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Thread: Help with a Silvia + Sunbeam EM0480 frustrations

  1. #1
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    Help with a Silvia + Sunbeam EM0480 frustrations

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hey guys,

    First timer here so please be gentle

    I've got my third setup consisting of a Rancilio Silva (v3) and Sunbeam cafe series EM0480. Before that was a Francis Francis and the same grinder, but an earlier version.
    I purchased both the machine and grinder new and very recently. I've had a Silvia before to trial and I really liked the bang for buck, that's why I've invested, I got the Sunbeam because it seemed good when shimmed and a good match for the Silvia.

    I've spent weeks researching here trying to sort my issue and I'm just about to give up and sell the gear and probably buy a pod machine and put up with significantly lower quality coffee as a result, but I thought I'd post and see if I could find a solution.

    The issue I have is undrinkable espresso. It's always sour no matter the blend, grind size or amount, tamp pressure, extraction time etc.
    I've shimmed the grinder and I'm grinding in the middle of the grind size range. I did try different thickness shims (washers).

    I'm using the Silvia double basket and between 16 and 17 grams per dose by weighing with a digital scale that seems accurate. 18 grams seems too much and the machine chokes, 15 too little and extraction is too fast.
    The extraction is always between 22 and 30 seconds and it always actually looks quite good, but always sour.

    Is there something obvious that I'm missing?
    Is the machine possibly broken, i.e. pressure is off? I can choke the machine by adding 18 grams to the double basket instead of 16 which pours 30ml at 28 seconds, is that a sign the machine isn't making enough pressure?
    Is the grinder not uniform enough, or is there some other issue?

    I've tried 6kgs of coffee, from $15 per kilo Vittoria from the supermarket on special to $65 a kilo from a local cafe with amazing tasting coffee. The best was a $40 bag from Kaffeina Group, but it was still undrinkable, not their fault of course, I've put that in a friends machine and it was great.


    Very frustrating, I know it's not much but this setup is a little more than I wanted to spend and I see some people making great looking and apparently great tasting coffee with the Silvia.
    Appreciate any help, thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Can you choke the machine with 14g and a really fine grind? From memory these baskets can't handle more than about 14-15g. If you are achieving a good looking pour by increasing the dose it will produce underextracted sour coffee. Have you done the 5c test to check your dose isn't too high in the basket and hitting the shower screen?

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    I have done the coin test with 15 and 16g and no indent. At 17g no matter the grind I get an indentation.

  4. #4
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Can you choke the machine at 14g just by grinding finer?

  5. #5
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    We need to eliminate the machine or something else like your water. To do that we need to know that you are hitting the mark with your extractions and we donít have all the info required. So do another few tests following this process:
    ē Pick a dose and stick to it. It sounds like you need to be using 14-15g if youíre using the stock Silvia basket. Donít change the dose unless all other avenues have been explored.
    ē You then need to pick your yield. A good starting point is a brew ratio of 2:1 so that gives you a yield of 30g for 15g dose. If itís a darker roast Iíd lean towards a shorter ratio like 1.5:1 and potentially the other way for a lighter roast.
    ē Once this is sorted you need to adjust the grind to achieve that yield in about 28-30secs.

    You then play with those variables in reverse order and make sure you only change one thing at a time. None of this is gospel and there are no absolutes so continue using your taste buds to guide you. Iíve had shots that ended at 20secs that were amazing and equally Iíve had some that took about a minute to reach my yield and also tasted amazing. If it really is a sour taste that youíre getting then youíre under-extracting, but lots of people confuse bitter and sour so we need to know your yields and extraction times to help you further. Hope this all makes sense. Please report back - good luck.
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    First of all, thanks so much for your time guys, even though I'v solved nothing, it feels great having people obviously more competent than me helping out a noob without any condescension, really appreciate the prompt and helpful replies.


    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    Can you choke the machine at 14g just by grinding finer?
    Yes, after the post here about lowering my dose to 14g, I tried it and got a super fast extraction, so ground finer, a more decent extraction but still too fast and tasting much more sour than usual, then one step down and it choked. I tried twice in case the 14g dose wasn't measured accurately and it choked again.


    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    We need to eliminate the machine or something else like your water. To do that we need to know that you are hitting the mark with your extractions and we don’t have all the info required. So do another few tests following this process:
    • Pick a dose and stick to it. It sounds like you need to be using 14-15g if you’re using the stock Silvia basket. Don’t change the dose unless all other avenues have been explored.
    • You then need to pick your yield. A good starting point is a brew ratio of 2:1 so that gives you a yield of 30g for 15g dose. If it’s a darker roast I’d lean towards a shorter ratio like 1.5:1 and potentially the other way for a lighter roast.
    • Once this is sorted you need to adjust the grind to achieve that yield in about 28-30secs.

    You then play with those variables in reverse order and make sure you only change one thing at a time. None of this is gospel and there are no absolutes so continue using your taste buds to guide you. I’ve had shots that ended at 20secs that were amazing and equally I’ve had some that took about a minute to reach my yield and also tasted amazing. If it really is a sour taste that you’re getting then you’re under-extracting, but lots of people confuse bitter and sour so we need to know your yields and extraction times to help you further. Hope this all makes sense. Please report back - good luck.
    I should first mention water is mains, but filtered through a Brita jug with a new filter.
    I also purged the machine again with Cafetto, by brewing a light dilution and by back-flush with the blind basket.
    I ran HEAPS of water through and seasoned with the 14g dose testers.

    I'll stick to 15g now then. Having less variables will be much less frustrating.
    I'm also distributing and tamping with a distribution tool and a torquing tamper, not because I think they work, but in order to remove some variables (distribution methods and tamp pressure).

    I'm confident it's sour. I like bitters, I've been drinking coffee since 8 (I'm 40) and I also drink bitter Italian soft drinks and liquors (like Fernet Branca).

    I can almost never achieve a long 30ml extraction with the 14 or 15g dose, it's either fast (well under 20 seconds) or the machine chokes. With the 16g dose I can achieve a 30 second extraction, but as I said, it's sour, never bitter.

    My current beans are a darker roast, the roaster described them as medium dark, more on the dark side as I asked for something sweeter and forgiving, more traditional Italian than what i usually have at my favourite cafes.


    Thanks again, I'll attempt to get a video up showing the set-up and a shot pulled from the grind stage.

  7. #7
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Iím hesitant to complicate matters, but I feel like I should mention that thereís a slight possibility that it could be the grinder causing problems. Just the fact that you can go from a fast extraction to no flow in one step on the grinder seems suspicious. The EM0480 has a habit of doing this, especially after itís been shimmed and it could be worth looking at. In my experience they canít handle any more than about 5 shims, 6 is possible but itís a delicate balance. So check this first, but also check that everything is put together properly as sometimes the upper burr carrier isnít put back in properly after itís been apart.
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    Senior Member Lyrebird's Avatar
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    I agree with the above. I started my coffee journey a few years ago with a PIDd Silvia and a sunbeam grinder (one of the predecessors to yours) and the grinder was definitely the weakest link.

    Last vintage I borrowed another Sunbeam grinder to use with the Silvia as the backup coffee rig at the winery and again the grinder was a real let down.

    It seems to me that these grinders do not give a particle size distribution that allows decent extract levels without choking the machine, so with a standard flow profile they will yield underextracted coffee.

    Do you have access to a quality grinder through friends or family? If you could arrange to borrow the grinder or even get some coffee ground to suit, it might help point to the source of your problems.
    Last edited by Lyrebird; 1 Week Ago at 06:37 PM.
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    No advice ,complete novice, but i have the same setup as you and was in your position about a month ago . Totally frustrated until that one moment it came together ,keep notes of grind setting , amount of beans ( grams) , yeild , times and taste of shot .i only ever changed one thing at a time ,but had a base recipe that was the best at the time and played around that . And found out the hard way about fresh beans . By the way i did get rid of the stock basket big differance . I grind at 5 mostly or 6 sometimes . Stay with it . Steamed milk makes bad shots drinkable .

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    Thanks guys, I do have a good friend with a better grinder. I had a feeling it was lack of grind adjustment or the pressure in the machine and this weekend we'll see if the grinder is to blame.

  11. #11
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    The EM0480 can be an excellent grinder, but as with many appliance brands quality can vary from unit to unit. Iíve had probably 4 or 5 Sunbeam grinders and all of them have been perfectly capable of producing great coffee, but if Iím being honest only 1 or 2 of them were really good. Keep trying cause once you get it dialed in youíll be sorted. If you can borrow another grinder to try thatíd be a good idea for sure.
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    Hooked up a friend's grinder today, a Maccap M2M iirc.
    Coffee tasted different, however it wasn't better, still undrinkable.

    Could I have a pump pressure problem? Too high, too low or dropping during extraction?

  13. #13
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobSac View Post
    Hooked up a friend's grinder today, a Maccap M2M iirc.
    Coffee tasted different, however it wasn't better, still undrinkable.

    Could I have a pump pressure problem? Too high, too low or dropping during extraction?
    The Macap M2M is a great grinder that should give good results if everything else is right. So in all likelihood that means itís not the grinder thatís the problem. The only other things that could be causing the issue is something in your process/technique or the coffee machine itself. At this point it would be quite useful if you could post a video. This will help a great deal as if there is something in your process thatís an issue someone should be able to spot it.

  14. #14
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    The other option is contacting the retailer where you bought the machine and letting them know whatís happening. Did you buy locally or online? If itís local most retailers would be happy for you to take the machine in and run through things in store to help diagnose whether itís the machine or the operator thatís the problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    The other option is contacting the retailer where you bought the machine and letting them know what’s happening. Did you buy locally or online? If it’s local most retailers would be happy for you to take the machine in and run through things in store to help diagnose whether it’s the machine or the operator that’s the problem.
    It was bought from a physical retailer in Melbourne, I spoke to them and even though it's out of warranty they are keen to help find the solution.

    I didn't think it was the grinder as I've used this combination before with much better results.

    No exaggeration, but a Vittoria pod in a nespresso tastes better. Three of four people wouldn't drink the espresso from the Silvia and own of them said it was drinkable but not at all enjoyable.
    Which is good because I started to think I was being a bit fussy.


    I did take a video, but unfortunately it shows a 25 ish second extraction with a good looking espresso, about 2-4 seconds for the extraction to be seen at the end of the spout after starting to brew.

    14-16 grams in the standard double basket, 30ml yield.
    Nice Crema too, nothing special, but it has a head of Crema. No tiger striping though, none at all regardless of the beans used.

    So yeah, video looks good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    The other option is contacting the retailer where you bought the machine and letting them know what’s happening. Did you buy locally or online? If it’s local most retailers would be happy for you to take the machine in and run through things in store to help diagnose whether it’s the machine or the operator that’s the problem.
    It was bought from a physical retailer in Melbourne, I spoke to them and even though it's out of warranty they are keen to help find the solution.

    I didn't think it was the grinder as I've used this combination before with much better results.

    No exaggeration, but a Vittoria pod in a nespresso tastes better. Three of four people wouldn't drink the espresso from the Silvia and own of them said it was drinkable but not at all enjoyable.
    Which is good because I started to think I was being a bit fussy.


    I did take a video, but unfortunately it shows a 25 ish second extraction with a good looking espresso, about 2-4 seconds for the extraction to be seen at the end of the spout after starting to brew.

    14-16 grams in the standard double basket, 30ml yield.
    Nice Crema too, nothing special, but it has a head of Crema. No tiger striping though, none at all regardless of the beans used.

    So yeah, video looks good.

  17. #17
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Ok interesting. It could be a pressure or temperature issue. I would check the flow youíre getting without the portafilter in place. Iím not sure what it should be for the Silvia, but Iíd say somewhere between 150ml and 200ml per minute. I know you wonít have an accurate way of measuring temperature, but it can still be worth doing with a milk thermometer so give it a go. Measure temp of water in a cup after a 30sec cycle and also the temp of an espresso. If itís way out you should be able to tell. Sensory evaluation of temp can also work quite well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    Ok interesting. It could be a pressure or temperature issue. I would check the flow you’re getting without the portafilter in place. I’m not sure what it should be for the Silvia, but I’d say somewhere between 150ml and 200ml per minute. I know you won’t have an accurate way of measuring temperature, but it can still be worth doing with a milk thermometer so give it a go. Measure temp of water in a cup after a 30sec cycle and also the temp of an espresso. If it’s way out you should be able to tell. Sensory evaluation of temp can also work quite well.
    Will do, I have a thermometer I use for work that should be fine. Will take a bunch of measurements and report back.

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    Without any coffee in the group handle, I'm getting flow of about 5 seconds for 30ml.

    The temperature at the shower screen (no group handle inserted obviously) is a consistent 75C.

    Coffee temp after 25 second extraction is a consistent 50-55 C with cup warmed with flushed water.

    All my measurements are accurate to 5C, the thermometer isn't fancy, but i've tested on known heat sources and it's definitely no more than 10 degrees C out at the hottest temps (about 90C).

    Uploading a video of the best tasting, but still undrinkable extraction as I type.

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    Doing some research today on trying to decide on a Vario or Eureka Specialita and came across some info that may be of help in this thread...

    https://coffeesnobs.com.au/grinders/...ybe-vario.html

    Scroll to post #20 for starters, other posts allude to there being good Sunbeam grinders (low rpm) and crap Sunbeams (high rpm) .
    A PM to Tampit to get involved may bring some answers.

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    Thanks mate, will give the link a read now

  23. #23
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Seems I really haven't the time and patience for all the variables, maintenance etc. for the Sunbeam.

    I've decided to use the combo for mill drinks only until/if I can justify a better setup.

    I also made a video that's better aligned with my standards of what a video should be...

    https://youtu.be/7p0n7iDso88


    Appreciate the help, I'll continue to update the thread as I troubleshoot, but I'm quite busy and it's low priority so it may be some time.



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