Posted Sat Sep 29, 2012, 9:37am Subject: Re: Silvia & Vario pulling too fast
It appears you are using too much coffee. If you lock the portafilter in, then immediately remove it I think that you will find that the coffee has been disturbed by the shower screen and/or its retaining screw. It also leaves very little room for the coffee to expand. As the coffee is ground, move the portafilter around to distribute the coffee evenly in the basket.
Use less coffee and adjust the grind accordingly. Placing a quarter on the center of the compacted puck, lock and remove the portafilter, and the quarter should leave a bit of an indentation in the coffee.
The coffee should be leveled off and evenly distributed in the basket before tamping.
You excessively hard tamping force (appears to be at least 60 pounds) is attempting to deal with a problem (described above) that is not tamp related. A tamp of 25-35 pounds is more than sufficient.
If that Vario is set at the finest setting possible, it could be that it needs to be recalibrated. It should choke Silvia at the finest setting.
Posted Sat Sep 29, 2012, 1:44pm Subject: Re: Silvia & Vario pulling too fast
Unless the burrs are making a sound that sounds like they are being damaged, probably nothing to worry about. And as long as there are beans in it being ground there is no worry. Since you will be grinding more coarsely than the "choked" position, you don't have to worry.
I do not remember the exact amount of coffee that a stock Rancilio double basket holds, but I think it was around 14.5 to 15.5 grams (but don't quote me). Many of us use a gram scale capable of weighing the coffee to .1 grams for dosing accuracy. More coffee = coarser grind. less coffee = finer grind required. There is a "sweet spot: where the taste will be best. Once you develop consistency then you can look for that combination. You do have an excellent grinder, and that will make it a lot easier.
Fill the basket and level it off using a straight edge across the top of teh basket, but do not compress the coffee at this point. After the basket if filled, "scrape" the excess coffee off into a receptacle of some sort. Once the coffee is leveled off across the top it should be close to the correct dose and should tamp OK.
Smaller Tamper: effective only if the current one is too large. There are also baskets that are more straight sided (ridgeless) which also hold more coffee. These often receive positive comments from users. I used one back when I had a Silvia.
getting a bottomless porta filter - That is a good diagnostic tool. It is all I ever use for various reasons.
getting a pid - eventually, sure, but you have more to learn yet, so no rush on that.
Without beans in the machine, the machine should be laboring with the fine setting at about halfway as shown in the link I posted.
If your grinder is on its finest setting and you can't choke your Silvia, something is wrong. You should aim for a choker first, then back off and find the right grind to extract 2 oz of fluid in ~25 seconds. (Anything between 18-30 seconds is acceptable. Tweak as necessary to taste.)
You should also get a precision scale and aim for a 16 gram dose. Once you get your grind right, adjust the grind time on your grinder so that you get as close to a 16 gram dose as possible. This way, you can at least pull your morning shot without having to weigh it. I've deliberately overdosed 17 grams with my Silvia and it just doesn't work.. I have to struggle to put the basket in, so I don't recommend it. (I used to grind by looks, it just isn't consistent enough!)
The basket pops out easily enough using a clean fingernail. Just tare the scale with just the basket itself, then grind 16 grams into the basket itself. I don't recommend removing the spring inside of the portafilter because if you use a knockbox, the basket will just fly into it. (Been there, done that.)
The best part is, strangely enough, the amount of force you need to snap the basket back into the portafilter is about 30 lbs, so I "tamp" the basket in with the coffee in it. The only downside to doing this is that sometimes you get a little bit of coffee on the counter.
The key to tamping is to keep your pressure consistent. Get a bathroom scale and a clean hand towel and push down until it reads 30 lbs.. "Tamp" the bathroom scale a few times until you "remember" what 30 lbs feels like and stick with that. I find this is good enough. Anything more doesn't help all that much.
You will have to weigh your shots for the first few times until you get the grind time right, then after that, it's pretty much "Fire and Forget" until you notice that you're not getting the "Rats tail" anymore.
Good luck Carlo! Try that and let us know how you make out.
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
Posted Wed Oct 3, 2012, 8:16am Subject: Re: Silvia & Vario pulling too fast
Tamping shouold be done consistently, with enough force to compress the coffee into a puck, nothing more than that is necessary. It's not somewhere you should really have to focus your efforts, other than to do it the same every time. A 58 mm tamper is the correct size for the Silvia, so it's very unlikely you need to change yours out. I used to tamp at 60#, then I learned what 30# feels like, then I decided to just compress the coffee lightly into a puck. I level the basket, like Randy (frcn) described above, then compress with the tamper until I feel it stop. My guess is I do about 20# now. I do it the same every time. My dose is always about the same, within a couple tenths of a gram, when I weigh it. Whenever my shots start to run thin or spritz, I tighten my grind (go slightly finer), and voila!
Randy (frcn) chimed in right after me and added some great points. If you haven't noticed he's the "espressomyespresso" guy.
Qualin made some good points as well. He's been on here several months now. He started by very methodically approaching his equipment purchase, and chose the Vario (eventually) and Silvia. He's been very, very methodical in learning how to produce great shots with that equipment, so he's a great guy to ask for advice with your set up.
I would personally ignore the ridgeline and do the nickel test. Once you get this right, weigh your shot, then maybe you can go back to using the ridgeline as an eyeball. you can pick up a tenth gram scale for $20-40 depending on size and style, and it's well worth the investment. www.oldwillknottscales.com has a great selection and offers great service, but there are many other places to get one.
Regarding shot dose and time, I suggest doing a taste test. First, you have to know when the shot is done. Once you get one running like you want, let it go into the drip tray (instead of a cup), and take rapid successive tiny samples from the stream with a small spoon. When you hit the end you will know it immediately. If you have a timer going while you do that, you can see how long that took, but you'll get to know the look of the stream visually as well. Once you've done that, you can taste different weight shots, maybe do one at 15g another at 16g and another at 17g then taste them side by side to see which you like better. If you buy a bottomless pf (again, my staple handle) you can equip it with either a double or triple basket, and then play with 18g, 19g, 20g, and even 21g shots. By the way, nobody uses the single basket (well, almost nobody).
. Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
Coffeenoobie Senior Member Joined: 11 Dec 2011 Posts: 3,032 Location: PNW Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: N S Oscar Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Wed Oct 3, 2012, 8:47am Subject: Re: Silvia & Vario pulling too fast
I pulled the spring out of my naked portafilter and tamp the basket and drop it in my naked and lock and load. To get the puck out I do let the basket cool a bit and just pick it up and knock it with my hand on my knock box. I don't make a mess. YMMV.
I might never put the spring back in my naked. I have another one with a spout that still has the spring in it if I need it. My back flush disk lives there.
Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.
Well, I started out with the Rocky because it came as a package with my Silvia, but I was frustrated with the steps, so I made a post on what the next step up would be and became hyperfocused on getting my hands on a Baratza Vario-W. After bothering the sales staff for nearly two hours at Caffetech, (I was going to buy a machine as well, but my wife convinced me to just get the grinder for now.) they eventually convinced me that I really wanted a Mazzer Mini Electronic. So, I hunkered down, gritted my teeth and made the leap, so actually I ended up making two steps up instead of just one. Believe you me, the shots I'm making are like night and day now. No more fines in the cup!
He's been very, very methodical in learning how to produce great shots with that equipment, so he's a great guy to ask for advice with your set up.
I am honored, Thank you! I'm the type of guy who would probably drive a "Touch and Feel" barista completely nuts, because I am nearly obsessive about getting to the baseline of where I should be... Only then, when I'm at that baseline, do I get to a point where I want to experiment a little, find out what works and what doesn't. I'm sure with enough experience, I'll probably eventually become one of those "Touch and Feel" kinds of people, but I suspect that would take decades. :-)
you can taste different weight shots, maybe do one at 15g another at 16g and another at 17g then taste them side by side to see which you like better.
One thing you have to keep in mind, if you underdose, you need a finer grind to keep the extraction time the same. Subsequently, if you overdose, you need a coarser grind to keep the extraction time the same. I will admit that it does require some trial and error to get right. Don't worry about getting it bang on, just know that an 18 second shot will taste drastically different than a 30 second shot. (At least IMHO.)
Personally, I've never used a triple basket, but I'm tempted to buy one. The stock portafilter is too small for a triple basket, so you'll have to buy a bottomless portafilter so it can fit. Generally, I think it goes 8g/16g/24g for single/double/triple, Although, some people dose 7g/14g/21g depending on their tastes. There isn't any rule, this is just a guideline.
I've heard that ideally, triple shot baskets are the best for pulling Ristrettos, but I've never drank one yet. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it's 2 oz for a triple basket or 1.75 oz for a double basket. Unfortunately, you can't extract into two shot glasses with a bottomless portafilter, unless you could find a double spout 58 mm portafilter big enough. Unfortunately, I wish I knew who makes a double spout portafilter which can fit both the Silvia and a triple basket. I still am looking for a single spout one!
By the way, nobody uses the single basket (well, almost nobody).
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