a very good basket to use, produced excellent results.

    Then Chris from Talk Coffee introduced his range of Precision filter baskets Precision filter basket 58mm- Espresso parts bought one of these and am using it to this day, streets ahead of the Rancilio, much better than the VST and equally as good as, if not better than the LM.

    It's the first and cheapest change I would make to a Silvia, the difference it makes is quite surprising.

    Yes I have a nekid PF, used it a few times for novelty value, it now lives in the (stuff I never use drawer)

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    Quote Originally Posted by blend52 View Post
    Sorry, but you have to get an explanation of this it is way out of the "NORM" for a PID'd Silvia.
    I suspect the installer has programmed the controller with an "Offset" on the temperature display to show what the brew water temp "Should" be whilst the actual boiler temp is in reality somewhat higher.
    You need to clarify if this is the case and understand what that offset actually is.

    There have many versions of a PID installation reported both on this forum and other sites, but i have never heard of one with a operating boiler temperature setting of less than 100-102 C, with the "normal" setting being about 104-106 C and some up to 109C.
    Now, yours MAY be a different type of install, but if so, its quite unique and it would be good if we were all made aware of its existence .

    For a little background,......
    ....the PID temp sensor HAS to be on or in the boiler in order to control the heater element with a minimum response time, and since the Silvias, group is remote to boiler, it cools the brew water from boiler temp to brew temp as it flows, ...so naturally the boiler water (and PID sensor) temp HAS to be higher than the required brew temp ( typically 94-96C ).
    You can perhaps see why some of us find it hard to believe a PID boiler setting of 95C can give a correct brew water temperature
    I have requested from the installer an explanation of how the PID has been wired to display the temperatures of 94C/95C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    I'm surprised no one other than Tampit has mentioned filter baskets, as he says, the Rancilio baskets leave a lot to be desired, the single is not worth bothering with, the double is better, however still leaves much to be desired.

    I owned a Silvia for nine trouble free years, one of the few changes I made was to replace the Rancilio double with a LaMarzocco, vast improvement, I bought a VST double when they were first released and was less than impressed, used it for a while in an attempt to get the best from it but found it to be quite finicky, so back to the LaMarzocco, a very good basket to use, produced excellent results.

    Then Chris from Talk Coffee introduced his range of Precision filter baskets Precision filter basket 58mm- Espresso parts bought one of these and am using it to this day, streets ahead of the Rancilio, much better than the VST and equally as good as, if not better than the LM.

    It's the first and cheapest change I would make to a Silvia, the difference it makes is quite surprising.

    Yes I have a nekid PF, used it a few times for novelty value, it now lives in the (stuff I never use drawer)
    Thank Yelta - I will definitely try out an alternative to the Rancilio double basket.

  29. #29
    Senior Member Vinitasse's Avatar
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    I would imagine that the simple and most obvious explanation is that the installer used the temp offset function (in this case around -10 degrees) of your PID to display the approximate brewing temp to make it more user friendly for you

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    I read this post at about the same time as another post in
    VST Vs Rancilio standard basket post 9

    "Stock Silvia baskets? Rubbish. Bin them. You'd just about be better with a bit of tin can and some flywire..." from a CS sponsor. Although I do not agree with all his points, esp. about VST's, I have a few Silvia baskets in my collection and they are massively inconsistent within the same size. Bin them & buy VST's (my choice) in a 7g (only available in ridged: boo hiss) & a 15g ridgeless. FYI, I am fairly sure the Silvia single is / was 5g.

    FWIW, my guess is you have an ok single and a dud double. If you can get (mostly) good coffees out of whatever roast you have been using, the 7g is probably all you need. True, the 15g is more forgiving, however unless you do two at a time it is overkill unless the roast lacks flavour. Adding a naked p/f to the mix would probably be a good move (rationale: if you can get a single Silvia to work, you will be able to nail a naked / VST fairly rapidly).

    "grain size of the coffee affects the taste": Easy, a good espresso actually works best if there is narrow range of particle sizes (a few fines to impede the flow, whilst most particles are the same, markedly coarser size).

    The classic analogy I have heard many times over the years is:-
    Visualise a bucket with a lot of small holes in the bottom. fill it with large marbles. Poor water into the top and it will flow rapidly though it. Put smaller marbles in and repeat. The water will take longer to flow through. Add enough dry sand to fill a lot of the space between each marble. The water will take a lot longer to flow through, as the sand provides more resistance to the water flow. Take out all the marbles and fill the bucket with sand. The flow will be very slow.

    That is more or less what adjusting the grind does: All grinders will generate some fines as the individual beans crack and explode as they go through the mechanism. Most particles will be whatever size you set the grinder to. The smaller the particle, the more resistance and the slower the flow.

    "Am I expecting too much from the Silvia.": IMHO no, you are not. Getting good singles out of one using a standard basket is a real achievement. Think how much of an improvement you can gain with a decent basket.

    Hope this helps.

    Have fun


    TampIt
    I will be trying some alternatives to the Silvia double baskets!

    Thanks for your analogy about the grain size.

    Until very recently I was always doing a 15 kg tamp pressure, now I am experimenting which has made me think further how the particle size affects the taste.

    If you get the grind/pour 'about right' and then by altering the grind size and tamp pressure to compensate slightly either way (finer grind/less tamp pressure or coarser grind/harder tamp), how would this affect the taste?

    Some thing else to explore....

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Then Chris from Talk Coffee introduced his range of Precision filter baskets Precision filter basket 58mm- Espresso parts bought one of these and am using it to this day, streets ahead of the Rancilio, much better than the VST and equally as good as, if not better than the LM.
    +1 for the Espresso Parts Precision Basket, available from Talk Coffee. I have gotten very good results with the basket, a vast improvement from the Rancilio baskets.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinitasse View Post
    I would imagine that the simple and most obvious explanation is that the installer used the temp offset function (in this case around -10 degrees) of your PID to display the approximate brewing temp to make it more user friendly for you
    Vinitasse, you are right on with you your explanation except... there was an oversight with the setup.

    I had a response from the installer that confirmed that it was wired in the usual way and the temperature should have been set to 105 with the -10 offset except that it was set 95 with no offset.

    I was able to check out the settings as the installer supplied the necessary PID codes and how to check.

    So I set the temperature to 105 and tried the same coffee that I have been using with an 'about right' grind and suddenly I am getting a much better taste!

    So, thanks to all, especially to those for insisting I check further into how the PID was installed.

    Next step is to get one of those Precision Filters from Chris at Talk Coffee.
    mentasm and okitoki like this.



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