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Please help, any machine advice appreciated
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Please help, any...  
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daschlag
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Feb 2011
Posts: 34
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Silvia
Grinder: Vario
Drip: Cuisinart programmable...
Posted Wed Feb 23, 2011, 8:47pm
Subject: Re: Please help, any machine advice appreciated
 

Update:
I'm now seeing first hand some of the "fussiness" of the Silvia.  Although, on the flip side, I'm also seeing the benefits of trial and error, as I'm able to get some pretty good shots about half the time.  I think my grind is mostly dialed in, and now I'm just working on tamp consistency.  At first, the shots were pouring quickly and "blonding".  Then, I over adjusted the grind and tamp, and nothing was coming out.  Now, I'm getting about a 30 second pour, with nice, dark colors at first, with nice crema toward the end, but not consistently, and usually favoring one side of the portafilter over the other.  Practice makes perfect though, I'm still learning.  My wife is having a hard time adjusting from the "idiot-proof" Breville, which made the same crappy-but-barely-drinkable shots every time no matter how badly you screwed up.

Anyone else using the Vario/Silvia combo who wants to weigh in?
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JtothaR
Senior Member
JtothaR
Joined: 20 Dec 2010
Posts: 683
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Faema D92/A1 Smart
Grinder: B VARIO, Krups Conic
Drip: Manual Pour-Over, Bodum...
Roaster: Redbird, Metropolis
Posted Wed Feb 23, 2011, 9:32pm
Subject: Re: Please help, any machine advice appreciated
 

Have you tried tamping on a bathroom scale to learn what 30 lbs of pressure feels like?

Do you have a gram scale to weigh your doses?

Do you make sure that the grounds are evenly distributed and clump free? (i.e. WDT)


Consistency is the most important thing in espresso preparation.

Use the same amount of coffee each time, free of clumps and evenly distributed in the portafilter.

If you dose 18 grams and tap the portafilter on the table once to settle the grounds, you must tap it once the same way every time to ensure consistency from shot to shot. The tamp must be the same each time as well. This will allow you to see the effects from small changes in grind and dose.

The Silvia does not like to be overdosed, do your routine of dosing and tamping, engage the portafilter into the machine and then take it off again without brewing. Can you see an indention in the coffee puck from the group screen?

Also the Silvia needs to be temperature surfed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7Bn5IjZht8

 
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daschlag
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Feb 2011
Posts: 34
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Silvia
Grinder: Vario
Drip: Cuisinart programmable...
Posted Thu Feb 24, 2011, 10:37am
Subject: Re: Please help, any machine advice appreciated
 

Hi JR, I don't have a bathroom scale but will try that next time I'm at my in-laws' house (they have a digital one).  Neither do I have a gram scale but that sounds like a good idea.  Right now I'm relying upon the Vario's programmable grind time to get my dose consistent, but I have no idea how much is actually in there.  I pretty much try to get it just below the lip of the basket while it's still fluffy.  Thanks for the WDT pointer.  I hadn't seen that technique before.  I also hate to add more steps to the complex dance, but maybe until I get the hang of it.

I do see an indentation after brewing, but not before.  I'm hoping that is a good sign.  Also interesting is that once in a while the puck sticks to the group screen when I remove the portafilter.  Any idea why that would be happening?

Thanks for the tips!  The funny thing is that my wife and I have both done stints as baristas, me in college at a cart in the student center over 10 years ago, and her at Starbucks at about the same time.  Solid evidence that there are a lot of baristas out there who have no idea what they're doing.  I've been watching a lot of Silvia videos online and have observed a wide disparity between techniques in use.  I'm starting to think the Silvia isn't as fussy as people say, but rather there are a lot of amateur home baristas who just aren't that practiced at it.  Honestly the temperature surfing doesn't bother me, it's easy to build into the ritual.  Maybe I'll think differently after getting the major kinks worked out and I start looking for more minor adjustments.
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