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Rancilio Silvia ...espresso making frustration
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Rancilio Silvia...  
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faster
Senior Member


Joined: 27 May 2013
Posts: 89
Location: France
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Rancillio Silvia-PID
Grinder: Rossi RR45
Roaster: Homemade drum roaster
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 9:33am
Subject: Rancilio Silvia ...espresso making frustration
 

I am really getting frustrated with Silvia...Let me explain...what used to be a simple espresso making before, now became a complex duty weighing out coffee grounds on a precision digital scale, temp surfing, constant grider setting between different beans and roasts and the result?

Disappointing...I like the machine, solid, nice etc...but...

One shot out of 4 is good...Most of the time the coffee is too strong to drink, sometimes a burn taste, sometimes acidic and sometimes bitter. Did I miss anything?
But on the bright side, when I make a good one, it is really excellent...So what's going on? What I don't understand is why is it so complex and difficult to make a decent espresso shot?  

I am not complaining about all the preparations, I am complaining about the results after all the preparations...
What can I do to get consistently good shots?
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,070
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 12:08pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia ...espresso making frustration
 

Have you practiced tamping?  Using a large scale and trying to hit the same weight multiple times.  If your grind is consistent and your coffee is fresh with a PID you should be good.  Make sure you back flush regularly too.
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DeanOK
Senior Member
DeanOK
Joined: 24 Sep 2012
Posts: 662
Location: OK
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Vario W
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 12:18pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia ...espresso making frustration
 

faster Said:

I am really getting frustrated with Silvia...Let me explain...what used to be a simple espresso making before, now became a complex duty...

Posted July 7, 2013 link

When it was simple before, were you using this machine or another machine?

Your life sounds like the one  I have been living for several months... turned out my brew pressure was low.

Here is some clues that I didn't realize I had until I got everything correct....

My shots smelled burned.
My pucks were watery and did not come out clean (I wasn't grinding very fine because my pressure was too low to support the finer grind).
Most shots tasted so bad I would throw away my milk drinks before I was finished with them.
I was constantly changing grinder settings and tamping technique trying to get repeatable results.. but things seemed they were constantly changing.

This may not be your issue, but I felt compelled to share.... hope you get to the bottom of it.
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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 1,997
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 12:28pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia ...espresso making frustration
 

Similar, what is your experience and past equipment?  IIRC you had a dying machine but I do not recall which.  Pressurized PF on the last?  New grinder?  Do you know the pressure on Silvia?  You have a lot of variables.

I like the site below.  I do not have a Silvia, but Frcn did. How to #12 is particularly useful, Easy Guide to better Espresso at Home.

http://www.espressomyespresso.com/

Even the main Journal #9, Are You Anal Enough for Espresso should give a hint.  It is a journey, not a sudden arrival when you get a new or different machine.

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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faster
Senior Member


Joined: 27 May 2013
Posts: 89
Location: France
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Rancillio Silvia-PID
Grinder: Rossi RR45
Roaster: Homemade drum roaster
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 2:37pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia ...espresso making frustration
 

DeanOK Said:

When it was simple before, were you using this machine or another machine?

Your life sounds like the one  I have been living for several months... turned out my brew pressure was low.

Here is some clues that I didn't realize I had until I got everything correct....

My shots smelled burned.
My pucks were watery and did not come out clean (I wasn't grinding very fine because my pressure was too low to support the finer grind).
Most shots tasted so bad I would throw away my milk drinks before I was finished with them.
I was constantly changing grinder settings and tamping technique trying to get repeatable results.. but things seemed they were constantly changing.

This may not be your issue, but I felt compelled to share.... hope you get to the bottom of it.

Posted July 7, 2013 link

WOW, you read my mind...This is most of the time the case...
I am not sure they smell burnt but they taste burnt...
95% of the time the puck is wet, few times I had dryer puck but don't know how I did it...
I have no clue about the pressure, but several times it was going so slow, I had a few drops in the cup after 20 seconds so I stopped...Is there a way to check the pressure just roughly?
I had changed the grinder setting (Rossi RR45) a click or two. to finer...
Before I used to have a Delonghi EC155...

I descaled and backflush by-weekly. Machine is 1 1/2 years old and the guy before did not descale. Even the plastic reservoir had lime deposit in it...
Thank you all for your help...
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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 1,997
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 2:47pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia ...espresso making frustration
 

The EC 155 is pressurized PF unless you unpressurized it.  Pressurized is easy and forgiving but does not go far for real espresso.  The pressurized system makes fake crema. Silvia is a bit more picky and difficult to learn, but will make a much better espresso.  The FRCN site would be very helpful and rewarding.  You are starting over in espresso and need to be patient with yourself and machine.  Your machine may well be fine and your problems all technique.  DeanOK has clearly had difficulties that sound like his machine and he found the problems by testing various components.

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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DeanOK
Senior Member
DeanOK
Joined: 24 Sep 2012
Posts: 662
Location: OK
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Vario W
Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 3:08pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia ...espresso making frustration
 

faster Said:

WOW, you read my mind...This is most of the time the case...
I am not sure they smell burnt but they taste burnt...
95% of the time the puck is wet, few times I had dryer puck but don't know how I did it...
I have no clue about the pressure, but several times it was going so slow, I had a few drops in the cup after 20 seconds so I stopped...Is there a way to check the pressure just roughly?
I had changed the grinder setting (Rossi RR45) a click or two. to finer...
Before I used to have a Delonghi EC155...

I descaled and backflush by-weekly. Machine is 1 1/2 years old and the guy before did not descale. Even the plastic reservoir had lime deposit in it...
Thank you all for your help...

Posted July 7, 2013 link

Don't be eager to jump to conclusions. There is a lot of difference between the way a Delonghi EC155 works and the Silvia. I can say that de-scaling every two weeks should not be necessary for a low use machine, and if it is, you need to find some higher quality water to put in your machine. That is a LOT of descaling.

Don't forget to take a serious look at your grinder. I can see where I EC155 would probably function reasonably well (if it was pressurized) with a bad grinder, but the Silvia would not.

If your convinced your tamping technique and grind are consistent, one easy way to find out if the pressure is an issue is to simply measure it with a PF pressure gauge or scace device. If you have a standard thread on the spout on your portafilter (I am not familiar with the Sivia), you can buy a gauge inexpensively to test the pressure. If you have a repair shot nearby, they can probably check it for you for a reasonable service charge.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,030
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 Sun Jul 7, 2013, 6:36pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia ...espresso making frustration
 

yeah, as mentioned above, there's a big difference in using a pressurized pf on the EC155 and a non-pressurized pf on the Silvia.  

Silvia is pretty well known for producing a very stable ~9bar, so it's not that likely to be your problem.

I'd look at the following, in order of simplicity:

1) beans...how old off roast are they?  Within 2 weeks, you should be good. Older than that...find a new roaster.
2) grinder...your Rossi should be up to the challenge, but I want to make sure you don't need new burrs.  Did you get it new or used?  how old are the burrs.
3) technique...Fred gave you excellent advice to read through Randy's (frcn) guide on his website www.espressomyespresso.com  It's probably better than any other help you can get from the internet.  you've gotten some advice to check your tamp technique...well, I hope they really mean puck preparation technique, of which tamping is a small part.  Distribution is really where you want to focus. Tamp pressure should be the least of your worries, as long as you do it the same every time. Whether your puck is dry or not is practically inconsequential.  Focus on what's in the cup!

A bottomless pf is really helpful in diagnosing and correcting extraction problems, but I really don't think you should run out and buy pressure gauges and the like...you probably don't need one.

.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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okitoki
Senior Member
okitoki
Joined: 24 Jun 2013
Posts: 11
Location: Perth, AUstralia
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Jul 7, 2013, 9:39pm
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia ...espresso making frustration
 

seriously suggest getting a better grinder to go with your Silvia... it will make your life so much easier.

Also, unless you are very good at eye balling your grinding and able to get consistent weight for each shot, I would suggest going by weighing your beans for each grind.  Once you are sure of getting the right amount of grind per dose, then you can work on how fine your grinds need to be.

Temp surfing is a necessary evil for Ms Silvia... installing a PID or even a temp sensor on the boiler can make pulling the shot less of a guess work...  I have installed my Silvia with an Auber PID, and after adjusting the correct temp, it is so much easier (and quicker) to pull shots, and I can just concentrate on getting the dosing part right.
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faster
Senior Member


Joined: 27 May 2013
Posts: 89
Location: France
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Rancillio Silvia-PID
Grinder: Rossi RR45
Roaster: Homemade drum roaster
Posted Mon Jul 8, 2013, 8:40am
Subject: Re: Rancilio Silvia...espresso making frustration
 

emradguy Said:

yeah, as mentioned above, there's a big difference in using a pressurized pf on the EC155 and a non-pressurized pf on the Silvia.  

Silvia is pretty well known for producing a very stable ~9bar, so it's not that likely to be your problem.

I'd look at the following, in order of simplicity:

1) beans...how old off roast are they?  Within 2 weeks, you should be good. Older than that...find a new roaster.
2) grinder...your Rossi should be up to the challenge, but I want to make sure you don't need new burrs.  Did you get it new or used?  how old are the burrs.
3) technique...Fred gave you excellent advice to read through Randy's (frcn) guide on his website www.espressomyespresso.com  It's probably better than any other help you can get from the internet.  you've gotten some advice to check your tamp technique...well, I hope they really mean puck preparation technique, of which tamping is a small part.  Distribution is really where you want to focus. Tamp pressure should be the least of your worries, as long as you do it the same every time. Whether your puck is dry or not is practically inconsequential.  Focus on what's in the cup!

A bottomless pf is really helpful in diagnosing and correcting extraction problems, but I really don't think you should run out and buy pressure gauges and the like...you probably don't need one..

Posted July 7, 2013 link

Thanks for all the practical tips, really appreciated...

Ordered new burrs, roasted some fresh beans, well, will start over...

The technique is another story...have to work on it...

Q: In general, what causes "wet puck" in Silvia?  sometimes even with a small puddle on top? At 16/17g dose? Grinder settings?
Thanks all for help:-)
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