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Thread: Cleaning Silvias boiler.

  1. #1
    JR
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    Cleaning Silvias boiler.

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I have been using Silvia and Rocky for about six weeks and can achieve a shot within 20-25 second time frame. I use ss tamper, fresh coffee home roasted and from a shop roaster. Crema is good but 90% of shots are still very bitter. I thought that some contaminates could be remaining in the tank from construction and I ran a citric acid solution through the machine last night and it has helped a little. I want to further run a stronger cleaning agent through. Does anyone have some thoughts on putting the grouphead/portafilter “backflush” cleaner through the boiler?

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    Re: Cleaning Silvias boiler.

    Dan,

    Dont want to put you into a situation where you may void your warranty... However the "occasional" chemical backflush makes an amazing difference in terms of the reduction of bitterness.

    Could be that your machine is dirty. Soak the P/F baskets and showerscreen in some espresso machine destainer for 30 mins. and rinse "thoroughly" if you cant get some dedicated espresso machine destainer try a bit of nappysan and some hot water.

    Backflush at your own peril. That said I do it myself every 4-6 weeks (generally when bitterness starts to become a little prevalent). Plenty of good websites to explain how to do this.

    Remember though backflushing can void your warranty. OTOH your 3-way valve may eventually fail if it becomes encrusted with rancid old coffee oils too.

    Warren -

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    Re: Cleaning Silvias boiler.

    Dan,
    I concur with what Warren has said. I have had a Sylvia for over a year now and I certainly find that bitterness does creep int the coffee after a while. However once I have cleaned all the parts mentioned and backflushed with the appropriate espresso machine cleaner as mentioned by Warren I am always amazed at how good the coffee tastes again. Check the Coffee for Connoisseurs and Sweetmarias websites. Thats where I learnt the technique
    As an aside it makes me wonder how often the cafe baristas out there clean their machines, judging by the number of bitter coffees one often has to pay for

    Cheers,

    Louis

  4. #4
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Cleaning Silvias boiler.

    Hi All,

    I too use a cleaner, namely Espresso Clean from http://www.coffeeparts.com/accessories/access1.html. However, I do this only about once every three months and about every two or three days, back-flush with just plain brew water, no cleaner.

    This keeps the brew-head, PF, Shower-screen, etc very clean and the coffee flavour beautiful and sweet, absolutely no hint of bitterness. I dont believe that it is necessary to use the high powered Espresso Clean very often, have a thing about letting powerful chemicals loose in my beverage makers too often. By doing the plain water back-flush every couple of days, it seems to mitigate the need for using the chemical cleaner.

    When I do use the Espresso Clean, afterwards I subject the machines water circuit to copious amounts of clean water flushing until there isnt a hint of a smell of the cleaner issuing forth from the brew-head. Probably takes about 6-7 litres of filtered water to achieve this though and after a couple of "seasoning" shots, I try my first brew. Seems like a lot of mucking around and maybe thats why I prefer to do this "major" clean only every three months but I cant see the point of using filtered water to make coffee with if you then turn around and expose your machines innards to strong chemicals more often than is necessary.

    Most definitely a different situation for a commercial operator where perhaps hundreds or even thousands of shots are being pulled per day but when an amateur is pulling between two and a dozen shots per day at home, it seems like over-kill to use powerful chemical cleaners every week or so.

    Anyway, thats my two bobs worth. All the best,

    Mal.

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    Re: Cleaning Silvias boiler.

    Mail I would be concidering the use of the cleaner a little more often. Ransid coffee isnt very nice and this cleaner does a great job and if you flush properly you will find the taste will not be affected.

    We backflush every week now, not because of the sheer volume of coffee, but after we have done the clean the coffees we have are much better and a sweeter taste.

    Thats only my persoanl thoughts though.

    Cheers

    FB

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    Re: Cleaning Silvias boiler.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan link=1108703886/0#0 date=1108703886
    *I want to further run a stronger cleaning agent through. *Does anyone have some thoughts on putting the grouphead/portafilter “backflush” cleaner through the boiler?
    as far as I know grouphead cleaner should never be run through the pump boiler loop and should be used only for backflushing. If your Silvia was new Im surpised it would need more than a mild citric acid flush.

    My regime with Silvia has been daily water back flush, weekly to two weekly chemical flush and monthly approx citric acid preventative descale. Its pretty important to manually clean the shower screen at least every couple of weeks as thats where most of the stale grounds and oil will accumulate especially if you dont backflush. This is for an average usage of 3 shots per day.

    Bitter shots at my end are usually a result of extraction or temp problems. Your time is spot on, have you tried temp surfing?

  7. #7
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Cleaning Silvias boiler.

    Quote Originally Posted by FrenchBean link=1108703886/0#4 date=1108744448
    Mail I would be concidering the use of the cleaner a little more often. Ransid coffee isnt very nice and this cleaner does a great job and if you flush properly you will find the taste will not be affected.

    We backflush every week now, not because of the sheer volume of coffee, but after we have done the clean the coffees we have are much better and a sweeter taste.

    Thats only my persoanl thoughts though.

    Cheers

    FB
    Hi FB,

    Agree with you totally about avoiding the buildup of rancid coffee oils and the like. I have found though in our case and with our routine, rancid coffee remains never build up in the group-head, PF or elsewhere. The resulting brews are beautiful and sweet all the time and rarely if ever need the addition of sugar in the cup to achieve sweetness. Have been following this cleaning routine for nearly a year now and it doesnt seem to have any short-comings for the end product. Theres a lot to be discovered on this subject in alt.coffee if you do a search via google.

    Regarding the "decalcification" of the boiler, I have run Citric Acid in the concentrations recommended and never observed any actual scale in the subsequent flush out. Maybe our water is particularly soft, I dont know as I dont have a water hardness tester. It originates from a permanent spring though after percolating through both sandstone and granite sub-strata so perhaps there is a certain amount of filtering going on that precipitates the disolved solids out before it gets to us.
    Also use the Brita Water Filter Jug, for all water that ends up in the Mokita so this probably helps too.

    I think it is important that regualr cleaning of espresso machines water circuits becomes a routine that is adhered to with a certain amount of conviction. However, the other side of the coin is how much cleaning is enough and how much is too much? If I ever noticed bitterness creeping into shots on any kind of continuous basis from our Mokita, I would be the first to up the ante of my cleaning regime. This has never been the case however and since I started back-flushing with plain water at the end of almost every day, the worst I have to clean off with the Espresso Clean every three months is just a very light staining of all metallic components in the brew-head and this is very easy to remove. Significant build-ups of oils and grounds just dont happen.

    Ill get off the band wagon now. Time for a coffee...

    Cheers,
    Mal.


  8. #8
    JR
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    Re: Cleaning Silvias boiler.

    Regarding the "decalcification" of the boiler, I have run Citric Acid in the concentrations recommended and never observed any actual scale in the subsequent flush out
    When I did the citrus flush in the boiler a few fish scale particles were floating on the top of the used water which came through the group head. I can only assume this isnt scale (given the shot length of time used) but some other type of foreign substance. I might try running a more concentrated mixture through to make sure it is 100% removed. The shots have certainly been less bitter (enough to drink without sugar) and the process for me has been worthwhile.

  9. #9
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    Re: Cleaning Silvias boiler.

    Specifically to your question:

    "...I want to further run a stronger cleaning agent through. Does anyone have some thoughts on putting the grouphead/portafilter “backflush” cleaner through the boiler?.."

    Dont do it.

    Most new domestic machines have a kind of "new machine" water taste & smell that disapears with some use. It doesnt take long. Occasional use of a descaler or very mild vinegar solution would help first up but presumably you are already well past the stage where any "new machine" flavour should be gone.

    Suggest you can "test" this, by tasting the water that is pumped through the steam pipe (not through the group as this particular route will probably have some taste imparted by coffee residue in the electrovalve/group/shower. Suggest that it is normal to expect a kind of strange sweet hot water system flavour, and this will not result in the symptom you describe.

    Regardez,
    FC.

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    Re: Cleaning Silvias boiler.

    Well said FC.

    All new machines need to Bed in and the taste will eventually go and you wont remember the old taste.

    Im thinking of Giving our Boema a clean out soon, but its boiler is a little bigger (12L) Im going to have to find out what is best to do that job, but it is all a learning curve as it is for all of us.

    FB

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    Re: Cleaning Silvias boiler.

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    FB,

    if you have been running a filtration unit all along since the rebuild, and have included say, either an activated charcoal filter than removes traces of chlorine, floride etc, and have been running either a scale inhibitor cartridge, or a water softener..........I dont think you need do anything OR anything you do probably will not result in you noticing any difference to the quality of the water or coffee it brews!

    b) as the water in the boiler itself is only used to heat the indepenedent brew water inside the heat exchangers, and make steam, and because I dont think anyone has ever proved that scale for example imparts any particular taste of its own....ditto to the above!

    Enjoy your machine...dont fix it if it aint broke!

    Chiz, :)
    FC.



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