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Thread: Free and easy improvements to my Synesso and VST baskets

  1. #1
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    Free and easy improvements to my Synesso and VST baskets

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    After playing around with my Synesso and VST baskets for a couple of months Ive come up with two tricks to combine the best qualities of both to IMHO improve the performance of both.* Simple, free, and takes only a few minutes...

    Synesso basket: One of the nice things of the VST is the consistent hole size which helps ensure more even extraction across/through the puck; the Synesso holes are relatively inconsistent by comparison.* The solution?* The Synesso holes are all drilled the same size, but are not finished well, however if you take a standard sewing needle and gently insert it into each hole to clear out the "dags" youll have a lovely "VSTd" Synesso basket.* Be methodical and itll only take about 15mins to complete.

    VST basket: I love the flavours from the VST, however the parallel sidewalls and polished finish have, IME, made it harder for the puck to adhere to the sidewalls which makes it more susceptible to edge channelling.* Ive also had my fitted tamper suck the puck out of the basket on a few occasions when Ive withdrawn it too quickly (something Ive read others have experienced, too).* The solution?* Take a small piece of very fine wet and dry (I used 1200 grade) and very lightly remove the polished finish from the inside of the basket.* Takes about 2 minutes, and youve got a "Synessod" VST.

    If youve got either of these baskets maybe give it a try and report back; I think youll be happy with the results.

    ;D

  2. #2
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    Re: Free and easy improvements to my Synesso and VST baskets

    Interesting on both counts. Im not sure I want to take to my VST just yet, but I have noticed the edge channelling even with a matched pullman tamper.

    I havent had "puck suck" but I have had basket suck. It appears to happen when some grinds get stuck between the tamper edge and basket sides while tamping. If I pull the tamper out it will somtimes pull the whole basket out of the pf with it. To overcome that I make a couple of super-light presses with the tamper to make sure no grinds will wedge on the edge, then tamp as normal.

    Have you noticed measurable edge channelling differences before and after your VST changes?

    :)

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    Re: Free and easy improvements to my Synesso and VST baskets

    Quote Originally Posted by 3A323A3D3731530 link=1329877036/1#1 date=1329880511
    Have you noticed measurable edge channelling differences before and after your VST changes?

    :)
    Hey Iain,

    Its too early for me to say for sure (sample size too small), but my initial feeling is that it has made a difference to channelling. Its certainly does seem to improve the adhesion of puck to basket judging by the (highly scientific) "turn the GH upside down and see if the puck stays put" test. ;)

    FWIW, the visible difference between the VST basket before/after modification is very minimal; if you didnt know it had been done I doubt youd notice it. The Synesso mod, OTOH, makes a very visible difference to hole size and consistency.

    Cheers,
    Steve :)

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    Re: Free and easy improvements to my Synesso and VST baskets

    Ok, so three weeks in and time to follow up.

    The synesso basket post-poking provides, IMHO, a more slightly more complex flavour, with more prevalence of the fruity/spicy flavours rather than just the chocolate end of the spectrum to which it leaned before.

    More significantly for me (as I use it the most) is the increased tolerance to variations in distribution that "de-polishing" the VST has provided. Ive probably pulled around 50 shots through the VST since modding, and Id say channeling has been reduced by around 70% or more. All the things I like about the basket remain the same, it just doesnt need all the planets to align and the gods to smile in order to extract through the puck rather than around it.

    If you have either of these baskets I can definitely recommend the mods; I know Ill be doing them on any future basket purchases!!

    Cheers, Steve :-)

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    Re: Free and easy improvements to my Synesso and VST baskets

    Sounds good, but how do you measure the amount of channelling? I do notice a lot of channelling with my VST from time to time by the appearance of small pinholes on the top of the puck. Are you saying that you notice this sort of thing in less shots now? Sorry to sound pedantic but I like to quantify things :)

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    Re: Free and easy improvements to my Synesso and VST baskets

    Hey iain,
    What youre refering to is channeling through the puck; this process will have no effect on this. It is designed to reduce channeling around the puck; ie between the puck and sidewalls caused by poor adhesion of the puck to the basket.

    I run my group handle without a spout fitted (poor mans naked PF); when there is channeling of any sort, the coffee exits the bottom of the handle as split streams or a stream that either moves around a lot or spits and sprays in different directions. When theres no channeling, the coffee comes out in a single, even, consistent stream.

    After the mod I get virtually no shots with evidence of channeling, whereas before it was not uncommon. Hope that helps explain my methodology. :)

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    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Re: Free and easy improvements to my Synesso basket

    Quote Originally Posted by 5C626D6D676E0B0 link=1329877036/0#0 date=1329877036
    take a standard sewing needle and gently insert it into each hole to clear out the "dags"
    I gave this a try. Poked a sewing needle through each hole in my Synesso basket (inserting from the bottom of the basket, not the top). You could feel the give in a large percentage of holes and some appeared to be almost completely blocked by burrs/dags. It took me about 20 mins and you need to work back and forwards row to row so you dont lose track of where you are. Afterwards, I run a kitchen pot scourer lightly around the inside of the basket to remove the burrs that have been pushed through.

    Result? Well I didnt do a before shot to compare but I felt the resulting shot I made was a little sweeter and more flavourful both before and after milk being added. Of course, I dialed the grinder a little finer to allow for the probable increase in flow.

    Im drinking a 2 week old KJM blend variant and it certainly didnt taste as good as this when i tried it at day 10. Mindful that the blend could have benefited from the additional rest so further trials are needed. But I dont think the mod was a waste of time as clearly some holes were partly or almost completely blocked.

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    Coffee+carbon=heaven Mono's Avatar
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    Re: Free and easy improvements to my Synesso and VST baskets

    Hmmm, will also give the Synesso mod a try this weekend :)

    Steve

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    Re: Free and easy improvements to my Synesso and VST baskets

    So, how is your synesso basket going flynn; any more conclusive opinions? Has anyone else tried either of these mods yet?

  10. #10
    caffeinated lemoo's Avatar
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    Re: Free and easy improvements to my Synesso and VST baskets

    ahhh ok

    well i have a vst and it is a vast step up to what i had previously (no idea what it was, came with my oscar)

    only thing im noticing is slight channeling around the outsides between the puck and inner walls like the OP. darker drops form out the outer edges on the start of the shot before the full extraction begins. i usually discard the first few drops anyway

    but just a little paranoid about using sandpaper on it I had a laugh

  11. #11
    Coffee+carbon=heaven Mono's Avatar
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    Re: Free and easy improvements to my Synesso and VST baskets

    Quote Originally Posted by 566867676D64010 link=1329877036/8#8 date=1332934988
    Has anyone else tried either of these mods yet
    Gave my Synesso the VST mod with the sandpaper as I do get channeling between the outside of the puck & the basket at times. Can not say with 100% certainity that this has eliminated the problem but it has not done any harm that i am aware of. Will report back after further investigation

    Steve

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    Free and easy improvements to my Synesso and VST baskets

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    The search function has been my friend....

    Anyway it seems I am having adhesion problems between the tamped puck and the VST basket. After a firm tamp and i remove my nicely fitted tamper, the puck gets sucked up the sidewalks and drops back down once the tamper exits the basket. I am very careful to firstly gently tamp and remove all grinds between the edges of the basket the tamp firmly but it still often have a moving puck. Machining my tamper again may be the end outcome but the sanding using fine grit emerycloth sounds like an interesting idea.

    Has anyone been doing this lately?



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