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Thread: Silvia help

  1. #1
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    Silvia help

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

    Sure this has all been covered a thousand times, so bear with me, I'm just having trouble finding the specific answer to my questions.

    I have a V3 that I have only *just* discovered the importance of long pre-warming time for (I know, I know). I've bought a timer and now give the machine about an hour in the morning before I wake up and am ready to pull shots.

    What I can't find an answer to is this: WITH a full hour of warming time, is temp surfing still necessary? Or is temp surfing to manipulate the machine into reaching appropriate brew temp faster when you have less time?
    If temp surfing IS still necessary, can you explain why? With all that warming time, why is the temp not hot enough? Or is the aim with temp surfing to be slightly above brewing temp such that when you press the pump switch and start to brew, as cold water enters the boiler it doesn't drop too quickly to ruin the espresso...?

    Also re temp surfing method. Mostly I drink espresso but occasionally feel like a cappuccino. Usually when I want milk I will steam first and then quickly drop the temperature by running water through the group until it is flowing without steam. Is this an okay method to temp surf? Am I brewing espresso at the right temp by doing that, or it is still too hot?

  2. #2
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Lots of info out there on this. Here's just a couple videos to start -

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTRKpao-5Z0

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnugUv0PSW8

    You can speed up initial heat up by flushing hot water through the potafilter a few times after the light goes out and then let sit for a short time to stabilise temp.

  3. #3
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    Hi Capsicle,

    I haven't watched cafelotta's vid's but pre-heating a coffee machine and temperature surfing are not doing the same thing. The purpose of pre-heating your Silvia (or any proper coffee machine) is to bring up to temperature all that heavy brass, copper etc within the brew path of your machine to increase the temperature stability of the water path to the group head. If you have water leaving your boiler at a certain temp, and the rest of the machine is not at the same or similar temp, then your water temp will drop before hitting the puck and extracting the coffee at a temp less than the ideal extracting temp (providing it left the boiler at the right temp in the first place of course).

    The purpose of temperature surfing on a single boiler machine like the Silvia is to make sure you are pulling your shot at the optimal temp. The method you explained in your last paragraph is pretty spot. After your boiler has cycled on it will overshoot the ideal espresso temp by a fair way, but by running water through the group until you just no longer hear the 'steam hiss' coming out will get you to around the best temp for pulling a shot. A reliable way around temp surfing on a Silvia is getting a PID, otherwise just temp surf.

    It's also not always recommended to put a single boiler like the Silvia on a timer to start, as if your steam wand is not tight enough it can potentially drain your boiler and burn the boiler out. You can look up 'cheating miss silvia' for alternative ways of getting her up to temp (as cafelotta explains above). 30min is prob enough time I find on mine to warm it up after I get up, or give it 10-15 and run some water through the system. Just make sure you have the portafilter in place so it heats up too.

    Hope that helps,
    good luck!

    Paul
    bosco and CafeLotta like this.

  4. #4
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steiny555 View Post
    I haven't watched cafelotta's vid's but pre-heating a coffee machine and temperature surfing are not doing the same thing.
    The last line in the earlier post -

    "You can speed up initial heat up by flushing hot water through the portafilter a few times after the light goes out and then let sit for a short time to stabilise temp."

    Also good practice to check water reservoir level before each start-up and prime boiler by running some water through at start-up.

    If you brew first then its critical to switch off steam switch and prime boiler immediately after steaming by running water through steam wand. This prolongs the life of the heating element.

  5. #5
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    Thanks, this is the info I need! Just to clarify, then -- if temp surfing is not done, the Rancilio is never 'forced' to overshoot the correct temp, therefore meaning you may start just at the correct temp but by the end of your shot the temp has dropped too cold?

    Any other input re safety of using a timer switch? My steam wand is always turned off tightly and haven't noticed any drip coming out of it after an hour pre-heating. I know there are multiple opinions about this, but it's really not feasible for me to wait 30 minutes in the morning for the machine to heat up. I also like to prime it when I'm on my way home so I can pull espresso straight away for my afternoon coffee.



    Quote Originally Posted by steiny555 View Post
    Hi Capsicle,

    I haven't watched cafelotta's vid's but pre-heating a coffee machine and temperature surfing are not doing the same thing. The purpose of pre-heating your Silvia (or any proper coffee machine) is to bring up to temperature all that heavy brass, copper etc within the brew path of your machine to increase the temperature stability of the water path to the group head. If you have water leaving your boiler at a certain temp, and the rest of the machine is not at the same or similar temp, then your water temp will drop before hitting the puck and extracting the coffee at a temp less than the ideal extracting temp (providing it left the boiler at the right temp in the first place of course).

    The purpose of temperature surfing on a single boiler machine like the Silvia is to make sure you are pulling your shot at the optimal temp. The method you explained in your last paragraph is pretty spot. After your boiler has cycled on it will overshoot the ideal espresso temp by a fair way, but by running water through the group until you just no longer hear the 'steam hiss' coming out will get you to around the best temp for pulling a shot. A reliable way around temp surfing on a Silvia is getting a PID, otherwise just temp surf.

    It's also not always recommended to put a single boiler like the Silvia on a timer to start, as if your steam wand is not tight enough it can potentially drain your boiler and burn the boiler out. You can look up 'cheating miss silvia' for alternative ways of getting her up to temp (as cafelotta explains above). 30min is prob enough time I find on mine to warm it up after I get up, or give it 10-15 and run some water through the system. Just make sure you have the portafilter in place so it heats up too.

    Hope that helps,
    good luck!

    Paul

  6. #6
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    Hi again capsicle,

    Every time the boiler cycles on (ie the boiler light comes on) the Silvia will initially overshoot the right brew temp, before slowly reducing temp until the it hits the low point when the thermostat kicks the boiler in again. The Silvia has a fairly wide band for its thermostat settings (from what I've read on this site before). Of course after you have the steam function on it will go well over temp for brewing.

    The issue is when you first walk up to the Silvia you have no real idea of where the temp is sitting at unless you have a PID or some sort of temp reading device, and espresso is ideally poured in a small band of temperature within a degree or two so this is where 'temperature surfing' is helpful. The temp surf will let you get fairly accurately to the right temp (as you explained just as the water stops hissing, ie just below water boiling temp).

    For a walk up and pull a shot machine you'd need a PID for your silvia, or a HX machine, or dual boiler even.

    As far as timers go, the general advice here is it's a gamble on the Silvia. But I'm sure quite a few use them and live to tell the tale. The steam tap off while the machine is hot, may not be a complete off for when it cools down, therefore could cause water to leak from the tap if you're unlucky, expose the element and cause damage.

    Cafelotta, I acknowledged the line you highlighted in my initial third paragraph

    Regards,

    Paul

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    I let it stand for 30min at least, then do the milk first. I find that two cycles of steam heating give me a decent amount of steam for the milk. After that, I purge the boiler through the steam wand until hot water appears and the light turns on again (with steam button OFF). The hot water I use to warm two cups. After this, I wait for light to go out, do a quick surf and then good to go for the espresso.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesmixes View Post
    I let it stand for 30min at least, then do the milk first. I find that two cycles of steam heating give me a decent amount of steam for the milk. After that, I purge the boiler through the steam wand until hot water appears and the light turns on again (with steam button OFF). The hot water I use to warm two cups. After this, I wait for light to go out, do a quick surf and then good to go for the espresso.
    Is there any particular reason to drop the temp after steaming through the steam wand, or can it be done just as effectively through the the group head?



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