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Help me with my Brew! Rancilio Silvia V3
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Help me with my...  
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Kavin
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Joined: 7 Jun 2013
Posts: 16
Location: Brooklyn/New Jersey
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Jun 7, 2013, 6:05pm
Subject: Help me with my Brew! Rancilio Silvia V3
 

Hey everyone.

I'm new here but not to coffee! I've been toying with espresso machines for about a year now and in that short time I've gone from a $40 Mr. Coffee espresso maker to a Rancilio Silvia V3.

I love the new Silvia and I can pull decent shots and sort of texture milk but I am getting very frustrated and was hoping those more experienced could help.

THE SHOT:
I have been using a Rancilio Rocky grinder for my fresh beans (few days off the roast) everywhere from level 12 to 5 but I am not sure if I have found the right grind because there are so many other factors! I temperature surf the machine, tamp hard (I have NO idea how to measure 30lbs) and temp evenly. I put the portafilter in at 90 degrees and when the light goes out I start my shot. Either the shot will come out too fast, too slow (clogged) or at a perfect speed. However, even at a perfect speed my crema looks ok but is usually very thin and the shot, while it is pouring, is pretty much black instead of creamy. Any tips for my shots?

THE MILK:
Oh the milk. Part of my wishes I never had my first good cup of cappucino with perfectly textured milk. You know, the one with the rosetta in it :x
I have read countless guides and seen so many videos. I have a frothing thermometer, a 12oz pitcher, and I use 2% milk. I purge the wand, rest the tip below the surface, turn the steam on, and pull the pitcher down until the tip is just at the surface and I get an even ch-ch-ch sound. At 95-100 degrees F I drop the tip to maybe 1/2 inch below the surface and get a nice (but calm) whirlpool. I keep it there until 145-150 and then turn off the steam. The thermometer will hit 155-160 in a few seconds. I clean the wand, purge it, tap and swirl my pitcher.

Now heres the kicker with the milk: it ALWAYS LOOKS LIKE PERFECT MICROFOAM. From the top, the milk has no big bubbles, looks glossy and foamy, and when I start pouring it, it is microfoam. Later on in the pour however, it becomes clear that the bottom 2/3 or 3/4 of the pitcher was just hot milk :( I am not sure if this is supposed to be the case because I thought the entire pitcher was supposed to be microfoam. This is very aggrivating because the top looks tastes perfect!

Does anyone know if I am doing something wrong or if I can do something better?

Thanks to all and to all a good morning! (coffee required)
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LauraH
Senior Member


Joined: 14 May 2013
Posts: 16
Location: Xico, Mexico
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Posted Fri Jun 7, 2013, 6:38pm
Subject: Re: Help me with my Brew! Rancilio Silvia V3
 

Hi Kavin,

The milk issue may simply be one of getting the milk too hot and it is causing it to separate.  Don't know how accurate your thermometer is so I am only guessing from my own past (very past as I am just now returning to the coffee world) experience.  Try stopping when it is a little cooler and see if that does the trick.
I will let the folks who are far more experienced address the surfing/tamping/grinding issues.  They will probably have better ideas about the milk as well but in the mean time this will give you something to try.  Good luck and happy brewing.
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Coffeenoobie
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Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,030
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Jun 8, 2013, 9:22am
Subject: Re: Help me with my Brew! Rancilio Silvia V3
 

Yes, I believe you could and should stop steaming earlier.  Aim for 135-140 as the end temp after a full minute of when you stop steaming.  I stop steaming 4 oz of milk at 95 and 8 oz of milk about 110 on my thermometer.   Then I keep sworling the pitcher till pouring.  The more the milk is moving the less it is separating.

I can't help you with the temp surfing but it is tricky to find the grind that works on any machine.  A better grinder will have more adjustment room between "gushing" and "choking" so I would upgrade my grinder or mod it to as near stepless as I could.

My understanding is (and I could be wrong) the the temp not being stable throughout the pull will not make the crema thin.  Thin crema is grind, beans freshness, and pressure.

 
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Kavin
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Joined: 7 Jun 2013
Posts: 16
Location: Brooklyn/New Jersey
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Jun 9, 2013, 2:47pm
Subject: Re: Help me with my Brew! Rancilio Silvia V3
 

I think it was the type of bean and pressure. Also, I was pulling the shot into a big cup so the crema looked thin but it looked better in a more appropriately sized cup.

Thank you for your tip on the milk - I tried it but had the same problem. The majority of the milk was just milk. At what temperature (on the thermometer) do you switch from integrating air to going deeper with the wand? I usually do it at around 90.

Also if the milk is steamed right, should the entire pitcher be uniformly textured? I have attached a picture that shows the results I have been getting. In the image you can see the line that breaks between the foam and milk. Should I not see any milk if I did this properly?

Kavin: rsz_1rsz_20130609_182646.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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takeshi
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takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 976
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Mon Jun 10, 2013, 10:00am
Subject: Re: Help me with my Brew! Rancilio Silvia V3
 

Kavin Said:

I have been using a Rancilio Rocky grinder for my fresh beans

Posted June 7, 2013 link

Well, the Rocky isn't helping but you should be able to pull some decent shots with it.

Kavin Said:

everywhere from level 12 to 5 but I am not sure if I have found the right grind because there are so many other factors

Posted June 7, 2013 link

You need to start here.  How much are you pulling and in what amount of time?  If you can't get this consistent then you're going to have difficulty improving.  Rocky makes this difficult because of the stepped settings.

Kavin Said:

tamp hard (I have NO idea how to measure 30lbs)

Posted June 7, 2013 link

You use a scale to measure but tamping's one of the least important factors.  Just make sure you're tamping consistently.

Kavin Said:

Either the shot will come out too fast, too slow (clogged) or at a perfect speed

Posted June 7, 2013 link

If the grind is consistent and time varies then how much are you dosing and how are you ensuring consistency with your doses?  If your dosing is off then it's certainly possible to have a relatively proper extraction one time and channeling the next time that makes your shot time too fast.  Silvia does not respond well to overdosing.

Kavin Said:

At 95-100 degrees F I drop the tip to maybe 1/2 inch below the surface and get a nice (but calm) whirlpool. I keep it there until 145-150 and then turn off the steam. The thermometer will hit 155-160 in a few seconds. I clean the wand, purge it, tap and swirl my pitcher.

Posted June 7, 2013 link

You need to consider the delay with your thermometer and stop earlier.  It also sounds like you need to work on the angle of the tip to get a better whirlpool.  Ensure that the tip is also at the edge of the pitcher.  The whirlpooling is what incorporates the air into the milk.

Give it time and practice.  There's a definitely a learning curve to all this.

Also, make sure you're filling the boiler each time.

Kavin Said:

Also if the milk is steamed right, should the entire pitcher be uniformly textured?

Posted June 9, 2013 link

You won't see quite as distinct a boundary as what you're getting.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,772
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
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Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Tue Jun 11, 2013, 8:42am
Subject: Re: Help me with my Brew! Rancilio Silvia V3
 

How long did the milk set before you took the picture? Milk WILL settle and look like that after a few minutes. I make my drinks THEN clean the machine.

A STRONG whirlpool helps to blend the milk better but like I said, it will settle given some time.

 
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Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

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Kavin
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Jun 2013
Posts: 16
Location: Brooklyn/New Jersey
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Jun 11, 2013, 6:31pm
Subject: Re: Help me with my Brew! Rancilio Silvia V3
 

With respect to my dosing/tamping/consistency, I over-dose the portafilter, brush the excess off with my finger so it is level, tamp, knock, tamp, spin, tamp lightly, and put it in the machine. I have been able to get the "2oz in 25 seconds" pretty consistently now, still not getting the crema I want though.

With respect to the milk, I have now been sinking the tip at 90 degrees and stopping at 140. I am still getting "weak" foam. What I mean by weak is that it seems to die rather quickly. The picture I took was after a few minutes and if I took the picture within a few moments of pouring it looks pretty uniform. However, when I pour the drink and take the first sip, I can see that the foam is only on the top 2-3cm of the drink. Whether that is from a bad job or just settling is unknown to me but what I can say is that I have had remarkable cappucino's that seem to be a perfect fusion of coffee and microfoam and whether or not that is possible from a home machine like the silvia, it is my ultimate goal.

Also, would you recommend that I get a bottomless portafilter to check my dosing/tamping?
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,110
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Tue Jun 11, 2013, 7:15pm
Subject: Re: Help me with my Brew! Rancilio Silvia V3
 

Definitely recommend getting a bottomless pf. It'll help you improve your technique considerably. I would recommend the following three steps for your shots...

1) stop twisting your tamper. It only helps you fracture the puck you just prepared and, thus, promotes channelling.
2) use a nickel test to adjust your dose. As Don (takeshi) said, Silvia doesn't do well with ODing.
3) read the Easy Guide to Better Espresso at Home on www.espressomyespresso.com

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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LauraH
Senior Member


Joined: 14 May 2013
Posts: 16
Location: Xico, Mexico
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Posted Tue Jun 11, 2013, 7:58pm
Subject: Re: Help me with my Brew! Rancilio Silvia V3
 

With respect to foam, relax and go with the flow. Perhaps stop looking at the thermometer and simply work the foam at the beginning for a SHORT time then switch to the swirl for the heat. Go more by sound and feel peeking only towards the end to stay cooler. The suggestion of stopping below the temp of where you want to end is a great idea. It won't take long to get the feel for the temp and a ear for the sound. Keep breathing and keep brewing.
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Kavin
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Jun 2013
Posts: 16
Location: Brooklyn/New Jersey
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Jun 11, 2013, 10:37pm
Subject: Re: Help me with my Brew! Rancilio Silvia V3
 

With respect to the nickel test, the silvia already has that pesky screw that digs into the center of the puck. Should I still use the nickel test? I feel as though it would dig too deep because of this.
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