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Thread: Silvia + Rocky - What Coffee?

  1. #1
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    Silvia + Rocky - What Coffee?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all

    After being totally disappointed with the general quality of a cafes in Melbourne, I started doing some research and it led me to CoffeeSnob. I have recently, after lots and lots of reading and searching, purchased a Rancilio Silvia & Rocky w/ doser.

    After a few start up problems I also bought a Espro tamper.

    Ive been trying a few different blends, different Moccopan, Beraldo and Crivelli blends. So far the Crivelli Originale has been my fav. Being a newbie I can taste the difference between the blends but dont ask me to describe it!!!.

    Anyway, too my question... What sort of coffee blends are coffeesnobs using or recommend with this setup. I drink mainly one shots and like a strong intense coffee with a sweet after taste.. (I think)

    :-/

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    Senior Member Sketchy's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia + Rocky - What Coffee?

    Hi
    If you like strong and intense flavours i would suggest you try a blend with some robusta, we use Griffiths coffee "Italian Espresso" at my cafe and it is always good.

    LE

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    Re: Silvia + Rocky - What Coffee?

    Thanks for the response.

    The reason for this post is that I understand that there are certain blend that require certain brew pressure and temperatures to get best out of the blend.

    Considering that I have the SILVIA, what would be an ideal blend to use given the type of coffee I described and the constraints of my machine?

    This may be a specific question however I know there are a few experts out there who will be able to help...

    Thank you all in advance, this is a great forum and Ive learnt alot... I would also like to support the forum sponsors seeing its their sponsorship that makes this forum happen. Any input guys is appreciated.

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    Re: Silvia + Rocky - What Coffee?

    Mizzuri- welcome aboard.
    As far as blends go- most snobs roast and experiment with various % of beans- a great site to look into this is www.sweetmarias.com
    Also -as far as I know- the prew pressure and temperature should be the same whatever the blend! ;) With Silvia and Rocky- youve got a great combination so that you can get great consistency of grind as well as good brew pressure temperature.
    Robusta is a bit of a dirty word here- By bit I mean it is a bean with about twice the caffiene as Arabica and theat caused it to be quite bitter.
    As far as Im concerned, Id rather have a full flavoured espresso that has less caffeine so I can enjoy more of them in a day! ::)
    I think those who mix it usually stick with 5-10 %.
    It is good for increasing creme and caffeine but thats it as far as I know.
    Start with a Brazillian or Colombian base up to around 50-60 % then add whatever you like as far as origns go. Limit robusta and if you use it use a good quality one like Indian Kaapi.
    sweetmarias will have some other choices.
    Also have a look through the blending section here on snobs.
    GO for it.
    RH ;)

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    Senior Member Lovey's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia + Rocky - What Coffee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mizzuri link=1154139644/0#2 date=1154160804
    Thanks for the response.
    The reason for this post is that I understand that there are certain blend that require certain brew pressure and temperatures to get best out of the blend.

    Considering that I have the SILVIA, what would be an ideal blend to use given the type of coffee I described and the constraints of my machine?

    This may be a specific question however I know there are a few experts out there who will be able to help...

    Thank you all in advance, this is a great forum and Ive learnt alot... I would also like to support the forum sponsors seeing its their sponsorship that makes this forum happen. Any input guys is appreciated.
    Gday Mizzuri,
    I wouldnt get too hung up on the ideal brewing temperatures for each blend. Id find a blend that you like and enjoy it. The only real thing to consider about temps is to make sure that the brew water isnt too hot or too cold.
    Make sure that the machine is up to operating temp, at least 15 minutes warm up.
    If the brew water is too cold, youll get a sour shot.
    If the brew water is too hot, youll burn the coffee and get a bitter, burnt shot.
    You can worry about temp surfing at a later stage.
    Enjoy.

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    Re: Silvia + Rocky - What Coffee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lovey link=1154139644/0#4 date=1154165975
    You can worry about temp surfing at a later stage.
    Enjoy.
    Hmmm?

    Dont know about that. Probably the single most important target that we coffee snobs strive for is "consistency". Youve addressed the variability of the tamp to a large extent by going with the Espro Tamper, a good product and tamping aid by all accounts. Something that you can do to achieve similar levels of consistency with the Brew Water temperature, is to always commence your brew at the same stage of the heating cycle, by using the Boiler On indicating light.

    I have never used a Silvia but my Mokita isnt that far removed from it that the same sorts of things apply. When the light goes out, the boiler element has switched off and due to the residual heat remaining within the mass of the element, the water temperature within the boiler will continue to rise for a short time and will generally go way over the ideal brew temperature as a result. The concept of "temperature surfing" is to determine the time it takes after this light goes On(and therefore the Boiler Element) before hitting your Brew Switch so that you can try and brew at the time that the water temperature at the Brew Head is close to ideal.

    It is really very easy to do, requires a Stop Watch or a wall clock with a Sweeping Second Hand. I cant really remember what the "ideal" time range is for the Silvia but somewhere in the domain of 90-120 seconds rings a bell. Once you hit the Brew Switch, its just another 25-30 seconds for a pour of 60ml(30ml for a single) and a layer of thick, luscious crema..... this is the aim anyway.

    Maybe one of our experienced Silvia owners can chime in with the best time(s) they have found works for them, and then youll really become a true coffee snob as you get caught up in the temp surfing ritual ;). Once you get this down pat, youll wonder what all the fuss was about :-?..... Then, youve only got a few variables left to go, one at a time though ;). All the best Mizzuri,

    Cheers,
    Mal.

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    Re: Silvia + Rocky - What Coffee?

    Thanks for all the help to everyone.

    The Espro has definately helped keep one of the variables constant. I now fill the basket and level it with the back of a knife and I dont tap the portafiler. I then use the espro to tamp til it clicks/touches, then I give it a twist to polish the top.

    Generally I find with the grind if:

    - I go to course I get a very light coloured coffee with no real body to taste and it comes out to quick
    - I go to fine with the grind I get a very dark coloured coffee however it takes way to long and generally is bitter.

    I find when I get the right grind, a good coffee 60ml takes about 5-8 sec to start coming out after I hit the brew switch. Too early or too late is normally no good.

    I am I right on this?

    Also.. on temp surfing with the Silvia, anyone got any times that work for them?

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    Re: Silvia + Rocky - What Coffee?

    Hi Mizzuri,

    All of your observations seem entirely correct and absolutely logical. Nice job!

    Like most posters to this thread seem to have said, when you start out, its about keeping it simple. The only way that one improves is through lots of experience and changing variables one step at a time (heres a good read on the subject: http://www.home-barista.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=116). The espro is a good start - Ive got one at home and we have one at the cafe where I work.

    What coffee to use

    If I were you, Id stick with something fresh. What "fresh" means varies from person to person and from blend to blend, but I think that its pretty uncontroversial to say that anything older than about two weeks is probably past it. Unfortunately, Im not too optimistic that the coffee that you have mentioned will be within this period. Id recommend that you find a good, consistent and easy to work with blend that is locally roasted and stick with it for the first few months, to keep another variable relatively constant so that you can focus on your technique. Two spring to mind, but whether or not it is practical for you to buy them is another matter. The first is the house blend at St Ali (www.stali.com.au). I think that St Ali is easily the best cafe in Melbourne, which means that not only can you buy great beans from them, but you can also drink great coffee there in order to give yourself a good frame of reference. The second is Veneziano Caffe, one of this sites sponsors. Specifically, David Makins World Barista Comp blend is just a joy to work with ... but Im not sure how long theyll have it on offer. Their Concordia and Pure blends would also be quite appropriate. There are, of course, other roasteries around - these are just my personal favourites; the ones that I keep going back to.

    Temperature Surfing

    Temperature is certainly an important variable*, but I dont think that it is worth expending too much effort on it until your other skills are proficient.

    To temperature surf, Id just run water through the empty portafilter and basket into a cup until the element light goes on, then Id dry out the cup that is now preheated and start doing the dry/clean/grind/dose/tamp routine once the light goes out. By the time that you have done this, you should be right to lock and load. Yes, different blends will like different temperatures, but this should be about right. Presuming that your machine is adequately preheated - leave it on for an hour or so; if thats an irritant, pick up a timer.

    Other things to consider

    -You mentioned that you like single shots. Unfortunately, the single shot basket that comes with the Silvia is probably the worst basket for an espresso machine that I have ever seen. The double basket is OK, though, so Id stick with that.

    -IMHO, people dont put enough emphasis on dosing. Its actually relatively difficult to get a consistent dose. Your technique of striking off with a knife certainly sounds like a good start, but from what you have written, it sounds to me like you arent getting that much coffee in the basket. A good way to check if you are under-dosing is to examine the puck left behind after your extraction. Poke it. If there is a lot of give, if it is spongey and if it is wet, you probably need to dose more. Im currently dosing and striking off level, then rapping the portafilter on the bench a few times to collapse and striking off level again before tamping.

    -The rockys doser unfortunately doesnt seem to sweep very clean, so you might want to brush it out after use. Either that, or you could modify it to sweep clean, similar to this modification: http://temesblog.blogspot.com/2005/07/mazzer-mod-no3-sweep.html

    -Dont get too dogmatic about pouring a specific volume. Its usually best to cut the pour off before it lightens up in colour too much, even though you might have less than 60mL. This is particularly so when using the standard Silvia baskets, which dont hold all that much coffee.

    -If you must polish after tamping, please dont do it under pressure - the weight of the tamper itself is sufficient.

    -A great test is to see if you can get the same volume/time five times in a row. Once you can do that, you can start thinking about experimenting with different pour times and temperatures. Until then, variation in your own technique will make it difficult to pick up on the changes from other variables.

    It sounds like you have the right attitude to learn how to get the best from your setup really quickly. The thing to remember is that pro baristi get to make hundreds and hundreds of coffee in a relatively short space of time to learn. Because you cant do that volume at home, its important to be very methodical in order to learn as much as possible in the shortest time possible.

    Hope that helps,

    Luca

    *Just wanted to put in a cool story thats vaguely temperature related. I was manning the Barista Guild stall at the International Catering Trade Fair at the beginning of the week when Klaus Thomsen (the world barista champ) came by to pull some shots with his blend. His first few shots looked awesome, but we agreed that they were lacking ... relatively sour and not that sweet. Fortunately, we were using a machine with an easily adjustable temp readout. Bumped the temperature up a few degrees and in no time we were drinking incredible shots!

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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia + Rocky - What Coffee?

    Quote Originally Posted by luca link=1154139644/0#7 date=1154226386
    Temperature Surfing

    Temperature is certainly an important variable*, but I dont think that it is worth expending too much effort on it until your other skills are proficient.
    Hi Luca,

    I dont agree.... Mainly, because when one understands what is meant by "temp surfing" and demonstrated if possible, or explained clearly if demonstration is not possible, then this is an easy variable to put by the wayside since it is essentially a straight mechanical and logical process that when understood, will reap significant rewards. This will then allow the newbie the opportunity to concentrate on the variables which take more time, diligence and skill to master, such as "dosing" consistently for example.... even some of the pros have difficulty being consistent with this aspect of espresso.

    Mal.

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    Re: Silvia + Rocky - What Coffee?

    Luca and Mal I have taken all you info on board.

    Luca,

    I went to St Ali this morning/lunch with my lovely girl friend for a late breakfast and I hoped a great coffee. As soon as I got there I could smell the coffee... Their coffee blend of the day was a columbian blend, I had an espresso. It was dark with a sweet almost dark chocolate aftertaste (I dont know the correct coffee tasting criteria terms but it tasted good.)

    After breakfast I had a cafe late with their house blend. Great late art on top with a velvet milk top. I then looked over an witnessed the beast of a machine the barista was working with. Awesome... Very Cool .

    Taking Lucas advice I purchased the Datterra Reserve blend and the columbian blend (on rayzurheds advice)

    Mal,

    Using the Datterra Reserve I gave the temp surfing a test. After preping I waited 90 sec after the heating light came off and then hit the brew switch. I had the grid a bit to fine for my tamp pressure and it came out a bit bitter as it took a long time 50sec+ to come out. Dont know if this is right or not but I find the fresher the beans I get a better coffee if i make the grid a bit more course.

    Any way, wasnt going to give up on this blend as I smelt unbelieveable. After adjusting the grind to more course, I think I went one too many clicks over, so i added a bit more coffee than usual at the dose. Wating 60sec this time after the heat light went out I hit the brew switch, timed 25 sec and off. Coffee was great.

    By the way I weighed the ammount of coffee I use (I only use the rancilio double basket, but have ordered the LM basket). It was between 16-17 grams.

    Thanks for all the recommendations and advice to all members.

  11. #11
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    Re: Silvia + Rocky - What Coffee?

    No worries Mizzuri,

    Great to hear [smiley=thumbsup.gif],

    Mal.

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    Re: Silvia + Rocky - What Coffee?

    Mizzuri
    Dont know if this is right or not but I find the fresher the beans I get a better coffee if i make the grid a bit more course.
    Yep this is correct I find as beans age they need to be ground finer, I guess it has something to do with the amount of CO2 remaining in the bean.

    My advice would be to practice on obtaining a consistant dose and tamp each occassion, once these variables are faily consistant start experimenting with temp surfing, the results in the cup are dramatically different. *The temperature results are really only useful if the other variables are controlled.

    my 0.02c

    Dan

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    Re: Silvia + Rocky - What Coffee?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal link=1154139644/0#8 date=1154249211
    Quote Originally Posted by luca link=1154139644/0#7 date=1154226386
    Temperature Surfing

    Temperature is certainly an important variable*, but I dont think that it is worth expending too much effort on it until your other skills are proficient.
    Hi Luca,

    I dont agree.... Mainly, because when one understands what is meant by "temp surfing" and demonstrated if possible, or explained clearly if demonstration is not possible, then this is an easy variable to put by the wayside since it is essentially a straight mechanical and logical process that when understood, will reap significant rewards. This will then allow the newbie the opportunity to concentrate on the variables which take more time, diligence and skill to master, such as "dosing" consistently for example.... even some of the pros have difficulty being consistent with this aspect of espresso.

    Mal.
    I guess it depends on what your definition of too much effort is ;P I guess that forcing the light on and timing X seconds is pretty easy ... Aah, the joys of internet communication ;P

    Cheers,

    Luca

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    Re: Silvia + Rocky - What Coffee?

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    I agree with the previous posts about temperature and bean freshness. *One observation I found with the Silvia was that lighter roasts were easier to work with than darker roasts. *For example, I found the Atomica dark roast very difficult to get a good extraction from.

    Beans aside (which was your actual question) ...

    The first thing Id recommend is booking yourself into a course. *After months of messing around with different blends, temperature surfing, home roasting, etc., my technique was still very average. *After a few pointers from Chris my coffee is much better than a change in any of the other variables. *A close second was change of grinder from rocky to mazzer, but that is another point of discussion.

    A final point is that I found the best results when trying updose as much as possible by grinding as course as the possible while restricting the pour enough to be a great shot.



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