CR 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.
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.
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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