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Thread: Rancilio Silvia/Rocky advice

  1. #1
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    Rancilio Silvia/Rocky advice

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

    After reading and lurking here for a while, we finally decided to bite the bullet on our first "serious" coffee setup and went with a Rancilio Silvia V3 and Rocky Doser. Firstly wanted to say that we are already very impressed with the espressos this combo is producing, so this post is about tweaking to make things better, rather than "OMG this coffe tastes terrible!" We recently spent some time in the USA, so almost any coffee tastes good atm, and before the Rancilio, well,.. I won't even mention our coffee set up, but suffice to say with two young kids in the house, convenience counts for a lot. My partner and I always drink our shots straight up - espresso/short black (what's the favoured term around here?). I'll have to practice steaming milk before we next have guests!

    Here's my workflow at the moment:

    1. Turn machine on as soon as I wake up.
    2. 15-20 minutes later, while light is off, run water through empty portafilter/double basket in 1-2 sec bursts, pausing in between, until light comes on.
    3. Dry and wipe clean the basket/portafilter.
    4. Grind until basket is full - slightly mounded using Rocky doser on setting 8.
    5. Level the ground coffee evenly across basket, wiping away excess, so it is level with top of basket.
    6. Tamp using the dinky little plastic tamper that came with the Silvia.
    7. Meanwhile, the Silvia light went off while grinding and tamping and has been off for 15-45 seconds.
    8. Extract into two espresso cups. Haven't been measuring, but I think it is close to the 30 mL in 30 seconds mark.
    9. Empty grounds from basket, wash clean, run through some more water through machine and portafilter, wipe clean again and switch machine off, leaving clean portafilter attached to the machine.

    In general, even though the shots have been good to my taste, the crema is darker and slightly thinner (less volume) than I would expect. Also, this morning I did two doubles and the second one was very dark - my partner commented that it looked like turkish coffee. I'm not sure if this was using too much coffee, tamping too hard, or the machine being too hot for that shot.

    One thing I have noticed is that the ground coffee is slightly clumpy when it has come out of the grinder. I also should point out that, typical for this time of year, it is hot and humid here in Brisbane - nearing 30 degrees in our kitchen at breakfast time the other day. Not sure what effect that has on the process.

    Any suggestions on things I could improve or experiment with? I guess timing (extraction, temp surf) and measuring (dose) is where I should start. Not sure where to go with the grind - finer, but smaller dose/lighter tamp? I don't know how much of a difference it will make to the shot, but I would like to get a nicer tamper. Is a flat one ok, considering the protruding nut on the Rancilio shower screen?

    I realise PIDs are fairly popular, but I can't justify extra expense so soon after machine purchase. Plus, I kind of like the idea of getting to grips with making decent shots the older-fashioned way before getting high-tech.

    Thanks for any pointers and looking forward to achieving that god shot any day now!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    G'Day Tetranomad Welcome to Coffee Snobs.

    Sounds like you have the Silvia Rocky pretty well worked out.

    One of the first things I would do is get rid of the Rancilio baskets and buy yourself a 14 to 18 gram Precision basket Precision filter basket 58mm- Espresso parts for $13 plus postage you will see a big improvement, the Rancillio single is useless and the double leaves a lot to be desired.

    The other easy improvement is to replace the protruding nut on the shower screen with a countersunk one, have seen a number of thread discussing this.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Coffee Newbie okitoki's Avatar
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    - How fresh is the coffee? my current batch of beans had nice thick crema during the first 2 weeks after roasting, but now going on 3-4 weeks, it has gone alot thinner than before... so freshness counts...
    - get a proper tamper... throw the plastic one away... I used mine as a cat toy for awhile
    - When dosing from my rocky, I do ocassionally find clumping (not much though) I would just tap the PF on the table and it should break apart easily; I also used a toothpick to stir through the grinds first before I tap on table;
    - Step 7; I previously would wait till the light goes off, do a quick purge to get rid of the super hot steam, then lock in the PF to pull a shot (google/youtube Silvia temp surfing)

    PID is a fun little project to do, and it does make the process quicker and easier (less flushing for temp surfing); but you still can get very good shots out of the Silvia as it is once you work out your process...


    Add: as Yelta mentioned, changing to an after market basket does help alot too... Ive enjoyed my change to a VST 22g and 18g basket... my trial of using the stock single basket was pretty dismal to be honest

  4. #4
    Senior Member smokey's Avatar
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    Congrats Tetranomad on your new machine, just another word of advice on the Silvia, when you steam milk make sure that you run some water thru the portafilter afterwards. When steaming the pump stops running, therefore there is no fresh water entering the boiler, so, finish steaming, clean up a bit, hit the pour button to flush water through the portafilter until the water stops then flows again - that could be a cupful more or less. This way you protect your boiler from emptying, overheating and breaking and only takes a few minutes.

    And Ditto okitoki's post on the PID and Yelta's suggestion re:Precision baskets, they are a pleasure to work with and cheap too.

  5. #5
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by okitoki View Post
    PID is a fun little project to do, and it does make the process quicker and easier (less flushing for temp surfing); but you still can get very good shots out of the Silvia as it is once you work out your process...
    I'd wait until you're totally confident and able to get the best out of your Silvia, just the way it is before embarking on this mod. At least until the warranty on your machine has expired...

    Mal.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the tips. I bought the beans the same time we bought the machine as we didn't have any on hand at home. Looking forward to trying it out with some fresher beans froms a local roaster. Definitely going to hold off on any PID-ification. Precision basket sounds like an inexpensive variable to play with, so that and a decent tamper are probably the only near-term purchases.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tetranomad View Post
    Precision basket sounds like an inexpensive variable to play with, so that and a decent tamper are probably the only near-term purchases.
    Replace the screw in the shower screen is worth doing, have a read through this thread http://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-eq...een-screw.html post # 23 may be of interest.

    If the original s/screen is not removed frequently it can seize, then its a real bear to remove, a stainless socket head screw is ideal, all you need to remove it is an Allen key.
    Dimal likes this.



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