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Satisfaction, or, You Can't Always Get What You Want...
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,023
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Jan 25, 2014, 3:10pm
Subject: Re: Satisfaction, or, You Can't Always Get What You Want...
 

Black cat, I got some in the spring and never got a good looking pull but the closer I got to good (time, crema etc) the more lemony it got so I did not even bother to finish dialing it in.  I composted it.  I might try again with the new grinder but from what I am reading it was not just me or my setup.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

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JerDGold
Senior Member


Joined: 11 Dec 2013
Posts: 82
Location: Chicago, IL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Breville...
Drip: Chemex
Posted Sun Jan 26, 2014, 2:01pm
Subject: Re: Satisfaction, or, You Can't Always Get What You Want...
 

First of all, it's encouraging to hear that I'm not the only one that isn't super enthused with Black Cat Classic.  However, following the "It's the Indian, not the Arrow" line of thought, I'm trying to not blame beans and machines for my crappy shots.  If it is the bean, so be it, just not my go to scape-goat at this point.  That being said, just gave the Black Cat another go.  Here are my results.

  1. 14g dose straight from the Vario into my PF
  2. WDT and Tamp
  3. Temp surf as follows:
    *Flush machine at highest temperature for about 3-4sec. or until flash steaming stops.
    *Sit another second or two
  4. Brew

Dwell time still about 7 seconds.  Total shot time is 26 seconds (although I feel I let it run a bit too long because of the lower dose than I'm used to).  Yield is 31.7g.  Definetly got the lemon/citrus on the back end, but this shot was also had a really bitter note, which I wasn't previously getting with the Black Cat.  Shot was also a little watery, had almost no texture to it.  Also, based on the fast blonding, I thought I had some channeling going on.  Low and behold, it looked like I had a fair amount of side channeling around the edges of the puck, something I've been battling a lot lately.

Edit:  Black Cat roast date is 1/15, so I realize I'm about to hit the two wk mark.
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,023
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sun Jan 26, 2014, 4:58pm
Subject: Re: Satisfaction, or, You Can't Always Get What You Want...
 

I was dosing higher.  I believe I was in the 18g range.  The closer I got to a normal looking shot the stronger the lemon was for me and it tasted like crap to me.  I can't believe anyone would enjoy that much of a citrus bite.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,362
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Sun Jan 26, 2014, 6:05pm
Subject: Re: Satisfaction, or, You Can't Always Get What You Want...
 

Coffeenoobie Said:

I was dosing higher.  I believe I was in the 18g range.  The closer I got to a normal looking shot the stronger the lemon was for me and it tasted like crap to me.  I can't believe anyone would enjoy that much of a citrus bite.

Posted January 26, 2014 link

Was even worse in milk, usually milk can hep hide or make bad beans/blends tolerable, but it gave milk drinks that same tangy sour taste I couldn't like, actually made milk drinks taste like milk went bad lol.

Their other stuff is ok nothing special but better than this blend, but I have no idea why they bother with this blend or for that matter why people actually buy it (they must or they wouldn't keep making it. They say it's an evolving blend, but it taste nothing even remotely like what it once used to (was the chocolate bombs of chocolate bombs), sure some may say crop of beans for the blend may change depending on conditions and seasonal factors. But plenty of other roasters do similar for their blends and they all stay fairly similar through the year even with different crops.

I mean even the place by me stopped carrying it as people were complaining and the baristas didn't care for it themselves. I really though it was me, or maybe getting bad batches of beans. But when we had coffee at their own shop in Chicago then I knew it def wasn't me lol. Down dose, up dose, temp vary from 195-204 playing... nothing worked.
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JerDGold
Senior Member


Joined: 11 Dec 2013
Posts: 82
Location: Chicago, IL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Breville...
Drip: Chemex
Posted Sun Jan 26, 2014, 11:34pm
Subject: Re: Satisfaction, or, You Can't Always Get What You Want...
 

Coffeenoobie Said:

I was dosing higher.  I believe I was in the 18g range.  The closer I got to a normal looking shot the stronger the lemon was for me and it tasted like crap to me.  I can't believe anyone would enjoy that much of a citrus bite.

Posted January 26, 2014 link

This is for sure what I'm experiencing.  I never get my doses up to 18g, it's just too much for the stock Rancilio.  I suppose I could get to there and higher in the triple basket tha came with my naked PF, I just don't really ever use it.  But the lower my Black Cat dose gets, the more bitter it gets, bitter and not better.  This time, I'm blaming the arrow.  Thanks for the excuse to buy more coffee.
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,218
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Mon Jan 27, 2014, 8:14am
Subject: Re: Satisfaction, or, You Can't Always Get What You Want...
 

JerDGold Said:

But the lower my Black Cat dose gets, the more bitter it gets, bitter and not better.  This time, I'm blaming the arrow.

Posted January 26, 2014 link

Unless Intelly's changed them a great deal since the last time I brewed  "Black Cat" and Black Cat Classic" (which is quite possible, it's been more than a year), they're both on the tart, sour, citric side of neutral.  In particular, Black Cat leans very lemon peel, while Black Cat Classic leans somewhat orange juice.  

It's almost impossible to do bitter/sour analysis if the barista is suing a machine which can't be temped. I'm not saying that's the problem, just saying that with a non-PID Silvia there's not enough information to draw a conclusion.  That is, the problem may not lie with the arrow OR the archer, but with the bow.  

Another thing which makes it difficult for someone on the outside to read your tea leaves coffee grounds, is that even if you're getting a good flow rate (based on time and weight of the shot) we can't be sure about your distribution technique nor how deep into blonde you're pulling.  Either of those can have a major impact on bitterness, and since they're often connected their individual contributions are further magnified.  

I gather from the rest of your posts that you are dosing your stock, double basket correctly.  But just in case, the ideal dose for a Silvia's stock, double basket is almost always between 14g and 15g, while almost never more than 15g.  Silvia's are quite particular about head space; the stock, double basket is designed to provide it only when making a "classic Italian" 14g double; and any deviation will be punished.    

If you're going to adjust anything while you mentally prepare to add the PID, try a slightly coarser grind and/or shorter shot time.  In other words, be careful not to over extract.  

BDL
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sheilasutherland6
Senior Member


Joined: 29 Jan 2014
Posts: 10
Location: Ashburn
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso
Posted Thu Jan 30, 2014, 2:32am
Subject: Re: Satisfaction, or, You Can't Always Get What You Want...
 

Nice to see your progress.. Awesome..Keep it up. ;)
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,066
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Thu Jan 30, 2014, 7:56am
Subject: Re: Satisfaction, or, You Can't Always Get What You Want...
 

boar_d_laze Said:

Until you install and master some method of reliable temp control on your Silvia, trying to solve bitter/sour balance problems is wheel spinning.

Posted January 25, 2014 link

I disagree.  Though I think a PID will help a lot, if you do everything the same every time, you should be able to make pretty good to great shots most of the time, without a PID.  I used a Silvia without a PID for 8 years.  When I took my class at Klatch, with Heather Perry, she asked if I was going to install one.  I jokingly told her "this class is my PID" - but that wasn't far from the truth.  In reality, I was doing pretty well by being consistent, especially with timing the boiler cycles (this is the key), but the other reason I never installed the PID was because I figured I'd be better off just upgrading my machine.

boar_d_laze Said:

...(I)We quit going to Intelly because Black Cat is so obviously lousy...at least to our tastes....

Posted January 25, 2014 link

Now, I can certainly get behind this.  Many years ago, Black Cat was good and one of the top espresso blends used by home enthusiasts. However, I only bought it a couple of times because I've always liked the blends from Klatch much, much more.  The last time I tried BC, it was pretty bad - and that was from their shop in Downtown Chicago (I want to say it's on Ontario or Ohio - the one that runs towards the Dan Ryan Expressway).

Regarding an 8 second dwell time...yeah, it's on the long side, but not at all unacceptable.  In fact, when I took my barista training class, Heather said you want to see a tail by 8 seconds. I've made some very tasty ristrettos that took considerably longer than that, but for a normale, you should try to get your flow up to speed within the 8 second window.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,218
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Thu Jan 30, 2014, 11:26am
Subject: Re: Satisfaction, or, You Can't Always Get What You Want...
 

emradguy Said:

I disagree.  Though I think a PID will help a lot, if you do everything the same every time, you should be able to make pretty good to great shots most of the time, without a PID.

Posted January 30, 2014 link

A gaggle of "expert users" on H-B used a "Scace temperature device" to check temp consistency on their Silvia's (which were then VERY popular with the coffee cognoscenti), and the best anyone could manage with temp surfing and/or reverse temp surfing was +/- 10F.  IIRC, it was about ten years ago --  give or take.  Temp control was THE THING back then, and even farther back in the alt.coffee days, and the Scace's incontrovertible accuracy was a huge downer.

I was using a Livia 90 then.  As an outside observer, it seemed to me that the whole Scace thing really put a stake through the Silvia heart as a high-end machine in the "serious coffee" community and accelerated the run to E-61HXs.  Ever the contrarian, that's when my lust for a LaCimbali M21 began.

Not to get back to the point and your comment or anything:
Some people -- bless their little over-caffeinated, over-entitled hearts -- want more than "pretty good" and "most of the time."  People like... oh, I don't know... you and me.

"Most of the time," is especially troubling when it comes to dialing-in and/or tweaking.  If you only land within the good-enough temp range, 2/3 of the time, your ability to distinguish harsh/bitter as a consequence of grind or temp is severely compromised.  Fooling around with the wrong parameter and re-testing can throw you even farther off.   It's not a reason for seppuku, exactly; but I'd rather have the certainty.

I used a Silvia without a PID for 8 years.  When I took my class at Klatch, with Heather Perry, she asked if I was going to install one.

I took a class from her too.  Isn't she great?  I also took Mike Perry's roasting class.  Also great.

I jokingly told her "this class is my PID" - but that wasn't far from the truth.  In reality, I  was doing pretty well by being consistent, especially with timing the boiler cycles (this is the key)

There's something inside people with a scientific bent and an over-developed sense of personal responsibility which wants to believe that consistent technique -> reproducibility.  But there's an awful lot going on inside a p-stat which isn't user dependent and you need some combination of equipment and diagnostic more precise than a Silvia's lights, your wristwatch and your belief that if you do everything right everything will come out right to put you in the ten-ring every time.  "Every time" has a nice ring, doesn't it?

But the other reason I never installed the PID was because I figured I'd be better off just upgrading my machine.

Yep to upgrading.

Now, I can certainly get behind this.  Many years ago, Black Cat was good and one of the top espresso blends used by home enthusiasts. However, I only bought it a couple of times because I've always liked the blends from Klatch much, much more...

Yep to Klatch blends.  

Regarding an 8 second dwell time...yeah, it's on the long side, but not at all unacceptable.  In fact, when I took my barista training class, Heather said you want to see a tail by 8 seconds. I've made some very tasty ristrettos that took considerably longer than that, but for a normale, you should try to get your flow up to speed within the 8 second window.

Yep some more.

Ron, we have a great deal in common.  Next time you're in SoCal let me make or buy you a cup of something.  

Yep,
BDL
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CoffeeLoversMag
Senior Member
CoffeeLoversMag
Joined: 10 Jan 2013
Posts: 218
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Jan 30, 2014, 7:15pm
Subject: Re: Satisfaction, or, You Can't Always Get What You Want...
 

The success and satisfaction you have is due to your patience and discovering techniques of getting satisfying coffee drinks. Everybody here is thankful of what you have shared that you can only achieved if you keep on improving your shots and never be disappointed if you have failed sometimes.

 
Did you know...? Dark roast coffees actually have less caffeine than lighter roasts due to the fact that the process of roasting burns off caffeine.
www.coffeeloversmag.com/theMagazine
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