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Thread: Should I chuck the VST?

  1. #1
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    Should I chuck the VST?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Still newbie. But I thought I got my technique spot on withgood extraction, crema and mousetail pours with the stock Silvia ridged basket(14g)

    Decided to give VST basket (18g ridgeless) a go and I havenever got it right.
    I double checked my dosing, weighed it to double check. Tampwith 58mm pullman

    Sometimes I get a nice trickle/pour for the first 10 sec andthen the next 10sec is like a waterfall (gusher).

    I have read the VST thread and Iím sure the VST punishespoor technique.
    The other thing which was mentioned is that a custom Pullmanwith the basket will eliminate the channelling at the edges??
    Dun really wanna go down the custom road.

    Wonder if I should chuck it in the cupboard altogether?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    I wouldn't give up on it, VST make a good basket.
    Experiment, vary dose and grind, only make one change at a time.
    You will be able to tamp quite adequately with your 58mm Pullman, no need to go down the custom road.
    Keep at it, you'll get there in the end.

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    Thanks. Will try keeping at it.
    Guess it was discouraging when you think you got it right and then back to square one again (especially when I dun think I can notice any taste difference; rather just the novelty of getting a VST basket).
    Had a barista friend come over to use it and.....waala... no problem.
    So I'm sure its user technique. Not easy being barista!

  4. #4
    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    I agree with Yelta.

    The first variable I would change is your dose; increase it. Ignore the scales.
    If you still can't get a good pour with an overfull filter, increase the grind setting finer and begin to reduce the dose.
    When you get in the zone, tweak both to get the sweet spot.
    If your tamp pressure is in the 15kg zone, don't change it, work the other two parameters like crosshairs.
    Not knowing which grinder you have, remember that residual grinds in the grind path will have
    to be purged when you make grind setting changes.
    JamesM likes this.

  5. #5
    Roz
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    Did you follow your friends technique closely? what did he do to achieve a good poor?, I've had great success with my 18g Ridgless VST and if I am running into problems I tend to take note of how firm/soft the puck is at the end of the shot, if it's rock solid I have dosed too much and if it's too easy to push a finger in then it's not enough.

    Just make every step you do as consistent as possible, that is the key to being able to narrow down where you might be going a bit wrong

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roz View Post
    Did you follow your friends technique closely?
    Ha.. It was too fast! I was just amazed at the speed. Everything happened all too quickly.
    I think I take at least 3 times as long pulling a single shot (and we havent even got to the milk yet).

    I do notice that the puck has a small imprint of the shower screen screw. Is that ok? Didnt have any problems on the stock basket though.

    Will have another go at the tips listed earlier...

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    Quote Originally Posted by miltah View Post
    Ha.. It was too fast! I was just amazed at the speed. Everything happened all too quickly.
    I think I take at least 3 times as long pulling a single shot (and we havent even got to the milk yet).

    I do notice that the puck has a small imprint of the shower screen screw. Is that ok? Didnt have any problems on the stock basket though.

    Will have another go at the tips listed earlier...
    If you never got the shower screen screw imprint with the stock Silvia basket - you were probably underdosing. As has already been suggested - dose by volume 'til things improve, ignore the scales for now.

    edit: Yep the screw imprint is okay. Some disagree. There are threads on CS with fixes by replacing the screw type.
    Last edited by dabbler; 1st March 2013 at 03:16 PM. Reason: added info

  8. #8
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dabbler View Post
    If you never got the shower screen screw imprint with the stock Silvia basket - you were probably underdosing. As has already been suggested - dose by volume 'til things improve, ignore the scales for now.

    edit: Yep the screw imprint is okay. Some disagree. There are threads on CS with fixes by replacing the screw type.
    The screw imprint never caused me problems with my Silvia.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    The screw imprint never caused me problems with my Silvia.
    Do you mean you never saw it or you did but don't think it an issue ? Just checking - not challenging.

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    Distribution is the key thing with VST baskets, it's gotta be pretty close to dead on or you get major side-channeling, a well fitted tamper will help but is no guarantee.

    If you're dosing a "mound" in the middle then tamping it that's probably your problem, try dosing to a mound, leveling it off so the basket is filled to an even depth, then tamping.

    Also monitor your dose level as others have suggested, a slight imprint of the shower screen is OK, but if you have large clumps of coffee stuck to the shower screen you're over dosing. A stock Silvia will always put a neat little hex-head shaped crater in the middle of your puck.
    dabbler likes this.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dabbler View Post
    Do you mean you never saw it or you did but don't think it an issue ? Just checking - not challenging.
    Sorry, I didn't make it very clear.
    A slight screw imprint was always visible, it never caused me any problems.
    dabbler likes this.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbrewster View Post
    A stock Silvia will always put a neat little hex-head shaped crater in the middle of your puck.
    My Silvia was one of the earlier models, the screen was attached with a ordinary slot head screw with a slight dome, the things were an absolute pig to remove if any more than just nipped up, even then they seemed to self tighten after a while.
    I eventually replaced it with a stainless socket head cap screw (allen key) vast improvement, very easy to remove/replace, even it left a small round imprint in the puck, never proved to be a problem though.
    More recently I believe others have come up with recessed screw solutions, sounds like a good idea.

  13. #13
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    The screws imho don't affect the coffee. They are something the internet sometimes points to when people are struggling but as a topic of conversation quickly go away once people get their technique down pat. Dose level is not some magical thing that when you get it right will give you amazing coffee and make all your troubles go away.

    By adjusting dose you are essentially adjusting other parameters, either your flow rate or allowing for the adjustment of grind (provided you compensate to keep the flow rate the same.) So long as everything is still within normal parameters it won't make bad coffee taste good or vice versa, what it will do is emphasise different characteristics, such as sweetness or acidity and affect how much body and intensity your espresso has.

    IMHO you should be able to see an imprint of the screen on your puck after you have brewed, this indicates that the 9 bars of pressure have faced the resistance of packed coffee as opposed to passing through like a percolator. From the lowest dose where a screen print is visible, up until a high dose where the porta filter won't lock in easily (ie 16-20gm) on my basket are all legitimate doses. A five cent test (look it up on this forum) is not going to make bad coffee good, and if it makes good coffee better it's because you've found the right dose level for an individual coffee/roast rather than anything magical about a 5 cent gap.

    I make 2-300 coffees a day with VST baskets and for the time being I'm a fan. I think they do make the coffee taste better. I'm finding that you get the sweetness of smaller dose/baskets with the intensity and body of a bigger dose/basket. They will bite you if your technique is poor though.

    My tips

    Make sure you are doing a really solid collapse. Give it a good bang on the forks. Short of resorting to Weiss distribution technique this is the best thing you can do to get rid unseen voids in the puck.
    Make sure you distribute evenly especially into the edges as that's where they are most prone to channeling. A slight concave or flat bed of coffee is fine. If its convex or you have a mound your going to get an extraction that looks like a doughnut with a big dead patch in the middle.
    Tamp firmly and evenly, don't mess with it, don't hit the portafilter with the tamper to release grinds on the edge, take care when inserting it into the machine. Once tamped treat your puck like it's a bomb don't do anything to it that might cause it to fracture, or come loose in the basket.
    mwcalder05 and Conic like this.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by muppet_man67 View Post
    IMHO you should be able to see an imprint of the screen on your puck after you have brewed, this indicates that the 9 bars of pressure have faced the resistance of packed coffee as opposed to passing through like a percolator. From the lowest dose where a screen print is visible, up until a high dose where the porta filter won't lock in easily (ie 16-20gm) on my basket are all legitimate doses. A five cent test (look it up on this forum) is not going to make bad coffee good, and if it makes good coffee better it's because you've found the right dose level for an individual coffee/roast rather than anything magical about a 5 cent gap.
    I disagree, if you can see the imprint of the screen on the puck your over dosing.
    All this will result in is a big mess with used grounds stuck to the screen.
    The 5 cent test is a simple and effective way to get yourself into the ball park, from there it's all up to the individual.



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