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Thread: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

  1. #1
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    Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    First things first. Im in the market for a new machine. I have read lots but for me it always comes down to the basics - and thats taste!

    Now if I dont like frothy drinks but like good coffee without additives, then could I (or anyone), in a double blind test, given the same conditions, taste the difference between a good shot from a Silvia and a HX machine?

    Final note right now I am yet to find a coffee shop that can produce anything near the quality I can get using my KG 100 & Saeco Espresso Magic - now thats saying something!

    Over to the masses.




  2. #2
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    Re: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    Dorf:

    I think there are a lot of variables in espresso.

    If you temperature surf on the Silvia you should get results equal to that of any hx machine.

    If you dont use your hx machine you can get poor espresso too. In addition not all hx machines behave the same either.

    It comes down to knowing your coffee and your machine. If you know how to get the best out of a particular coffee and machine then I doubt if you could pick the difference.

    Throughput is the main thing hx machines offer and simultaneous steaming and espresso production. If you want to pull a row of espressos from a Silvia over a few minutes you will get a fair variation in temperature of extraction. If you do the same thing on an hx machine, while you can still get some variation depending on the point in the boiler cycle, it will be much less.

    The hx machine is in general more stable temperature wise than the Silvia ie. if you pull a shot from a Silvia at the bottom of the boiler cycle the temperature can drop to about 80C during the shot which isnt good. At the top of the boiler cycle it can start at 100C which is too hot. Whether you can pick the difference depends on your palate and experience.

    My hx machine if I pull a shot at the bottom of the boiler cycle it might be 90C and at the top maybe 94C. The variability is much less so you dont really need to temperature surf unless you are really very fussy indeed. Commercial machines with 20L boilers are even more stable.

    You can also PID machines, the Silvia or HX to reduce the variatons even further.

    With espresso you are limited only by your credit card limit!

    Grant

  3. #3
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    Unfortunately, without electronic thermometres, thermocouples etc its difficult to determine the point at which to ride the surf.

    For such an apparently great discovery, there appears to be precious little material on it, mostly written by a couple of people, and much of that is old and does not apply to the cooler-running modern Silvias.

    And the discrepancies in suggested times makes the while idea laughable. Ive read anything from 40 seconds after the light comes on, to when it switches of (thats about 50") to 20 seconds after that to two minutes later.

    Pleeease.

    So, is there anyone with a 100C Silvia who has experimented and found when to pull the shot?
    Is waiting for the light to switch off too hot? Or, not hot enough (I recall my hated continuous flow calorimeter experiments of high school).



  4. #4
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    Re: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    Robusto,

    I just wait till the light goes out, pull the shot and enjoy the coffee :)

    And enjoy the coffee I do.....


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    Re: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    Robusto:

    Both myself and probably even more so Sparky (Mark) have done a lot of measurements on the Silvia.

    The Silvia is pretty basic. It just ramps up to boiling and switches off.

    He reckons 1.5 - 2.0 minutes after lights out is ideal. I think he is probably right. The entire boiler cycle is about 13 minutes on the Silvia. At the top pulling 100mls of water into a styrofoam cup will produce water at about 96C versus abgout 84C at the bottom of the cycle.

    You also get much more variation within a shot than you might think, up to about 8C is not uncommon although you may be able to get less than this if you choose the right point in the temperature cycle. This may sound like a lot but even the ultimate coffee fanatics, home barista reckon even the best commercial machine will vary up to second crack within a shot!

    The point is a 300ml boiler no matter how well designed is not built for the ultimate in temperature stability as there is cold water coming in as there is hot water going out.

    The best combination is good microprocessor PID control and a solid state reley along with a honking great boiler. Even the Brewtus has been PIDed by people in an effort to achieve even greater temperature stability.

    Temperature stability is the holy grail of espresso and as with the holy grail, people keep thinking that they have found it but they havent!!

    Grant

  6. #6
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    Re: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    Stratford,

    Yes, I always did the light off then pour on the Silvia!

    I think it is running a bit hot at this point.

    Ironically though machines like the Cimbali run hot anyway and the results from the Silvia are very similar to my palate.

    Such a relative thing. If you like the results at the top of the boiler cycle then stick to it. The problem with waiting 1.5 minutes after lights out is waiting 1.5 minutes after lights out. It is just more time. Technically people call it reverse temperature surfing as you are chasing the temperature on the way down.

    As long as you like the coffee who cares? I mean espresso is pretty good as long as it isnt really burnt or done too cool (like under 85C). Ironically the worst coffee is out of an hx machine when you dont pay attention to purging to cool it before a shot. The Bezzera is an exception which is why I like my machine and why the Pasquini Livia 90 (a Bezzera BZ-99) is such a hit in the USA. The hx mixes cold and hot water to provide water well below boiling point even if you never purge it prior to a shot.

    Grant

  7. #7
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    Hi All,

    I know I dont own a Silvia or a HX machine, but the Mokita is not that far removed from the Silvia so as not to be comparable.

    I have a PID controller maintaining Boiler temperature stability but recently, the SSR failed and I had to revert back to Temp Surfing. I experimented quite a bit with the Mokita when I first bought it, and discovered that the most stable time to pull the shot was at that point in the heating cycle which was 60% of the time period after switch-on (light on).

    This seemed to create the most stable profile during the shot compared with any other timing I used. A similar process can probably be applied to a Silvia since the Boilers are almost identical. The actual time in seconds might vary but if you use the same % position in the heating cycle for your particular machine, then it must surely equate with a similar outcome to what I recorded with the Mokita. Would have to be close anyway....

    Cheers,
    Mal.

  8. #8
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    Thanks, Stratford, Grant and Mal. I will use your very helpful advice. Mal, you say 60 per cent of the cycle after heating starts. The Silvia takes 50 seconds until light off. So, is it a case of 60 per cent of 50 seconds? That is, 30 seconds after light on? Would the water at that point be in the mid 90s?


  9. #9
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    Re: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    Hi Robusto,

    Yep, thats what I mean alright. In the case of my Mokita its almost identical and seems to provide the most stable output. Let us know how it works out for you :-?.

    Cheers,
    Mal.

  10. #10
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    Re: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    I know its all in the taste, so take what follows with as many grains of salt as you like.

    I did a temperature study of the Silvia (brand new, so not the older model), and I found that the heating cycle produced some very erratic temperature profiles. I could hear the pinging of the heating element during this phase. That means the water next to the element is flash heated well above boiling. This introduces large thermal gradients into the boiler and consequent convective flow (ie. mixing of hotter and colder water). It takes about 1-2 minutes after the element swtiches off before this instability subsides and a more uniform temperature is reached in the boiler. The 1-2 minute window produced some pretty good shots, with no sign of overheating. Once I mapped all this out and started running in this window, I had no problems getting really nice shots. It was just a pain waiting for the right point. The Silvia really benefits from PID control in terms of both boiler stability and ease of use.

    What I learned about the Silvia: Straight out of the box, its not an easy machine to use if you want great shots (of course the same goes for many HX machines), but the potential is there.

    Regards,

    Mark.

  11. #11
    Junior Member double_shot's Avatar
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    Re: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    Hi Robusto,

    I have had my Silvia / Rocky combo for a bit over a month and while I am very new to this game and have lot to learn, one thing I know is your taste buds dont lie! After a week or so with huge variation in shot quality with as many variables removed (weighed dose, bathroom scales for tamp etc), I did some work on understanding the temp cycles of this machine. The results were similar to what has been posted above.

    Specifically, the heat up cycle was 54 s and cool down varied more but was around 13 mins 20s ( I didnt wait this long too many times).

    At the top of the heat up cycle (light just gone out), the temp was 97 degrees. At the bottom (light just on), the temp was 84.

    I took a lot of measurements on time after light on, light off etc and found that I had more stability on the heat up cycle than cool down. This is a bit contrary to other posts I have read on other forums but I couldnt dispute numbers. The upside is that you dont have to wait as long when you are surfing!

    To make a long story short, I found that 40s after light goes on gives me a temperature of 92 generally within a degree. I pull my shots here with pretty good consistency. Variation now generally means I have stuffed up the dose, distribution, or tamp. These are the areas now that I need to get consistent.

    Hope this helps. I dont have all the data from the first run but will probably do this again soon just to check. Can post if useful.

    DS



  12. #12
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    Re: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal link=1124704161/0#6 date=1124724879
    I experimented quite a bit with the Mokita when I first bought it, and discovered that the most stable time to pull the shot was at that point in the heating cycle which was 60% of the time period after switch-on (light on).

    Cheers,
    Mal.
    Hi All,

    Made a mistake here :-[. What I should have typed was "pull the shot was at that point in the heating cycle which was 40% of the time period after switch-on", not 60% as above. I was thinking about the time left to go instead of the time just gone. Sometimes I gotta wonder.... Dont know if Im coming or going, must be getting old. Sorry for the confusion,

    Cheers,
    Mal.

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    Re: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    Thanks for all the input. I now am the proud owner of a Silvia/rocky combo (thanks FC).


  14. #14
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal link=1124704161/0#11 date=1125238202
    Quote Originally Posted by Mal link=1124704161/0#6 date=1124724879
    I experimented quite a bit with the Mokita when I first bought it, and discovered that the most stable time to pull the shot was at that point in the heating cycle which was 60% of the time period after switch-on (light on).

    Cheers,
    Mal.
    Hi All,

    Made a mistake here :-[. What I should have typed was "pull the shot was at that point in the heating cycle which was 40% of the time period after switch-on", not 60% as above. I was thinking about the time left to go instead of the time just gone. Sometimes I gotta wonder.... Dont know if Im coming or going, must be getting old. Sorry for the confusion,

    Cheers,
    Mal.
    Mal, just saw that law post, which, pardon my saying so, seems out of kilter with all the others on temperature surfing. * We agreed that your original suggestion of 60 per cent equates to pulling the shot 30 seconds after the light turns on. *Now, youre saying to do that at 40 per cent ( 40 % of 50 seconds till it turns off) . That means 20 seconds after switch on. *

    You are pulling unmodified Silvia shots 20 seconds after switch on, is that correct now?
    Regards

  15. #15
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    Quote Originally Posted by robusto link=1124704161/0#13 date=1126308610
    Mal, just saw that law post, which, pardon my saying so, seems out of kilter with all the others on temperature surfing. We agreed that your original suggestion of 60 per cent equates to pulling the shot 30 seconds after the light turns on. Now, youre saying to do that at 40 per cent ( 40 % of 50 seconds till it turns off) . That means 20 seconds after switch on.

    You are pulling unmodified Silvia shots 20 seconds after switch on, is that correct now?
    Regards
    Hi Robusto,

    As I pointed out right at the beginning, I dont own a Silvia, but a Mokita. Given that there are significant similarities between the two, just as there significant differences, I provided my experience as a guide. I would imagine the same logic should parallel that of the Silvia so long as the different boiler duty cycle is taken into account and the differences, what ever they may be, for your particular Silvia. Its the overall duty cycle and the idiosyncracies of the t/stat fitted to your machine that are important, not specific numbers. You need to work that out from performance data gathered from your machine.

    The duty cycle of my Mokita is, in all likelihood, a lot shorter than that for a Silvia because of the Silvias use of a Commercial Group, Portafilter and a heavy brass adaptor between the boiler and the Group.... given that the boilers are similar sized and powered. If you would like a much more definitive answer specific to the idosyncracies of Silvias as a group on their own, then Sparky will be able to help you out there. He has performed a significant amount of data gathering and collation for Silvia machines and would, in all probability, be able to supply you with timing data that would correlate very closely with your machine.

    All the best,
    Mal.

  16. #16
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    Re: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    Sorry, Mal, my mistake in that I confused the two machines. (All this coffee has addled the brain). Thanks again.

  17. #17
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    Re: Taste - Silvia vs the rest

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by robusto link=1124704161/15#15 date=1126432616
    Sorry, Mal, my mistake in that I confused the two machines. (All this coffee has addled the brain). Thanks again.
    Not a problem Robusto,

    I thought that might have been what happened. I think the component that has the potential to cause the most variability in machines of the same make and model, is the Brew T/stat. These things tend to be manufactured in batches and usually have quite wide acceptability tolerances so it is not unusual to observe quite wide operating characteristics from one machine to the next.

    I know what you mean by addling the brain.... I think my brain was already addled before I started consuming the great coffees we get from CoffeeSnobs ;). All the best and

    Cheers,
    Mal.



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