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Newly Purchased Silvia - Hints and Tips?

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  • Newly Purchased Silvia - Hints and Tips?

    Hi All,

    Long-time lurker, first time poster.

    I have recently purchased a wonderful Silvia after having a Gaggia Classic for a period of time. Already I can see the quality of the machine shining through. I was wondering if any seasoned Silvia users had any hints or tips when using the machine? I always use freshly roasted and ground coffee (naturally) and have started to get used to temperature surfing like I did on the Gaggia, but is there anything else worth knowing?

    Many thanks!

  • #2
    Gday greenplastic, and welcome.

    I am also a Rancilio Silvia owner in Perth.

    Good water filtration is a must due to our water quality issues to start off. Use a 3 stage filtration system if possible, or at least use filtered water for your machine.

    Apart from the obviously fresh coffee that you're already using, a good grinder will work wonders. What kind do you have?

    The Silvia will reward with a great espresso if the quality of the grind, dosing, distribution and even tamping all align up well.

    I chemical back flush at least once a week properly to maintain the cleanliness and longevity of the machine.


    • #3
      Hi and thanks for your reply!

      I have a Sunbeam EM0490 at the moment which I got just prior to purchasing my previous machine- a Gaggia Classic.

      In regards to dosing, what I usually do is fill the double filter up with coffee, give it a bang or two on my tamping mat then top it up, using the blunt edge of a knife to get rid of the excess. Is this the right way to go about it? Then I have been adjusting the fineness of the grind and tamp pressure to get a 25-30 second extraction.

      I was also looking at PIDing her at some stage- would I be better off to PID or invest the money in another higher quality grinder?


      • #4
        I've a EM0490 and Silvia too, it did take me a little while to get my shots sorted in the beginning and I'm now using a deeper basket (35gms I think) and really locking the portafilter in hard via the "rancillio hug". The grinder is working just well, clumping and mess aside - but it certainly grinds fine enough. Having said that, I'm hoping to upgrade to a K3 before the end of the year.

        I installed the Auber PID kit earlier in the year and find that my shots are now very consistent. Surfing was OK, but you never really knew until the cup was filling up if you got it right.




        • #5
          PIDs are good for eliminating a variable from the mix, and they're cheaper than a good grinder, but if you're relatively consistent with your shots by way of temperature surfing, a better grinder will probably have a greater impact on your overall quality.


          • #6
            You will get a much better cup with the Compak K3 grinder for sure. It's a huge step up for not a great deal of outlay.

            I dare you to do it, and let me know how it tastes.

            Greenplastic. Try this technique. Dose til 3/4 full, light tap to collapse, then grind again to a mound.
            Don't bother levelling. Tamp. None of that banging on the mat. This act will level out the grinds and provide an even bed for the water to pass through.
            This simple process reduces the step of taking the knife to the grounds, saves time, and less mess. Trust me.

            If you're not sure of how much to dose, use a set of digital diet scales to weigh the beans. For eg. For an 18gram basket, weigh out 18 gms of beans. Mind you,in some circumstances, some baskets actually work better slightly up dosed or under dosed. Experiment.


            • #7
              Welcome to the Silvia club greenplastic.

              My 2 cents is get to know your machine a bit before rushing out to change things or modify it especially if it's still in warranty.

              I couldn't agree more with the upgraded grinder being more beneficial than a PID. I upgraded grinders from the EMO480 to the Breville Smart Grinder and the differences was night and day. The Compak K3 was my preference but the Smart Grinder was getting great review so I thought I would give it a try. I haven't used the EMO490 so I cant comment on what it's like but I will upgrade to a K3 once my Smart Grinder is dead.....whenever that is.

              I actually PID'd my Silvia 2 weekends ago with the MLG kit from Jim. Cost me $280 delivered and that was when the dollar was strong but the kit is high quality and the results are fantastic.

              Shots are really consistent and the steaming seems greatly improved also. To be honest I've found the greatest gain is the steaming, not the shot quality, which means my temp surfing was pretty good. I've owned my Silvia for 2 years though.

              Other changes I've made is a La Marzocco ridgeless double basket and a flat shower screen.

              To sidewayss point about dosing. I find overdosing the LM basket chokes the Silvia.


              • #8
                +1 for the flat shower screen, it's cheap (and reversible if you get a kit or buy bits to mod rather than modding the existing jetbreaker and screen) and I'm sure not having the big ol' hex head sticking into your puck has got to be a good thing (also makes doing the 5c test easier ).


                • #9
                  Thank you all for the info.

                  The Smart Grinder has definitely caught me eye. The K3 looks awesome but at this point in time it's a little unrealistic considering the outlay and my current financial situation.

                  My aim is to use the money from selling my gaggia on either a grinder or PID kit- hopefully between $200-$280. I know a decent grinder will cost more than that but I can kick in some cash if the benefit is outstanding.

                  Nabsie- Could I ask what the difference would be between my current grinder and the Smart Grinder- consistency only or are the other advantages?

                  Sidewayss- Thanks for the tip; I will try it out tomorrow!


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by sidewayss View Post
                    You will get a much better cup with the Compak K3 grinder for sure. It's a huge step up for not a great deal of outlay.

                    I dare you to do it, and let me know how it tastes.
                    No dare required, I'm looking forward to it :-)


                    • #11
                      You're welcome. I'm happy to provide tips based on my experience on the Silvia.


                      • #12
                        Sidewayss- tried out your tip this morning. I found that I got a very good extraction, using a finer grind and dosing less. Have I been wasting coffee all this time?! :P


                        • #13
                          Greenplastic: I haven't actually used the Sunbeam EMO490 however, I have used the EMO480. I believe these grinders are the same however the 490 has a timer for dosing.

                          While I'm not sure what makes the Breville Smart Grinder better than the Sunbeam the difference in the cup is huge.

                          While they are both stepped grinders the Breville has more steps, meaning you can make finer adjustments. I found the Sunbeam to have steps too far apart. Other than this the two offer very similar features. I would say the difference is in the burs themselves.

                          It would be like comparing the Smart Grinder against a Mazzer Super Jolly......they both grind coffee but the Mazzer is much much better.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by greenplastic View Post
                            Sidewayss- tried out your tip this morning. I found that I got a very good extraction, using a finer grind and dosing less. Have I been wasting coffee all this time?! :P
                            Good to know. When you knock out the puck on to the bench, it should stay firm. Did you weigh out the beans before grinding?

                            Within your budget, the Smart Grinder is the ace choice. It is a huge jump from the Sunbeam.

                            Over time, you will discover improved tweaks and techniques in coffee making and together with the SG, you will be enjoying great cuppas.