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Thread: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

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    Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi folks, first post here, so go easy. Ive tired to do a lot of reading and understand many of the basics, but after several years of owning a Silvia/Rocky combo and trying a variety of beans, I seem to have missed a key part of making an espresso... When using a double basket I should be getting 60mls in 25-30 seconds. Instead, I have always only been able to produce about 25-30mls in that time frame and then in my opinion the pour seems to blonde and I switch it off. Im not unhappy with the taste by any means, but having watched some videos on YouTube lately, and investigating adding a PID kit to my machine, I seem to be doing something seriously wrong.

    I usually run my Rocky at between 7-9 grind setting. I never use beans more than 2 weeks old (and try to only buy beans that have a roasted date stamped on the bag). I grind only for each coffee. Fill the basket, tap 2-4 times (depending on the dose I need), continue filling the basket directly from the grinder, and then do a NSEW leveling scrap with the back edge of a butterknife. I have a custom made Pullman Tamper and try to get a nice level tamp, with a reasonable amount of pressure.

    I follow the temp surfing advice provided on here to get the brew temp to the right point before locking my PF in place, and hit the pump right away. If Ive got the grind right and the beans are good, I get some nice heavy globs of chestnut reddish/brown extraction coming out after a couple of seconds. This develops into a steady pour and gradually starts to get lighter in colour. Once I see it starting to get too pale, I stop the extraction. This usually produces about 30mls or less from a double basket.

    With good beans I get nice brown crema. With beans that I am not so confident about it seems to be a lot paler/thinner and more watery.

    The puck is firm with a bit of sponginess/give, which leads me to believe I have the dose relatively right. I dont think I could dose much more and still lock the PF into the head. If I dose less I get a slushy spongy mess in the PF. When I get a nice pour I am left with a neat clean imprint of the showerscreen bolt in the top of the spent puck. The puck seems to eject nicely in one solid block into the bang-bang after a good pour.

    So, who can help me track down the problem? I always thought I was doing okay, until I realised that I was only getting half the volume of coffee that I should have been getting.

    I would greatly appreciate your advice and input on this even though Im only new around here.

    Chris

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    Senior Member saoye's Avatar
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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Have you compared it to your single basket?

    It sounds like youre doing all the right things. It could just be that your perception of blonding may be premature?

    Quote Originally Posted by 1A3D34326662530 link=1322997464/0#0 date=1322997464
    I have a custom made Pullman Tamper and try to get a nice level tamp, with a reasonable amount of pressure.
    What is a reasonable amount of pressure? Have you tried just adjusting the grind and using a softer tamp? I typically only use my fingers around the circumference of the Pullman and ease the tamper into the basket with a slight force.

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 23313F2935500 link=1322997464/1#1 date=1322999477
    It could just be that your perception of blonding may be premature?
    Could be you know....

    How do you drink your coffee? is it as an espresso?
    How does it taste?
    Have you tried coarsening the grind to get 50-60mls?
    How does that taste?

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 2620373C2621393B520 link=1322997464/2#2 date=1323000305
    Quote Originally Posted by 23313F2935500 link=1322997464/1#1 date=1322999477
    It could just be that your perception of blonding may be premature?*
    Could be you know....

    How do you drink your coffee? is it as an espresso?
    How does it taste?
    Have you tried coarsening the grind to get 50-60mls?
    How does that taste?
    I drink it only as an espresso, no milk based drinks. But I often make a milk based drink for my wife. When I extract too long, or the pour gushes and blondes quickly (if I havent adjusted the grind and the beans have aged a few day for example), I think the shot tastes burnt, and gets quite watery. Even my wife, who isnt as fussy as I am says the coffee tastes a bit overextracted if the pour blondes too much (in my eyes).

    I havent tried a (significantly) coarser grind to produce 60ml extractions yet. Ill have to get some more beans tomorrow and give that a shot.

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D3F31273B5E0 link=1322997464/1#1 date=1322999477
    Have you compared it to your single basket?

    It sounds like youre doing all the right things.* It could just be that your perception of blonding may be premature?*

    Quote Originally Posted by 1A3D34326662530 link=1322997464/0#0 date=1322997464
    I have a custom made Pullman Tamper and try to get a nice level tamp, with a reasonable amount of pressure.
    What is a reasonable amount of pressure?* Have you tried just adjusting the grind and using a softer tamp?* I typically only use my fingers around the circumference of the Pullman and ease the tamper into the basket with a slight force.*
    I havent tried a single basket. I started out with a double as I was informed that it was more forgiving to beginners, and I like my coffee quite strong.

    Not sure how I would guage the force of my tamp. But when I used to frequent Epic in West Perth, the former owner there showed me what the spent puck should feel like it youve dosed the right amount (or so was my understanding), and Im able to get the same feeling in my pucks. I could try going for a more gentle tamp, but is that really likely to result in double the volume in my extractions? What is the right amount of force? I recall something about 3kgs, but have read as much as 15kgs recently...thats a pretty big difference...

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 7750595F0B0F3E0 link=1322997464/4#4 date=1323007281
    Not sure how I would guage the force of my tamp.
    Tamp on a set of bathroom scales.

    Quote Originally Posted by 7750595F0B0F3E0 link=1322997464/4#4 date=1323007281
    What is the right amount of force? I recall something about 3kgs, but have read as much as 15kgs recently...thats a pretty big difference...
    There is no right amount. Consistancy is more important.
    But the "15" youve heard about is 15 pounds not kgs and seems to be the most quoted figure.

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    Senior Member saoye's Avatar
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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 6B4C45431713220 link=1322997464/3#3 date=1323006993
    When I extract too long, or the pour gushes and blondes quickly (if I havent adjusted the grind and the beans have aged a few day for example),
    I dont know, a few days aging should not cause such a change in grind setting requirements. It sounds more like a dose/tamp consistency if youre not changing your grind. The only time Id change my grind setting is if Im swapping between different beans. If it "gushes" sometimes then my guess is it is chanelling. That has to do with tamping consistency and dose.

    I find it easier to get consistency with a lighter tamp as you are using the weight of the tamper and the pressure of your fingers which is much more sensitive than all the way up your elbow and shoulder. I definitely do not use a lot of force. As Thungergod says, consistency is the key. Maintain the tamp style and dose, then just play with the grind setting to restrict and or increase flow rate from the spout.

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Forget tamping force. Just push hard. You will feel the coffee stop compressing. That point is at about 35-40 lbs. If you find you NEED to tamp at some specific force, particularly below 15 or above 50, then you are likely compensating for some other problem (low-quality grind, poor distribution, etc.) which should be addressed. Tamping force is HIGHLY overrated. Level is what matters.

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Alright, so tamp force isnt an issue, but technique to ensure there is no channeling may be a concern. Mind you, when I say the pour gushes, Im probably exaggerating slightly...it just blondes a bit quicker than it did a few days earlier. So that could be channeling from a bad tamp...but I generally find it is corrected by tightening up the grind one mark (and grinding ~5 seconds of waste beans through it to clear the old grind setting).

    So taking tamp force out of the equation, what are my test options right now?

    - Loosen up the grind (maybe quite significantly) to try to yield double the volume of coffee from roughly the same dose, without it blonding.

    Anything else?

    I frequent a few specialist coffee cafes and order only espresso there, so I think I have a pretty reasonable feel for what makes a good espresso. Rich/coloured crema, a full bodied shot that is velvety in mouth, no burnt/bitter aftertaste, no watery body, no pale crema that dissipates quickly to leave a short black underneath. This is pretty much what I can produce with quality beans and a good grind/dose/tamp on my machine at home, its just that its 30mls from a double basket instead of 60mls. :(

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    Senior Member saoye's Avatar
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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 0A2D24227672430 link=1322997464/8#8 date=1323044077
    Rich/coloured crema, a full bodied shot that is velvety in mouth, no burnt/bitter aftertaste, no watery body, no pale crema that dissipates quickly to leave a short black underneath. This is pretty much what I can produce with quality beans and a good grind/dose/tamp on my machine at home, its just that its 30mls from a double basket instead of 60mls.
    Hi Inga, it sounds tasty. It may be that you are producing a very nice ristretto and thats just how you like it. I didnt want to go into an argument about the importance of tamping, but my only comment was to have a consistant tamp and by using reference points and milder movements it is easier to reproduce the same method of tamping. A straight and level tamp is very important.

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 4B5957415D380 link=1322997464/9#9 date=1323051112
    Quote Originally Posted by 0A2D24227672430 link=1322997464/8#8 date=1323044077
    Rich/coloured crema, a full bodied shot that is velvety in mouth, no burnt/bitter aftertaste, no watery body, no pale crema that dissipates quickly to leave a short black underneath. This is pretty much what I can produce with quality beans and a good grind/dose/tamp on my machine at home, its just that its 30mls from a double basket instead of 60mls.* *
    Hi Inga, it sounds tasty.* It may be that you are producing a very nice ristretto and thats just how you like it.* I didnt want to go into an argument about the importance of tamping, but my only comment was to have a consistant tamp and by using reference points and milder movements it is easier to reproduce the same method of tamping.* A straight and level tamp is very important.
    Roger that on the tamping. Fair point.

    Yes, Ive certainly learned to produce a nice coffee, but youre right, it is much more like a ristretto. But I get all the same qualities from a professionally made espresso, AND double the volume. Looking at the numerous videos on YouTube of people demonstrating their Sivlia/Rocky combos, it certainly looks like I should be able to do the same on my gear.

    Next lot of beans I buy Ill try a much coarse grind and see how I go with that.

    Thanks for your input thus far folks. Greatly appreciated.

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Okay, so I went and picked up some PNG Organic beans this afternoon, supposedly roasted on Friday (according to the person who roasted them). I gave the Rocky a really good clean (removing the top burrs and getting all the backed on old bean residue out of the machine). I then went with a looser grind about 10-11 on the Rocky scale and same dose as usual.

    Just as a check, I inserted the PF and removed it again to see how much the tamp was disturbed, turns out that most of the surface got stuck to the shower-screen :o Perhaps this is part of the problem... I dumped that lot, and ground another dose at the same setting, dosing a bit less this time. The extraction started pouring immediately and looked promising for the first 5 seconds, but then as expected went blonde very quickly, leaving me with more volume (around 50-55mls but a terribly blonde and thin crema, and a very watery extraction). It dropped the grind setting to 7 and ground some beans through it before starting to dose the PF. Again going with the smaller dose (I didnt check whether it was still hitting the shower-screen). Again the extraction started immediately but blonded more slowly. The total volume was down to 35-40mls and the crema was still very weak, and the shot still very watery.

    I should note that Im not sold on the bean supplier... I asked for an espresso while I was in there (and had been speaking to them about the issues that I was experiencing). The espresso that I was served has pretty ordinary crema, was IMO very watery and over-extracted leaving somewhat of a burnt after taste in my mouth. I watched the guy pour it and the extraction just got more and more blonde and he just let it keep pouring. Interesting to note that my drink was only one half of the extraction (the other half going into a separate container), and I believe the volume was well over 30mls in my espresso cup. The other things I found interesting is that the drink was so watery and hot that I couldnt drink it for some time. I know my tongue is a bit sensitive and I dont like drinks that are too hot, but I can normally sip an espresso that fits my earlier description of what I believe a good shot to be. On the note of temperature, I am almost unable to produce shots that are too hot to drink from my Silvia, unless they are way too watery and over-extracted.

    Not sure if this extra info helps anyone to diagnose my coffee problems.

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Wishing only to be helpful, I hope you dont mind some candid comments:

    a) why say that the coffee was "supposedly" roasted on friday. If thats what they advised* thats what you need to get on with* ;) It will deliver a good crema if your technique in grind / dose / tamp and the derived equipment settings and its condition is all good, even some weeks after it was roasted even if it doesnt have the same character any more as when it was fresh....

    b) why R & R the burrs in the grinder when changing from one coffee to the next?* If the beans and grinds are removed / spun out of the grinder until it runs empty, that should do it. Lot of trouble for nil effect at this apparent stage of your learning curve.

    c) the numbers on the grinder setting are arbitrary. They are a starting point from which to adjust with the new beans, until your own particular technique of grind / dose* /tamp gives you the best possible result with the new beans, and then you stop there (until the result in the cups starts to change with ageing of the beans, and you make other adjustments to compensate). You could end up on number 17, or on number 11 for example, depending on the beans and your won technique of grind / dose / tamp. And then the number will change as you keep adjusting through the ageing beans. And not all grinders of the same make and model would end up on the same numbers for the same beans......as stated, the numbers are arbitrary.

    d)* when you say "same dose as usual", dont forget that as you change the grind settings the volumetric dose of tamped grinds in the coffee filter will change depending on the fineness / coarseness of the grinds. Fine grinds will settle / tamp into a smaller "dose" in the filter. Coarser will settle / tamp into a bigger dose. The object is to fill the filter (settled / tamped) to the same level that suits your machine every time.* Dose volumetrically in the filter. Do not overdose a silvia or it will leak over the top of the group handle. Underdose and you make dishwater.

    e) the fresh grinds stuck to the shower when you removed the group handle (probably) because the shower was recently wet (had had water purged through the group). If you are going to check top of the puk for fitted level dont forget to dry the shower with a rag / towel before locking in the group handle and then removing.

    f) why say you are not sold on the bean supplier?* Your problem is to learn to make the best possible espresso with the beans and equipment at hand. What they do is not relevant its what you do that is, and you may well end up with a great coffee from their beans once you "get it".

    I think you are getting hung up on academic details from too much forum reading* :)* Step back and let someone show you....it shouldnt be (and it isnt) that hard to make good coffee.

    Noting all the above my best advice would be to suggest you to take a paid lesson because it will be so much easier for a trainer to show you and for you to ask questions directly. I can assure you it will be worth the price and get you going much more quickly than chasing your tail around trying to work it out "blind" from reading the writing on a computer screen.

    If you are in Canberra my people will be very happy to help ;)

    Rgdz,
    Attilio
    very first CS site sponsor.

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Thanks for your candid advice Attilio! Much appreciated. In response to some of your points:

    a) The bags the coffee comes in has a Roasted on space that isnt filled out. I was suspect on the first bag I bought from there because the pouring characteristics were very similar to what I had seen from beans that had aged several weeks and were beyond their best performance.

    b) I dont clean the grinder like that between each batch of beans. In fact this is the first time I have cleaned it like that in a very long time...very long time. Just wanted to eliminate it as a possible source of problems.

    c) I realise that the numbers on the grinder are arbitrary. It was more as a reference of the magnitude of adjustment that I was making, i.e. to point out that is wasnt just a one or two notch adjustment.

    d) Fair call. I guess I was trying to say that my process of dosing hadnt changed. But I agree that as a result of the different grind setting its highly likely that the dose had in fact changed, although my process hadnt. Good point. I am not getting any leaks over the top of the handle at this point (although have in the past, and have put it down to not cleaning the gasket properly prior to locking the PF in place...never realised it could be an overdosing issue.)

    e) Good point and 100% correct. I had flushed some water from the group at the end of the boiler cycle to drop the temp slightly. Should try it with a dry show screen.

    f) Yes, in an ideal world I should be able to make a good coffee with any quality bean. Sadly Im not yet skilled enough to do this. I can produce great coffee (IMO) from some beans, and from others I just cant seem to get a decent shot extraction in an entire bag of beans adjusting something after each shot.

    Yes, a home barista course is high on my list of things to do. Im based in Perth, so will need to find someone over here, preferably one where I can take my gear to the course. I totally agree that all the reading and study in the world wont be as good as some quality hands on tuition when it comes to this sort of thing.

    Again, thank you for your candid feedback on this matter. Really good to have your insight. Thanks.

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 023621372C1B072B22222121440 link=1322997464/12#12 date=1323073145

    a) why say that the coffee was "supposedly" roasted on friday. If thats what they advised* thats what you need to get on with* ;) It will deliver a good crema if your technique in grind / dose / tamp and the derived equipment settings and its condition is all good, even some weeks after it was roasted even if it doesnt have the same character any more as when it was fresh....

    Rgdz,
    Attilio
    very first CS site sponsor.
    You know, Ive been thinking about this and Im not sure this is right. You are certain that it should produce good crema if my technique etc is right... Given that I asked the roaster of this bean to make me an espresso and what they served me was a very watery, thin crema, over-extracted short black, should I be expecting to get more out of the beans??

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    "........(Are you) certain that it should produce good crema if my technique etc is right....."


    Yes Inga.

    Technique!

    You have no idea how many clients, after purchasing a good coffee machine and grinder, and getting clued up on best use of, come back in and say they nolonger go out for coffee because they make it better at home.... Its not meant to be insulting to cafe owners and workers, its just that at home, you are not contending with a multitude of orders from many clients in a busy working environment. Instead, you can be an expert of one, with no time limit on running out the very best result that you can with the equipment and beans available to you.

    And of course as already mentioned, never mind what they do (even if it is with their own product, badly), its what you are doing that counts.

    Have fun,
    Attilio
    very first CS site sponsor.

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    I had a Silvia and dose and grind were a very important part of the result. The Silvia is very sensitive to these two factors.

    Agreed tamp pressure is least important. As long as your putting a lil force behind it it should right. More important as suggested is a level tamp. To achieve this use your fingers on the rim of the portafilter as a guide.

    Step 1.

    - nail the dose, once spent when you remove the portafilter press the puck in the portafilter with your finger, is it firm? Yes; step 2.

    Note: take note of how far your tamper travelled into the portafilter under a moderate tamp. This will be your guide to future shots.

    Step 2.

    - adjust the grind. Finer = slower. Aim for the 30 second shot. But accept within the ballpark. Ultimately you looking to get a fine consistent stream.

    Lil vid with just the tamping method FYI that may help?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLWkHEP7Iho

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D263C273D2220294E0 link=1322997464/16#16 date=1323162377
    I had a Silvia and dose and grind were a very important part of the result. The Silvia is very sensitive to these two factors.

    Agreed tamp pressure is least important. As long as your putting a lil force behind it it should right. More important as suggested is a level tamp. To achieve this use your fingers on the rim of the portafilter as a guide.

    Step 1.

    - nail the dose, once spent when you remove the portafilter press the puck in the portafilter with your finger, is it firm? Yes; step 2.

    Note: take note of how far your tamper travelled into the portafilter under a moderate tamp. This will be your guide to future shots.

    Step 2.

    - adjust the grind. Finer = slower. Aim for the 30 second shot. But accept within the ballpark. Ultimately you looking to get a fine consistent stream.

    Lil vid with just the tamping method FYI that may help?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLWkHEP7Iho
    Great practical input. Thank you. The video link seems pretty laboured, but I can see the point of being anal about getting the dose exactly the same every time.

    Now, Step 1.... If the spent puck in the PF is not firm, i.e. its still spongy and very moist even after some minutes after extraction...should I increase my dose? To try that, I have tapped the PF more times and/or harder during the filling process, and the tamper confirms this by not going into the basket as far... but still the spent puck is not what I would call firm. How do I up my dose even more? I suspect Im getting very close to the point where I cant fit the PF into the grouphead because the coffee hits the shower-screen.

    Thoughts?

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Yes, increase the dose slightly, and dont forget that when you increase the dose you wiill probably have to coarsen up the grind by one step.

    A puk that is not rock hard is fine as long as it ends up dry and comes out in one basic lump upon ejection. Sloppy puks usually mean low dose / and grind too fine, and they come out very very messy leaving sticky dregs in the filter. That is what you dont want.

    When silvia is overdosed she leaks over the top duing brewing, so she will tell you when you went too far, but also with silvia she hates being underdosed and will tell you simpply by not giving you a great result on the palate.

    Rgdz,
    A.

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Ok so its still soggy.

    You shouldnt be dosing to the point where it is hard to insert the portafilter as you will just be channeling the surface with the hex screw and this is bound to cause blonding. *off topic I addressed this on my silvia by buying a flat shower screen.

    The tamper base should be say just over 3/4 the way into the basket with only a small amount of the tamper base showing across the level top of the portafilter.

    When I say firm, enough to take a slight impression of your finger but not soft enough to crack when you press your finger into the puck whilst still in the portafilter.

    In addition you musnt try to force the coffee down any harder than previous to try and make it fit. What I believe may be happening is inconsistencies in the puck resulting in a sub 9 bar/coffee not expanding/puddle to form.

    So next time try a fill, two firm taps on the bench,fill, followed by another two taps. You must keep the process consistent all the way through.

    When tamping try an ever so slight tamp to create a level surface followed by the firm/final tamp. Do not polish.

    Let me know what happens.

    In addition if your beans are anything more than 2weeks old your pushing @### up hill I had a laugh.

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 487C6B7D66514D6168686B6B0E0 link=1322997464/18#18 date=1323323508
    Yes, increase the dose slightly, and dont forget that when you increase the dose you wiill probably have to coarsen up the grind by one step.

    A puk that is not rock hard is fine as long as it ends up dry and comes out in one basic lump upon ejection. Sloppy puks usually mean low dose / and grind too fine, and they come out very very messy leaving sticky dregs in the filter. That is what you dont want.

    When silvia is overdosed she leaks over the top duing brewing, so she will tell you when you went too far, but also with silvia she hates being underdosed and will tell you simpply by not giving you a great result on the palate.

    Rgdz,
    A.
    So, as stated, Im still getting a very soggy puck, but it seems to eject fairly nicely in one solid puck (despite the water sitting on top after the extraction). Havent had any overfill to the point that it leaks around the top of the PF during extraction...well not in a few years anyway.

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 3E352F342E31333A5D0 link=1322997464/19#19 date=1323333688
    Ok so its still soggy.

    You shouldnt be dosing to the point where it is hard to insert the portafilter as you will just be channeling the surface with the hex screw and this is bound to cause blonding. *off topic I addressed this on my silvia by buying a flat shower screen.

    The tamper base should be say just over 3/4 the way into the basket with only a small amount of the tamper base showing across the level top of the portafilter.

    When I say firm,* enough to take a slight impression of your finger but not soft enough to crack when you press your finger into the puck whilst still in the portafilter.

    In addition you musnt try to force the coffee down any harder than previous to try and make it fit. What I believe may be happening is inconsistencies in the puck resulting in a sub 9 bar/coffee not expanding/puddle to form.

    So next time try a fill, two firm taps on the bench,fill, followed by another two taps. You must keep the process consistent all the way through.

    When tamping try an ever so slight tamp to* create a level surface followed by the firm/final tamp. Do not polish.

    Let me know what happens.

    In addition if your beans are anything more than 2weeks old your pushing @### up hill I had a laugh.
    So, yes the hex screw is leaving a sizable mark in the surface of the unextracted puck (seen by inserting then removing the PF without brewing). Where did you get the flat screen? I saw one online recently but it was in the UK and didnt want to order such a small part from there.

    Im trying to keep the tamp force consistent each time. No trying to press harder to fit more coffee in. I also have always followed your suggestion of doing a light levelling tamp prior to the final/firm tamp. I am getting pretty good at creating very level tamps and judge this by the ridge around the PF basket, with less than 1mm variation side to side on a bad tamp.

    Your comments about how far that tamper should enter the basket...are they based on a standard Rancilio double basket and a custom made Pullman tamper? Just asking because at the moment I can see one ring around the tamper base, but not the second. I think if I up the dose any more Ill be able to see the second ring.

  23. #23
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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    So, yesterday I finished a second 250g bag of beans (a different variety to the first, same supplier though). I was told the beans were roasted last Friday, so they were all used within a week of roasting, and actually seemed to be getting better with the last pours I did.

    The volume seems to be improving, but the crema dissipates very quickly and is quite blond to start with, even though Im stopping the pour before it gets blond. The taste isnt terrible, but its quite watery (poor viscosity), its quite thin in mouth (not velvety/syrup-like), and the after taste while not exactly burnt bitter isnt sweet either.

    So there has been progress, and with the latest tips Ill keep adjusting. Sounds like dosing a bit more, but then maybe opening the grind one step might be my next attempts.

    Ive just ordered a PID kit and naked PF for the Silvia, so soon Ill be able to control the brew and steam temp, and be able to assess my tamping efforts much more closely. Should have that gear next week and will no doubt have many questions once that arrives.

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far. I hope we can get to the bottom of it and that it can be a lesson for others in my position in the future.

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    My honest opinion.....I would put the pid and holey group handle in the drawer until I work out well and truly how to use the machine in standard form. The two items in question are only going to add to the confusion by giving you a host of extra variables to be out of control with* ;)

    At this point I would reiterate.....take a lesson it will be invaluable to be doing this with a trainer in the flesh* *:)

    Rgdz,
    Attilio

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 6F5B4C5A41766A464F4F4C4C290 link=1322997464/23#23 date=1323411052
    My honest opinion.....I would put the pid and holey group handle in the drawer until I work out well and truly how to use the machine in standard form. The two items in question are only going to add to the confusion by giving you a host of extra variables to be out of control with* ;)

    At this point I would reiterate.....take a lesson it will be invaluable to be doing this with a trainer in the flesh* *:)

    Rgdz,
    Attilio
    Training is a definite yes. Just need to find someone whose coffee making skills I respect who offers barista courses for serious amateurs. Anyone in Perth who can recommend someone that fits the bill?

    Interesting advice on the PID and Naked PF. I would have thought that both those items would allow me to detect / eliminate variables that I currently cannot control well, i.e. brew temp and tamp quality and consistency.

  26. #26
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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Attilio has a very valid point.

    A base Silvia will pull a great shot if you let it come to the top of the heat cycle and then purge until the end of audible steam. A PID just saves you doing this.

    When you can pull a run of identical shots, your skills are then at an appropriate level to investigate minor variables and get the value out of ancillary gear.

  27. #27
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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 7144494E7A664A43434040250 link=1322997464/25#25 date=1323412763
    Attilio has a very valid point.

    When you can pull a run of identical shots, your skills are then at an appropriate level to investigate minor variables and get the value out of ancillary gear.
    I can fairly confidently say that with quality beans I am able to consistently pull quality shots that are virtually identical. However, it was the lack of volume that prompted this thread. But I guess doubling the volume isnt exactly investigating a minor variable. :-[

  28. #28
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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Great advice above.

    I would also note...

    Quote Originally Posted by 45626B6D393D0C0 link=1322997464/22#22 date=1323410361
    I was told the beans were roasted last Friday, so they were all used within a week of roasting
    Leave the next lot of beans for an extra week before using them. Coffee is a moving target for the first week. After a week (maybe a fortnight) it settles and will be easier to compare techniques.

    Fresh coffee is great but very fresh coffee might add some vairables to your process that cause you to chase your tail.
    :)

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 5E717B661F0 link=1322997464/27#27 date=1323418408
    Great advice above.

    I would also note...

    Quote Originally Posted by 45626B6D393D0C0 link=1322997464/22#22 date=1323410361
    I was told the beans were roasted last Friday, so they were all used within a week of roasting
    Leave the next lot of beans for an extra week before using them.* Coffee is a moving target for the first week.* After a week (maybe a fortnight) it settles and will be easier to compare techniques.

    Fresh coffee is great but very fresh coffee might add some vairables to your process that cause you to chase your tail.
    :)

    Oh man, more variables to consider. Hadnt really even thought about that being a factor. Always knew that if its too old it becomes stale and flat and wont produce nice crema etc. But hadnt even considered that too fresh could be a variable.

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    And so the plot thickens....

    Ive had a look through my assorted coffee parts box and it seems that I have a Rancilio single basket, a Rancilio double basket, and the basket that Ive been using all this time (which doesnt actually have a part number or ID of any sort) seems bigger than the Rancilio double basket. Im not even sure where I got this from, but instead of having a fairly curved / rounded base like the double basket, this one has more of a square edge. Could this be a triple? If it is, then I should have no trouble getting 60mls of quality extraction before blonding etc...but alas thats not the case.

    Also picked up some new beans this afternoon, which are already over a week old and should be more stable than the newly roasted ones I was playing with earlier. Just about every brew left a nice dry puck, I tried dosing up a bit more to the point where it became hard to get the PF to lock in, so I backed the dose off a bit. Shots were okay, but not that great. Still had a very blond crema and overall extraction (although pretty on the money for volume and time) tasted somewhat watery and settled very quickly.

    Dont get me wrong, the coffee is certainly drinkable, but Ive had so much better (both at home and in quality coffee shops), and Im just not sure what Im doing wrong. I know the training course will be the answer, but as I said, finding a suitable one at this time of year is proving difficult. Suggestions are most welcome for Perth based courses.

    Folks, Im very sorry this seems to be going round and round in circles. I can drop it and leave you all alone if this is getting annoying. :-/

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    I bought mine from this guy.

    He modifies a standard Silvia screen to take a recessed screw.

    He may be a little slow to respond, but once dealt with is quick to deliver.

    I believe it cost be about $22 delivered.


    Commercial link removed by Mods

    The only thing you must be careful with is after removing the screen for cleaning etc. is when you do it up again you must only finger tighten. I basically would wobble the screen with one hand and tighten with the other, once it stopped wobbling I would give it an extra slight turn and thats it.

    If you over tighten it, it may lock. Only being only a flat screw you dont have any leverage like a hex bolt to undo and your stuffed basically. But if your careful it wont be any problem.

  32. #32
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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    How long is the machine heating for prior to pulling a shot?

    You should be atleast giving it 30 min and running the brew through the portafilter to get everything toasty.

    I used to use this process.

    Ideally let machine sit for 30 min heat up. You may reduce this to about 20mins by pulling blank shots to make the boiler go through cycles.

    When ready to go, portafilter should be hot to touch, (you may wish to hit the brew for 5 seconds)remove, dry, dose, tamp pull blank shot wait for light to go off. Count 12 mosquitoes, lock in and pull shot.

    If preparing milk, fill jug whilst shot is going. switch off when blonding stop shot and open steam tap and hit hot water for about 10 secs, switch off and listen for the boiler to fill. When sound stops hit steam switch and at about every 15 sec do a really quick part open and close steam knob to bleed excess water when light goes off bleed water and steam milk.


    P.s my previous baby in my former coffee snob life

    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1313663305


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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    So heres the latest... Have switched to a third (and fourth) bean variety from two different suppliers to the first two varieties...and suddenly Im getting better results.

    The third bean variety was producing better shots with no intentional alteration to my technique, dose, grind or tamp. The crema still seemed quite blond and the shots were not a full 60mls, but were up around 45mls which is much more than the 25-30mls I was getting. Part of that may also have been my opinion of what was blonding... But taste in the cup was okay, not great, but not bad. Seeing I didnt know much about the age of the bean (suspect they may have been a bit aged since it was a pretty small cafe that supplied them).

    Fourth bean from my tried-and-tested supplier (although a new variety Ive not used before), and it looks like were getting somewhere. No intentional changes to settings and already Im getting much nicer looking crema, more velvety extractions, nice guiness-like cascades along the sides of the glass. Volume is still down a touch but I can try to play around with the grind setting and fine tune a bit.

    So I guess I must be doing something different if people still say that I should be able to get good pours from any fresh beans...but maybe I should just stick to the beans that seem to work for me. Seeing I went through three bags of different beans and barely got a shot that was passable, and then on the fourth bag, right off the bat things were noticeably better...
    :-?

  34. #34
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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Latest news on my journey...

    Ive recently received a half kg bag of beans roasted on the 12th from the same supplier as my fourth bag mentioned above, but again a different blend, called Dark Horse. Right off the bat the pours are amazing and pretty much on the money for taste and look...but still a bit low in terms of volume (although more than the 30mls I was getting at the start of this process).

    So Im still left wondering what I could have done differently with all those other bean varieties to get such poor extractions with (minor) adjustment after adjustment, and every time I come back to this one supplier every variety Ive tried produces great shots.

    Despite advice to the contrary, I couldnt help myself and started using the naked PF, thinking that I could check whether tamping / distribution issues were causing channeling or other poor extraction symptoms...and pleasant surprise, everything looks great under there. Nice even extraction start, no halo effect, settling into a good even single stream very quickly, not a long pour cone (but thats to be expected with aged beans I believe), nice tiger-striping, no noticeable blonding at any spot on the sieve, no spritzes (or very very few tiny brief sprays on the odd extraction)...everything seems to look good to my untrained eye.

    In the new year Ill most definitely be signing up for a intermediate barista course, but in the meantime I at least know that I can produce consistently solid shots (by my taste) with beans from one supplier. It just sucks that they happen to be quite pricey :(

    Thank you to everyone who gave me pointers. A combination of minor tweaks seems to have improved my results toward the golden numbers, even if it is with only one supplier (but all of their blends).

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    I am sorry Chris but this only proves that your grinder setting and individual technique are suited to the beans (density of) that you purchase from that supplier.

    The idea is that you need to be able to adjudicate whatever beans you buy from wherever and work the grinder settings and technque to suit whatever bean supply you throw at the equipment, to get the best you can out of them.

    You will have a blast at the barista course, but may I suggest you dont want the basics (that you already have), you really want to understand the relationships that put the whole black art into practice and I did take note that you wrote "intermediate" course.

    If you can afford it, pay the rasnom and get a one on one with someone so you dont get sidetracked with others problems and can concentrate only on what you need.

    Goodluck* ;),
    Attilio

  36. #36
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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Chris where are you?

    Id be happy to do a one on one if youre nearby.

  37. #37
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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 625641574C7B674B42424141240 link=1322997464/34#34 date=1324357240
    I am sorry Chris but this only proves that your grinder setting and individual technique are suited to the beans (density of) that you purchase from that supplier.

    The idea is that you need to be able to adjudicate whatever beans you buy from wherever and work the grinder settings and technque to suit whatever bean supply you throw at the equipment, to get the best you can out of them.

    You will have a blast at the barista course, but may I suggest you dont want the basics (that you already have), you really want to understand the relationships that put the whole black art into practice and I did take note that you wrote "intermediate" course.

    If you can afford it, pay the rasnom and get a one on one with someone so you dont get sidetracked with others problems and can concentrate only on what you need.

    Goodluck* ;),
    Attilio
    Im certainly not arguing that my technique isnt flawed...I still have A LOT to learn. Im just glad I can get shots that Im pretty happy with from the beans from one supplier, even a variety of their beans. It does show that I understand a good amount and lead me to believe that I should be able to produce better shots from other varieties of beans...

    Yes, I agree that a more advanced course will be the minimum requirement and that a one on one course would be ideal. My issue is that my first choice of trainer happens to be the cafe that supplies one of the bean varieties that I have greater success with...so that wouldnt necessarily help my cause. And the other local training cafe is one where I havent had successful their beans (more than one blend), and the espresso they made me (knowing that I was having these issues, and in an empty cafe, so they had all the time in the world), was terrible. Not sure Im going to waste my money on them "teaching" me how to make espressos like that.

    So, more research required on the training side of things....

  38. #38
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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 0A362B303A3B2C39313A5E0 link=1322997464/35#35 date=1324360820
    Chris where are you?

    Id be happy to do a one on one if youre nearby.
    Thanks for the offer ThunderGod, but Im based in Perth. I will be visiting Sydney more often next year, and was only there on the weekend...but Ill need some training in Perth.

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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Are you purging off the steam after the heat cycle has finished by hitting the brew switch for a few seconds?

  40. #40
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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Quote Originally Posted by 27332D282F21372B2A440 link=1322997464/38#38 date=1324441014
    Are you purging off the steam after the heat cycle has finished by hitting the brew switch for a few seconds?
    Yes, I am. I understand the default Silvia overheats the boiler at the top of its heating cycle and that purging this off will arrest the heating and drop it closer to the right temperature. I plan to install the PID soon to further assist with temp corrections as its a bit of a guessing game in the meantime.

    I thought I was going well, but the shots have been getting less consistent the last two days. While making some adjustments I even managed to get a real disaster pour with the naked PF...bit of a mess to clean up. Ive ended up with a bit of a smokey/ash taste in the coffee. Sometimes the tamp is obviously not even and there is some channeling on one side of the puck resulting in premature blonding on that side. But sometimes the pour looks good to the eye, but the taste isnt wonderful. Not knowing the particular bad tastes I cant name what Im tasting, and I hope that a coffee course will help with this. Once I know what is bitter versus sour versus ashy etc then I should be able to make adjustments to correct more efficiently rather than just guessing. At this point a lot of my judgements are still based on look of the extraction and volume / time taken to pour.

  41. #41
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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    So Im now on my second 500g bag of beans from the same supplier (thank you Christmas presents), and things seem to be stabilising again. Ive installed the PID to ensure that brew starting temps remain as consistent as possible, plus the reset time is so quick. Ive started playing with a quasi-WDT dosing method, whereby I grind 2/3rds of the dose into the basket (while still in the PF handle), and use a toothpick to break up any clumps coming from the doserless Rocky, tap twice, then fill the remainder of the basket to just overflowing, then using the back of a butter knife I to the Chicago chop and NSEW sweep to prepare for tamping. Im tamping with less force to ensure I have better chance of getting a level tamp and then Im ready to rock and roll.

    That naked PF really shows any tamp imperfections! The slightest cant on the tamp (and Im talking less than a millimeter) and the pour cone sits off centre toward the shallower side of the basket. I also occasionally get tiny dead spots that dont flow like the rest of the sieve, but the shot still comes out great, so its worth keeping an eye on but not getting too hung up on, since what is in the cup is all that really matters.

    Im also coming to terms with the fact that I prefer Ristretto style shots and getting less than 60mls in 30s from a double basket isnt the end of the world. Im certainly more in that range now, but that volume isnt so important to me. I am still somewhat concerned that I cant seem to get a decent espresso from any other brand of bean! And the best training courses offered in Perth all use the beans that Im currently getting the most success with... So while Im still keen to do a course and learn, it may not get to the bottom of why I can get great shots with one brand (several of their blends), and cant do it with any other brand of bean...

  42. #42
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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Im in Perth Inga with the Silvia and the Compak K3.

    Ill be only too happy to go through it with you.
    Bring your machine around or i can bring mine along and we can run the two side by side.

    Hope the info in the PM helped. :)

    Gary at G

  43. #43
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    Re: Volume issues with Silvia/Rocky combo

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by 243E333220362E2424570 link=1322997464/41#41 date=1325522035
    Im in Perth Inga with the Silvia and the Compak K3.

    Ill be only too happy to go through it with you.
    Bring your machine around or i can bring mine along and we can run the two side by side.

    Hope the info in the PM helped.* :)

    Gary at G

    Thank you so much Gary. Ive responded to your PM prior to seeing this... We can continue this out of the forum.



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