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Just got a Silvia, having an absolute mare


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Hi all.
 

I got a lot of great help over in the machines section whilst shopping for my first espresso setup. I’ve been happily making filter with a Baratza Encore and V60/Moccamaster for a few years and had left espresso drinks to the pros up until now.
 

I just got a Smart Grinder Pro and a new Silvia. I thought I’d watched enough YouTube tips and read enough that I wouldn’t have a total disaster of a first few attempts but clearly that’s not the case.

I was almost certain I’d seen someone on YouTube dose 17g into the stock basket, but trying that myself I couldn’t even get the PF attached.

 

I then read on here that the included basket with a Silvia is a 14g. So I reduced the dose. 
 

I’m using a distributor and the included metal tamper.  I’ve also got an auto-scale that fits under the group.
 

Disclaimer here is that I’m using pretty bad beans to get used to the process. I didn’t want to drain 1kg of decent, expensive coffee trying to make my first shots. It’s a supermarket espresso roast. 
 

First effort was at 12 on the grinder, and 14/28g in about 8 seconds. Tasted exactly as you’d imagine.

 

I then reduced the grinder to 10 and tamped a little firmer. This increased the overall time to 11 seconds. The shot had a decent crema and actually didn’t taste horrendous, just immensely strong and the puck was like tar.

 

I then reduced the grind setting to 4, tamped really hard and I still only got to about 12 seconds for a 28g shot. Texture was good, taste was again very strong and bitter.

 

I’ve ordered an 18g VST ridgeless basket to get a more familiar ratio, but obviously there’s something massively wrong elsewhere so any tips would be much appreciated.

 

Thanks!

 

 

 

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I get consistently good results with 15g in the stock v6 double basket. Keep going finer until you’re in the right time window. I’ve always bought fresh beans, but I’ve heard old beans are harder

Ok so far more success today.   Ive taken some photos but apparently my phone camera is broken as it was staying blurry.   With the grinder at 4 I did 14g in, a much lighter tamp t

Residual water can just be a byproduct of what the 3 way solenoid leaves behind. If the coffee is tasty, what can really be that wrong? You could try slightly higher doses/fill levels if it really irk

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I assume that it's a new SGP?????

It's not difficult to check them but do this very carefully and only manual grinding so it stops when you pull the portafilter out.

Empty hopper, run till burrs are completely empty.

Brush the burrs clean and what you can see without removing the centre burr and refit.

Set the grinder at say 10 and run it and notice the speed the grinder is running at - much faster than when it's grinding beans.

Slowly reduce the setting 1 at a time when it's running. If the speed drops a little stop immediately. If it happens at a setting of 1 that is probably perfect and there wont be any need to grind at that setting. Best not to anyway as the burrs are rubbing slightly.

Then go too coarse say 4 or 5 and then to setting 2 and make sure the motor speed doesn't change. When setting coarser on these it's always better to go too coarse and then fine to where you want to be. Much easier on these than when trying to set precisely using a Mazzer.

Speed didn't change. Adjust the out burr one step finer and repeat. If it still rubs at 2 put it back to where it was.

Still not slowing - repeat. If they do rub too much the speed will drop lower and lower rather quickly.

This applies to any of their grinders even the one on the Oracle. Numbers may differ.

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1 hour ago, LostHighway said:

First effort was at 12 on the grinder, and 14/28g in about 8 seconds. Tasted exactly as you’d imagine.

 

I then reduced the grinder to 10 and tamped a little firmer. This increased the overall time to 11 seconds. The shot had a decent crema and actually didn’t taste horrendous, just immensely strong and the puck was like tar.

 

I then reduced the grind setting to 4, tamped really hard and I still only got to about 12 seconds for a 28g shot. Texture was good, taste was again very strong and bitter.

The fact that all these shots seem rather quick & are likely on the low side of extraction, suggests that you may not actually like coffee brewed at 1:2? If you grind fine enough to get the extraction up, the balance may be better, but the shots will also be stronger (maybe with less mouth feel though.

Don't change your tamp, it might slow the shot but you really want grind to do that.

Maybe try grind 3 and 42g out?

I would use beans that you will actually enjoy, the dial in procedure is the same but you stand more chance of enjoying the results.

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Great, thanks so much. I didn’t realise there was a process to get the SGP set up. It was a new one yes.

 

I must admit I’ve not tried 1:2 at 14g before, and usually enjoy beans from UK roasters like Dark Arts, Round Hill, Newground so perhaps the shorter shot with supermarket Italian roast is throwing me off.

I’ve just ordered a kilo of beans of a coffee I know, so I’ll give that a try in the 18g basket and see how I get on.

 

I shall report back!

 

Thanks again for the help.

 

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Firstly - having a mare to begin with is normal, at least it was for me!

How do you feel about posting a video of the extraction up? Maybe even a close up of the ground coffee with something next to it for scale? Was the puck still gloopy on the lower grind setting? Maybe a photo of your tamped coffee too?

People who know your grinder can help more but rather frustratingly, both grinding too fine and too coarse can cause a fast shot which didn't help me when I first started very recently. 

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I get consistently good results with 15g in the stock v6 double basket. Keep going finer until you’re in the right time window.

I’ve always bought fresh beans, but I’ve heard old beans are harder to dial in. Perhaps your attempt to use save money by using supermarket beans might actually be the cause of the issue.

Good luck, the Silvia is great when you get used to it.

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Thanks, good to hear there’s other people relatively new to it!

I’ll take some photos and post a video tomorrow, not sure the other half will be happy if I get the kitchen in the same state twice in one day.

 

Definitely looking forward to trying the good beans, but I’ll keep going down the grind scale on the cheapo beans to see if things improve.

 

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32 minutes ago, LostHighway said:

Thanks, good to hear there’s other people relatively new to it!

I’ll take some photos and post a video tomorrow, not sure the other half will be happy if I get the kitchen in the same state twice in one day.

Definitely looking forward to trying the good beans, but I’ll keep going down the grind scale on the cheapo beans to see if things improve.

 

It would be typical to pull a perfect shot and not be able to drink it because it's too late in the day!

I remembered that this video had a good tip for getting in the ballpark for espresso grind. I didn't bother with the 5p to assess head space as I have 18g VST baskets and trust that 18g is correct, nor did I do the distribution technique as I have a tool for that, but there's definitely some useful info in there. 

Have you been temp surfing?

oh and this one from the oracle

 

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1 hour ago, LostHighway said:

Great, thanks so much. I didn’t realise there was a process to get the SGP set up. It was a new one yes.

:) Yes it is a new one as I seem to be the only one that came up with it. Fed up of people being told to just willy nilly adjust the outer burr usually saying it will grind finer as the numbers have changed. They wont, the numbers just change. On the other hand some may come out of the factory that haven't been calibrated correctly when they were built so may need adjusting.

I know it works as I have done it but do take care. There have been people who have wrecked the burrs by just adjusting them and not checking.

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Ok so far more success today.

 

Ive taken some photos but apparently my phone camera is broken as it was staying blurry.

 

With the grinder at 4 I did 14g in, a much lighter tamp than yesterday (slightly poor polish due to not making sure the tamper was clean on the bottom) and got 36g out in 20 seconds. Tasted much ‘better’... as in, as I would expect these beans to taste. Far less harshness and smoother.

 

I then did the exact same ratio and grinder setting, tamped slightly harder and got 36g out in 24 seconds. Again a slight improvement in taste.

 

Still waiting for the new beans and 18g basket to show up but excited to try them with today’s successes!

 

However the puck was still super sloppy after extraction. Looked wet on top and gets stuck in the basket when knocking it out. I tried to get a photo but again, it’s not very clear.

 

Progress!

 

 

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1 hour ago, LostHighway said:

However the puck was still super sloppy after extraction. Looked wet on top and gets stuck in the basket when knocking it out. I tried to get a photo but again, it’s not very clear.

Good news! Don't worry what the puck looks like if the shots taste good. Liquid could be collecting because you are tamping hard enough to restrict permeability, slow the shots with grind setting not tamp force.

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Posted (edited)

Ok I had another go this evening and even happier with the results.

Grind setting 3 and 15g with a slightly less firm tamp and I got 36g out in 24 seconds. Tastiest results yet. I was definitely way off with the grinder at 12 and a ridiculously heavy tamp.


I know you guys have said it’s not a worry but the puck is still very wet and actually has a film of water on top of it. Does the Silvia have a 3-way solenoid? Is there a chance it’s not working as it should? 
 

Edited by LostHighway
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2 hours ago, LostHighway said:

I know you guys have said it’s not a worry but the puck is still very wet and actually has a film of water on top of it. Does the Silvia have a 3-way solenoid? Is there a chance it’s not working as it should?

Residual water can just be a byproduct of what the 3 way solenoid leaves behind. If the coffee is tasty, what can really be that wrong? You could try slightly higher doses/fill levels if it really irks you, just make sure you have some headroom over the puck. Or, leave the puck to drain before knocking it out.

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On 29/04/2021 at 19:42, newdent said:


I remembered that this video had a good tip for getting in the ballpark for espresso grind. I didn't bother with the 5p to assess head space as I have 18g VST baskets and trust that 18g is correct, nor did I do the distribution technique as I have a tool for that, but there's definitely some useful info in there. 
 

The 18g VST and IMS baskets are just an estimate of their ideal fill height. Coffee varies in density so usually and 18g VST will be fine with 18g but sometimes you'll be better off with a little more or less, sometimes you'll need less because the puck gets disturbed by the shower screen at 18g hence the 5p test (most common with dark roasts). Also most distribution tools don't actually do anything for distribution unless they're the needle style or maybe the edo twister one.

 

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7 hours ago, MWJB said:

Residual water can just be a byproduct of what the 3 way solenoid leaves behind. If the coffee is tasty, what can really be that wrong? You could try slightly higher doses/fill levels if it really irks you, just make sure you have some headroom over the puck. Or, leave the puck to drain before knocking it out.


Thanks! I think I’ve watched so many videos that I’m getting hung up on process.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Rob1 said:

The 18g VST and IMS baskets are just an estimate of their ideal fill height. Coffee varies in density so usually and 18g VST will be fine with 18g but sometimes you'll be better off with a little more or less, sometimes you'll need less because the puck gets disturbed by the shower screen at 18g hence the 5p test (most common with dark roasts). Also most distribution tools don't actually do anything for distribution unless they're the needle style or maybe the edo twister one.

 

That's a fair point Rob, no harm chucking a 5p in to see what's what. 

Distribution wise, I stir with a cocktail stick and then use my distribution tool for flattening before tamp. Have had good results but getting a small amount of spitting during the shot lately. Will have to investigate this!

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The other point about the 5p test is that the puck expands when it gets wet. This can limit flow rates rather than purely the grinder setting and 5p clearance may not be enough. All basket weight capacities are nominal as well not just VST etc. They will generally hold more than their stated capacity but expansion effects can creep in.

I use a levelling tool, better name than distribution. I started to do it to help ensure the tamp was level. 2 slope type and only lightly and grinds still need to be rather level before using it. These do move grinds a bit rather than just compress them as the other type tends to do but I don't kid myself - they still compress the grinds unevenly. Just a better option. They can tamp to incredible levels.

I also use a calibrated tamper, 12kg/25lbs. Main reason is fixed 30sec shots and check weighing what comes out. I have tried a range of pressures but with the usual fluffy grinds that come out due to weighing in I stick with that. Taste comes into this as well. Stirring - maybe but most definitely not always.

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I'm late to the party but just to say that using proper beans should make a big difference, I have a SGP and can be on a 15 setting for fresh beans compared to a 2-3 for supermarket beans.

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2 hours ago, Dusk said:

I'm late to the party but just to say that using proper beans should make a big difference, I have a SGP and can be on a 15 setting for fresh beans compared to a 2-3 for supermarket beans.

That’s good to hear thanks! I’m still getting through the supermarket beans but 3 seems to be the best setting for a decent extraction.

 

I was concerned because that didn’t leave much room to go finer if needed and a lot finer than the 12 setting the ‘Espresso’ section on the grinder. I appreciate that’s just an arbitrary indicator but figured Sage must’ve put it there for some reason.

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On 30/04/2021 at 15:23, LostHighway said:

However the puck was still super sloppy after extraction

Tamping, fine grinding and fill height effects can all cause that or some mix of them.  With no idea what the 1st one is hard to say really. Light tamping can result a finer grinder setting but when it comes to taste and the amount extracted from the beans etc things aren't that straight forwards.

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