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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Silvia debugging  
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BWR
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Dec 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Oct 15, 2013, 2:07am
Subject: Re: Silvia debugging
 

I would definitely try changing beans. While we don't have many options for equipment in South Africa there are several roasters who roast to order and will deliver. I'm not that familiar with roasters operating in Gauteng (I'm down in Cape Town) but I'm sure you can find several online. There are plenty of roasters around who will mark the roast date on the bags so don't settle for anything without it.

I've found my Silvia to be very sensitive to dose so a scale is definitely a good investment. Make sure you get one which measures in tenths of a gram, there really is too much variation if you can only measure to 1g. You might battle to find one locally but easy to get off of Amazon.

Good luck!
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mithrandi
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Aug 2011
Posts: 26
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia V3
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso
Posted Tue Oct 15, 2013, 2:47am
Subject: Re: Silvia debugging
 

BWR Said:

I would definitely try changing beans. While we don't have many options for equipment in South Africa there are several roasters who roast to order and will deliver. I'm not that familiar with roasters operating in Gauteng (I'm down in Cape Town) but I'm sure you can find several online. There are plenty of roasters around who will mark the roast date on the bags so don't settle for anything without it.

Posted October 15, 2013 link

(Woot, another South African, hi!)

I'm familiar with a handful of local roasteries, so it's not too difficult getting freshly-roasted beans (either by delivery or just by popping in myself). I think my inability to choke the Silvia at finer grind settings may just be a matter of channeling due to poor distribution; I don't think the Virtuoso is well-suited to such fine grinding, or at least, not after the wear & tear of several years of use, so lots of clumping in the grounds that I think I may not be breaking up effectively.

I gave it another shot (heh) this morning; I backed off to a coarser grind (closer to what I would have expected I would need, but still just guessing), used a much lighter tamp, and got a shot that at least resembled something espresso-like ;) The crema was still quite weak, but more along the lines of what I would expect from too-old beans, than the previous "what is this toxic sludge", so I'll see what I can get with some day-old beans and more accurate dosing. I'm more confident now that I have something I can tweak in the right direction to get reasonable results; thanks for the advice from everyone!
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mithrandi
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Aug 2011
Posts: 26
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia V3
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso
Posted Tue Oct 15, 2013, 10:08am
Subject: Re: Silvia debugging
 

Some additional fiddling (this time with a scale) seems to point strongly towards 1) the Virtuoso can't actually grind fine enough, even at the 0 position, and 2) the beans I was using are too old. Time for a new grinder, I guess...
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mithrandi
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Aug 2011
Posts: 26
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia V3
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso
Posted Wed Oct 16, 2013, 4:39am
Subject: Re: Silvia debugging
 

Continuing to ramble on by myself... ;)

I switched over to some fresh beans, still grinding at 0 on the Virtuoso. I'm now getting much better crema, but the shot is still pulling too fast with a pretty sour note, so I'm guessing the grind is still too coarse; drinkable in a latte, though (at least by a Philistine like myself).
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brianl
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Joined: 1 Dec 2012
Posts: 530
Location: Chicago IL
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill Vetrano DB
Grinder: HG One, OE Lido 2, Baratza...
Drip: Chemex/V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Oct 16, 2013, 5:17am
Subject: Re: Silvia debugging
 

the virtuoso should be able to grind fine enough for espresso. The problem is that the steps are too wide to really dial it in. I think you can calibrate it to grind finer.
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BWR
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Dec 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Oct 16, 2013, 7:25am
Subject: Re: Silvia debugging
 

I think there is a pretty detailed guide on the Baratza website on how to calibrate the Virtuoso finer (or coarser). Might be worth a try before deciding on a new grinder.
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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,452
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
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Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Wed Oct 16, 2013, 8:11am
Subject: Re: Silvia debugging
 

brianl Said:

the virtuoso should be able to grind fine enough for espresso. The problem is that the steps are too wide to really dial it in. I think you can calibrate it to grind finer.

Posted October 16, 2013 link

+1  ^

 
Visit My Website
www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
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jliedeka
Moderator
jliedeka
Joined: 1 May 2002
Posts: 1,566
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Expertise: I live coffee

Grinder: Rocky Stainless
Drip: Technivorm, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor, heat gun
Posted Wed Oct 16, 2013, 10:09am
Subject: Re: Silvia debugging
 

I think this is the guide you need.

    Jim

 
Cafe todo el dia, tequila toda la noche
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mithrandi
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Aug 2011
Posts: 26
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia V3
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso
Posted Wed Oct 16, 2013, 10:44am
Subject: Re: Silvia debugging
 

Oh, excellent, I wasn't aware that kind of recalibration could be done on the Virtuoso. I'll definitely try that out, thanks for the pointer!
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mithrandi
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Aug 2011
Posts: 26
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia V3
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso
Posted Thu Oct 17, 2013, 10:27am
Subject: Re: Silvia debugging
 

Did the recalibration dance; the previous calibration had the screw in the left-hand hole, positioned on the right-hand side of the middle window, so I moved it all the way to the right-hand side of the right-hand window (in the right-hand hole); ie. the finest calibration possible. After incorrectly reinserting the top burr resulting in a *coarser* grind than before (and much headscratching), I figured out what went wrong, and ended up getting a finer grind before. Unfortunately, it seems I still have to go all the way down to the 0 point to get a proper espresso grind; at 0, I'm getting somewhat reasonable results, but obviously that doesn't give much room for adjustment. I'm not sure why I can't get a grind that will choke the espresso machine up at this point; perhaps my burrs are worn, or maybe that top burr still isn't inserted correctly.
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