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Senior Member

Joined: 28 Oct 2012
Posts: 1
Location: Toronto
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Oct 28, 2012, 4:15pm
Subject: New Silvia owner- questions

Hi, I just purchased a used Rancilio Silvia machine with PID along with a Nuova Simonelli grinder. I am completely new to the home espresso art so I have a few questions. I hope they haven't been asked too many and hope you'll bear with me until I get a bit better idea of the process and nuances.

So.. what is the preferred method of making a latte. Should you steam first then pull the shot or vice-versa. The PID seems to be pre-set to 218F which I assume is the brew temp. Is that a good setting to start with while becoming familiar with the machine? If I pull a shot first then I assume I would then switch to steam and let the temp rise to steaming temperature? When I do this the temperature tops out at to 300F (according to the PID) before the machine switches off and the temp drops - does that seem right?

I was also wondering - when you are pulling a shot - at what point is the shot complete. Is it the quantity? the time? and when the shot is complete do you turn off the brew switch to end it?

I know I'll have lots more questions but would appreciate any advice/knowledge at this stage.

thanks all!
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Senior Member

Joined: 7 Oct 2011
Posts: 383
Location: Cambridge, MA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera BZ07 PM
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso Preciso...
Vac Pot: Cona D
Drip: Bona-Vita, CCD, Aeropress.
Roaster: Gene Cafe, Modded Poppers
Posted Sun Oct 28, 2012, 5:46pm
Subject: Re: New Silvia owner- questions

The PID operation sounds much the same as the Auber PID I installed on my Gaggia Classic, which is somewhat comparable as a machine.  I measured a 18-20F drop between the boiler and group head using a homemade bodge of a Scace temperature sensor, so 218F as a starting point shouldn't be too bad a starting point.  You should adjust that by taste for a particular blend.

I think it's better to brew the shot first, then steam milk - the boiler (on the Classic at least) heats much faster than it cools, and you also don't need to wait the 2-4 minutes for the temperature to stabilize after steaming.

You should stop the shot when the stream of coffee noticeably lightens, and gets less thick looking - this is known as blonding.  It can be hard to spot, but a bit of a google should find some demonstration videos.  You should note the time and volume of coffee this gives you and use as a guide to adjust the grind setting and amount of grounds.  To stop the shot, just turn the brew switch off and remove the cup to avoid the last dribbles.
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Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,684
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
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Posted Mon Oct 29, 2012, 8:34am
Subject: Re: New Silvia owner- questions

^ what he said.

I'd also like to add that as a starting point You should try to adjust your grind so that you are getting about 1.5 oz in 25 +/- 3 seconds...while using the endpoint described above.  

Also, I think that when you get in that ballpark, you should draw a shot into the drip tray (no cup), and taste the stream coming down with a small spoon.  Start at the middle of the shot and then rapidly, catch a few drops, taste, repeat, over and over again until it tastes horrible. Watch what the stream looks like at the end...and if you have a timer going, even better (but not necessary).  Then, you'll have your taste helping you know what the visual cue looks like.  This tool helped me a lot when I was getting started.

Afterwards, you play with grind fineness and length of shot until you get it where you want - whether that's a 40 second ristretto or a 30 second normale, and whether that's a 16g or 18g double, or whatever.

There's a lot of good reading out there, for instance "Easy Guide to Better Espresso at Home" (on www.espressomyespresso.com), but there's nothing like hands-on training from a pro barista.

Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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