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Silvia + EM0480 - grind seems too fine?

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  • Silvia + EM0480 - grind seems too fine?

    Hi all,
    Read a few previous threads on Silvia, I seem to be encountering a problem I havent seen a lot of talk problems getting the grind coarse enough to get 60ml in 30 seconds. Hence the new topic.

    - Rancilio Silvia + Sunbeam EM0480 grinder + Silvia tamper
    - Cheap Robert Timms coffee beans for practice
    - Espresso machine novice (me) armed with the theory

    Attempting to:
    - Heat up the machine / portafilter
    - Grind 15g of coffee into the double basket. I’m packing the portafilter to around the level of the “indentation” on the double basket, about 3-4mm below the rim
    - Tamp with 30lb of force
    - Lock the portafilter in to about 5.30 on the clock scale (6 o’clock meaning the handle is pointing straight at me)
    - Wait for the boiler light to switch off
    - Flick brew switch, time 30 seconds, with the aim of having 60ml of espresso

    I’m having trouble getting 30ml in 30 seconds, let alone 60.
    This indicates a couple of things based on what I know so far, ie grind is too fine / tamp is too strong / overdosing?

    So following the standard rules I changed the grinder setting and tried to keep everything else constant
    With each grinder setting change I ground 5-10g and discarded it
    After a few grinder setting changes I managed to get 2 successive shots to come close to 60ml in 30 seconds. Crema was evident. The 2nd one I steamed some milk for and tried. It wasn’t all that horrible…

    Figuring I’d begun to crack the “secret” somewhat, I then changed nothing and tried another shot. Back to the drawing board. Barely 30 ml in 30 seconds for a double shot. With some shots nothing would come out for 15 seconds.

    The grinder setting is now about as coarse as it gets, ie 20+ on the dial. Still having trouble getting 60ml in 30 seconds.

    I’ve tried much lighter tamps, ie just compacting it enough so it doesn’t dislodge when I tap the portafilter on the bench
    I’ve tried loading less into the portafilter
    The pucks I am getting are definitely wetter than I expected. I am often seeing some water pooling on the top of the pucks

    I am aware of the fact that:
    - The coffee I’m using is relatively crap
    - The Silvia tamper won’t do the best job for me
    - I’m probably not all that consistent with tamping anyway

    But I figured that my main problem would be getting the grind fine enough and the tamp strong enough to LIMIT the shots to 60ml in 30 seconds. But the fact is I’m experiencing the opposite, even with the em0480 grind setting about as coarse as it gets

    Any ideas?
    I know that buying a better tamper will help me, I can see the logic in that one already having used the Silvia one…

  • #2
    Re: Silvia + EM0480 - grind seems too fine?

    Basically i really think you answered your own question.
    i had quite a bit of trouble trying to sort silvia out with the supplied tamper.
    got myself a Pullman and it made it much easier to be constant.

    until you get a better tamper, maybe you could try to tamp on a set of scales.. to make sure you are keeping it constant.
    Also really try and get some freshly roasted beans.. (is there a local busy cafe you could source some from.?)

    ps. you are probably letting silvia go a little too far, if the light is going off.. try for somewhere around 30 seconds after light has come on


    • #3
      Re: Silvia + EM0480 - grind seems too fine?

      How long are you letting the machine warm up? Turning it on and waiting for the boiler light to go off is not nearly long enough to bring the grouphead up to temperature.

      Is the coarseness of the grind actually changing? I recall reading about a problem with the EM grinders not actually changing the grind as they were adjusted.

      Java "Learning is such fun!" phile
      Toys! I must have new toys!!!


      • #4
        Re: Silvia + EM0480 - grind seems too fine?

        Hi Chonski,

        Basically. what they said already, so,

        - Your dosing technique sounds OK,
        - Get some fresher beans from a roaster, anything within 2 weeks of roast date is worth trying,
        - the Rancilio tamper does leave a bit to be desired, but try the north, south, east, west approach if you havent already, that is tamp in centre, then move to side at 4 equal spaced positions and retamp at each position, or the roll around teh outside to compress the edges a bit first, then tamp firmly in centre,
        - Give at least half hour warm up time for Silvia, an hour is better, AND,
        - while she is warming up make sure the steam wand isnt leaking, I had a problem ages ago with long time for pour to begin, and it was msotly due to the (not uncommon) leaking steam wand, just tweak the steam knob a bit tighter when you turn Silvia on, and/or run some water through the grouphead before you lock the PF in to pour,
        - finally, you might have a grinder that is producing a lot of fines and this fine powder will tend to choke the pour as you describe.

        Incidentally, while the standard specifies 60ml in 30 sec, in practice you will generally get the best tasting results by observing the pour and stopping when it begins to go blonde, whatever the volume. Pour should start relatively slowly, and be quite dark, maybe even drippy, then slowly lighten in colour and stream slowly and will become relatively light. Blonde point is where tbe stream goes a light tan colour and is no longer aerated, takes a bit of practice to see it, and there should also be a telltale pale coloured trail showing in the shot if you move your glass/mug around as bonding is happening. Rarely do I get 60ml or 30 sec pours, but I do get some nice tasting ones.



        • #5
          Re: Silvia + EM0480 - grind seems too fine?

          Thanks for the replies all

          With respect to heating up, I had the Silvia on all night, about 4 hours plus. I was running water through the empty portafilter to help with heating it, did that a few times to get the boiler cycling a bit. Cranked up the steam to check that everything was working as expected etc. Next time Ill switch it on and just leave it for an hour and see how that goes

          More experimentation due this a cafe up the road who sell beans so Ill grab some from there
          I just wanted to use the cheapo ones while I was stuffing things up


          • #6
            Re: Silvia + EM0480 - grind seems too fine?

            I think that there are too many finds (dust).  The grind may not be even.  It is the dust that is causing the problem.
            The course grind/tamping/filling wont help if the is a lot of dust blocking the holes at the bottom of the filter.

            Buy so good quality grounds from a reputable cafe and try it.

            However I am a green bean.



            • #7
              Re: Silvia + EM0480 - grind seems too fine?


              I think you are correct.... but it doesnt actually block the holes at the bottom of the filter.... it fills in the gaps between the larger (correct sized) grains - just like sand and cement fill the gaps between the gravel..... with a similar effect.... it is like forcing water through concrete....

              To test if the grinder has too many fines - or is very uneven....

              take a pinch of the coffee grounds and place in the palm of your hand...
              then with the forefinger of the other hand rub it about (gently) and you should have even little pieces of coffee bean - without fine dust....

              To get an idea of what it should be like you can do the above with table salt...

              If you have coffee powder all over your palm as well as the larger "bits" then your grinder is grinding unevenly (or has blunt burrs).