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Silvia v3 with Auber PID - brews too fast.  Any suggestions?
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smingers
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Mar 2014
Posts: 3
Location: DC
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia V3
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Chemex 8 cup
Posted Wed Mar 5, 2014, 3:48pm
Subject: Silvia v3 with Auber PID - brews too fast.  Any suggestions?
 

I've had a Silvia v3 for about 5 years and added the Auber Kit-RsPb PID (with infusion) about a year ago.  I use the Rocky doserless grinder and not long ago I replaced the burrs with OEM parts from Espresso Parts.

I've researched online extensively and I have even taken a class at Counter Culture's education center in Washington DC, and I still cannot get the kinds of consistent results I want.  I'll detail all my settings and configurations below; if anyone has any suggestions on how to get a slower, more even extraction I would greatly appreciate it.

Machine: Rancilio Silvia V3.
PID: Auber Kit-RsPB, temperature set to 214 degrees F
Beans: Counter Culture Rustico (3-21 days after roast date, bagged by my local coffee shop from their supply), 19-21 grams by weight
Grinder: Rocky doserless
Grinder setting: in the #3-7 range.  My burrs start clicking below 3; they might even click at 3-4; hard to tell sometimes.
Preheating: +30 minutes typically.
Portafilter: bottomless with triple basket (I also have a traditional portafilter w. a double basket but don't use it much).

I backflush with a blind basket and Cafiza; I clean my gear with the same.  I descale the machine periodically as well.

The biggest difference I notice when the grinder is really clean, so I try to take it apart and clean the burrs every time I buy a bag of beans, but it's onerous.
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CoffeeRon
Senior Member
CoffeeRon
Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Posts: 737
Location: Tacoma Wa.
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Wega Lyra, Europiccola(still...
Grinder: Macap M7D, Pharos, Vario W,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam CoffeeMaster
Drip: Melita BCM-4
Roaster: FR SR500,B-1600, SC/TO
Posted Thu Mar 6, 2014, 2:06am
Subject: Re: Silvia v3 with Auber PID - brews too fast.  Any suggestions?
 

Welcome to CoffeeGeek!

To fast a flow would be caused by-

1- Channeling
2- Too coarse a grind for the dose

Do you have a scale that reads to .1 grams? You need to be consistently weighing your doses to within ~.2 grams. Do you do the WDT? You need to make sure you're carefully preparing your puck so that you don't get channeling. You should be able to choke your machine with the Rocky, if you can't you're likely getting channeling. Do the WDT, even the grounds, tamp firm and level, and choke the machine- now you have a starting point.  

Next, with consistent doses weighed to within ~.2 grams, and proper puck preparation, back off of the grind until you achieve the proper shot extraction time.

I have a triple basket but haven't ever used really (came with the machine) so I wouldn't know if they're any more difficult to master than a standard double basket. If you're having troubles with the above steps maybe try the double till you get that down.

Sounds like you've worked hard at getting things together and I can understand your frustration with the results. With the equipment you have you should be able to get decent results.

If you do or have done the above and still no luck let me know and we'll go from there- if it helps let me know anyway :)

Good luck!
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smingers
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Mar 2014
Posts: 3
Location: DC
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia V3
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Chemex 8 cup
Posted Fri Mar 7, 2014, 10:47am
Subject: Re: Silvia v3 with Auber PID - brews too fast.  Any suggestions?
 

Hi Ron, thanks for the welcome and the advice.

I had never come across the Weiss Distribution Technique.  I am now experimenting with it.  Interestingly the educators at Counter Culture said clumping should not be an issue if you tamp evenly & with enough pressure when I broached that very subject.

You are right - I used to be able to choke the Silvia with a fine enough grind & a large enough dose, but I've never done so with the triple basket.  Even if you overfill the basket, it's tall enough that after tamping, there is room for the water to maneuver.

So far I seem to be seeing less channelling and a slightly more even pour, but it's still too fast.  I'm getting a yogurt cup later today so that should help me do the WDT properly.

If that doesn't work, I will look into a more accurate scale.

Does anybody have any suggestions for PID temperature and proper dosage?  I assume my configuration and choice of beans is fairly common.

EDIT: also, the flavor profile that results tends to be more acidic than bitter.
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,106
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 Fri Mar 7, 2014, 12:08pm
Subject: Re: Silvia v3 with Auber PID - brews too fast.  Any suggestions?
 

Triple baskets are very difficult.

The Rocky isn't a great grinder.  That's not a criticism of your choice of grinders, it's a "just is."

It's not easy to get the right grind for a given dose.  Frequently there's a choice between "best" taste and reasonable flow time.  To the extent that's a choice at all -- go for taste. The good news is that Rockys are hard to hurt. However it's possible you might have done something to your grinder when you swapped out the burrs.  It may need re-calibration.  It's also possible that the burrs are not in perfect alignment.

But even if everything is right as rain, the Rocky still isn't a great grinder.  Between the triple and the Rocky you may NEVER be able to get everything right.

Sourness is typical sign of under-extraction.  The usual strategies, separately or in combination are:
  • Better distribution to prevent channeling;
  • Slower flow rate;
  • Stronger tamp to slow flow rate;
  • Finer grind to slow flow rate;
  • Lower dose;
  • Brewing "blonder" (i.e., brewing to a greater degree of extraction); and/or
  • Higher brew temp.    

Regarding higher brew temps, I don't know what a 214F reading on the PID means in terms of actual brew temp.  That's something you'll have to check (with a Scace thermometer probably).  That's not a criticism of your choice of brewers, it's a "just is."  However, figuring out the actual offset is less important than "dialing-in" the right temp for every individual coffee.  You haven't talked about your dialing in process, so... quien sabe?
 
There are two kinds of clumps.  Those which matter and those which don't.  Tamping will take care of those which don't matter anyway; but it won't necessarily take care of those which create channeling by causing voids, cracks or hard spots.  It can help, or not.  Extra tamp force can have a beneficial as a way to compensate for a too fast flow rate to get some extra extraction, but that only goes so far.  So called "hand stand" tamping is almost as likely to make things worse as it is to make things better.  Tamping is not a substitute for a good grinder or accurate temping.

WDT can break up the chunks, but it -- along with other distribution techniques, like the Stockfleith maneuver, e.g. -- is not a a substitute for a good grinder and accurate temping.

Rich
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dspear99ca
Senior Member


Joined: 17 Jan 2013
Posts: 93
Location: BC, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Coffee
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Fri Mar 7, 2014, 2:35pm
Subject: Re: Silvia v3 with Auber PID - brews too fast.  Any suggestions?
 

Hate to say it but been there done that.  You've got yourself a trifecta of frustration: the Silvia is one of the most challenging machines to get consistency with, the Rocky (as others have noted) is just not a great grinder, and getting great shots out of a triple basket is an art.  Not sure how much reading you've done, but it's a common mantra on this site that there is no more important piece to the espresso-making puzzle than the grinder.  You can get away with second-rate with almost everything else, but the grinder is of primo importance.

That having been said, you should be able to make some good joe with what you've got.   I also have a single-boiler machine, have thought about the Auber PID but continue to temperature surf... as I'm never in so much of a hurry that I can't wait 45s for the heater to click on or off.  

I'd start by picking up a double basket, an 18g VST is what I use, picked it up from a forum member in BST.  I'd also highly recommend picking up a digital scale that's accurate to 0.1g... the one I got was about $15 on Amazon.  That'll get rid of variations in the dose.  

As for WDT, no offense to anybody but I leave that kind of activity to guys who wear pocket watches and and drink Pimms.... the variation you are seeing is not likely caused by the small clumps in the basket.  The tamper is going to smash them anyways.  

I always pull a flush through my portafilter prior to loading it... serves the dual purpose of equalizing the temp of my PF and ensuring my boiler is full.  Then I fill and pack the basket, wait for the green light to turn on, count to 20 and fire up the pump.  My wife thought I was quite anal for quiet a long time, but weirdly, her shots were all over the map consistency-wise... so much so that she reverted back to the Nespresso machine just for reliable crema.  Over a span of about 18 months she watched me pull shot after shot after shot after shot of really good espresso and finally came around to the fact that to GET consistency you have to GIVE consistency.

I'd say about 95% of my shots fall into the range I'd term "good to outstanding".  3% are sink shots and the remaining 2% are the elusive "god shots".  When I started off I had 80% sink shots, 20% drinkable but unnoteworthy.

Honestly, the grinder will always be holding you back from achieving what the Sylvia can do.  I started off with a modded Breville which I quickly outgrew, then to a Baratza Preciso which was much better, finally to my Mazzer which is great.  Really the difference in the quality (and c-o-n-s-i-s-t-e-n-c-y) of my shots is huge between those three grinders.

Good luck!  Dave
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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 963
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Fri Mar 7, 2014, 2:38pm
Subject: Re: Silvia v3 with Auber PID - brews too fast.  Any suggestions?
 

smingers Said:

Beans: Counter Culture Rustico (3-21 days after roast date, bagged by my local coffee shop from their supply)

Posted March 5, 2014 link

That's a wide range.  How old are the beans you're currently using?
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CoffeeRon
Senior Member
CoffeeRon
Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Posts: 737
Location: Tacoma Wa.
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Wega Lyra, Europiccola(still...
Grinder: Macap M7D, Pharos, Vario W,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam CoffeeMaster
Drip: Melita BCM-4
Roaster: FR SR500,B-1600, SC/TO
Posted Sat Mar 8, 2014, 2:15pm
Subject: Re: Silvia v3 with Auber PID - brews too fast.  Any suggestions?
 

Glad to hear you're making some progress.

+/- 1 gram is to much variation to get consistent results. You would be better off if you picked up a new scale. There are several on Amazon for around $20 or less, do a search on this forum and you'll find several recommendations. With the rather large steps on the Rocky (from what I've read) you may find you want to dial in your shots by adjusting the dose, a half gram more or less will make a difference.

Another consideration may be your brew pressure. If you've never checked it it may be off and causing you some problems- which may be magnified by trying to use the triple basket. Again you may have better luck going back to the double- at least for now. Seems you have several people confirming that one.

Enjoy the journey!
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GaGeek
Senior Member


Joined: 11 Jan 2014
Posts: 6
Location: Georgia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancillio Silvia
Grinder: Rancillio Rocky
Vac Pot: Technivorm Moccamaster...
Roaster: Hearthware iRoast2
Posted Sun Mar 9, 2014, 4:51pm
Subject: Re: Silvia v3 with Auber PID - brews too fast.  Any suggestions?
 

Have a Rocky and Silvia v2 and installed the Auber pid w/infusion back in January. In addition had purchased a bottomless portafilter back in December. Had problems with the triple basket that came with the bottomless filter. Switched to the double basket and measure 16 grams, break up any clumps using a narrow toothpick one light tap on the counter and then tamp. Not sure how much pressure on the tamp but just enough that get 2oz in 27sec. Have temp on the pid set to 218 deg . We go through a lb in about 10 days so the roast from our local roaster is usually fairly fresh.

Try switching to the double basket.

Wife and I have been pretty happy with the results.
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smingers
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Mar 2014
Posts: 3
Location: DC
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia V3
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Chemex 8 cup
Posted Mon Mar 10, 2014, 9:26am
Subject: Re: Silvia v3 with Auber PID - brews too fast.  Any suggestions?
 

Thanks to everyone for the feedback and suggestions.

I know the Rocky doesn't have a great reputation but I'm not prepared to replace it at this time (believe me, at the time I bought it, I thought $350 was quite an investment compared to the Baratza Maestro my wife bought me and I returned).  Does anyone have any experience with Rocky modifications, e.g. using teflon tape to make it stepless?

Upgrading my digital scale would be more palatable at this time;  I'll look into some models.  Thanks.

To answer some other questions - I try not to buy beans if they were roasted more than a week prior and tend to use a bag in two weeks, so that's the typical range.  I would respond to the aging of the beans by making the grind finer, but as noted the Rocky's steps are fairly wide, and I'm almost at the point where they burrs are clicking to begin with, so not much flexibility there.  I would dial in by adjusting the grind, but again, I'm already grinding as finely as possible with my current setup.

Brew pressure and flow were mentioned by some folks and I have, in the past, seen some mention about modifying these on the Silvia by doing more than simply raising the temperature - any advice on how to do that?
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Frost
Senior Member
Frost
Joined: 26 Jul 2007
Posts: 2,070
Location: Sierra
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Venus
Grinder: Lelit PL53
Roaster: Poppery I w/variac, MET, BT
Posted Mon Mar 10, 2014, 1:35pm
Subject: Re: Silvia v3 with Auber PID - brews too fast.  Any suggestions?
 

smingers Said:

............. as noted the Rocky's steps are fairly wide, and I'm almost at the point where they burrs are clicking to begin with, so not much flexibility there.  I would dial in by adjusting the grind, but again, I'm already grinding as finely as possible with my current setup. ......................

Posted March 10, 2014 link

This sounds like a burr alignment problem; the burrs are not co-planar.
As you recently changed the burrs, adds more to this suspected problem.
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