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why is my Silvia choking with a new grinder?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > why is my Silvia...  
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flipteg
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Nov 2013
Posts: 20
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013, 3:17pm
Subject: why is my Silvia choking with a new grinder?
 

i have been using a Bodum Bistro for the past 2 weeks since i got my Silvia. we could only use the Starbucks Guatemalan coffee beans. any other beans we used, the extraction is way too fast. less than 10 seconds no matter how much tamping pressure i put it under. it was apparent the grinder was not going fine enough. today, my new Baratza Forte AP arrived. i do not understand but my Silvia is choking. i started with 2 at the macro setting and not even 1 drip came out. i kept on trying and it was still choking at macro setting 3. i tried going to macro setting 4 but i didn't even tried to put it in the Silvia because the grinds was starting to look like French press grinds. it's obviously too course. i am dosing about 16g of coffee into the portafilter. i even tried 15g and i was not able to tamp completely because the coffee level was too low in the filter that my 58mm tamper was already pressing up against the sides of the portafilter. i have tried 2 different beans already. the Starbucks Guatemalan and a local store's Guatemalan beans. the local store's beans i bought last week but i couldn't use it because using the Bodum grinder, the shot was coming out too fast. please help!
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,510
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013, 3:28pm
Subject: Re: why is my Silvia choking with a new grinder?
 

flipteg Said:

we could only use the Starbucks Guatemalan coffee beans. any other beans we used, the extraction is way too fast. the Starbucks Guatemalan and a local store's Guatemalan beans. the local store's beans i bought last week!

Posted November 15, 2013 link

More than likely, 99%, there's your problem right there. Charbucks beans are long since stale and burnt by the time you buy them (months and months old), and store bought beans are similar. Basically anything at a store that doesn't have a "roasted on date" don't buy, if it has a best by or use by date... run as fast as you can. Trying to dial in burnt stale beans is almost a lost cause (nevermind will taste like swill). You need beans roasted to order from a roaster (plenty online) or if you google/yelp your area you should be able to find real coffee shops that will sell you good coffee beans or possibly local roaster near you.
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flipteg
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Nov 2013
Posts: 20
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013, 3:42pm
Subject: Re: why is my Silvia choking with a new grinder?
 

the local store i bought it from is a roaster.

i tried something again. Starbucks Cafe Verona which i bought last week but can't use. i just grounded up some in the Bodum's finest and sure enough, it came out too fast. i dosed 15 grams from the Forte set to macro 2 and micro somewhere in the middle. this time, i got a 23 second pull. earlier, i can't even get anything to come out on a barely tamped macro 3 grinder setting.

also, i thought that as beans ages, the grinder setting tends to need to be set finer? which is why i'm so confused.
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,510
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013, 4:55pm
Subject: Re: why is my Silvia choking with a new grinder?
 

Starbucks is useless for espresso, or any coffee. They burn all the beans and when you buy them their already stale, the way they distribute, bags are usually 3-6+ months old when on a shelf.

bodum doesn't work for espresso either, it can grind fine enough, like plenty of grinders can, but just b/c they can doesn't mean they'll work for a espresso grind quality.

beans when fresh, I usually adjust my micro arm slightly every few days. But depends, sometimes I don't have to depending on the bean/blend type and weather (humidity etc). Other day I actually had to make micro almost fully coarser when we had a big weather change from dry to cooler air and lot of rain lol
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flipteg
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Nov 2013
Posts: 20
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013, 10:50pm
Subject: Re: why is my Silvia choking with a new grinder?
 

i understand what you're saying about the quality and age of beans but it's not answering why i'm having such unpredictable swings.

- for the past 2 weeks, we have went through 1.5 lbs of Starbucks Guatemala Antigua (we're on our second bag) using the Bodum grinder. i know it was not a perfect scenario but i get serviceable 25 second pulls with the setup.

- with the Forte grinding to what looks to me coarser than the finest the Bodum can do (same beans i used for last last night's coffee), it is now choking the Silvia.

regardless of the age of beans and how it tastes, how is it possible to get a constant 25 second pull on the Bodum and then get choking on a coarser grind with the Forte?

what really confuses me is one time, i grind so coarse with the Forte that i got a gusher. i adjust the micro lever 3 clicks finer and using the same beans, the Silvia chokes. i do purge about 5 grams of beans every time i change settings.
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 669
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013, 11:23pm
Subject: Re: why is my Silvia choking with a new grinder?
 

flipteg Said:

i understand what you're saying about the quality and age of beans but it's not answering why i'm having such unpredictable swings.

Posted November 15, 2013 link

Actually, I've experienced situations where store bought coffee which is old is much more prone to channelling, which would explain why you are getting this unpredictable behavior.

When channelling happens, the machine is finding the weakest point of the puck and "drilling" a hole through it with pressurized water. This can lead to a much faster shot than what you want.

flipteg Said:

- with the Forte grinding to what looks to me coarser than the finest the Bodum can do (same beans i used for last last night's coffee), it is now choking the Silvia.

Posted November 15, 2013 link

I should mention that your Forte is producing grinds which are much more consistent than what your Bodum is producing because it is grinding the coffee differently.
It's choking the Silvia because it did a great job of producing a puck which is able to hold back the pressure of the water.

flipteg Said:

what really confuses me is one time, i grind so coarse with the Forte that i got a gusher. i adjust the micro lever 3 clicks finer and using the same beans, the Silvia chokes.

Posted November 15, 2013 link

OK, First of all, stop doing this. Adjust the grind to roughly as to where you want it. Being able to choke your machine is a good start. Now, rather than adjusting grind, adjust dosage instead.

So, If your machine is choking, reduce dosage by 2 grams with the same grind and see what happens. You should get a faster shot. If you have to reduce the dosage to less than 14 grams to get
a faster shot, coarsen up the grind, but by ONE STEP ONLY! Make SMALL adjustments in grind and then compensate.

Now, on the other hand, if you get a gusher, increase dosage by 2 grams with the same grind and see what happens. The shot should be slower. If you have to increase the dosage by more than
18 grams, grind finer, but again, by ONE STEP ONLY!

Now let's say that you are using 14.5 grams to get a decent 25 second shot, but you really want your dosage to be 16 grams. Make a small adjustment to coarsen grind and increase your dosage.
After you judge wether or not the shot is too fast or slow, adjust dosage to compensate. Only adjust grind if your dosage isn't high enough for where you want it to be.

I agree with the rest of the people on the forum though, fresh beans (Not Starbucks!) means much more consistent shots and less issues with channelling.

I've been tricked by channelling before and ended up dialing in the grinder to choke the machine. What you think may be a "perfect" 25 second shot could be severe channelling.

Another symptom of channelling is early blonding in the shot. That's because the same little bits of coffee are being extracted before everything else in the puck is.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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flipteg
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Nov 2013
Posts: 20
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013, 11:35pm
Subject: Re: why is my Silvia choking with a new grinder?
 

thank you for posting that. i will try that out tomorrow. weekend tomorrow so we will go to another local roaster here. on the Forte AP, it seems like the burrs are calibrated from the factory where i can hear the motor slow down when i set it to the finest setting. you told me to pick a grind setting that i want. the problem is, i don't know what that is. what would be an ideal starting point for the Forte. i'm using 15 grams right now. i will try again tomorrow with fresh beans.
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flipteg
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Nov 2013
Posts: 20
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013, 11:53pm
Subject: Re: why is my Silvia choking with a new grinder?
 

also, if i reduce the dosage to 14 grams like you recommend, i won't be able to tamp at 30 lbs because the tamper will hit the side walls of the basket. with 15 grams, i'm already not able to tamp at 30 lbs. would this matter or getting a 30 lbs tamp is a must?
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 669
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Sat Nov 16, 2013, 1:14am
Subject: Re: why is my Silvia choking with a new grinder?
 

flipteg Said:

also, if i reduce the dosage to 14 grams like you recommend, i won't be able to tamp at 30 lbs because the tamper will hit the side walls of the basket. with 15 grams, i'm already not able to tamp at 30 lbs. would this matter or getting a 30 lbs tamp is a must?

Posted November 15, 2013 link

What matters more is that you consistently tamp with the same pressure every time.

I guess maybe I should have clarified my previous post. The amounts that I suggested for a dosage were not hard and fixed numbers. They're only suggestions.

The first thing you should do when you are dialing in a grinder for the beans you are using is find out what grind and dosage chokes your machine. Then from there, you can do one of two things, you can either
coarsen the grind and/or you can lower the dosage. 16 grams is a good median dosage to start out with because you can add or remove 2 grams from that midpoint to "Fine Tune" where you want your shot to be.

Finding the right grind selection is a matter of trial and error. I usually start at the coarser range of where I think espresso would be. Usually I end up with a gusher. Then I keep making the grind finer until the machine chokes.
When I get to that point, I back off on the dosage until I get a decent shot. If I can't get a decent shot even after I've reduced the dosage to the absolute minimum dosage, then I have to adjust the grind again.

When I'm using a traditional espresso blend, I usually aim for a dosage between 14-15 grams. When I'm using a single origin coffee, I usually aim for a dosage between 18-19 grams. This is all personal taste.
(Please note though, I use VST portafilter baskets, so I typically use an 18 gram basket, but sometimes switch over to using a 20 gram basket. Traditional double shot 58mm baskets are meant to hold around
14-16 grams of coffee, so you have to use what works best with what you have and your tastebuds!)

The fact that you are getting your machine to choke easily is a good sign.

Now, the dosage which you use will dramatically affect the taste of the coffee. A 19 gram dose tastes very different from a 14 gram dose, so you have to use both grind setting and dosage to get the shot you want.

Think of it this way... The higher the dosage you use, the thicker your puck will be and the more the puck will hold back the water and slow your shot down. The grind fineness plays into this and makes for a more
"Solid" puck.

Adjusting grind and dosage is not an exact science, but I will admit that it is rewarding when you have a dialed in grinder which is set up for a batch of beans. Your Forte will be much more consistent and easier to
dial in once you understand how it interacts with your beans.

Good luck!

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,510
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Sat Nov 16, 2013, 7:24am
Subject: Re: why is my Silvia choking with a new grinder?
 

I just remember too, check your dose, after you tamp and lock the PF in... unlock it and look at the puck. The Silvia has an exposed screw in the screen and doesn't like to be updosed or that screw will indent and fracture the puck even if it only slightly touches it.
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