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New Silvia Owner - Beginner Help


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Hello all, sorry to start another "I'm a beginner, help!" thread.

I'd had a Delonghi Dedica machine for a few years as my very first introduction into 'proper' coffee. Last year I inherited some money and decided to upgrade. 
I bought a Rancilio Silvia V6 and I've paired it with a Niche grinder after lots of reading around on grinders.
I've also done lots of reading about temperature surfing, PID and other upgrades, how to get the best from the machine etc.

As it stands I'm following the temperature surfing routine here.
Using all of the standard Rancilio equipment (double basket, standard tamper), I'm dosing 16g, tamping, temp surfing and then pulling a shot. With the Niche I've found it quite easy to dial in my current beans to get ~32g out in ~30 seconds quite consistently (Gaslight from Bella Barista).

With all that said, I'm still struggling to get what I would call a 'nice' espresso out of the machine. Typically they taste very sour to me, a very sharp and unpleasant taste, not very balanced at all. Of course the beans say they have flavours on the bag but I can't taste any of those...not sure if that's me or my methods.

On a separate but likely related note, I've attached a couple of images of my puck, post shot. Not too concerned by the imprint or indent, I've read a lot about that and understand it's quite normal. But, could anyone explain why I seem to be getting coffee up the walls of the portafilter sort of outside of the puck?

Thanks for any help you can give. As it is I am really enjoying my machine, I can make some tasty milk drinks, just want to master those tasty espressos!

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Hello all, sorry to start another "I'm a beginner, help!" thread.
I'd had a Delonghi Dedica machine for a few years as my very first introduction into 'proper' coffee. Last year I inherited some money and decided to upgrade. 
I bought a Rancilio Silvia V6 and I've paired it with a Niche grinder after lots of reading around on grinders.
I've also done lots of reading about temperature surfing, PID and other upgrades, how to get the best from the machine etc.
As it stands I'm following the temperature surfing routine here.
Using all of the standard Rancilio equipment (double basket, standard tamper), I'm dosing 16g, tamping, temp surfing and then pulling a shot. With the Niche I've found it quite easy to dial in my current beans to get ~32g out in ~30 seconds quite consistently (Gaslight from Bella Barista).
With all that said, I'm still struggling to get what I would call a 'nice' espresso out of the machine. Typically they taste very sour to me, a very sharp and unpleasant taste, not very balanced at all. Of course the beans say they have flavours on the bag but I can't taste any of those...not sure if that's me or my methods.
On a separate but likely related note, I've attached a couple of images of my puck, post shot. Not too concerned by the imprint or indent, I've read a lot about that and understand it's quite normal. But, could anyone explain why I seem to be getting coffee up the walls of the portafilter sort of outside of the puck?

Thanks for any help you can give. As it is I am really enjoying my machine, I can make some tasty milk drinks, just want to master those tasty espressos!
JmTIAQs.jpg4l7jas2.jpg
 
Hello, first of all please tell us more about your routine, how long you leave the machine heating for example. From the image it seems that you charge too much as you can see the shower and the screw marks. I had this machine and the steam power it's one of the best I've seen. Mastering the temperature could be tricky and it was one of my main reason tu upgrade to the Pro version. I use to leave the machine minimum 30-40 minutes to heating, with several flushes in between. Then when I wanted to pull the shot I flushed again until the orange light came on. When it went off it was the crucial moment as the temperature is above 100°C so you have flush a number of seconds to lower the temperature and pull the shot. Now it's a bit like going blindly as imagine that you flush for 6 seconds instead of 4 maybe your temperature will be 92 instead of 94, and for a lighter roast it could be too low. Or if you use a dark roast and the temperature will be 95 it could be too much....
It's about trial and error and knowing the machine, if you can master a routine and stick to it than it can produce very nice shots.
This machine also needs a very capable grinder so Niche is one of the best options.
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17 minutes ago, profesor_historia said:

Hello, first of all please tell us more about your routine, how long you leave the machine heating for example. From the image it seems that you charge too much as you can see the shower and the screw marks. I had this machine and the steam power it's one of the best I've seen. Mastering the temperature could be tricky and it was one of my main reason tu upgrade to the Pro version. I use to leave the machine minimum 30-40 minutes to heating, with several flushes in between. Then when I wanted to pull the shot I flushed again until the orange light came on. When it went off it was the crucial moment as the temperature is above 100°C so you have flush a number of seconds to lower the temperature and pull the shot. Now it's a bit like going blindly as imagine that you flush for 6 seconds instead of 4 maybe your temperature will be 92 instead of 94, and for a lighter roast it could be too low. Or if you use a dark roast and the temperature will be 95 it could be too much....
It's about trial and error and knowing the machine, if you can master a routine and stick to it than it can produce very nice shots.
This machine also needs a very capable grinder so Niche is one of the best options.

Thanks for your reply. I am leaving the machine to heat for at least 30 minutes, then I flush through the portafilter into my cup to warm the cup while I prepare the coffee. Once I've done this, the portafilter is too hot to touch so I'm confident the machine is adequately warmed up.

Once I prepare the coffee and I've added to the portafilter, tamped etc, I flush the machine again into an empty jug until heating light comes on, wait for light to go out and start stopwatch, wait 30 seconds, flush 5 seconds, steam stops, load portafilter, place cup and scales under, hit the brew button at around 50 seconds after heating light off. 16g in, ~32g out in around 30 seconds.

Edited by Miniwill
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@Miniwill I'm not an expert but this indentation seems far deeper than others I've seen on similar machines. Perhaps the basket is too small for your dose - have you tried reducing it and seeing what happens?

Edit: just read the second post, did you say 50 seconds for a shot? That's way too much. I'm thinking you might be overfilling the basket and/or grinding too fine which may bring all kinds of horrors. Again, not an expert, hopefully somebody will correct me if I'm wrong.

Edited by Baffo
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10 minutes ago, Baffo said:

@Miniwill I'm not an expert but this indentation seems far deeper than others I've seen on similar machines. Perhaps the basket is too small for your dose - have you tried reducing it and seeing what happens?

Edit: just read the second post, did you say 50 seconds for a shot? That's way too much. I'm thinking you might be overfilling the basket and/or grinding too fine which may bring all kinds of horrors. Again, not an expert, hopefully somebody will correct me if I'm wrong.

Thanks. 16g in the standard double basket seems to be quite common from what I've read, I understand it can be different depending on coffee and grind etc.

I've edited my second post for clarity, 50 seconds is the wait time after the heat light goes off, for temp surfing.

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@Miniwill Yes in theory 16g sounds good and even low, it's just that the indentation seems a bit too deep. Then again, probably some Silvia owners might know the machine and its quirks better.

In general, people will ask you about your puck prep. Temperature wise BB seems  to suggest 92c for that specific bean, which is not too high, but of course we can't know for sure whether you're hitting it. They're also suggesting a lower yield than yours. The fact that you're (probably) hitting the temp right and you're going for higher yield would possibly rule out underextraction, but of course this is just a wild guess.

Ideally the only way to know what's wrong is to try and change one variable at a time (dose, yield, time, temp) and see what happens. One or more might be off - perhaps all of them are! What happens if you try their recipe (ie 18g dose producing 30g of espresso in about 26 seconds at 92c )? Maybe start from there and if you don't like it, you take it from there and move one variable at a time. Starting from their recipe would provide you with a better ballpark, at least you know that the variables will not all be wildly off.

Have you tried other beans? Maybe you just don't like these..

Edited by Baffo
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Thanks. 16g in the standard double basket seems to be quite common from what I've read, I understand it can be different depending on coffee and grind etc.

I've edited my second post for clarity, 50 seconds is the wait time after the heat light goes off, for temp surfing.
I think it's a bit too much, after the light goes off try and flush about 5 seconds and pull the shot, maybe you lower the temperature too much, that's why the sour taste .
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5 minutes ago, Baffo said:

@Miniwill Yes in theory 16g sounds good and even low, it's just that the indentation seems a bit too deep. Then again, probably some Silvia owners might know the machine and its quirks better.

In general, people will ask you about your puck prep. Temperature wise BB seems  to suggest 92c for that specific bean, which is not too high, but of course we can't know for sure whether you're hitting it. They're also suggesting a lower yield than yours. The fact that you're (probably) hitting the temp right and you're going for higher yield would possibly rule out underextraction, but of course this is just a wild guess.

Ideally the only way to know what's wrong it to try and change one variable at a time (dose, yield, time, temp) and see what happens. One or more might be off. What happens if you try their recipe (ie 18g dose producing 30g of espresso in about 26 seconds at 92c )

Have you tried other beans?

You're quite right in that I can't be certain I'm hitting that temperature. I have a K type thermocouple reader + thermocouple I can add to the top of the boiler, I might try this to get a better idea of repeatability of my temp surfing. I understand this is where the thermocouple is added for PID control. 

Can't really try their recipe at 18g in and 30g out due to basket size. If the indent is bad now at 16g, imagine it at 18g!
Their ratio is about 1 : 1.66 though, I guess it might be worth trying 16g in ~27g out in 30 seconds.

Edit to add, I've got some of their "Milk Buster" beans to try but I've not opened them yet.

Edited by Miniwill
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@Miniwill true about the 18g dose! Ideally you should be trying to hit close to the 26 seconds time as well, 30 seconds is absolutely fine in general but if you hit the desired yield in a longer time than the recipe, you might be grinding too fine. From the low yield, not too high temperature and short time in the recipe I'd guess it's a medium to dark roast which should be fairly easy to extract, so the sourness you are experiencing seems a bit counterintuitive. Unless you're grinding too fine, which can possibly cause some blockages and actually hamper a good extraction. How's the body, the mouthfeel?

 

Then again this is all textbook theory. Try and let us know, I am not an expert but hopefully somebody who is will read about all of this experimenting and chip in 😅

Edited by Baffo
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23 hours ago, Baffo said:

@Miniwill I'm not an expert but this indentation seems far deeper than others I've seen on similar machines. Perhaps the basket is too small for your dose - have you tried reducing it and seeing what happens?

Edit: just read the second post, did you say 50 seconds for a shot? That's way too much. I'm thinking you might be overfilling the basket and/or grinding too fine which may bring all kinds of horrors. Again, not an expert, hopefully somebody will correct me if I'm wrong.

No such thing as too long on extraction if that's what you like. I have things tweaked so I don't see the first drop until upwards of 20 seconds and the total extraction is over 50 seconds on average with a volume of 1 oz, sometimes slightly less. That's precisely what I like and have worked diligently over the years to obtain that. Anything much faster is just weak and underextracted to my taste. People really should get off the lame 'rules' kick as there are so many variables involved every setup, environment, coffee, etc. is going to vary.

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3 minutes ago, shadow745 said:

No such thing as too long on extraction if that's what you like. I have things tweaked so I don't see the first drop until upwards of 20 seconds and the total extraction is over 50 seconds on average with a volume of 1 oz, sometimes slightly less. That's precisely what I like and have worked diligently over the years to obtain that. Anything much faster is just weak and underextracted to my taste. People really should get off the lame 'rules' kick as there are so many variables involved every setup, environment, coffee, etc. is going to vary.

Agreed but we're trying to troubleshoot any potential issues with a shot that the user doesn't like here, so perhaps it makes sense to correct anything that looks out of the ordinary.

@Miniwill in case you haven't cracked the case yet, perhaps posting in other busier sections might bring you more responses.

Edited by Baffo
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1 hour ago, Baffo said:

Agreed but we're trying to troubleshoot any potential issues with a shot that the user doesn't like here, so perhaps it makes sense to correct anything that looks out of the ordinary.

@Miniwill in case you haven't cracked the case yet, perhaps posting in other busier sections might bring you more responses.

Not cracked yet, very much work in progress! 

Haven't had chance to add the thermocouple yet but I think I might be able to do it tomorrow.

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On 10/02/2021 at 14:01, profesor_historia said:

Hello, first of all please tell us more about your routine, how long you leave the machine heating for example. From the image it seems that you charge too much as you can see the shower and the screw marks. I had this machine and the steam power it's one of the best I've seen. Mastering the temperature could be tricky and it was one of my main reason tu upgrade to the Pro version. I use to leave the machine minimum 30-40 minutes to heating, with several flushes in between. Then when I wanted to pull the shot I flushed again until the orange light came on. When it went off it was the crucial moment as the temperature is above 100°C so you have flush a number of seconds to lower the temperature and pull the shot. Now it's a bit like going blindly as imagine that you flush for 6 seconds instead of 4 maybe your temperature will be 92 instead of 94, and for a lighter roast it could be too low. Or if you use a dark roast and the temperature will be 95 it could be too much....
It's about trial and error and knowing the machine, if you can master a routine and stick to it than it can produce very nice shots.
This machine also needs a very capable grinder so Niche is one of the best options.

 

Looks like way too much coffee to me. Grind and etc, place a 5 or 20p coin on puck. Fit and remove. A starting point is the coin not leaving an impression or a slight one. You may be able to use a bit more or it might need a bit less. Looks like the shower screen fixing screw will hit the puck so offset it.

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32 minutes ago, ajohn said:

 

Looks like way too much coffee to me. Grind and etc, place a 5 or 20p coin on puck. Fit and remove. A starting point is the coin not leaving an impression or a slight one. You may be able to use a bit more or it might need a bit less. Looks like the shower screen fixing screw will hit the puck so offset it.

@Miniwill as ajohn says it looks like the dose is too large for the basket.

Which basket did your machine come with? My Silvia Pro has 40-100-107 which is supposed to be an 18 gram basket, but anything above 16g is too much. My Silvia had the older basket which wouldn't take more than 14g. Some people have said with the Niche the grind means they've had to drop the weight too.

The coffee up the side looks like where it gets forced out as there is too much in, the screw pushing that deep into the puck won't help either.

If you can get the weight right so the coffee can expand slightly, the coin trick is a good test. Once you've done that use the time as a guide, then tweak the grind to get to the flavours right, the time is not an absolute thing just a good starting point. And as you have said the final variable is the temperature which takes some mastering with Silvia.

Finally remember change one thing at a time so you can see the effect and hopefully you'll quickly get to the right values.

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I’ve had good results from 14g in the stock basket that came with my v6. 15g was also pretty tasty, but when I locked in the portafilter and then took it out again (before pulling the shot) I could see the shower screen impression on the coffee.

I don’t worry about the bolt leaving an impression, but I believe it’s best to have some clearance to the shower screen.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I kind of blew this all apart. Bought a VST basket to be able to go up to 18g and fitted a Auber PID too. 

With the 18g basket I'm not getting much less of a screen imprint and a much cleaner shower screen post shot too, so that's good!

I can achieve consistent results for weight in vs weight out within a specific timeframe +/- 1 second or so. Now with the PID, I'm going to try increasing the temperature to see what impact it has, likewise with decreasing temperature.

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