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Novice seeking help for Saeco Via Venezia

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  • Novice seeking help for Saeco Via Venezia

    Ok, Im probably going to invite some flaming here, but here goes: I just decided to get into making my own espressos and after tinkering around a bit with a steam it on the stove top pot I bought a Saeco Via Venezia. And I think the stovetop coffee smells and tastes just as rich, if not richer. The reason Im inviting flaming is that no, I havent ground my own coffee with a conical burr grinder - Im just using 2 week old Vittorio bought from the supermarket. But still, considering my stovetop steamer doesnt produce any of the sought after crema and the Via Venezia does, shouldnt it at least taste better, if not as good as fresh brew from a decent cafe?
    I make a double shot and it produces about 2.5 ounces in about 20 seconds.
    Do I need lessons on technique, fresh ground coffee, a different model machine, all three? Does the fact the Via Venezia has a pressurised portafilter which Ive read doesnt do much actually do any harm?
    Any advice welcome ....

    James, Lane Cove NSW

  • #2
    Re: Novice seeking help for Saeco Via Venezia

    jamjar1968

    Hi and welcome to CoffeeSnobs.

    Firstly, the Via Venezia is a capable espresso machine - several members have them and get very good espresso from them.

    The most important part of making good coffee is understanding this order of importance:

    1. Barista skills..... these can be learnt either by doing a course, reading the tips here or elsewhere on the internet and lots and lots of prectice!!

    2. Fresh quality roasted whole beans (the "life" of a whole bean is 3 weeks from roasting - the "life of a ground bean is 3 minutes - so pre-ground beans are useless for good flavour and crema)..

    3. A quality grinder - must be a burr type grinder (not a blade type!) with fine adjustment.... the least expensive Id recommend is the Iberital or Rocky grinders - without that you cant convert the whole beans in 2 above - but you also need to adjust the grind (by small amounts) as the beans age.

    4. A coffee machine - and that is at the bottom of the list!

    Now your coffee machine is very capable but not with the pressurised baskets... these are really designed to make OK coffee from stale preground beans... and they produce false "crema" - not the real stuff. They dont need an accurate grind, nor do they need the correct tamp pressure.

    You can get replacement non pressurised baskets for your machine - but then grind size, tamp pressure and technique become more important - but the quality of coffee produced becomes FAR better.

    If you continue to use pre-ground, you might as well continue to use the supplied baskets - but dont expect good coffee..... it will be just "OK".

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Novice seeking help for Saeco Via Venezia

      Welcome James,

      The reason you dont notice much difference or even perceive the stovetop product to be slightly richer is that you are using supermarket (read stale) coffee.
      You are used to the stovetop brew so are naturally using it as your benchmark.
      As the Saeco doesnt work miracles, it cant make stale coffee taste better.
      Only, possibly, different.

      Theres an old saying, " You cant make a silk purse from a sows ear".

      When you change to fresh coffee, and non pressurised baskets, youll unleash your machines potential.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Novice seeking help for Saeco Via Venezia

        OK, so buy beans and a grinder - I figured that was coming! And about the pressurised basket - youre saying that with good fresh beans the non-pressurised basket will make a noticeable improvement (assuming proper technique) - is it really worth upgrading the basket?

        As far as technique goes, Ive picked up the following:
        1) Prime and heat the machine (not sure if this is meant to include the basket but I assume so)
        2) Tamp the coffee into the basket with about 30lbs pressure
        3) Should produce a double shot of 2-2.5 ounces in 20-30 secs if grinding and tamping are properly matched
        4) Heat further to Steam milk as required
        5) Clean, cool (how long?) and repeat
        Still confused how complicated it can be with 2 on/off buttons .... !

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Novice seeking help for Saeco Via Venezia

          James,

          The pressurised baskets wont allow you to use the correct size grind and tamp pressure..... the resistance to water flow should be provided by the coffee puck - not the small hole in the bottom of the basket.....

          When using pressurised baskets you use a coarser grind and generally little tamp pressure..... this doesnt produce anything like ideal extraction (basically you will waste the benefit you should get from using freshly roasted and ground beans).

          Re technique- yep what you have said is pretty right - you preheat the basket and PF (and dont take too long to dose and tamp or you will let these cool too much).

          Ill leave it for someone with one of these machines to give exact details on cooling after steaming - but in general if you can produce hot water from the steam wand, switch back to brewing and then expel hot water until the brew light comes on - you will then be back at brew temperature with the boiler again full of water.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Novice seeking help for Saeco Via Venezia

            Any tips where to get a non-pressurised basket?
            Are we talking the whole thing, handle and all, or just some part of the guts of it?

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Novice seeking help for Saeco Via Venezia

              Oh yeah, I meant to ask about grinders too - saw Myer had Sunbeams for I think $149 and $199 - whats the difference between them and fancier brands?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Novice seeking help for Saeco Via Venezia

                The only part which needs to be replaced is the actual baskets.... generally about $12 - $15 each for the single and the double.....

                Saeco repair agents stock these replacement baskets (although I read here recently they have stopped selling them)...... but generally the place to check out is a domestic machine service agent. There are Saeco baskets and Krups baskets which will fit. Take along your PF and see what they can find for you.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Novice seeking help for Saeco Via Venezia

                  Originally posted by jamjar1968 link=1173612090/0#6 date=1173618190
                  Oh yeah, I meant to ask about grinders too - saw Myer had Sunbeams for I think $149 and $199 - whats the difference between them and fancier brands?
                  OK have a read of this thread:

                  http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1138058473

                  The 480 (the dearer one) has more adjustments and would probably be better- BUT they have been proving to be very unreliable.... the settings get smaller or larger for the same size grind - eventually the grinder needs to be replaced..... Most users arent happy with them - unreliability and the steps are too large... but they are cheap..... and sort of do the job.....

                  I personally would spend the extra and get a real espresso grinder - one which will last, has fine adjustment and will not need to be returned over and over again for repair!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Novice seeking help for Saeco Via Venezia

                    Great advice JB (as usual 8-)),

                    I know we all call them coffee "grinders" but in reality they are NOT grinders but Mills. Grinders perform the same function as a Mortise and Pestle, i.e. they crush, grind and pulverise the herbs, nuts, etc into a powder or paste. A decent coffee grinder (Mill) however, cuts very fine slices from the coffee beans within a size range that is conducive to pulling great espressos from an espresso machine with considerable consistency.

                    So theres grinders, and then theres coffee mills and good quality coffee mills are an essential part of the equation to producing espresso nirvana each and every time you pull a shot. So what am I trying to say? Always get the best quality coffee grinder that you can afford, you wont be sorry 8-)

                    Mal.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Novice seeking help for Saeco Via Venezia

                      JamJar

                      I have recently upgraded to Silvia after my via venezia bit the dust

                      I have a non-pressur inised portafilter/handle/basket kit I bought from Seaco Sydney for $76.00 in October 2006 - pm me I would be willing to sell

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Novice seeking help for Saeco Via Venezia

                        Originally posted by jamjar1968 link=1173612090/0#5 date=1173617951
                        Any tips where to get a non-pressurised basket?
                        Are we talking the whole thing, handle and all, or just some part of the guts of it?

                        Hi Jamjar
                        Caffe Bianchi in Leichaardt have the handles for $45. The same basket fits in them
                        My son has my old machine- Saeco VV- and with the non press handle it makes lovely coffee with a Sunbeam grinder, even lovelier with my Cunill grinder. It does need a correctly fitting tamper though- I bought him a Greg Pullman one for Christmas.
                        For all the fact that some people bag them, with good coffee, good barista skills and a good tamper they can make coffee of a quality very close to much more costly machines.
                        All the best
                        Brett

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Novice seeking help for Saeco Via Venezia

                          Originally posted by telemaster link=1173612090/0#11 date=1173694374
                          Originally posted by jamjar1968 link=1173612090/0#5 date=1173617951
                          Any tips where to get a non-pressurised basket?
                          Are we talking the whole thing, handle and all, or just some part of the guts of it?

                          Hi Jamjar
                          Caffe Bianchi in Leichaardt have the handles for $45. The same basket fits in them
                          My son has my old machine- Saeco VV- and with the non press handle it makes lovely coffee with a Sunbeam grinder, even lovelier with my Cunill grinder. It does need a correctly fitting tamper though- I bought him a Greg Pullman one for Christmas.
                          For all the fact that some people bag them, with good coffee, good barista skills and a good tamper they can make coffee of a quality very close to much more costly machines.
                          All the best
                          Brett
                          Any ideas where to get one in Melbourne???

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Novice seeking help for Saeco Via Venezia

                            try "info@saeco.com.au"

                            cheers
                            Herbie

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Novice seeking help for Saeco Via Venezia

                              Hi James,
                              As a happy Via Venezia user for the past 4 years I may be able to impart a few helpful tips.
                              Turn on the machine at least 15 minutes before use.
                              Always use filtered water or even better rain water.
                              Run 2 shots of hot water (until the green light goes out) which also heats your cups. Run a final shot while you grind your beans.
                              Wipe the filter basket with a paper towel then fill with ground coffee and level off. Tap on the bench to settle the grinds and tamp. Add more coffee and tamp so that the tamped coffee is 7 mm below the top of the portafilter basket.
                              Lock the portafilter into the group head.
                              Press the brew button (top one) if the green light is on, for 3 seconds, wait 5 seconds and brew again for 20 to 30 seconds until 60 ml pours for a double basket.
                              Remove portafilter and press brew button to flush shower screen clean.
                              STEAMING MILK
                              Press steam button and wait until green light is on. I find 600 ml stainless jug a good size. Take off the outside of the steam wand tip (just pulls off) and just use the inner tip with its one small hole.
                              Fill the milk jug to the bottom of the spout (about 1/3rd full) with COLD milk.
                              Turn on the steam valve for a few seconds to get rid of most of the water out of the steam reservoir. Place steam wand tip just under the milk surface next to the side of the jug and at an angle so that a whirlpool occurs when the steam valve is turned fully on.
                              As the milk level rises lower the jug so that the wand tip remains just under the surface and the steaming noise is moderate.
                              A milk thermometer is a good idea. When the jug is too hot to hold (60-65 C) milk is ready to pour and jug should be nearly full of beautiful microfoam.
                              Wipe steam wand immediately after and turn off steam button. Turn on steam valve and leave on until clean water runs from the steam wand.
                              This refills the boiler and when the green lights comes on you can start another brew cycle.
                              I have found this process gives consistent good results once you get the grind/portafilter dose/tamp sorted.
                              There are always variations in each shot but practice, practice makes it easier to get it right.
                              Forgive me if I have been too elementary in my descriptions.
                              Good Luck and cheers
                              John

                              Comment

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