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Is my tamp too light? Is that my problem?

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  • Is my tamp too light? Is that my problem?

    Hey all,

    I've been reading heaps on CS lately. What a great source of info!

    I've recently bought a Silvia + Compak K3T and all the standard accessories and done a (3hr intro) barista course. I'm using fresh beans (at the time of brew they are 1-2 weeks old) from a local roaster. I've tried 2 local roasters and getting the same results with both beans. Now, i'm getting reasonable to decent results. The coffee I'm drinking (flat whites, but they generally end up as latte's given my milk skills lol), is at least on par with the majority of places here in Canberra.

    However. I know my tamp is too light when compared to the 'correct' procedure. Also, and this may be because of my tamp but the crema is pretty average, but the espresso tastes ok. Not fantastic but ok. The milk seems to hide my lack of skills reasonably well.

    So I am grinding pretty fine (getting a few clumps) and using a light tamp - I haven't tamped on scales, but i reckon it would be in the region of 5-6kg at a guess. Any harder and I choke the machine.

    When I set the grind coarser and tamp harder, it either tastes pretty bad, or under extracts. I can't seem to fine a good tasting pull with a ~15kg pressure tamp?!?! Also when I knock the PF down on the bench to distribute the grinds and continue dosing, I then end up over dosing and i can't fit the PF into the group..

    Is this a common problem - is there anything wrong with this - is there anything I can do to adjust my technique?

    Or is it a matter or really, really fine tuning near the grind settings I'm at?

    Thanks heaps, I'm a little stuck on how to improve!
    Last edited by bowds1122; 6 July 2013, 12:17 PM. Reason: typo

  • #2
    A good trick with the Compak K3 is using the vertical edge of the plastic spout collar as a pointer to read your grind setting. Its just a reference number which allows you to return to a setting accurately and allows small incremental changes. The number will probably vary between grinders. I find once you're close to where you want to be, a half step adjustment between the dots is useful for fine tuning.

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    You may be getting channeling if you don't pack the filter basket correctly which could lead to under extracting. If you have to tamp lightly to avoid choking the machine, grind a touch coarser and tamp harder. It is a case of trail and error and then being able to consistantly repeat the process once you find what works for you. Take care not to underfill the basket. Might be worth slightly overfilling initially but not to the point where the Portafilter is hard to lock in.

    Don't store beans in the Grinder hopper for any length of time. Weighing out enough for the session will ensure beans are always fresh. Once ground use the coffee within minutes to ensure freshness also.


    • #3
      Single dosing will help you a lot with getting to know your Silvia. I'm not experience enough yet to eye ball it and get it consistent all the time.

      With my double basket, I make sure I have around 16g of grind as a starting point and then adjust your finest of your grinder. Also keep your tamp consistent.
      I bought an espro tamper which helps me a lot so far.

      Agree on not keeping beans in hopper Unless you are making a lot of coffee. I weigh my beans for each shot I make.


      • #4
        Ok, so a courser grind and I'm over dosing (as in when I level the ground coffee off at the top of the basket, and then tamp, there is too much coffee to fit into the group). Any ideas as to why?

        The light tamp grind is just over 18g in the stock double basket. I haven't even used the single shot basket yet..


        • #5
          And too add, beans are stored in the vac-bags, not the hopper. I wish the hopper was air tight, it'd be one less thing to worry about