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Thread: Silvia Espresso Difficulty

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    Silvia Espresso Difficulty

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi there,

    I guess I should pre-face this by saying that I did Barista Academy's basic training course which was great but has left me confused due to the differences in equipment.

    I've owned my Silvia for about 6 months now and I'm still not happy with the resulting shots. I've almost always used freshly roasted beans (aiming to use them 7 days after they were roasted) and grind them using my Rocky. The shots always come out way too fast, almost always gushing. The shots are normally quite thick and syrupy to begin with but wane off after 5 or so seconds. The flavour is quite acrid and tastes over-extracted.

    I'm using the generic double shot basket provided with the machine and measure 18 grams each time. I've experimented with different amounts from 14-20g with little differences.

    I nearly always grind the beans to the finest setting because the shots are coming out so fast but it seems like it's still not fine enough. The grinder burrs are as together as possible.

    During the course I used a Synesso Sabre which would allow us to pour a 30ml shot in 30 seconds, not sure if this is relevant since it's such a different caliber of machine.

    If anyone could offer any advice it would be greatly appreciated as I'm having a hard time convincing the others in the house it's a good purchase at this point!

    Kyle

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    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    It'syourgrinder.jpg

    Can the Rocky be calibrated to grind finer?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kyler View Post
    The grinder burrs are as together as possible.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    Can the Rocky be calibrated to grind finer?
    Unfortunately not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kyler View Post
    Hi there,

    I guess I should pre-face this by saying that I did Barista Academy's basic training course which was great but has left me confused due to the differences in equipment.

    I've owned my Silvia for about 6 months now and I'm still not happy with the resulting shots. I've almost always used freshly roasted beans (aiming to use them 7 days after they were roasted) and grind them using my Rocky. The shots always come out way too fast, almost always gushing. The shots are normally quite thick and syrupy to begin with but wane off after 5 or so seconds. The flavour is quite acrid and tastes over-extracted.

    I'm using the generic double shot basket provided with the machine and measure 18 grams each time. I've experimented with different amounts from 14-20g with little differences.

    I nearly always grind the beans to the finest setting because the shots are coming out so fast but it seems like it's still not fine enough. The grinder burrs are as together as possible.

    During the course I used a Synesso Sabre which would allow us to pour a 30ml shot in 30 seconds, not sure if this is relevant since it's such a different caliber of machine.

    If anyone could offer any advice it would be greatly appreciated as I'm having a hard time convincing the others in the house it's a good purchase at this point!

    Kyle
    Hi Kyle

    Sounds like either Rocky or Sylvia needs a doctor.

    The fastest way I can think of: go to wherever you get a decent coffee and ask them to supply you with circa 100g of ground beans (for a fee). See what the Sylvia makes of them (you need enough to play with dosing and even perhaps tamping to dial it in).

    The cheapies way: Same cafe: ask them for some of their old grinds. Tell them you want to see whether your grinder is OK or not, and just want to use the texture as a guide. Use the old "white paper test" and compare the cafe & your Rocky particle size (mainly) and spread (because the grinds are there, like Everest).

    TampIt

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    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    You can slow down a pour with a finer grind or more grounds.

    If you grind at the finest setting a 20gm shot should be noticeably different to a 14gm shot.

    You said there was little difference.
    Please try again one immediately after the other and confirm.

    How sure are you of the bean freshness?
    Last edited by Thundergod; 12th January 2014 at 01:03 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    Hi Kyle

    Sounds like either Rocky or Sylvia needs a doctor.

    The fastest way I can think of: go to wherever you get a decent coffee and ask them to supply you with circa 100g of ground beans (for a fee). See what the Sylvia makes of them (you need enough to play with dosing and even perhaps tamping to dial it in).

    The cheapies way: Same cafe: ask them for some of their old grinds. Tell them you want to see whether your grinder is OK or not, and just want to use the texture as a guide. Use the old "white paper test" and compare the cafe & your Rocky particle size (mainly) and spread (because the grinds are there, like Everest).

    TampIt
    Hi TampIt,

    thanks for the reply! Will definitely try that out on Monday (my local is shut tomorrow).

    Quote Originally Posted by Thundergod View Post
    You can slow down a poor with a finer grind or more grounds.

    If you grind at the finest setting a 20gm shot should be noticeably different to a 14gm shot.

    You said there was little difference.
    Please try again one immediately after the other and confirm.

    How sure are you of the bean freshness?
    Sorry I meant there was little difference in the overall quality of the shots. I will do both now again and reply shortly.

    The beans of from a local roastery so I'm sure about the freshness! Thanks a lot for the reply.

    I actually just remembered that a couple months ago I turned the grinder on and the burrs must of touched. When I opened it up a couple shavings of metal were in there but they were quite small. I'm imagining even a small difference in the blades could have a drastic effect.

    After I get some grinds on Monday that will hopefully give me more of an idea if that is the problem.
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    following with interest

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    It's become a bit late to be testing shots so will do so in the morning!

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    TOK
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    From what you advised us in your original question, the coffee has always run "fast" since you bought the set up.

    In which case if you are entirely satisfied with the coffee bean supply, you have to go investigating the grinder.

    You mention one day you switched on the grinder and the burrs must have touched. Afraid that really cant happen as long as the locking pin is secured. If you make an adjustment and do not make sure the locking pin is secured, next time you switch on the torque of the motor can spin the adjuster BUT....that is unusual. So.....unlikely any plates touched unless you set them to locked position and then switched on. Which would be impossible....because there is a "stopper" in the bottom of the hopper, that stops the adjustment going to lock up stage....unless of course someone has removed it.

    The "stopper" is nothing more than a screw that is screwed into the bottom of the hopper.

    Remove the hopper, remove the stopper (its just a screw fitted in the factory...very obvious underneath the hopper), refit the hopper, and dial the grinder back in...but remember in that case your grinder really can go to lock up stage....which should never be a problem, because if you adjust too fine, your machine will choke, and then you back the grind adjustment off to a more coarse setting, and as long as you make sure the locking pin is secure, the adjuster is not going to magically shift itself to the place where the plates (burrs) touch.

    Hope that helps.

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    What is the number on the basket you are using?

    I got mine from coffee a roma andjust use the biggest one, but it came with a standard double basket which was way better quality and in the end made much better coffee.

    I've found on my Silvia that you get gushing shots when (and sorta in order of how I'd go about tracking it down):
    1. Not ground fine enough
    2. Not enough coffee
    3. OLD BEANS
    4. Tamp not hard enough (least likely, I like to do quite a light tamp sometimes and still get great coffee)
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    I have the same set up to you and find no difficulty in pulling a decent shot. The rocky should be able to grind fine enough for a 25-30 sec espresso. My rocky is at a setting of 5 so im not sure why its not working for you.

    I am more inclined to look at how you tamp your coffee. How much pressure are you putting in? What technique do you do?

    Otherwise increase the dosage more and see how that changes your flow. I have had issues with particular beans. I roast my own and I've come across some beans which i had to spend a lot more time than usual dialling in the shot, and had to set my rocky at its finest (which i rarely do- as i said before 5 approx is my optimal setting)

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    Quote Originally Posted by kyler View Post
    Hi TampIt,

    thanks for the reply! Will definitely try that out on Monday (my local is shut tomorrow).

    I actually just remembered that a couple months ago I turned the grinder on and the burrs must of touched. When I opened it up a couple shavings of metal were in there but they were quite small. I'm imagining even a small difference in the blades could have a drastic effect.

    After I get some grinds on Monday that will hopefully give me more of an idea if that is the problem.
    Hi kyler

    TOK clearly knows way more about a Rocky than I do. Unsurprisingly, a Rocky cannot touch the burrs.

    It sounds like you received a small piece of metal at no extra cost w the roast at the time. Years ago it was such a common issue that my '85 RR45 actually has a magnet at the bottom of the hopper as a defence mechanism. Even a small piece can totally wreck the burrs. Hopefully that is not the problem, however it now seems highly likely.

    One more to add to your checklist.


    TampIt

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    Quote Originally Posted by nicovington View Post
    I've found on my Silvia that you get gushing shots when (and sorta in order of how I'd go about tracking it down):
    1. Not ground fine enough
    2. Not enough coffee
    3. OLD BEANS
    4. Tamp not hard enough (least likely, I like to do quite a light tamp sometimes and still get great coffee)
    After going through a few kg of beans I have come to the same conclusion. Had my Sylvia and EM0480 for 2 weeks. Got the best flat white ever from it this morning using FRESH beans (Roasted just last week here in Perth). I've settled on a setting for the 480 that is the best compromise. Getting the right amount of grinds in the filter basket seems to be the key.

    My Routine:

    1. Make sure the grinder hopper is 50% or more full (an empty grinder hopper seems to cause a gush with the 480)
    2. Fill the filter basket to about 50% or so, and tamp but not too firmly. Using the double basket from Rancilio is a pain as it needs to be at least 50% full before the tamper will go in (bevelled basket at the bottom)
    3. Fill the filter basket so that prior to tamping the grinds are level with the top of the basket. If over full I use my finger to gently sweep away the excess.
    4. Tamp with a nutating method (basically slowly spin the tamper while rocking it back and fwd very slightly)
    5. I tamp quite firmly but on a mat not directly on the benchtop.

    Note an overfull basket results in the handle not easily going into the machine, and coffee over the screen!! and a jammed up pour

    Oh and get a decent commercial double filter basket. Coffee parts have one in the post for me

    I'm still not able to get it right every time, but one needs to concentrate. I get a 25 sec pour for 30 mls + crema when I do it right.

    I am going to upgrade from the 480 to a K3P but only because I can get the K3P at a good price (private sale).

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    Quote Originally Posted by TOK View Post
    From what you advised us in your original question, the coffee has always run "fast" since you bought the set up.

    In which case if you are entirely satisfied with the coffee bean supply, you have to go investigating the grinder.

    You mention one day you switched on the grinder and the burrs must have touched. Afraid that really cant happen as long as the locking pin is secured. If you make an adjustment and do not make sure the locking pin is secured, next time you switch on the torque of the motor can spin the adjuster BUT....that is unusual. So.....unlikely any plates touched unless you set them to locked position and then switched on. Which would be impossible....because there is a "stopper" in the bottom of the hopper, that stops the adjustment going to lock up stage....unless of course someone has removed it.

    The "stopper" is nothing more than a screw that is screwed into the bottom of the hopper.

    Remove the hopper, remove the stopper (its just a screw fitted in the factory...very obvious underneath the hopper), refit the hopper, and dial the grinder back in...but remember in that case your grinder really can go to lock up stage....which should never be a problem, because if you adjust too fine, your machine will choke, and then you back the grind adjustment off to a more coarse setting, and as long as you make sure the locking pin is secure, the adjuster is not going to magically shift itself to the place where the plates (burrs) touch.

    Hope that helps.
    It has always been fast but I'm not certain that I just didn't have good technique before. I re calibrated the grinder yesterday and the burrs are as close as they can be together before they touch. Maybe I just had something go through the grinder in that case, it made a very loud grinding noise when it happened.

    Quote Originally Posted by nicovington View Post
    What is the number on the basket you are using?

    I got mine from coffee a roma andjust use the biggest one, but it came with a standard double basket which was way better quality and in the end made much better coffee.

    I've found on my Silvia that you get gushing shots when (and sorta in order of how I'd go about tracking it down):
    1. Not ground fine enough
    2. Not enough coffee
    3. OLD BEANS
    4. Tamp not hard enough (least likely, I like to do quite a light tamp sometimes and still get great coffee)
    Embarrassingly I've just checked the basket and I noticed I'm using an aftermarket basket (I bought the setup second hand). I don't actually know what size is appropriate for it. I have the 40-100-010 (old style) basket from Rancilio as well.

    In regards to your points unfortunately I can't grind any finer, I've filled the basket to the top and more many times and it still gushes, beans are fresh and I normally tamp really hard!

    Quote Originally Posted by alphaoscar View Post
    I have the same set up to you and find no difficulty in pulling a decent shot. The rocky should be able to grind fine enough for a 25-30 sec espresso. My rocky is at a setting of 5 so im not sure why its not working for you.

    I am more inclined to look at how you tamp your coffee. How much pressure are you putting in? What technique do you do?

    Otherwise increase the dosage more and see how that changes your flow. I have had issues with particular beans. I roast my own and I've come across some beans which i had to spend a lot more time than usual dialling in the shot, and had to set my rocky at its finest (which i rarely do- as i said before 5 approx is my optimal setting)
    I tamp quite hard, I have the portafilter resting on a tampmat at the edge of the counter and angle it so that I can see the edge of the basket and the tamp. I'll apply soft pressure while making sure it's flat and then press down quite hard. I have my elbow at a right angle and try to push directly down.

    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    Hi kyler

    TOK clearly knows way more about a Rocky than I do. Unsurprisingly, a Rocky cannot touch the burrs.

    It sounds like you received a small piece of metal at no extra cost w the roast at the time. Years ago it was such a common issue that my '85 RR45 actually has a magnet at the bottom of the hopper as a defence mechanism. Even a small piece can totally wreck the burrs. Hopefully that is not the problem, however it now seems highly likely.

    One more to add to your checklist.


    TampIt
    Hmm, it does seem likely. Wish I had such a defence now!

    I tested out a few shots to see what changes occurred. All of these were ground at 1 on the Rocky, beans were roasted on the 4th.

    20g dose - 14 sec pour - 33g extraction

    18g dose - 12 sec pour - 36g extraction

    16.1g dose - 10 sec pour - 35.6g extraction

    Results are pretty consistent. All shots were extremely bitter and acidic. All had a decent layer of crema as you can see here.

    I will get some freshly ground beans tomorrow to test further (and probably confirm that there is an issue with Mr Rocky!).\

    Thanks for everyone's replies.

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    TC
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    I suggest you have a tech look at your Rocky. It may require adjustment of the zero point or alternately, the burrs may be shagged.
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    Surprised no one has mentioned channeling. If the shot starts off ok and then gushes this is usually the problem, in which case you may be grinding fine enough, but the issue is distribution/clumping, which can be a problem with Rocky.

    I suspect the place you did the course didn't do you a favour by letting you train on top-end equipment either. Rocky and Silvia are fine, but would need adjustments in your technique.

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    Quote Originally Posted by habahabanero View Post
    Surprised no one has mentioned channeling. If the shot starts off ok and then gushes this is usually the problem, in which case you may be grinding fine enough, but the issue is distribution/clumping, which can be a problem with Rocky.

    I suspect the place you did the course didn't do you a favour by letting you train on top-end equipment either. Rocky and Silvia are fine, but would need adjustments in your technique.
    I had a few gushers this morning and in the end couldn't be bothered. Definitely put it down to channeling and the older beans didnt help.

    @Chris, could the OPV be set way too high, and hence allowing a ridiculous amount of pressure to push more water through, or even make channeling worse??

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    I suggest you have a tech look at your Rocky. It may require adjustment of the zero point or alternately, the burrs may be shagged.
    You're probably right. Any recommended places NoR?

    Quote Originally Posted by habahabanero View Post
    Surprised no one has mentioned channeling. If the shot starts off ok and then gushes this is usually the problem, in which case you may be grinding fine enough, but the issue is distribution/clumping, which can be a problem with Rocky.

    I suspect the place you did the course didn't do you a favour by letting you train on top-end equipment either. Rocky and Silvia are fine, but would need adjustments in your technique.
    Surely that wouldn't be the case for every shot I would have though? I've also experimented with the WDT and get more or less the same results (although the extraction is more even).

    Quote Originally Posted by nicovington View Post
    I had a few gushers this morning and in the end couldn't be bothered. Definitely put it down to channeling and the older beans didnt help.

    @Chris, could the OPV be set way too high, and hence allowing a ridiculous amount of pressure to push more water through, or even make channeling worse??
    I've actually lowered the pressure on my machine (although I don't own a gauge so bit of a guessing game), I've been wanting to order a gauge online but haven't bitten the bullet because I'm saving for a holiday at the moment.

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    Not sure how much luck you'll have with finding a tech, I think if you were to take it to someone they'll suggest/sell new burrs before proceeding with any other troubleshooting. From what I hear/read it's not easy to tell good from bad burrs by sight/touch alone, only really by performance.

    Maybe just buy new burrs, if they don't help then at least you've got new burrs for later and they'll hold up the resale value of your grinder eventually as you can throw in brand new burrs

    I assume at this stage you're sure the issue is the grinder anyway.

    Good luck
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    Also, where abouts are you located? If you're in Perth, I'd be happy to let you try with my grinder (Anfim KS) and at least isolate it as being a rocky problem or a technique problem.

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    TOK
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    Hello kyler.

    I've read a few times in the thread that "....the burrs are as close as they can be together before they touch....".

    The plates (burrs) cant touch if the stop is fitted in the bottom of the hopper as per factory.

    Are you able to adjust the plates down to the point where they actually touch and lock up together?

    Or are you just saying you are turning the hopper until it wont go any further?

    Have you removed the hopper and checked the stop is in place or not (check back to post #9)?

    **************

    In post #19 hamm wrote "...Not sure how much luck you'll have with finding a tech, I think if you were to take it to someone they'll suggest/sell new burrs before proceeding with any other troubleshooting...."

    Not sure what kind of service technicians you are used to, but professional service businesses wouldnt do that. If you take in a grinder that you say is not grinding fine enough, then....the serviceman will firstly check to see whether the grinder is or isnt grinding fine enough. If the reason for not grinding fine enough is found to be that the plates need replacement, then so be it, but you (they, whoever) dont just replace plates willy nilly without finding the fault first...unless they arent really a professional service tech.

    As an aside. In my experience when plates are genuinely worn and need replacing they usually grind too fine as in, the quantity of fines in the total run of particle sizes is vastly increased over normal. And there is increased friction and heat, and the cuppas are nasteeee. And yes, in that case the adjustment brings the plates closer and closer together. This is genuinely rare in household use because home use situations dont grind the volume of beans that are ground in commercial situations, and a set of plates will usually last for years unless some other problem occurs.

    Hope that helps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hamm View Post
    Not sure how much luck you'll have with finding a tech, I think if you were to take it to someone they'll suggest/sell new burrs before proceeding with any other troubleshooting. From what I hear/read it's not easy to tell good from bad burrs by sight/touch alone, only really by performance.

    Maybe just buy new burrs, if they don't help then at least you've got new burrs for later and they'll hold up the resale value of your grinder eventually as you can throw in brand new burrs

    I assume at this stage you're sure the issue is the grinder anyway.

    Good luck
    If after testing with some good grinds tomorrow and confirm it's the grinder I might do that. Can imagine a tech will cost me a small fortunate and the burrs will only cost $75 or so with shipping.

    Quote Originally Posted by hamm View Post
    Also, where abouts are you located? If you're in Perth, I'd be happy to let you try with my grinder (Anfim KS) and at least isolate it as being a rocky problem or a technique problem.
    Appreciate the offer but I will just pop by my local cafe tomorrow, it's just around the corner cheers!

    Quote Originally Posted by TOK View Post
    Hello kyler.

    I've read a few times in the thread that "....the burrs are as close as they can be together before they touch....".

    The plates (burrs) cant touch if the stop is fitted in the bottom of the hopper as per factory.

    Are you able to adjust the plates down to the point where they actually touch and lock up together?

    Or are you just saying you are turning the hopper until it wont go any further?

    Have you removed the hopper and checked the stop is in place or not (check back to post #9)?

    **************

    In post #19 hamm wrote "...Not sure how much luck you'll have with finding a tech, I think if you were to take it to someone they'll suggest/sell new burrs before proceeding with any other troubleshooting...."

    Not sure what kind of service technicians you are used to, but professional service businesses wouldnt do that. If you take in a grinder that you say is not grinding fine enough, then....the serviceman will firstly check to see whether the grinder is or isnt grinding fine enough. If the reason for not grinding fine enough is found to be that the plates need replacement, then so be it, but you (they, whoever) dont just replace plates willy nilly without finding the fault first...unless they arent really a professional service tech.

    As an aside. In my experience when plates are genuinely worn and need replacing they usually grind too fine as in, the quantity of fines in the total run of particle sizes is vastly increased over normal. And there is increased friction and heat, and the cuppas are nasteeee. And yes, in that case the adjustment brings the plates closer and closer together. This is genuinely rare in household use because home use situations dont grind the volume of beans that are ground in commercial situations, and a set of plates will usually last for years unless some other problem occurs.

    Hope that helps.
    I meant that when I take the hopper off and adjust the burrs they are as close to each other as they can go. When the hopper is off I can continue screwing the plates another few degrees and they would start moving together. As far as I can tell it's set the same way as factory, the stopper is touching the plastic and can't go any further. If I were to remove the stopper and move the hopper to a finer setting they would lock up almost immediately as far as I can tell.

    Will test with the grinds tomorrow and update the thread.

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    My rocky will easily grind fine enough to choke if I tamp hard even with my grind setting about 5 clicks up from it's zero. If you are getting a gush pour with what you think is your finest grind you definitely have an issue with your rocky.

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    Just poured 5 shots with 18g and all of them took under 13 seconds. Quite frustrating. Perhaps the pressure is set too high?

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    Don't recall if you said where you're located but a tech wont be as expensive as you think, if you're in WA give Dimattina in Osborne Park a call and talk to Steve he's very fair and an extremely nice guy to deal with.

    Having said that, replacing burrs is dead easy you could definitely do that yourself.

    Have you tried the 'white paper test'? Look that up and just see how the grinds are looking if there's a hugely obvious disparity in grind size that might indicate its your grinder

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    Quote Originally Posted by kyler View Post
    Just poured 5 shots with 18g and all of them took under 13 seconds. Quite frustrating. Perhaps the pressure is set too high?
    You said earlier that you adjusted the pressure and just guessed.

    Did you use the backflow method, or literally just guess it? My machine was a bit funny for ages until I found out you could adjust the OPV, and after using the backflow method I found it was off by quite a bit and after adjusting it there was a huge improvement in my coffee!

  27. #27
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    Out of interest...

    When you purchased your Silvia, do you know whether the machine had been properly setup and tested before you took it home? If the Brew Pressure is set way too high, you may never be able to grind fine enough...

    Mal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hamm View Post
    Don't recall if you said where you're located but a tech wont be as expensive as you think, if you're in WA give Dimattina in Osborne Park a call and talk to Steve he's very fair and an extremely nice guy to deal with.

    Having said that, replacing burrs is dead easy you could definitely do that yourself.

    Have you tried the 'white paper test'? Look that up and just see how the grinds are looking if there's a hugely obvious disparity in grind size that might indicate its your grinder
    Thanks for the recommendation I had a look at the particle sizes today and there wasn't that great of a difference.

    Quote Originally Posted by nicovington View Post
    You said earlier that you adjusted the pressure and just guessed.

    Did you use the backflow method, or literally just guess it? My machine was a bit funny for ages until I found out you could adjust the OPV, and after using the backflow method I found it was off by quite a bit and after adjusting it there was a huge improvement in my coffee!
    I guessed (regrettably?), can you link me to the backflow method?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    Out of interest...

    When you purchased your Silvia, do you know whether the machine had been properly setup and tested before you took it home? If the Brew Pressure is set way too high, you may never be able to grind fine enough...

    Mal.
    I bought it second hand from these forums, I never saw it used before I took it home.

  29. #29
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyler View Post
    I bought it second hand from these forums, I never saw it used before I took it home.
    In that case mate, I'd make an approach to your nearest reputable specialist coffee equipment retailer, and ask them to give it a close going-over including Brew Pressure Setup and Test...

    Mal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    In that case mate, I'd make an approach to your nearest reputable specialist coffee equipment retailer, and ask them to give it a close going-over including Brew Pressure Setup and Test...

    Mal.
    Thanks for the advice, will organise it tomorrow.

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    I would also say it's the grinder more so than the machine. Opv does make a difference but not for 13 sec pours. You should easily be able to choke the machine with a fine grind. If you can't, the issue is the grinder

  32. #32
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    I wouldn't expect the Rocky to be at fault, other than if the Zero point has been incorrectly set. This could also be taken along with the Silvia to have it checked out - Only a five minute job to determine if the Zero position is correct - If it isn't, only another five minutes to put it right...

    Mal.

  33. #33
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    It may have been said before, but to reiterate... If you cannot grind fine enough to choke the flow, then you definitely have a grinder problem.
    A simple check should confirm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by locosam View Post
    I would also say it's the grinder more so than the machine. Opv does make a difference but not for 13 sec pours. You should easily be able to choke the machine with a fine grind. If you can't, the issue is the grinder
    You're right. I took it in to Diamattina and they didn't have any issues with it, had a go using their grinder and it worked great.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dimal View Post
    I wouldn't expect the Rocky to be at fault, other than if the Zero point has been incorrectly set. This could also be taken along with the Silvia to have it checked out - Only a five minute job to determine if the Zero position is correct - If it isn't, only another five minutes to put it right...

    Mal.
    Looks like it is the Rocky unfortunately!

    Quote Originally Posted by blend52 View Post
    It may have been said before, but to reiterate... If you cannot grind fine enough to choke the flow, then you definitely have a grinder problem.
    A simple check should confirm.
    I've got new burrs coming, will hopefully arrive in the next couple days. Will update the thread after I've installed them.

  35. #35
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    I've had a similar problem: bitter, watery coffee that never had the full flavours of the same beans served at the cafe.

    There needs to be more resistance, so the water trickles through slower. The grind is only part of the trilogy of grind/dose/tamp. My hope is that your grinder is fine, and the dosing needs to be by volume, not weight. Tap the handle during the dosing, and a couple of times at the end, to settle and remove air pockets. I use a slightly curved knife to then wipe off the excess before tamping, so it's very consistent.

    But today's breakthrough is that when I measured the flow with a blind filter fitted, it was way too high at 360 ml/min. Pressure valve set too low. I adjusted the valve by 1/6th turns, eventually settling on nearly the full turn inwards, raising the pressure till it gave me the suggested 240 ml/min.

    My best news of the last 3 years is that the first extraction was dark, oily, and full of the caramel flavours I've been lusting after!

    You mentioned that you'd lowered your pressure - my take is that you need finer grind and higher pressure, so you get the required "resistance" from the ground coffee to extract all the good flavours slowly, not the water-soluble caffeine which is what the spluttery low-pressure extraction gives.
    Last edited by BioBrian; 27th January 2014 at 12:20 PM. Reason: typo

  36. #36
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BioBrian View Post
    I've had a similar problem: bitter, watery coffee that never had the full flavours of the same beans served at the cafe.

    There needs to be more resistance, so the water trickles through slower. The grind is only part of the trilogy of grind/dose/tamp. My hope is that your grinder is fine, and the dosing needs to be by volume, not weight. Tap the handle during the dosing, and a couple of times at the end, to settle and remove air pockets. I use a slightly curved knife to then wipe off the excess before tamping, so it's very consistent.

    But today's breakthrough is that when I measured the flow with a blind filter fitted, it was way too high at 360 ml/min. Pressure valve set too low. I adjusted the valve by 1/6th turns, eventually settling on nearly the full turn inwards, raising the pressure till it gave me the suggested 240 ml/min.

    My best news of the last 3 years is that the first extraction was dark, oily, and full of the caramel flavours I've been lusting after!

    You mentioned that you'd lowered your pressure - my take is that you need finer grind and higher pressure, so you get the required "resistance" from the ground coffee to extract all the good flavours slowly, not the water-soluble caffeine which is what the spluttery low-pressure extraction gives.
    Unusual advice in this post, the grind may well be only part of the trilogy, however combined with fresh beans its by far the most important part.

    How do you measure the flow with a blind filter in place?

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Unusual advice in this post, the grind may well be only part of the trilogy, however combined with fresh beans its by far the most important part.

    How do you measure the flow with a blind filter in place?
    Measuring the discharge through the OPV, I suspect.

    Because an increase in OPV cracking-pressure will result in a smaller "orifice" (not sure what the correct term is) size when the pump pressure is applied and the valve partially opens, the flow rate will drop and the flow-rate can be used as a rough indication of OPV cracking-pressure setting.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragunov21 View Post
    Because an increase in OPV cracking-pressure will result in a smaller "orifice" (not sure what the correct term is) size when the pump pressure is applied and the valve partially opens, the flow rate will drop and the flow-rate can be used as a rough indication of OPV cracking-pressure setting.
    Yes... and no.

    Most pumps have a sort-of-inverse flow-pressure curve (essentially, they are near constant power modulo efficiency factors). So the higher the back pressure, the lower the flow.

    This curve is well described for the Ulka pumps used in these coffee machines.

    When you have the blind filter in, the only place for water to go is the return tube. So you measure the flow out the return tube, and you can use the P-F curve to estimate what pressure the pump is pushing against.

  39. #39
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    Whups, my mistake. Cheers Hildy.

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    Yes, I was a bit daunted by the "post quick reply" button, and also had lost my entire post shortly before, so cut a lot out the 2nd time.

    Should have said that I have the same Silvia v3, and use the supplied 40-100-102 double basket. Compak K3T grinder.

    Not being a regular user, I thought everybody would have read the thread I was reading only yesterday, where they talked about the Ulka pumps, and printed the pressure/flow curve (more a straight line).

    I measured the back flow from the tube that flows from the OPV (over-pressure valve??) back to the reservoir. This gave inconsistent results from taking the tubes in and out, until I standardized the process: remove group and run the brew switch for at least 10 sec to get rid of any air in the tubes; then fit blind filter and hit brew switch for about 6 seconds, until back-flow appears from return pipe. Only then could I start the brew switch on the clock, with the little pipe sitting in a measuring jug.

    From the initial flow of 360 ml/min, the graph indicated to me that my machine had been set at about 6.25 bar, scandalously far from the proper 9 bar!

    Sorry, I haven't time to find the thread, but I'm sure it would be easy.

    Also, as you may have gathered, I'm still proudly wearing L-plates, even after 3 years of Silvia-smithing, and hope to keep learning lots more.

    Thanks for the helpful discussion, all.

  41. #41
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Welcome to Coffee Snobs Brian, we're all learning.

    Are you using the baskets supplied with your Silvia? if so I suggest you throw the single in the bin, they're useless, and replace the double with a Precision double 14 to 18 gram Precision filter basket 58mm- Espresso parts will make a world of difference to the quality of your shots.

    I owned a Silvia/Rocky combo for almost 10 years, they make excellent coffee, however have limitations when making multiple milk drinks i.e. cappuccino etc

  42. #42
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    Which Precision Basket do you use Yelta?

    Mal.

  43. #43
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Double 14 to 18 gram Mal, dose 18 grams, does the job for me.

  44. #44
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    Rightio mate, sounds good...

    Mal.

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    Well Yelta, I put my money where your mouth is, and bought a "Precision 58 mm" basket. I have to report that it is neither "Precision", nor 58 mm.

    The ID is actually 59mm, making a very sloppy fit with my Rancilio tamper, and varies from 58.8 to 59.2 mm, meaning it's actually oval.

    I put a piece of sandpaper on a flat table and rubbed the inverted basket on it, and inspection of the top showed flat abrasion in THREE points around the rim.

    However, the coffee it made tasted good, so maybe it should be re-named the "3-pointed oval 59 mm taste-nice" basket.

    In contrast, my double and double-and-a-half Rancilio baskets are both round, and flat-topped, and have smaller IDs.

    All 3 have very cleanly drilled/cleaned holes; the holes in the new one are smaller and fewer, possibly adding some resistance, but I can't be sure on that.

    My concern with all these is that none fit the shower screen/group head of the Silvia well, it being 57.8 mm, and the closest basket is the double, at 58.6 mm. The puck shows that grounds get blasted up the sides towards the seal, which would to me indicate a likely weakness in the puck, leading to channelling/weak, watery, bitter coffee.

    I agree that the Silvia is not suitable for milk drinks. Fortunately my primary school destroyed any desire to ever smell hot milk again, so I only enjoy short blacks. In the '60s, the Vic government gave every child a gill (quarter pint) of milk each day, and these bottles would sit in a tray of water on the wood heater of the class-room until recess, when all 45-50 (that was our class size) were handed out. On sunny days it was even worse.

    Cheers from "Junior Member".

  46. #46
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BioBrian View Post
    My concern with all these is that none fit the shower screen/group head of the Silvia well, it being 57.8 mm, and the closest basket is the double, at 58.6 mm. The puck shows that grounds get blasted up the sides towards the seal, which would to me indicate a likely weakness in the puck, ".
    Do you have any reason to believe that this is not due to residual grinds after tamping, nor disruption due to operation of the pressure-relief solenoid?

  47. #47
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    Because the tamper doesn't fit snugly, I spend a bit of time using it to push down any grounds from the basket wall before the final polish. The curved knife I use in dosing is supposed to give me a tighter tamp around the edges than the middle, but I think it needs more curve.

    It was a question really, so I'm interested in how/when the switching of the solenoid can do the blasting up toward the seal. Do you mean when I turn off the brew switch?

  48. #48
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    I have been a lurker on CS for many years and only just registered after all this time. Interesting to read this thread. I have had my Silvia for nearly 8 years and used an EM0480 grinder with it with little view to the specifics of coffee output. That all changed this week once I decided to pimp my Silvia with some new parts and an Auber PID kit direct from them in the USA. I didn't buy from my local at JetBlack Espresso as I wanted the blue LED. Anyway, I got it in three days from the USA and installed the PID kit only to find that the beans I was grinding in the EM0480 were too course when running with the 26 second pour set in the PID. Needless to say I pushed the grind level down and down testing the EM04080 each time with a new shot.

    Sadly, I couldn't get the beans fine enough to give me a good shot of espresso. It was far too watery at the 26 second mark. I had done the shots manually before the PID and stopped when the level in the cup was sufficient and the addition of the PID was to allow my partner to be able to use the Silvia when I was out. The PID showed up the quicker pour of my grinds. After fiddling with things and reading up on the threads here on the EM0480 I decided not to try to add shims/washers to raise the lower burr and went out and purchased the Lelit PL043MM step less grinder from JetBlack Espresso. It's small and carries enough beans for our daily use. The guys at JetBlack gave me 250g of beans to test it and I have to say I needed all of them to get it to the best spot. The install supplement says that the grinder should be set for a good espresso out of the box. Sadly this was not the case. Seemed to be dialled all the way down.

    Once I got the setting correct I then played with the tamping of the PF dose to get the best shots. This morning I finally got nirvana in a cup. The beans are local and I can't vouch for freshness as they have no date stamp but the pour was perfect at around 30g and both of us commented on how smooth and creamy the coffee tasted compared to yesterday. So, I can only concur with others here who have rightly suggested the grind is the cause of this issue. I now have it set for perfection for the current beans I am using and look forward to playing with the grind/dose/tamp once I change the beans. My only very minor gripe with the stepless grinder is it has no marking for reference on the dial do a white marker is my next purchase. The old EM0480 is still in good condition and will probably end up for sale here once I notch up enough posts. Now to re-master the milk steaming process with the PID to see if I can get any better microfoam...

  49. #49
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    Welcome "zarbs"...

    Out of interest mate, when you went for the PID Controller installation, did you also verify the Pressure Limiting Valve setting? If this is set too high, it can make it extremely difficult to 'dial-in' for a decent espresso pour, plus the resulting pour probably won't taste its best either...

    Mal.

  50. #50
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    Hi Mal,

    I was looking at that just this morning. The pour with the settings for my grinder is good and the grind is very fine and powdery. The initial tamp with the "out of the box" setting was much finer and a full PF dose would see no liquid coming through the PF at all. I am happy with the results so far and will investigate the setting of the PLV but from what I've read it is quite complicated working out what the current pressure settings is and how much it should be changed. The Silvia manual notes a maximum of one full turn in either direction so I am a little hesitant to fiddle at the moment. I suppose a service would get this sorted but I have just replaced worn parts and serviced with a blind filter myself. My descaling saw no result to speak of as I only use filtered water for the machine. Your input is welcome. Cheers...

    Zarbs



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