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Shot adjustment, Silvia V3 (video)
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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 Nov 7, 2013, 3:25pm
Subject: Shot adjustment, Silvia V3 (video)
 

I feel terribly lazy making a post like this ;) Unfortunately, I just don't have a very good benchmark for an espresso shot, so I'm looking for a little more expert assistance. Video is here.

Equipment used: Rancilio Siliva V3, Rancilio naked portafilter, VST 18g ridgeless filter basket, Baratza Virtuoso (old burrset) grinder, dose about 17g (weighed it out at about 17.1g, but I lost a few grounds after that while levelling and tamping), using WDT.

This is my first shot after switching to a new blend of beans. This extraction is definitely too slow for a normal double shot (video is about 60 seconds, with not much filler before/after the shot), so my next attempt will be a notch or two coarser on the grind. However, I think I stopped the shot too late, I'm just not sure how much sooner I should have stopped it; unfortunately I think the video colour quality may make it difficult for anyone else to tell either, but if you can make it out, let me know. I'd also appreciate some feedback on the distribution; I didn't spot any signs of channeling, although the stream does seem to "lean" to one side -- I'm not sure if this indicates a distribution problem, or just that my grouphead isn't level with respect to gravity?

Other notes: the puck was quite watery afterwards; in addition, with a dose of this size, I'm getting a significant indent from the screw in the grouphead screen in the dry grounds (before pulling the shot); should I be trying to downdose even more, or do I just need to tamp harder? (I don't really have any clue how hard I'm tamping to begin with) There's no markings from the screen itself, just the screw, so there is *some* clearance in there; from what I can see, the screw sticks out beyond the screen a lot farther than described in older discussions of the Silvia, so maybe this is something peculiar to the newer (V3?) models? Also, I didn't weigh the shot; the mug you can see is too heavy for the scale I was using, I'll probably pull into a shot glass the next time so I can weigh the shot to compare with the weight of the grounds used.

My extractions with the previous blend I was using were definitely way too fast, but I'm right up at the limits of my current grinder (grinding at the 0 mark), so I couldn't fix that. A new grinder is the next thing on my shopping list, probably a Mahlkönig Vario Home, but in the meantime I'm making do with what I have.

EDIT: Fixed link, had to shorten it to get the forum to accept it for some reason.
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friendlyfoe
Senior Member


Joined: 14 May 2013
Posts: 122
Location: toronto
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Thu Nov 7, 2013, 5:54pm
Subject: Re: Shot adjustment, Silvia V3 (video)
 

mithrandi Said:

dose about 17g (weighed it out at about 17.1g, but I lost a few grounds after that while levelling and tamping)

T This extraction is definitely too slow for a normal double shot (video is about 60 seconds, with not much filler before/after the shot), so my next attempt will be a notch or two coarser on the grind. However, I think I stopped the shot too late

I'm getting a significant indent from the screw in the grouphead screen in the dry grounds (before pulling the shot); should I be trying to downdose even more, or do I just need to tamp harder? (I don't really have any clue how hard I'm tamping to begin with)

My extractions with the previous blend I was using were definitely way too fast,

Posted November 7, 2013 link

I'm a true beginner to espresso but again procrastinating from doing homework, so i'm going to throw a little bit of common sense at you, combined with things i've learned from watching other people do it. So grain of salt because i might be wrong about any or all statements lol.

-first of all, worrying about .1 of a gram makes you a crazy person. Yes consistency is paramount but i've been to shops where they pour very consistent shots and there is no need to be that anal about it. Close counts for horse shoes, hand grenades, and grinding espresso.

-If you're hitting the screw, why not try using 16 grams, thats still plenty of grinds for a double

-As for tamping i shoot for firm. If you press hard nothing will come out of the machine, if you're super delicate it will brew too fast. Just firm until it's nicely compacted. Personally i know i have my grinder set close to where it's supposed to be so if i over tamp it's pretty obvious when i go to brew.

-For beans how fresh and from where? new vs old blend? I was using the grocery store variety, still roasted locally in the city but packaged and with an expiration date. When i switched to locally roasted, couple day old from right around the corner it made a big difference to the grind. I had gone so fine with the stale stuff to get my brew times right, when i switched to fresh i didn't get a drop out of the machine and had to back my grinder way off.

-Lastly, nice cup, but how much liquid did you actually get? How did you know it was a double? If you have a scale for your grinds, weigh your liquid as well. With my super crappy espresso maker i've been shooting for 45g of liquid in 25 seconds and been getting fairly good results. 2 ounce = 60 ml and 1ml=1g so i just leave my scale on grams and weigh for 45 grams of liquid (which puts you around 2 ounces with crema)

Also noticed that small adjustments with my K3 touch grinder make huuuge changes to the way the machine brews, so your grinder may be your limitation. Hope that helps!
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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 Nov 7, 2013, 6:50pm
Subject: Re: Shot adjustment, Silvia V3 (video)
 

friendlyfoe Said:

-first of all, worrying about .1 of a gram makes you a crazy person. Yes consistency is paramount but i've been to shops where they pour very consistent shots and there is no need to be that anal about it. Close counts for horse shoes, hand grenades, and grinding espresso.

Posted November 7, 2013 link

I'm not at all worried about the 0.1g :) I just wanted to give a sense of scale; when I say "about 17g" I mean "16.8 - 17.1g" not "15g - 19g".

friendlyfoe Said:

-If you're hitting the screw, why not try using 16 grams, thats still plenty of grinds for a double

Posted November 7, 2013 link

Yes, I probably will try that.

friendlyfoe Said:

-For beans how fresh and from where? new vs old blend?

Posted November 7, 2013 link

From a local roastery, a few days old (not more than a week).

friendlyfoe Said:

-Lastly, nice cup, but how much liquid did you actually get? How did you know it was a double? If you have a scale for your grinds, weigh your liquid as well. With my super crappy espresso maker i've been shooting for 45g of liquid in 25 seconds and been getting fairly good results. 2 ounce = 60 ml and 1ml=1g so i just leave my scale on grams and weigh for 45 grams of liquid (which puts you around 2 ounces with crema)

Posted November 7, 2013 link

Yes, I only remembered about weighing the shot afterwards, but unfortunately the mug I used was too heavy for the scale I'm using (it's a small 100g scale); I'll pull the shot into a shot glass next time so I can weigh it (and taste the espresso without milk, since I was making lattes this time around).
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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 Sat Nov 9, 2013, 2:50pm
Subject: Re: Shot adjustment, Silvia V3 (video)
 

16g dose still gets me a neat screw imprint in the puck pre-shot. I guess I could try underdosing even more, I'm just not sure why I'm getting results in this regard that differ so much from other people's that I've read.

Grind adjustments: going up to 1 on my grinder gets me a shot that's way too fast, so I guess I'm stuck with what I have for now.

Weight: Pulling into a shot glass and weighing it, I get ~60ml in ~45 seconds (including dwell time of about 8 seconds, depending on how you count), weighing about 45g; definitely on the ristretto side, I guess, but I find the result quite pleasant to drink so I guess that's not really a problem :)
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friendlyfoe
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Joined: 14 May 2013
Posts: 122
Location: toronto
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Sun Nov 10, 2013, 8:06am
Subject: Re: Shot adjustment, Silvia V3 (video)
 

i'm not sure i'd worry about it hitting the screen, but i'm sure a quick search would show if most people are using a 14 or 16 gram dose with the pf basket you have.

My only comment is that if it's taking 45 seconds (40 seconds if you take half of the dwell time) to get that volume your brew pressure is likely going to end up well above 9 bar. Pressure is the resistance to flow so the longer it takes for liquid to come out the higher pressure. The biggest problem i think with that would be the risk of channeling, more so than bad espresso. If you had a better grinder and could make small adjustments i'd suggest trying to make the grind one setting coarser and see what it tastes like to shoot for that 30 second 45 ml marker.

Either that or leave the grind alone and take a tiny bit of pressure off your tamp, see what happens. My even crappier little machine just brewed 35g in 30 seconds total with a 5 second dwell time, and it was delicious. That's all that matters :)
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Coffeenoobie
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Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,009
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sun Nov 10, 2013, 12:39pm
Subject: Re: Shot adjustment, Silvia V3 (video)
 

You don't want to hit the screen pre pull  because it doesn't leave room for the coffee to expand with water.  This leads to channeling.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

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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 Sun Nov 10, 2013, 2:09pm
Subject: Re: Shot adjustment, Silvia V3 (video)
 

Coffeenoobie Said:

You don't want to hit the screen pre pull  because it doesn't leave room for the coffee to expand with water.  This leads to channeling.

Posted November 10, 2013 link

Yes, I'm pretty sure I'm not hitting the screen itself; that leaves a noticeable "raking" pattern (which I have seen if I don't tamp or tamp very lightly) on the puck from tightening the portafilter. But the hex screw that holds the screen in sticks out quite a bit farther.
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,048
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Sun Nov 10, 2013, 4:23pm
Subject: Re: Shot adjustment, Silvia V3 (video)
 

Distribution IMO looked good but the shot ran a bit slow for my taste. This shot if shut off at 30seconds would have made a nice ristretto but if your aiming for a double I'd want faster flow.  I usually aim for 14-15g doses.  Just enough that it under fills the basket before tamping.  This way I don't get any indent on the puck.  If it really bugs you and you wanna keep your dose high get this My shots incl dwell time run at 26-27 seconds for 30-40 mil.

My routine.

  1. Grind for 6 sec =  15-16g
  2. Dose, knock on the table to settle grounds
  3. Nutating motion with a firm tamp
  4. Pull for 25-27 seconds.
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,069
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Mon Nov 11, 2013, 7:09pm
Subject: Re: Shot adjustment, Silvia V3 (video)
 

Good news, bad news.  

Good News:
Your distribution technique was excellent.  Way to go!  The rest of the good news is good news because it's stuff you can fix.

Your video was very helpful.  Why the color wasn't great, it was easy to observe the density of the stream, striping, and the attenuation of striping.

Your shot was vastly over-extracted.  You need to stop the shot very shortly after "tiger striping" stops.  In the video, that was at around the 30sec mark.  At 60sec the shot had lost all of its density and was nearly transparent.  

Based on the appearance of the shot and the time it took to hit the blond point, it appears that your distribution was good, and that your grind was consistent with dose.  Whether or not you need a smaller dose, I don't know.  It depends on a lot of things, some of which you aren't telling me, and some of which -- like the relationship of a particular size VST basket to the Silvia -- I lack sufficient familiarity.  

As a rule, you should not get an impression from the screen or screw when you lock-in.  So, I'd try dosing slightly less, keeping the grind the same (since you can't tighten it anyway), and tamping a little stronger to keep your extraction time around the same.

A smaller dose is worth a try.  I'd try 14g, 16g and 18g.  Worry about the taste of the shot, not about the appearance of the puck.  That said, you'll probably find that the best tasting dose doesn't touch the screen before wetting.  

TASTE BEFORE METRICS, ALWAYS!

Use your scale to weigh your shots, rather than relying on volume (which can be deceiving, because density varies a great deal depending on a number of circumstances).  If you're looking for a normale, which is the taste you'll get at the blond point, you should be getting a weight of espresso slightly less than or equal to twice the weight of the dose.  In other words, 16g of ground coffee, should give you ABOUT 30g of espresso when the stream goes blond.  

Some Context:
I don't mean to be critical of other people's advice but reference to time, dose and shot volume (or weight) without referring to degree of extraction is not the world's best way of understanding what's going on.   Nor is it a good way to help you develop the kind of control that will allow you to consistently draw the shot you want.  

The degree of extraction is probably best understood in terms of %TDS, but let's hold off on that discussion for awhile.  The best way to start thinking about it is in terms of extraction ratio and visual evidence of degree of extraction.  Extraction ratio is the relationship between mass of grind, and mass of brew.  A ristretto is usually around 35%; a normale usually around 50%; and a lungo around 75%.  A ristretto is usually stopped when the brew is slightly underextracted; a normale when it's evenly extracted; and a lungo when it's over extracted.  

In terms of taste, a ristretto is usually "intense" or "in your face;" a normale is "balanced;" and a lungo is "comfortable" or "attenuated."  

The easiest (and most accurate way, short of a refractometer) to measure degree of extraction is by the appearance of the stream just above the cup -- or if that's too difficult to see, then by the appearance of top of the bres as the stream hits it.  In describing the stream, a ristretto is stopped when the stream is still striping; a normale at the "blond point;" and a lungo when the stream begins to show some transparency.  Hitting the right points with consistent accuracy is a matter of practice.

No matter what the time or volume, stop the shot when it's properly extracted according to what you want.  Not before, and not after.  Some 15 seconds shots will taste great, and so will some 60 second shots.  

If you try to draw shots using these visual milestones, you'll develop a lot more consistency and control.  

Bad News:
The Virtuoso is problematic for consistently good espresso because it doesn't allow fine enough control within the espresso range.  In other words, grinding small enough isn't enough.  You have to be able to exercise control of the grind.  The least expensive, new grinder I know which does that is the Baratza Preciso; but I don't know everything, there are probably a few others.  Bottom line, the Virtuoso will fight you all the way, and win more often than not.    

I Hate to Mention It But...:
Unfortunately, the same is also true for the Silvia.  If you're determined to keep it -- for whatever reason -- at least think about adding a PID.  But you didn't ask about the role controlling temp plays in making good espresso, and I'm not near here to nag you about your machine.  

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

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia V3
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso
Posted Mon Nov 11, 2013, 8:54pm
Subject: Re: Shot adjustment, Silvia V3 (video)
 

boar_d_laze Said:

Your video was very helpful.  Why the color wasn't great, it was easy to observe the density of the stream, striping, and the attenuation of striping.

Your shot was vastly over-extracted.  You need to stop the shot very shortly after "tiger striping" stops.  In the video, that was at around the 30sec mark.  At 60sec the shot had lost all of its density and was nearly transparent.

Posted November 11, 2013 link

Thanks, that description helps a lot, I think (as mentioned in my original shot, I figured I went over the top with the duration of that shot, but I wasn't sure when I should have pulled the plug). I think I've actually just read too much on the subject without enough practical experience to go with it, leaving me with some distorted ideas in my head of what to actually expect.

boar_d_laze Said:

A smaller dose is worth a try.  I'd try 14g, 16g and 18g.  Worry about the taste of the shot, not about the appearance of the puck.  That said, you'll probably find that the best tasting dose doesn't touch the screen before wetting.

Posted November 11, 2013 link

On the higher end, at around 18g I'm hitting the screen itself (depending on tamp), not just the screw, which does seem to produce some channeling etc. I've decided not to worry too much about the screw for now, as long as I'm not hitting the screen. My reasoning is that the headroom in the basket should really just depend on the space between the top of the grounds and the screen; the screw only matters insofar as it may cause channeling due to breaking the puck. That said, I do still need to experiment with doses around 14g.

boar_d_laze Said:

TASTE BEFORE METRICS, ALWAYS!

Posted November 11, 2013 link

Yes, indeed; on the other hand, this process is involving calibration of my taste as much as anything else; I'm quickly coming to realise that almost all of the espresso and espresso-based drinks I've had in the past (whether at home, or a cafe) were pretty terrible, heh. Of course, it does mean I'm drinking some of the best coffee I've ever had at home, even if it might not be very good by absolute standards, so that's something.

I didn't quote the rest regarding extraction ratios etc. but it's all helpful information, too :)

boar_d_laze Said:

The Virtuoso is problematic for consistently good espresso because it doesn't allow fine enough control within the espresso range.  In other words, grinding small enough isn't enough.  You have to be able to exercise control of the grind.  The least expensive, new grinder I know which does that is the Baratza Preciso; but I don't know everything, there are probably a few others.  Bottom line, the Virtuoso will fight you all the way, and win more often than not.

Posted November 11, 2013 link

Yes, getting a new grinder is definitely next on my list, it's pretty clear that I'm bumping up hard against the limits of my current one. To be fair, I originally bought it with moka pot / french press in mind, and it performed just fine in that role for several years; so managing some espresso shots with it is just a nice bonus. I have my eye on the Vario (the Mahlkönig-branded version, this time; but as far as I understand the Mahlkönig/Baratza versions should be basically identical), but I'm still trying to get it at the price I want.

boar_d_laze Said:

Unfortunately, the same is also true for the Silvia.  If you're determined to keep it -- for whatever reason -- at least think about adding a PID.  But you didn't ask about the role controlling temp plays in making good espresso, and I'm not near here to nag you about your machine.

Posted November 11, 2013 link

I think I can live with the limits of the Silvia for now. I'm aware that the Silvia is seldom recommended around here anymore due to other machines at the same price point offering superior value, but unfortunately the availability of such things in South Africa is a lot worse than it may be elsewhere; most of the other options I considered would have cost about double what the Silvia did. A PID modification is probably something I will consider in the future; although I hate messing with hardware and electronics, so it may take some working myself up to ;) Or perhaps I'll lose patience with the Silvia in the end and move up to an HX/DB machine; but for now, I'll muddle along with what I have.
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