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Thread: Advice sought: Rancilio Silvia 'gusher' extractions

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    Senior Member nikko.the.scorpio's Avatar
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    Question Advice sought: Rancilio Silvia 'gusher' extractions

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Folks,

    I've recently taken receipt of the below gear and am having some minor issues - would greatly welcome feedback or thoughts (my sincere thanks in advance):

    Here's the critical info:

    Espresso Machine: Rancilio Silvia V3 (bought ~2012 from DiBartoli) - in very good condition, new silicon group seal.
    Basket: Stock Rancilio 40-100-102 basket
    Grinder: Compak K3 Touch (has brand new burrs in it ~2kg or less through them!)
    Tamp: CleanMachine/ProTamp 58mm
    Coffee: CS sourced home roasted (within week of roasting)
    Dose: 13-14g of grinds into basket

    Problem:
    Double shot extraction (have measured into labelled shot glasses) seems to consistantly come out far too rapidly. I have to terminate the shot at 10-15sec as it's clearly beginning to blonde badly. The resulting shot will be bitter (which thankfully is marginally hidden by drinking with milk BUT I know a lot better can be done). I reverse temp surf before I pull the shot, don't feel this is an issue in the problem.

    Solutions already tried/thoughts:
    GRIND..?
    My first thought was that it was a 'grind size' issue. However, I'm at a VERY fine grindsize that I'd feel is closer to Turkish than traditional espresso size. The K3 is well regarded and as stated has brand new burrs in it, which I've checked and definitely are correctly aligned. I've taken it all the way to choking the machine and then backing off a tad but it's such a finely balanced point I feel this isn't the issue.

    I've compared my grind size to a fellow CSer who has a La Spaz S1 Vivaldi II with a HG1 grinder and he's using a much coarser grind than myself (big difference). If it assists see below macro images of my grind with table salt etc for comparison. So if anything at present I feel my grind might be a bit finer than ideal for long term usage.



    DOSE...?
    With these stock 'improved' Rancilio baskets the common feedback is that a ~12g grind dose is pushing things (others feel this way?). So I've found that ~13g is about as much as I can put. When tamped (and I tend to err on the side of a lighter tamp) it bring it down to just under the internal ridge line. I'd previously had some issues with distribution but try and stir the grinds with a thin bamboo skewer and take my time in prepping the basket for the shot.

    I've also got a couple of 17g La Mazocco ridged baskets, which I've bought as they were sold as being 'identical to VST baskets' though thats clearly NOT true. I know using a larger basket is often felt to assist with the Silvia's but if I can't extract properly from the stock basket I can't imagine a different one will magically cure it as there's likely other variables at play.

    PRESSURE/FLOW..?
    I secretly suspect this might be the issue as I've read several other threads of folks in an identical situation and often it was their OPV at a high level. The machine was originally bought from a CS sponsor, Di Bartoli - but when I contacted them today they weren't able to advise if the machine would have been calibrated prior to shipping out - as I wasn't the original purchaser and it was ~3yrs ago.

    In a very inexact flow test I got 101g of water out through the portafilter in a 15sec extraction. Now apparently if you want to test the pump/OPV flow you're meant to use a blind filter and then measure the flow via the overflow tube instead....?
    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-eq...out-gauge.html

    Happy to try this as I suspect mine is running high so if folks can confirm this is safe to do. I should also flag that I live in a regional area with no CS sponsor etc nearby, nor access to a pressure gauge so perhaps this is the best way to check the OPV is not running far too high.

    Thank you in advance for any feedback or assistance,

    Nick

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    Hi Nick, if your pour started tight and then followed by gusher, it may be worthwhile checking the puck for channeling and how level it is

    Good luck

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    Senior Member nikko.the.scorpio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bazooka View Post
    Hi Nick, if your pour started tight and then followed by gusher, it may be worthwhile checking the puck for channeling and how level it is

    Good luck
    Bazooka, much thanks for the reply.

    Apologies in advance but by tight shot I'm not sure if you mean it came only from the centre of the puck (which as I don't have a naked PF I don't think I'd be able to verify) or that it takes a lengthy-ish period from hitting the extraction button to the first liquid coming through?

    As I do get a little of the latter but unsure if thats the core reason......what I mean by this is that I'm sure my dosing and tamp technique isn't bang on (if anything I'm sure I tend to stuff around with it too much wanting to get it perfect). I'm very careful NOT to tap/bang the grinds once I've distributed them with a skewer or finger - and obviously particularly careful after tamping, which as stated I tend to try and do towards the soft end of the scale.

    Getting the tamp level has also been a bit of an issue, which is part of the reason why I'm leaning towards softer tamps as when I was trying for the 15kg effort I'd end up having a lean on them despite my best efforts to avoid this.

    Again I feel these are factors as I'm a million miles from being perfect in my approach but I'm unsure if they're the root cause of the gushers. But it's excellent you flagged them as they have been real issues I'm still working with. :-)

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    Hi Nick, If your shot started as slow drip, followed by trickle, and then gushing, it could be due to channelling. Water under pressure is a cheeky creature, it tries its darn hardest to find a path of least resistance, so if your ground distribution is not uniform and tamp not level, your shot may be more susceptible to channelling which you see as gushing.

    I hope this helps.
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    Could your beans be the issue ?
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    Have you tried grinding finer and tamping a bit harder. I usually tamp pretty hard. Dosing i just fill the basket, firm tap on bench and then put more coffee in and distribute coffee evenly around basket and level off. Then firm tamp
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    Im finding odd results with my different aged diy roasted beans, 15/18vst precision 14 g can be better
    Is the roas a problem, I have Variable consistency in my roasting process, a cast iron pot and ozito hg on the bbq if the temp curve/rise it is done wrong I have had trouble getting good shots

    Is less than a week long enough for or the beans the beans to sit??

    Just my second crack from hours of reading and 6m experience correct me if im wrong,
    v3 pid silvia and sm90

    Edit: I do get better results weighing exat spec on scales for basket 14/15/18g in paper cup dosing from there helps with distribution as well

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    Quote Originally Posted by nikko.the.scorpio View Post
    which as stated I tend to try and do towards the soft end of the scale.

    Getting the tamp level has also been a bit of an issue, which is part of the reason why I'm leaning towards softer tamps as when I was trying for the 15kg effort I'd end up having a lean on them despite my best efforts to avoid this.
    I think you should keep the same consistent tamp pressure of 13-15kg so you're not guessing so much with one variable. Also try 2 of these tamping techniques which will make getting a level tamp easier.

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    Senior Member nikko.the.scorpio's Avatar
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    Much thanks for all the great replies and feedback - I REALLY do appreciate it.

    @bazooka, much thanks - I'll pay a bit more attention next time around. From what I recall from this morning's two extractions, I made the grind just a smidge finer and tamped firmly, however I had to cut both extractions off within the 15sec mark as they had started blonding, only getting around 30ml of actual end extraction (after the crema had settled down). I do tend to get a slow trickle at first but this is gone very quickly and it really gushes - hence the very premature end to the extraction with way under the ~50ml I believe I should be getting from an espresso double shot.

    Your advice on channeling is duly noted and I'll incorporate some of the improved tamping techniques provided to try and negate this.

    @cleancup, the beans are not the issue. CS sourced and roasted by me within the last week and I've been roasting for a significant period and have no issues with this area. :-)

    @Chrisj1984, as shown in the images provided (and I ground even finer today) I'm already grinding at the finer end of the scale and MUCH finer than others on quality espresso machines. So I hear what you're saying but thats more a remedy for the disease than an actual root cure to the problem. As I suspect the issue is either the OPV or issues with channeling from my tamp/dist method - possibly a bit of both.

    And I suspect it's a bit the same with tamping harder, as if there's issues with those two thiings tamping harder will just alleviate part of the problem but bring different issues into play. So I know in the short term I could go down the path of just using the finest possible grind that will work, regardless of how much it's getting closer to the Turkish/flour end of the spectrum and tamping very hard but surely IF I can locate the actual problem it'd be easier and give better end results to fix that first.....but I just need to see if the flow is an issue (***again other than a pressure gauged PF does anyone have some definitive info on how to do the flow test on the Silvia V3?***) or my tamp etc, this being the logical one to eliminate/improve first.

    @kyeba , ah thats excellent! That first image is a gem and very handy - I was using a different technique - which even from looking at that I can instantly tell was vastly inferior so I will give you suggestion a try from here on! Much thanks.

    (***again other than a pressure gauged PF does anyone have some definitive info on how to do the flow test on the Silvia V3?***

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    Quote Originally Posted by nikko.the.scorpio View Post
    however I had to cut both extractions off within the 15sec mark as they had started blonding
    Are you still using the small rancilio baskets? I'd give the 17g LM basket a go, try filling it, tapping your group handle once(or twice to get a bit more) then filling it again and level off, tamp then pull a shot and see how long you get out of a shot before it blonds. If it pours too slow or fast, adjust the grind accordingly. I say this as I notice quicker blonding with lower doses in my Silvia too, especially when trying for a 50-60ml shot, so I up dose to compensate.

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    Good luck Nick, in my experience, grinding too fine may actually increase channeling risk and hence gushing, perhaps this is due to water under pressure getting desperate and less forgiving to non uniform distribution and tamping

    kyeba pics are very good reference for tamping, next time you tamp, try leaving the tamper in the basket and check levelness, i found i put more pressure on my thumb when tamping and had since adjusted my technique

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    Senior Member nikko.the.scorpio's Avatar
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    @kyeba, Great reply much thanks! Yes, I've been hanging in with the 'improved' Rancilio 14g basket. Ok - I'll try the LM 17g then. Will try exactly as you state, as it's a double basket I'll aim to fill to rim once leveled and then tamp.

    @bazooka, again another great reply, much thanks! Interesting point RE: grind - I just know that as I've gone finer and finer it's not really helping and I feel thats not the variable thats the issue. I also find that the much finer grind is more of a PITA to distribute evenly as it's more prone to clumping etc. I'd like to back the grind off to where I feel it should roughly be and then try and work with the tamp technique and dose. If neither of those assist then I guess I'm looking at the OPV being at too high a pressure.

    I know I keep coming back to this last one but the very common feedback is that Rancilio tended to always set their machines too high ~11.5 to 10.5 bar. I'm very dubious about whether DiBartoli calibrated this machine prior to it's sale as it was a mail order buy by the original owner and when I spoke to them they took a very long time in checking only to say they no longer adjust them as they've found the V4's run at 9.5bar from the factory but they couldn't advise what they did before this.

    Anyway it's a theory thats on the backburner as improving the tamp/distro will assist regardless - I'll try the LM baskets (need to give them a polish inside with some high grit wet&dry as pucks do not fall out easily).

    Thanks again for the great feedback.

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Nikko, have you thought about renting the traveling pressure gauge?


    Java "Always nice to know the numbers" phile
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    Senior Member nikko.the.scorpio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    Nikko, have you thought about renting the traveling pressure gauge?


    Java "Always nice to know the numbers" phile
    Hi Javaphile,

    I have - and if I get to the point where I've eliminated all other variables and want to exclude the OPV then personally I'd see the ~total cost of getting a go with it, which will end up being $30-35 as less attractive than buying one from a forum sponsor for ~$90. Personal call but I feel the cost is a tad high to make it feasible.

    That said, I'd probably try the backflow reading first to see if it's in the appropriate ballpark - if NOT then I'd fine tune/adjust via the gauge. :-)

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    Senior Member nikko.the.scorpio's Avatar
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    Ok - as per earlier advice I went back and tried with the LM 17g baskets (I hadn't been overly impressed with these on my first couple of uses of them). Backed the grind off a very small amount (as I felt it was getting waaaaaay too fine and not assisting). 19g of grinds were placed in the basket.

    Dosed to the rim and distributed with a skewer, tamped using Kyeba's recommended technique (which gave a nice level tamp) - did a hard tamp that was easily 15kg. Again at around 12sec I had to terminate as it'd run it's course volume wise (~55-60ml in end volume). Quite bitter though I couldn't see obvious blondeing in the extraction.

    There was no dribbling that progressed straight to the gushing - rather within a few seconds of anything appearing at all you're getting a far too strong flow of extraction.

    I know puckology is apparently regarded as next to useless but I think a few things might be able to be seen from the macro shot I took of the basket a few mins after I got over cursing the bad extraction:


    1. There's no signs of channeling I could detect, there's a few lil marks on the edge on the left but thats nothing at all and goes nowhere.
    2. The basket was overdosed, as shown by the shower screen indent on the puck - I'd say 17g would be about the limit (I placed in 19g).

    I can also advise that the LM baskets are almost impossible to get the pucks out from.....every time I've used them they stick in there like they're glued in place!!! Really tough to get out - and I have to end up digging out with a spoon, which I hate to do as I fear damaging the base. Anyway I'd have thought if channeling they'd be a lot easier to remove.

    Anyway I felt that the tamp, dose (if anything overly high but still made no difference) and grind were pretty much on the mark and yet there was no real change in the result. I don't know if in itself says that the OPV is looking more the likely suspect or if I'm convincing myself of it.

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    G'day n.t.s....

    Yep, that intruding shower-screen bolt-head will be doing you no favours for sure. Best to keep the dose below that until you have the button-head screw fitted...

    Having said that though, looking at the coffee grinds, I would say that there is still room to grind a bit finer than that. With my machine, it's currently setup to run at around 8.5-9.0Bar and my grind size would definitely be finer than yours, regardless of the basket I use. With tamping, more important than actual applied tamping force, is that you apply a nominal force consistently and as level as is practical to do (good advice about that above). It's easier to be consistent with a heavier applied force than a light one.

    From your posts above, it seems that all the baskets you are using are of the 'ridged' type. These can make the application of a consistent tamping force more difficult because of the ridge intruding into the coffee cake, and absorbing some of this force instead of the coffee being compressed. No need to worry about grabbing VST baskets or similar as any decent quality 'ridgeless' basket (Synesso for example) will make life much easier for you and well worth the small investment.

    I'd also highly recommend the hiring of Greg Pullman's 'Pressure Gauge Group Handle' as mentioned by Javaphile above. It is a simple procedure and once completed, you will know for sure that the OPV is properly adjusted and should not need touching again for a very long time. A very inexpensive and beneficial thing to do.

    Don't know that there is much more advice that can be offered to be honest, Everyone seems to have covered all the variables that affect the pouring of consistently excellent espresso. I suppose, just to be sure, you could also buy a bag of professionally roasted coffee from Andy or one of the Site Sponsors, to take the coffee out of the equation. Anyway, all the best with your troubleshooting efforts...

    Mal.

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    Senior Member nikko.the.scorpio's Avatar
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    Well another 2 gushers this morning. Used the LM 17g baskets put exactly 17g into each one (which based on the shower screen imprint after shows they were perhaps still a tad overdosed). Upon hitting the extraction button nothing comes out for around 6-8sec but then I get a gush which within 4-5sec I have to terminate. Both shots were quite bitter and definitely not to par.

    Tamp was as even as I've ever done, very firm (absolute nightmares to get out of the LM baskets later).

    So no great progression on thoughts from yesterday to be honest.

    @dimal, much thanks for your reply. Yes the well known Rancilio bolt - wonder if anyone from Rancilio ever confirmed why they never changed this. I just got confirmation from another CSer it was a straight swap over so I'll do this - previously there had been information implying some machining was also needed but obviously this was incorrect. Am sure thats not helping but surely a very minor part of the base issue (though have been told Silvia's prefer a good amount of headroom under the Shower Screen and if you're getting a big imprint you're overdosing too much).

    Appreciate your feedback on the grounds and I was conscious that a few of those grind sizes on that photo did look larger than expected (that said it is a post-extraction photo where obviously the grinds have expanded significantly can't be equated to a pre-extraction grind size) - if you know what I mean. So I understand where you're coming from but I suspect the photo is a bit misleading as to the actual grind size pre-extraction.

    You're correct all the baskets I currently have are ridged and I do want to get a couple of ridgeless ones if only so they assist my very amateurish workflow speed - essentially so I can preload the baskets and then bang out two extractions back to back with minimal fuss. So your point is taken but again I'd find it very doubtful that such a major issue is due to this, changing to the ridgeless strikes me as a very minor tweak that perhaps (and I've read the debates on it) improves the end cupping taste but even thats in dispute. That everything else is fie BUT the ridged baskets are throwing it all off seems an impossibility - but as stated I do want to get some when I place an order with the appropriate stores as I think they're more user friendly.

    As stated earlier after eliminating all the 'low hanging' variables the OPV is the last one there - and yes I'd have to look at either measuring the backflow or using a gauged PF to ascertain if any issues. As also mentioned to Javaphile IMHO I find the ~$30-35 total cost of the hire too high considering I can buy one from forum sponsors for ~$90 or get essentially the same gauge ready to screw on in a kit for ~$40. Thats nothing against Greg, his option is undoubtably simpler & convenient and as such it's logical a premium should be paid for it.

    I hear what you're saying however the coffee is definitely not the issue. I've no issue flagging that my tamping needed correcting however as I clarified an earlier poster my roasting is well up to par. I'd imagine it'd have to be a pretty disasterous roast if the beans were CS sourced, freshly roasted and yet so badly/incorrectly roasted that this was a significantly part of such a dire flow problem. So I know we're working to eliminate all the variables - but this isn't it. :-)

    I hope this doesn't read badly, as your post was excellent with wonderful suggestions and having worked in IT myself I know that you ALWAYS have to start at suggesting the most obvious issues first,"Are you sure the computer is plugged iin?" - so much thanks.

    Again I'm thinking it's probably the OPV/flow issue - you say yours is running at 8.5-9Bar - which by inference I would take is your recommended setting for others? Is this with a Silvia or another model?

    Much thanks again for your excellent feedback Dimal - you're by far one of the best members here and I've already received multiple excellent suggestions from you both in this and other threads so thank you.

    *** Also if anyone knows anything more concrete about how to SAFELY conduct the backflow testing on the Silvia I'm all ears - as stated earlier I'd intend to use this merely as a rough indication of what the OPV is set at and if it shows it's out avail myself to a pressure gauged PF to accurately set. ***

    Thank you in advance.
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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Appreciate your feedback on the grounds and I was conscious that a few of those grind sizes on that photo did look larger than expected (that said it is a post-extraction photo where obviously the grinds have expanded significantly can't be equated to a pre-extraction grind size) - if you know what I mean. So I understand where you're coming from but I suspect the photo is a bit misleading as to the actual grind size pre-extraction.
    I was comparing like for like actually...

    You'd be surprised the difference a ridgeless basket makes to the whole process, especially consistency. It is worth doing and will help...

    Mal.

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    Senior Member nikko.the.scorpio's Avatar
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    I tried the LM baskets again (apparently they're essentially the VST design but without the finishing quality/markings) - tried down dosing to 15g on each extraction as I thought I might have gotten a marginal improvement on one I did yesterday when i did with only 14g or so.

    Again even with a firm tamp and minimal tapping etc nothing for 6-8sec and then within 5sec I've got to end extraction as volume is exceeded. The coffee wasn't bad but IMHO it also wasn't 'good' - I perhaps cut it off quick enough to avoid most of the bitterness but twas a pyrrhic victory only. :-(

    @dimal, thanks again for your feedback. :-)
    RE: grind size - I don't know I thought I was getting towards the too fine end of things, having compared to a friend's La Spaz as stated earlier. You said you felt they were still too coarse compared to yours, which machine are you running?

    Here are two pix of grinds from this mornings extractions (1 day old coffee) - first puck dug into a tad, 2nd shot using table salt to compare size - all grinds shown are POST-extraction only.




    If you think this isn't fine enough I'm happy to try this path again however my fear is that it's going to become going finer to cover up the root issue - and not that the grind size is the actual issue - BUT I'm open minded on this so if you feel its still too coarse for a stock V3 Silvia I'd welcome the feedback.


    RE: Baskets.
    As stated earlier I intend to get some ridgeless baskets but at present my focus is on the root cause of the gushing and we both know the ridged baskets are not this. Like I said earlier there's significant conjecture as to whether there's ANY extraction quality differences between the two.....but if anything there's a marginal favouritism for the ridgeless - so making this a priority is kind of like changing to an improved water softener or a higher quality tamp. Sure they might marginally assist the end result in the cup (might being the very key term) but with the colossal issue thats manifesting itself somewhere in the chain it's illogical to currently pursue. :-)

    I have seem folks theorise that ridgeless assists with channeling, but I don't think thats what I have as I don't get a trickle and then a gush. I get a straight out gush as soon as anything appears. If I were using generation 1 Rancilio baskets I'd perhaps think the basket might be more of a factor but the improved ones are meant to be pretty decent and the LM ones even better. So I'm sorry but I don't feel this is a path that the actual problems show could be alleviated by ridgeless baskets.

    That all said I'm always open to learning new things so if you're able to elaborate on what specifically based on what I've said or shown makes you feel that the basket upgrade is the most logical solution I'd be very appreciative. :-)

    Thanks again Mal, appreciate your taking the time to assist.

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    Reading this on a phone so may be missing stuff but has anyone suggested that distribution might be an issue? Try mixing up the grounds in your PF with a skewer before levelling and tamping. I've got a mate with a Compak K3 Touch and he needs to redistribute to get good shots.

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    Senior Member nikko.the.scorpio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwantfm View Post
    Reading this on a phone so may be missing stuff but has anyone suggested that distribution might be an issue? Try mixing up the grounds in your PF with a skewer before levelling and tamping. I've got a mate with a Compak K3 Touch and he needs to redistribute to get good shots.
    Appreciate the feedback, I've tried this - didn't really assist but will try again as it's a fair call to make sure that distribution isn't the root cause and is obviously very simple to do (I'm already using the bambook skewer to level so a couple of sec more is not an issue. :-)

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    Gday

    I have V3 Silvia since 2010(started on V2, now on V3).

    My thoughts.

    if you are using stock standard Silvia double basket then you need 17 grams for a double, maximum for this basket is 18 grams.
    Anything less than 16 grams will be poor and even 17-18 grams on stock basket will be just OK but not special.
    I suggest you replace basket. I use Synesso ridgeless double, takes 19-20 grams as optimum with 21 grams as maximum and 18 grams as minimum.
    if you use stock Silvia double basket then anything under 16 grams is under-dosing.
    If you dont have scales with accuracy of 0.1 grams (not 1.0 gram but 0.1 grams) then you must buy those ASAP, it is not negotiable item, IMO.
    Next thing - your grind looks too coarse from photo.
    First try 17 grams on the current grind on standar double basket and see how you go, perhaps up to 18 grams.
    If still too fast with firm tamp, then lower the grind and reduce to 17 grams.

    BTW - naked portafilter is very highly recommended, I use it.
    But most important item is scales with 0.1 gram accuracy and second is to get a better (bigger) double basket that takes 19-21 grams range (as weighed by your 0.1 gram super accurate scales).
    Silvia naked portafilter basket is huge, it is more like a triple basket, it needs 23-24-25 grams for a good shot and can go to 25-26 grams, but it will be STRONG brew.

  23. #23
    Senior Member nikko.the.scorpio's Avatar
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    Hi acid_rider,

    Appreciate your reply just thought I'd address your points.

    I suspect you're grinding quite a bit finer than myself to fit that much into the stock basket (#102) - it's a PITA and no rush needed but if you could post up a macro image of your grind next to table salt (as a reference) that'd be most appreciated.

    But to get those types of doses into that filter with still the required amount of headroom I suspect you're grinding quite a bit finer and applying a very firm tamp.

    As stated earlier getting ridgeless baskets is a goal but I'll use the LM 17g ones in the interim - which apparently are VST's minus the finishing polish etc - so definitely not the weak link in the chain for me.

    RE: scales - I've ordered and have due very shortly the 0.1g accuracy scales. Making the best of 1g accuracy ones in the interim. So thats a good point and noted. :-) Point also taken on the naked PF - I'll consider grabbing one if/when available but will have to make do without for a while. :-)

    I'll go back and try 17g on the stock #102, I imagine I'll have to tighten the grind a tad to get that in and have any kind of headroom at all in the basket.

    I understand some people like the very big baskets but in a naked you're making that for a single drinker and honestly I find such a beverage a tad strong at this point in time - just a personal preference thing but with my preferred drink size around a 14-18g type double shot works best. But again I appreciate the suggestion.

    Much thanks for your reply, if you have any pix of your grind size with a reference that'd be invaluable as because you're on a V3 we're comparing apples with apples.

    PS. FWIW have you ever calibrated your OPV pressure or know for certain that the vendor calibrated it before you took receipt of your V3? Again just trying to ensure we're comparing capples with apples. :-)

  24. #24
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    Gday
    I have Rancilio Rocky Dozer grinder, I use grind level 6 most of the time, sometimes 5 and rarely 7.
    Rocky has total of 40 levels of grind (where 0 is finest, 40 is coarsest).
    Perhaps it (ratio) will give you an idea where your grind should be on your grinder.
    But given stock double basket of Silvia, the optimum amount of beans (given correct grind level) is about 17 grams, give or take 1 gram (16 min, 18 max).
    Given your scales are only accurate to 1 gram, you can be easily 1 gram off, which is why you really need 0.1 gram scales so you can only be off by 0.1 gram on average.
    The tamp pressure I use ranges from very light to medium (1kg-8kg range). I rarely use 10-15kg, I think its over-doing it, if you need 10-15kg to get the right pour then I think you need more beans or finer grind. This is personal taste only.

  25. #25
    Senior Member nikko.the.scorpio's Avatar
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    @acid_rider, thanks for the reply. Yes well that assist a little - haha still love a pic but well better than nothing. :-)

    The K3 is stepless but I get a very rough idea anyway. As mentioned, the scales I agree with - hence improved ones are already ordered.

    I agree with you on tamp pressure, something that seems very often overdone & probably problematic.

    PS. Any idea about your OPV's current bar setting or always run at whatever it came from the factory at?

  26. #26
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    Hi Nikko
    my Silvia machine (V3 element, the rest is V2, bought in 2010) is unmodified. The element blew up after 5 years and was replaced by latest V3 element by repair shop.
    The Rocky Doser grinder is also unmodified, also from 2010.

    Here is what I do for double espresso:

    I warm up Silvia for 20-25 min before the first cup is served, anything less than a 20 min warm up produces noticeably worse results - marine brass needs time to heat up so it holds the heat.
    Apart from that, it is about equal #1 and #2 - bean weight/dose and correct grind level. The tamp pressure is #3 in terms of importance, its fine tuning thing once doze and grind are close to correct levels.

    I use simple temperature trick - after warm up, I open water for a few seconds, I wait for light to come on, then I wait for light to go off, then wait 3-4 seconds (for water boiling noise to stop) and pour double shot - I extract ~50 ml for about ~30 seconds (give or take 3 seconds).
    Anything more than 50 ml for a double shot, IMO, is over-extracting. LESS IS MORE is my motto. I dont subscribe to 60 ml in 30 sec story, double shot is too tall. If you have a triple basket (i.e. 24-26 grams) then extracting 60 ml in 30 seconds may be OK but everyone taste is different.

    The best way to get consistent results is to get a naked portafilter which will tell you what you are doing wrong, as you can not see the pour early enough with a regular portafilter. Watching the pour will help with the next cup you will make, its like paying it forward. Highly recommended. And the stock double basket for Silvia, if you want to stay with it, really needs 17 grams of beans for best double shot quality (or 16 grams as a minimum). I weigh before I grind and make sure to scrape all grounds from grinder into the basket so none is left to spoil the next cup and to make sure that all beans you weigh end up in that basket, none left in grinder.

    good luck
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    A small correction, I have a V3 Sylvia, bought in 2010 new, with the latest Sylvia V4 element replacing the broken V3 element in Feb 2015 (cost about $300 parts and labour).

    I also replaced the stock "thick-head" shower-head-bolt with a much flatter top design (which still protrudes about 1-2 mm but not as badly as the stock standard Sylvia bolt does.
    The completely flush flat-head bolt does not fit my V3 Sylvia, sadly, perhaps V4 Sylvia allows it, I do not know.
    I think Rancilio really dropped the ball on Sylvia design as the poor double basket size and appalling shower-head bolt design point to a company which does not care about the home barista market, at least not in this price range. Even the cheaper Gaggia Classic has slightly bigger double basket (1 gram bigger) and a completely flush shower head bolt design. Don't get me wrong - Sylvia is very good for making espresso but it would not cost Rancilio much to fix the 1960s shower-head bolt design and to supply a proper commercial size double basket.

  28. #28
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    Well first positive development in quite a few extraction came yesterday. ~18g at a finer grind in the LM baskets, primarily focusing on an EVEN tamp - without full firmness gave me a couple of good ristretto type extractions. Somewhat oddly the first one was noticeably more bitter than the second, which happened again today.

    Now normally I'd think this was caused by the temp being too low - but unsure as both times I'd had the machine on a full 20min+ and multiple boiler milkings during this time.

    Anyway - am atleast in the right grind/dose ballpark for whatever the current OPV setting is (still suspect it's too high) - will play with the dose/tamp and grind a tad to get it a tiny bit better. Much thanks fo all the assistance, I genuinely do appreciate it.
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  29. #29
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    Hi Nikko,
    Glad you are getting great espresso shots. In general bitterness is associated with high brewing temperature (i.e burning the coffee) and acidic is often linked to low brewing temperature.

    If the first shot is more bitter you may like to try a cooling flush before extracting your first shot, this is done by running hot water through your brewing group head.

    Also to prevent your boiler running too hot during coffee extraction, try steaming your milk after brewing

    So the sequence goes like flush, brew and then steam

    Please let us know how you go

  30. #30
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    Yeah having read through your thread and the suggestions, I'd echo Bazooka and question your temperature. Sounds high. Especially if your pucks were super dry and not willing to be ejected from your basket (because all the moisture has boiled off?).. but I'm so new to this game I might not know very much...

    I gave up pretty quickly on steaming milk before my shots with the Silvia, took too long to come down.

    My $.02

    Al

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    Hi Nikko,

    I have a V.4 Silvia and can confirm that not only was the OPV opening @ 10bar but the threads weren't sealed with a liquid thread sealer. I believe vibration caused it to tighten (I could move the nut easily with two fingers!). Pressure varied wildly with less than a quarter turn.

    I used my pressure gauge PF and dropped three drops of Loxeal 15-36 and set the OPV to release at about 8+ bar.

    Result? Way better. Using VST 18g ridgeless basket and a dorky but highly effective The Great Leveller tamp.

  32. #32
    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    Oh, you can replace that goofy Rancilio diffuser screen nut with a Phillips head SS machine screw too.

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    My old Silvia was set to 12 bar, I reset it to 9 bar. (Not used now)
    One problem may have been that the grinder was not grinding evenly. Our commercial grinder, with home use, took a year to "run in", it would take a week in a shop. Before the cones were run in I had clumping and channeling. Now I get a very even grind and no channeling. My old rocky has also improved with age, clumping but no channeling.mwe use that at work.
    Last edited by dumiya; 14th July 2015 at 07:56 PM.
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bazooka View Post
    Hi Nikko,
    Glad you are getting great espresso shots. In general bitterness is associated with high brewing temperature (i.e burning the coffee) and acidic is often linked to low brewing temperature.

    If the first shot is more bitter you may like to try a cooling flush before extracting your first shot, this is done by running hot water through your brewing group head.

    Also to prevent your boiler running too hot during coffee extraction, try steaming your milk after brewing

    So the sequence goes like flush, brew and then steam

    Please let us know how you go
    Hi Bazooka,

    Appreciate the advice - I thought that too high gave a bunrt taste and too low was bitter? But thats ok I prolly got that wrong.

    Your advice is excellent as thats what I've already been doing. Perhaps I just need to use a tad longer cooling flush once the light goes off - as what I tend to do is run an extraction of empty PF into the cup to warm it - by this time I'll have the baskets ready and dosed and just needing to be tamped. So I'll wait till the light goes back on, stop the water flow. Remove PF, wipe, place basket in, tamp. By this time the light is just about to go off. So when this happens I'll hit a 2-3sec cooling flush through the group head into the cup.

    I then put the loaded PF back in, toss the water from the cup and extract. So perhaps just a longer cooling flush needed - the videos I saw suggested 2-3seconds but I might need a little more.

    Work flow is to pull the 2 x double shots first, then steam the milk (1 x jug of soy, 1 x regular) - so agree with your advice and doing that already too. :-)

    @readeral, part of the puck thng is prolly as I pull the baskets out and set them aside to empty later. I don't have a proper knockbox and can't be stuffed fiddling whilst my coffee is waiting to be drunk, so that prolly exacerbates things. But good advice none the less. :-)

    @sprezzatura, much thanks for your feedback on the OPV setting for your V4. I've never read anything about Rancilio sealing the screws on the OPV - so that seems normal - but that they were moving is obviously a concern - so I can see once you've established it at the setting you like you might want to 'lock' it in place. So you went for 8 bar eh?

    I've got to order one of these pressure gauges and just check mine as I'm sure it's going to be high, just how high is the question. Great feedback and good to know that more Silvia owners have found their OPV too high (which does seem to be the consistant feedback from those who have checked) - the vast majority do seem to just alter their grind/dose/tamp etc to work with whatever the OPV is set at but if you can check the OPV it seems a good thing to adjust as best results seem to come in the 8-9bar range.

    @dumiya's feedback echos the above but even MORE strongly...12bar! Thank you for sharing this info!

    Thanks again on a heap of great advice!

  35. #35
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    ... well 8 bar plus. Not super accurate with my PG. I do a 2-3 second flush after the element lamp extinguishes.

  36. #36
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    Here's what 8bar plus through the VST 18 looks like (SO Indian Monsoon) at 8 seconds or so.ImageUploadedByTapatalk1436924921.225261.jpg
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  37. #37
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    ... three second purge off the top.

  38. #38
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    ... through a Macap M2M with 12 kg through - put on the cutters.

  39. #39
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    Hi Nikko,

    I'm in a similar situation to you - I just upgraded my 10year old Gaggia Classic to a Silvia V4. I too have the K3 Touch and had excellent results with the Classic. Having only had the V4 for a few days, I'm still getting used to the many nuances of the Silvia and I have to admit it is a less forgiving machine than the Classic. I too am having issues with fine-tuning the grind and dosing but I'm putting it down to early days still, so I'm doing a lot of trial and error to get the perfect extraction. Sadly most of my shots are very bitter at the moment. Have you considered trying a PID? I bought one with the V4 but am yet to install it - I'm hoping, once I've eliminated the grind, dose and tamp variables, and with the PID installed, that this will eliminate the bitterness.

  40. #40
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    Hi sched7.
    I went through same upgrade - from 5 years on Gaggia Classic to Rancilio Sylvia V3 (now with V4 element due to repair). But I have Rocky grinder, not sure how it compares to K3 Touch grinder.
    I found Sylvia to be 80%+ same in terms of process of making double espresso as Gaggia Classic. I have to admit that I never ever ever ever use the steamer but for double shots Sylvia is a lot better than Gaggia Classic. The only "disadvantage" is that Sylvia needs 20 or 25 minutes as minimum warm-up before the first cup and Gaggia Classic needs ~15 min because its aluminium inside not like Sylvia brass internals. Apart from that, Sylvia makes a lot better double/single expresso than Gaggia Classic, i am speking as owner of both for 5 years (each).
    For the rest of the Sylvia tips, see my other posts in this forum - in summary get a bigger double basket (18-21 gram Synesso ridgeless double basket is one good choice) and a naked portafilter, buy scales to 0.1 gram accuracy and a stop watch. Use 17-20 grams of beans for a double shot and adjust the grind such that you get 45-50 ml/grams of double shot extracted in ~30 seconds (for the record: I prefer 45-50 ml double shot extracted in slower pour of 35-37 sec but your taste will vary).
    Preheat the cup with boiling hot water and always wipe the pre-heated handle/basket dry with clean towel before you put the coffee into the basket.
    As on Gaggia, temperature surf on Sylvia too, no PID required. Wait for the heating light to go off, then wait 3 seconds and then flick the pour switch.

  41. #41
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    Thanks for the advice acid_rider. I successfully installed my PID and couldn't be happier from the point of view that I don't need to temp. surf anymore. I also just received a VST 18g ridgeless basket today as I found the std. Rancilio one too small for my liking (max 17g before finding it difficult to turn the portafilter). I've only poured one shot with 18g loaded and sadly it extracted too quickly so my mission for the w/e is to play around with the dosing and the grind. I always measure with scales for consistency and preheat my cup/shot glass. I'm tossing up whether to buy a bottomless portafilter or convert the new Rancilio one (I successfully converted my Gaggia one and never looked back) - maybe another job for the w/e

  42. #42
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    Hi sched7
    I don't know VST 18gram basket so its a matter of trial and error.
    My Synesso double basket optimum is appears to be 19-20 grams range but will take even 17-18gr as a min and 21gr as max.
    I bought Rancilio Sylvia bottomless portafilter about 4 years ago and it comes with a double basket that is even bigger, it needs 19-20 gram as a minimum and will take up to 25 grams as a maximum with optimum probably about 23-24 grams, i.e. it is a triple shot more than a double-shot if you load it up to the top.
    I can highly recommend Sylvia naked portafilter and the VST 18gram basket will fit into it if you prefer to use a smaller basket to the bottomless portafilter basket.

  43. #43
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    Well alas I thought I was having some progress but a new roast of coffee and the same old issues came back as bad as before or worse. I realise now that perhaps where I was stating the extractions were bitter they instead might be 'sour'. It's hard to describe exactly I'd still say bitter is a better description but suffice to say they're unpleasant when tasted black and unsugared (before I sugar and add milk I test every extraction just by dipping a teaspoon in to taste them).

    Compounding these matters is that I find using the 17g LM baskets with 19-20g of coffee in them just too strong for the overall size of beverage we prefer - underdosing with them really isn't an option and I think finding a basket that works BEST with ~14-16g of coffee in it is a better fit for us. But thats a side note......it's just that when the coffee is bitter and you're getting that much more of it you REALLY notice.

    I've been weighing every single dosage down to the tenth of a gram. I've been using the WDT distribution technique with a blunted disection needle. I've been leveling the grinds out very evenly using a number of different approach. I've been applying a ~3sec cooling flush right after the light goes out and before I extract. I've tried tamping firm, I've tried a very light tamp, I've made the grind a lot finer and I've even wound it back out coarser.....NONE of it seems to make even a vaguely noticeable difference.

    After hitting the extraction button it'll take 5-6 sec for anything to appear, for perhaps 2 sec it will appear like a good syrupy extraction and then POOF I get a very bubbly gush of extraction which seems to blonde very early and I have to terminate the extraction within 15 sec.

    The additional thing I'll note is that the vast majority of the extraction's gush isn't liquid but rather a fake bubbled crema which makes it appear like there's loading of extraction but after 30 sec or so of resting it dissipates - but the remaining extraction is quite bitter.

    @sched7, the PID is only going to affect the temperature of the water and I've tried both the 3 sec cooling flush and the ~26-30sec after light goes off extractions and neither really were any different. Furthermore whilst too much heat COULD explain the bitterness but it would not explain the gushing/frothy extraction. So I'm very sure that temperature is not the issue. The final kicker being that putting a further $250-300 into a PID, which represents around 60-80% of the value of the market value of the Silvia IMHO makes zero sense.

    Do you mind if I ask did you get one of the full on kitted ones that cost $250+ or one of the DIY-trickier ones from Ebay for ~$USD30?

  44. #44
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    Have you tried different beans? You mention the ones your using are home roasted but I cant see any mention of what equipment you're using. I agree with the others that the grinds in the original picture look very course. I would suggest first trying other beans just to remove that possibility than grinding as fine as possible to choke the espresso machine. Take you grinder as fine as you can and move back from there
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  45. #45
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    I mean this with complete respect but this is around the 4th time I've had to say it and it's NOT the beans nor my roasting - how would the equipment I use to home roast my beans have anything at all to do with the flow rate from an espresso machine - I'd put it to you thats almost an impossible connection to make unless one was absolutely butchering the roast so that it was nothing short of roadkill.

    Again with all due respect I've repeatedly stated I've chased the grind up and down multiple times. I have first hand compared my grind to another CSer, albeit they're on a superior machine but my grind is finer than theirs. And I've gone even finer and not had any significant difference. IMHO it's hugely oversimplified to put it all on the grind and assume other variables are not the REAL driver.

    Espresso grind is meant to be finer than table salt - but coarser than flour and that first image which is against table salt IMHO shows that to be the case - and I've gone significantly finer since then - so I'm really unsure how much clearer I can be about the grinds being used than that.

    All this is meant with the greatest of respect but saying something that I've tried and have clearly referenced unsuccessfully trying multiple times is somewhat troublesome.

    I'm just waiting on the elbow joint for the PF pressure gauge to arrive and I'll check that as I'm quite sure thats a significant part of the issue. :-)

  46. #46
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    Roasting is hard, it's very easy to butcher a roast especially if your not using the proper equipment. I hope it's not rude to say but you sound like you're a beginner to making and roasting coffee and the issues you're having sound like a classic case of improperly roasted coffee.
    I know you mentioned changing the grind size back and forth but what I suggested was grinding as absolutely fine as your grinder will possibly allow and seeing if that will choke the machine. You don't mention trying this but if you have then feel free to ignore it.
    I mentioned these things because they are variables that you can check while waiting for your pressure guage
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  47. #47
    Senior Member nikko.the.scorpio's Avatar
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    It's not rude to say - but I'd have to question what basis anything I've said makes you think I'm '..a beginner..' at making coffee and SPECIFICALLY roasting coffee??? I'll tell you what I am a beginner at - is using this specific espresso machine - but I'd be very interested to hear you support your comments above.

    Furthermore could you please provide evidence of as you say the issues above being a 'classic case of improperly roasted coffee - classic case ...? Ok well again I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here, despite your 2 posts ever - but if it's classic I'm sure you'll have no problem giving evidence of how my EXACT issues are caused by improperly roasted coffee.

    The above may read harsh but that is NOT my intention however when you state I sound like a beginner at roasting coffee when you know NOTHING of this area I'm left very much bemused.

  48. #48
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    No offence, but in the interest of solving your problem, you could try some beans from a different source to dismiss any thoughts of roast influence.
    also a different grinder if you have access to one via a friend etc .
    however, this sounds like a classic channeling problem...
    ...After hitting the extraction button it'll take 5-6 sec for anything to appear, for perhaps 2 sec it will appear like a good syrupy extraction and then POOF I get a very bubbly gush of extraction which seems to blonde very early and I have to terminate the extraction within 15 sec.
    ...any evidence of channeling on the spent pucks ?
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  49. #49
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    I agree with blend52, please get some already roasted beans from a well known coffee beans supplier (i.e not supermarket, not from aldi) and see if it makes a difference.
    you may be doing something wrong in roasting process and this will eliminate the possibility one way or another, buy a batch for $5-$10 and use them to test things at home.

    If you find 17-19 grams too strong from a double basket than use the standard Silvia double basket which will optimally takes 15-16-17 grams range (start with 15-16 grams).

    If you can access another grinder - on my Rocky the level 5 or 6 is what I use with good results, when it was new I used level 7 and then 6 but how its 5 years old, I use level 5, likely due to wear-and-tear.
    Visit a shop that sells Rocky griners and has a Rocky test grinder on display, put some roasted beans in it, on grind level 5 or 6, and examine the resulting grind closely and compare it with your grinder.
    You may be too coarse on home grinder.

    Or go to a coffee shop that makes great espresso in your area and ask them to put a small handful of their espresso ground coffee into palm of your hand so you can compare the home grind with professional grind.

    good luck
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  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by nikko.the.scorpio View Post
    It's not rude to say - but I'd have to question what basis anything I've said makes you think I'm '..a beginner..' at making coffee and SPECIFICALLY roasting coffee??? I'll tell you what I am a beginner at - is using this specific espresso machine - but I'd be very interested to hear you support your comments above.
    I'll apologize, I did miss the line where you said you had been doing this for a while but your comments about lower water temp leading to bitterness and the fact that the grinds in your picture are very clearly way too course for espresso made me think you were just starting out with coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by nikko.the.scorpio View Post
    Furthermore could you please provide evidence of as you say the issues above being a 'classic case of improperly roasted coffee - classic case ...? Ok well again I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here, despite your 2 posts ever - but if it's classic I'm sure you'll have no problem giving evidence of how my EXACT issues are caused by improperly roasted coffee.
    Under roasted coffee will have a lot of moisture left in it and will need to be ground much finer to get a proper extraction. It will often start flowing nicely than quickly gush as it extracts all it can from the grounds very quickly which it what you mentioned is happening to you. You also mentioned that last time you thought you fixed the issue by grinding finer.

    Quote Originally Posted by nikko.the.scorpio View Post
    The above may read harsh but that is NOT my intention however when you state I sound like a beginner at roasting coffee when you know NOTHING of this area I'm left very much bemused.
    I'm not sure what you mean by this but if you're saying I know nothing of this area (coffee) because I only have a couple of posts in a small Australian forum than you should realise the world outside is a lot bigger than CoffeeSnobs.com.au
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