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  • Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Hi folks, first post here, so go easy. Ive tired to do a lot of reading and understand many of the basics, but after several years of owning a Silvia/Rocky combo and trying a variety of beans, I seem to have missed a key part of making an espresso... When using a double basket I should be getting 60mls in 25-30 seconds. Instead, I have always only been able to produce about 25-30mls in that time frame and then in my opinion the pour seems to blonde and I switch it off. Im not unhappy with the taste by any means, but having watched some videos on YouTube lately, and investigating adding a PID kit to my machine, I seem to be doing something seriously wrong.

    I usually run my Rocky at between 7-9 grind setting. I never use beans more than 2 weeks old (and try to only buy beans that have a roasted date stamped on the bag). I grind only for each coffee. Fill the basket, tap 2-4 times (depending on the dose I need), continue filling the basket directly from the grinder, and then do a NSEW leveling scrap with the back edge of a butterknife. I have a custom made Pullman Tamper and try to get a nice level tamp, with a reasonable amount of pressure.

    I follow the temp surfing advice provided on here to get the brew temp to the right point before locking my PF in place, and hit the pump right away. If Ive got the grind right and the beans are good, I get some nice heavy globs of chestnut reddish/brown extraction coming out after a couple of seconds. This develops into a steady pour and gradually starts to get lighter in colour. Once I see it starting to get too pale, I stop the extraction. This usually produces about 30mls or less from a double basket.

    With good beans I get nice brown crema. With beans that I am not so confident about it seems to be a lot paler/thinner and more watery.

    The puck is firm with a bit of sponginess/give, which leads me to believe I have the dose relatively right. I dont think I could dose much more and still lock the PF into the head. If I dose less I get a slushy spongy mess in the PF. When I get a nice pour I am left with a neat clean imprint of the showerscreen bolt in the top of the spent puck. The puck seems to eject nicely in one solid block into the bang-bang after a good pour.

    So, who can help me track down the problem? I always thought I was doing okay, until I realised that I was only getting half the volume of coffee that I should have been getting.

    I would greatly appreciate your advice and input on this even though Im only new around here.

    Chris

  • #2
    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Have you compared it to your single basket?

    It sounds like youre doing all the right things. It could just be that your perception of blonding may be premature?

    Originally posted by 1A3D34326662530 link=1322997464/0#0 date=1322997464
    I have a custom made Pullman Tamper and try to get a nice level tamp, with a reasonable amount of pressure.
    What is a reasonable amount of pressure? Have you tried just adjusting the grind and using a softer tamp? I typically only use my fingers around the circumference of the Pullman and ease the tamper into the basket with a slight force.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

      Originally posted by 23313F2935500 link=1322997464/1#1 date=1322999477
      It could just be that your perception of blonding may be premature?
      Could be you know....

      How do you drink your coffee? is it as an espresso?
      How does it taste?
      Have you tried coarsening the grind to get 50-60mls?
      How does that taste?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

        Originally posted by 2620373C2621393B520 link=1322997464/2#2 date=1323000305
        Originally posted by 23313F2935500 link=1322997464/1#1 date=1322999477
        It could just be that your perception of blonding may be premature? 
        Could be you know....

        How do you drink your coffee? is it as an espresso?
        How does it taste?
        Have you tried coarsening the grind to get 50-60mls?
        How does that taste?
        I drink it only as an espresso, no milk based drinks. But I often make a milk based drink for my wife. When I extract too long, or the pour gushes and blondes quickly (if I havent adjusted the grind and the beans have aged a few day for example), I think the shot tastes burnt, and gets quite watery. Even my wife, who isnt as fussy as I am says the coffee tastes a bit overextracted if the pour blondes too much (in my eyes).

        I havent tried a (significantly) coarser grind to produce 60ml extractions yet. Ill have to get some more beans tomorrow and give that a shot.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

          Originally posted by 2D3F31273B5E0 link=1322997464/1#1 date=1322999477
          Have you compared it to your single basket?

          It sounds like youre doing all the right things.  It could just be that your perception of blonding may be premature? 

          Originally posted by 1A3D34326662530 link=1322997464/0#0 date=1322997464
          I have a custom made Pullman Tamper and try to get a nice level tamp, with a reasonable amount of pressure.
          What is a reasonable amount of pressure?  Have you tried just adjusting the grind and using a softer tamp?  I typically only use my fingers around the circumference of the Pullman and ease the tamper into the basket with a slight force. 
          I havent tried a single basket. I started out with a double as I was informed that it was more forgiving to beginners, and I like my coffee quite strong.

          Not sure how I would guage the force of my tamp. But when I used to frequent Epic in West Perth, the former owner there showed me what the spent puck should feel like it youve dosed the right amount (or so was my understanding), and Im able to get the same feeling in my pucks. I could try going for a more gentle tamp, but is that really likely to result in double the volume in my extractions? What is the right amount of force? I recall something about 3kgs, but have read as much as 15kgs recently...thats a pretty big difference...

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

            Originally posted by 7750595F0B0F3E0 link=1322997464/4#4 date=1323007281
            Not sure how I would guage the force of my tamp.
            Tamp on a set of bathroom scales.

            Originally posted by 7750595F0B0F3E0 link=1322997464/4#4 date=1323007281
            What is the right amount of force? I recall something about 3kgs, but have read as much as 15kgs recently...thats a pretty big difference...
            There is no right amount. Consistancy is more important.
            But the "15" youve heard about is 15 pounds not kgs and seems to be the most quoted figure.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

              Originally posted by 6B4C45431713220 link=1322997464/3#3 date=1323006993
              When I extract too long, or the pour gushes and blondes quickly (if I havent adjusted the grind and the beans have aged a few day for example),
              I dont know, a few days aging should not cause such a change in grind setting requirements. It sounds more like a dose/tamp consistency if youre not changing your grind. The only time Id change my grind setting is if Im swapping between different beans. If it "gushes" sometimes then my guess is it is chanelling. That has to do with tamping consistency and dose.

              I find it easier to get consistency with a lighter tamp as you are using the weight of the tamper and the pressure of your fingers which is much more sensitive than all the way up your elbow and shoulder. I definitely do not use a lot of force. As Thungergod says, consistency is the key. Maintain the tamp style and dose, then just play with the grind setting to restrict and or increase flow rate from the spout.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

                Forget tamping force. Just push hard. You will feel the coffee stop compressing. That point is at about 35-40 lbs. If you find you NEED to tamp at some specific force, particularly below 15 or above 50, then you are likely compensating for some other problem (low-quality grind, poor distribution, etc.) which should be addressed. Tamping force is HIGHLY overrated. Level is what matters.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

                  Alright, so tamp force isnt an issue, but technique to ensure there is no channeling may be a concern. Mind you, when I say the pour gushes, Im probably exaggerating slightly...it just blondes a bit quicker than it did a few days earlier. So that could be channeling from a bad tamp...but I generally find it is corrected by tightening up the grind one mark (and grinding ~5 seconds of waste beans through it to clear the old grind setting).

                  So taking tamp force out of the equation, what are my test options right now?

                  - Loosen up the grind (maybe quite significantly) to try to yield double the volume of coffee from roughly the same dose, without it blonding.

                  Anything else?

                  I frequent a few specialist coffee cafes and order only espresso there, so I think I have a pretty reasonable feel for what makes a good espresso. Rich/coloured crema, a full bodied shot that is velvety in mouth, no burnt/bitter aftertaste, no watery body, no pale crema that dissipates quickly to leave a short black underneath. This is pretty much what I can produce with quality beans and a good grind/dose/tamp on my machine at home, its just that its 30mls from a double basket instead of 60mls.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

                    Originally posted by 0A2D24227672430 link=1322997464/8#8 date=1323044077
                    Rich/coloured crema, a full bodied shot that is velvety in mouth, no burnt/bitter aftertaste, no watery body, no pale crema that dissipates quickly to leave a short black underneath. This is pretty much what I can produce with quality beans and a good grind/dose/tamp on my machine at home, its just that its 30mls from a double basket instead of 60mls.
                    Hi Inga, it sounds tasty. It may be that you are producing a very nice ristretto and thats just how you like it. I didnt want to go into an argument about the importance of tamping, but my only comment was to have a consistant tamp and by using reference points and milder movements it is easier to reproduce the same method of tamping. A straight and level tamp is very important.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

                      Originally posted by 4B5957415D380 link=1322997464/9#9 date=1323051112
                      Originally posted by 0A2D24227672430 link=1322997464/8#8 date=1323044077
                      Rich/coloured crema, a full bodied shot that is velvety in mouth, no burnt/bitter aftertaste, no watery body, no pale crema that dissipates quickly to leave a short black underneath. This is pretty much what I can produce with quality beans and a good grind/dose/tamp on my machine at home, its just that its 30mls from a double basket instead of 60mls.   
                      Hi Inga, it sounds tasty.  It may be that you are producing a very nice ristretto and thats just how you like it.  I didnt want to go into an argument about the importance of tamping, but my only comment was to have a consistant tamp and by using reference points and milder movements it is easier to reproduce the same method of tamping.  A straight and level tamp is very important.
                      Roger that on the tamping. Fair point.

                      Yes, Ive certainly learned to produce a nice coffee, but youre right, it is much more like a ristretto. But I get all the same qualities from a professionally made espresso, AND double the volume. Looking at the numerous videos on YouTube of people demonstrating their Sivlia/Rocky combos, it certainly looks like I should be able to do the same on my gear.

                      Next lot of beans I buy Ill try a much coarse grind and see how I go with that.

                      Thanks for your input thus far folks. Greatly appreciated.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

                        Okay, so I went and picked up some PNG Organic beans this afternoon, supposedly roasted on Friday (according to the person who roasted them). I gave the Rocky a really good clean (removing the top burrs and getting all the backed on old bean residue out of the machine). I then went with a looser grind about 10-11 on the Rocky scale and same dose as usual.

                        Just as a check, I inserted the PF and removed it again to see how much the tamp was disturbed, turns out that most of the surface got stuck to the shower-screen Perhaps this is part of the problem... I dumped that lot, and ground another dose at the same setting, dosing a bit less this time. The extraction started pouring immediately and looked promising for the first 5 seconds, but then as expected went blonde very quickly, leaving me with more volume (around 50-55mls but a terribly blonde and thin crema, and a very watery extraction). It dropped the grind setting to 7 and ground some beans through it before starting to dose the PF. Again going with the smaller dose (I didnt check whether it was still hitting the shower-screen). Again the extraction started immediately but blonded more slowly. The total volume was down to 35-40mls and the crema was still very weak, and the shot still very watery.

                        I should note that Im not sold on the bean supplier... I asked for an espresso while I was in there (and had been speaking to them about the issues that I was experiencing). The espresso that I was served has pretty ordinary crema, was IMO very watery and over-extracted leaving somewhat of a burnt after taste in my mouth. I watched the guy pour it and the extraction just got more and more blonde and he just let it keep pouring. Interesting to note that my drink was only one half of the extraction (the other half going into a separate container), and I believe the volume was well over 30mls in my espresso cup. The other things I found interesting is that the drink was so watery and hot that I couldnt drink it for some time. I know my tongue is a bit sensitive and I dont like drinks that are too hot, but I can normally sip an espresso that fits my earlier description of what I believe a good shot to be. On the note of temperature, I am almost unable to produce shots that are too hot to drink from my Silvia, unless they are way too watery and over-extracted.

                        Not sure if this extra info helps anyone to diagnose my coffee problems.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

                          Wishing only to be helpful, I hope you dont mind some candid comments:

                          a) why say that the coffee was "supposedly" roasted on friday. If thats what they advised  thats what you need to get on with  It will deliver a good crema if your technique in grind / dose / tamp and the derived equipment settings and its condition is all good, even some weeks after it was roasted even if it doesnt have the same character any more as when it was fresh....

                          b) why R & R the burrs in the grinder when changing from one coffee to the next?  If the beans and grinds are removed / spun out of the grinder until it runs empty, that should do it. Lot of trouble for nil effect at this apparent stage of your learning curve.

                          c) the numbers on the grinder setting are arbitrary. They are a starting point from which to adjust with the new beans, until your own particular technique of grind / dose  /tamp gives you the best possible result with the new beans, and then you stop there (until the result in the cups starts to change with ageing of the beans, and you make other adjustments to compensate). You could end up on number 17, or on number 11 for example, depending on the beans and your won technique of grind / dose / tamp. And then the number will change as you keep adjusting through the ageing beans. And not all grinders of the same make and model would end up on the same numbers for the same beans......as stated, the numbers are arbitrary.

                          d)  when you say "same dose as usual", dont forget that as you change the grind settings the volumetric dose of tamped grinds in the coffee filter will change depending on the fineness / coarseness of the grinds. Fine grinds will settle / tamp into a smaller "dose" in the filter. Coarser will settle / tamp into a bigger dose. The object is to fill the filter (settled / tamped) to the same level that suits your machine every time.  Dose volumetrically in the filter. Do not overdose a silvia or it will leak over the top of the group handle. Underdose and you make dishwater.

                          e) the fresh grinds stuck to the shower when you removed the group handle (probably) because the shower was recently wet (had had water purged through the group). If you are going to check top of the puk for fitted level dont forget to dry the shower with a rag / towel before locking in the group handle and then removing.

                          f) why say you are not sold on the bean supplier?  Your problem is to learn to make the best possible espresso with the beans and equipment at hand. What they do is not relevant its what you do that is, and you may well end up with a great coffee from their beans once you "get it".

                          I think you are getting hung up on academic details from too much forum reading    Step back and let someone show you....it shouldnt be (and it isnt) that hard to make good coffee.

                          Noting all the above my best advice would be to suggest you to take a paid lesson because it will be so much easier for a trainer to show you and for you to ask questions directly. I can assure you it will be worth the price and get you going much more quickly than chasing your tail around trying to work it out "blind" from reading the writing on a computer screen.

                          If you are in Canberra my people will be very happy to help

                          Rgdz,
                          Attilio
                          very first CS site sponsor.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

                            Thanks for your candid advice Attilio! Much appreciated. In response to some of your points:

                            a) The bags the coffee comes in has a Roasted on space that isnt filled out. I was suspect on the first bag I bought from there because the pouring characteristics were very similar to what I had seen from beans that had aged several weeks and were beyond their best performance.

                            b) I dont clean the grinder like that between each batch of beans. In fact this is the first time I have cleaned it like that in a very long time...very long time. Just wanted to eliminate it as a possible source of problems.

                            c) I realise that the numbers on the grinder are arbitrary. It was more as a reference of the magnitude of adjustment that I was making, i.e. to point out that is wasnt just a one or two notch adjustment.

                            d) Fair call. I guess I was trying to say that my process of dosing hadnt changed. But I agree that as a result of the different grind setting its highly likely that the dose had in fact changed, although my process hadnt. Good point. I am not getting any leaks over the top of the handle at this point (although have in the past, and have put it down to not cleaning the gasket properly prior to locking the PF in place...never realised it could be an overdosing issue.)

                            e) Good point and 100% correct. I had flushed some water from the group at the end of the boiler cycle to drop the temp slightly. Should try it with a dry show screen.

                            f) Yes, in an ideal world I should be able to make a good coffee with any quality bean. Sadly Im not yet skilled enough to do this. I can produce great coffee (IMO) from some beans, and from others I just cant seem to get a decent shot extraction in an entire bag of beans adjusting something after each shot.

                            Yes, a home barista course is high on my list of things to do. Im based in Perth, so will need to find someone over here, preferably one where I can take my gear to the course. I totally agree that all the reading and study in the world wont be as good as some quality hands on tuition when it comes to this sort of thing.

                            Again, thank you for your candid feedback on this matter. Really good to have your insight. Thanks.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

                              Originally posted by 023621372C1B072B22222121440 link=1322997464/12#12 date=1323073145

                              a) why say that the coffee was "supposedly" roasted on friday. If thats what they advised  thats what you need to get on with  It will deliver a good crema if your technique in grind / dose / tamp and the derived equipment settings and its condition is all good, even some weeks after it was roasted even if it doesnt have the same character any more as when it was fresh....

                              Rgdz,
                              Attilio
                              very first CS site sponsor.
                              You know, Ive been thinking about this and Im not sure this is right. You are certain that it should produce good crema if my technique etc is right... Given that I asked the roaster of this bean to make me an espresso and what they served me was a very watery, thin crema, over-extracted short black, should I be expecting to get more out of the beans??

                              Comment

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