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Wet/Muddy Pucks

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  • Wet/Muddy Pucks

    Hi Everyone

    Im an enthusiastic home espresso maker. Ive had a Rancilio Silvia and Rocky Grinder for about a year now. Have done one basic espresso course and have good understanding all the basic techniques.

    My problem is: despite making coffee for some time now, I just cant seem to get the extraction rate right on my Silvia so that I get the the classic dry puck with imprint on top.

    Taste and crema of my shots is quite good, but everytime I remove the PF, there is a layer of water on top or even a sludge.

    Ive tried different grind settings on the Rocky (currently set at 11) and Ive tried different dosing levels. If I dose higher, i end up with drip over the top during extraction.

    Can anyone please outline simple steps for pulling the perfect shot with the Silvia. Also, what is the best way to learn to troubleshoot and understand how to correct when things go wrong.

  • #2
    Re: Wet/Muddy Pucks

    Suggest that you:

    1. Eat more weeties for breaky ;D
    2.Get bigger baskets than the standard Silvia ones if you have not already done so...
    3. Dose up- prehaps try a few bench taps before levelling off and tamping
    4. Aim for about 25ml in a 25 second pour and yes- you do want to see a dry puch with no channels. Cut the shot short if you see blonding.
    5. If the espresso is sour (tip of tongue) or bitter (rear of palate) try making the grind a little finer or coarser respectively...

    Good luck!



    • #3
      Re: Wet/Muddy Pucks

      Are you doing just an expresso shot ?

      If so try running some steam as if you were going to froth some mike for a few seconds and wait a short time before having a look.


      • #4
        Re: Wet/Muddy Pucks

        Hi Jazzy-boy,

        I had 5c worth but after comments from 2MCM & Angermanagement, Ive only got 2c worth left.

        Which basket are you using and what beans?

        I have only done a couple of experiments with the single shot basket and it is notoriously challenging to get a good shot and good puck.

        OTOH the double basket usually gives me quite good results, except I am sometimes short on volume. (Thanks 2MCM for the comment about the bigger basket, I was wondering about myself that this weekend)..

        Currently I grind into the basket as evenly as I can, a slight mound in centre, tap and level off with the back of a table knife blade, then tamp.

        I usually get a solid puck with the screw head clearly imprinted.
        Recently I have been experimenting with slightly lower pour temps, and noted that when first removed from the grouphead, the top of the puck will be damp, but this quickly goes and the puck comes out solid, whereas IF I start the pour 2-4 Deg C higher the puck will be dry on top straight out of the grouphead, but the extraction indicates brew temp was a bit high for some blends that I am using.

        How long do you let Silvia warm up for? Minimum is about 30 mins and an hour is better to get proper water temp at the grouphead, and then there is the variation in boiler temp as it cycles. Sounds llike you are consistent, maybe try a different point in the cycle, or get a digital multimeter with a thermocouple and monitor the boiler temp (there is posts on this if you search for them)

        Also fresh beans is best, possibly try another supplier for your beans depending on where you get them from.

        Hope this is of some help.



        • #5
          Re: Wet/Muddy Pucks

          Wet pucks have happend to me only when I havent had enough coffee in the basket. If its dosed as bullitt says there should be no room for sloshing. It does mean that the handle is harder to squeeze into the group head- thats where the weetbix comes in I spose.
          Then if it tends to clog adjust the grind coarser. It should work.
          Do you know what temp youre pouring shots at?I ask because I have reently upped my temp to test some lightly roasted lemmony beans ( that were a mistake) +And it did make a difference I think! but the point is when I upped the temp from 94 to 96 I noticed significant steam coming off the puck and the moisture that had been there before quickly evaporated to a dry puck.


          • #6
            Re: Wet/Muddy Pucks

            Hey everyone. Thanks for your suggestions and help so far. On the weekend I did play around with the grind size according to Chris suggestions and was hugely surprised at the difference one or two settings on the grinder can make to the bitterness of the coffee!

            To answer some of your questions:
            (1) I get my beans from The Coffee Company in Balaclava and also sometimes from the Queen Vic Market. I find the quality of the beans at the Coffee Company to be excellent! They are definately the freshest beans Ive bought anywhere in Melb.

            (2) Im using the standard (double) basket that came with the Silvia. I found the single serve basket just too fussy with dosing levels. I bought a bigger single basket and this helped a lot, but still the most success I have is with the double basket.

            (3) I usually let Silvia warm up for about 30 mins before making a coffee.

            (4) Ive spoken to a barista at my local cafe about wet pucks and he said usually its a dosing problem which you guys have all suggested as well.

            Getting that elusive dose just right seems difficult. I notice in the USA the Silvia is called "Miss Silvia" One day when Ive got nothing better to do, Im gonna write an essay entitled Why Sylvia HAS to be female! Im sure she is the fussiest thing in my kitchen!


            • #7
              Re: Wet/Muddy Pucks

              Quote .."Getting that elusive dose just right seems difficult. I notice in the USA the Silvia is called "Miss Silvia" One day when Ive got nothing better to do, Im gonna write an essay entitled Why Sylvia HAS to be female! Im sure she is the fussiest thing in my kitchen!"

              Yeah, I like it,.. LOL

              One other thing I have noticed is that the whether can affect things dramatically, even though our house is heated by a heat pump (reverse cycle air con) which does reduce moisture in the air inside, every time we have had singificant rain for any length of time, if I dont grind finer, then she tends to pour very fast.
              If you were in the midst of trying to work out some problems and making adjustments in the right direction, but the whether was also changing it could seem that you werent making progress, and then youve suddenly gone too far. Similarly different times of day can also affect the outcome.

              And the last thing is consistent grinding, I used to measure out the beans I was going to grind and grind them into the basket, but was getting inconsistent results due to the popcorn affect, from not enough beans in the grinder.
              Now I always have about 4cm of beans in the hopper, topped up daily just before I am going to grind. The grind consistency has improved, and now dont seem to need so many adjustments to get consistent shots.



              • #8
                Re: Wet/Muddy Pucks

                Thanks for the suggestions!

                Chris your suggestions were very helpful. Just one question.. what is blonding?

                I think my big lesson is you have to be prepared to "waste" a bit of coffee in the name of learning to be consistent. I just stood there for 30 mins and pulled shot after shot. I used Chris suggestion regarding correcting for sour and bitter shots. I tasted shot after shot... and have to say there is a HUGE difference when you pull a shot correctly. When extraction is good.. the coffee is sweet and to my surprise I didnt need any sugar.

                The other thing I discovered is.. the best way to be consistent is to ensure the filter is filled to top with coffee. If you keep the dosing the same, then you only have one variable to play with.. the grind size.


                • #9
                  Re: Wet/Muddy Pucks

                  Gday Jazzy,
                  blonding is when the shot pour starts turning lighter in colour during, hopefully towards the end of, the shot.
                  All the best.