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trouble -- vario and new silvia NOT getting along...
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Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > trouble -- vario...  
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tejas
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Oct 2009
Posts: 30
Location: Houston
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Silvia w/ PID
Grinder: Baratza Vario, KitchenAid...
Vac Pot: Hario and Yamas
Drip: Chemex
Roaster: popcorn poppers
Posted Sat Aug 28, 2010, 11:47am
Subject: trouble -- vario and new silvia NOT getting along...
 

Hi all,

I've been using the Vario for about 8 months now mostly with vacpots, and I absolutely love it. The grind's been awesome, and the dosing spot on.

I recently set up my new V3 Silvia a couple weeks ago, but I've had very little success so far. At first, the Vario was clearly calibrated too coarsely, so I manually calibrated it, so that the burrs lightly buzzed with the macro level all the way to the top and the micro level halfway.

Yet, I'm worried that the Vario still isn't grinding nearly fine enough for the Silvia.

Almost every shot I've pulled, especially in the beginning before calibration, has been a gusher. I really haven't been able to get to a 25 second shot at all. After calibration, I've still been running the Vario at its finest setting. I'm using a chopped off Rancilio portafilter and a flat Rattleware tamper.

I had purchased an Auber PID awhile ago, and I decided to install that a few days ago to at least remove the temperature variable from the troubles. The installation went fine, and it works great, but the shots have still been gushing too much.

Occasionally, I see some little lines squirting out, which I'm assuming suggests that there's some channeling, but even when there's none, and the cone forms directly in the middle, the shot is pulling way too fast, even at the 'finest' setting on the Vario.

(Oh, and I'm using "El Guapo" espresso from Catalina Coffee in Houston that's always been roasted within the previous week. Their coffee is always solid, so I know that's not the issue.)

The single only success I've had was with the micro lever just one notch below of where the burrs buzz lightly and using a triple basket that was VERY full and using the WDT to distribute. The shot was just over an ounce, took 25 seconds, and was delicious. Other than that, no good news.

Oh, and I haven't even begun to start weighing doses yet just because I thought it'd make more sense to get the grinder calibrated within the ballpark first, which I apparently haven't.

I guess I have a few general questions:
  1. Is there some grossly obvious issue that I'm missing with the Vario? It sounds like from what I've read that it should be more than capable of choking most espresso machines, but I can't even get it fine enough to pull at 25s shot. Also, even if I were to get a 25 second shot at the 'finest' setting, that would leave me zero room to adjust any finer...

  2. Could someone describe the sound you're listening for when you calibrate the Vario's burrs? When I did it, the pitch of the burrs immediately shifted higher when as I was turning the allen wrench so I backed off right there. I've verified this a number of times too with the micro lever -- anytime I move it one notch above halfway (with the macro at the finest) I hear the same pitch shift.

  3. Could this be related to the OPV valve on the Siliva? That's the only variable that I can think of that might be causing this. Does anyone know the consensus on the V3 Silvia's OPV? I'm wondering whether decreasing it's pressure would improve things...

  4. Are there any other obvious variables/adjustments that I'm flat out missing? It's been pretty frustrating, and I've wasted a lot of good coffee, which is never fun.

Anyway, sorry bout all the words!

Thanks for the help!
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Endo
Senior Member
Endo
Joined: 26 Jun 2008
Posts: 804
Location: , location, location.
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: machine is < important than...
Grinder: !
Posted Sat Aug 28, 2010, 12:40pm
Subject: Re: trouble -- vario and new silvia NOT getting along...
 

Just keep at it.

Try mixing up your prep. Go with a lower dose. You can also try increasing your tamp pressure, adding nutation, etc.

All grinders and machines have a preferred dose (headspace) and technique. The pros spend a lot of time dialing in all these variables and are able to adjust to the machine (not vice versa). It just takes time.

I too find the unique "smashed" grind from the Vario more prone to channelling, but it is not impossible to manage.
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clumeng
Senior Member


Joined: 19 Aug 2006
Posts: 351
Location: Ann Arbor
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Vivaldi II, 67 Cremina
Grinder: Vario, Maestro, Pharos
Vac Pot: Aeropress
Drip: Technivorm, Chemex
Posted Sat Aug 28, 2010, 1:18pm
Subject: Re: trouble -- vario and new silvia NOT getting along...
 

tejas Said:

Is there some grossly obvious issue that I'm missing with the Vario? It sounds like from what I've read that it should be more than capable of choking most espresso machines, but I can't even get it fine enough to pull at 25s shot. Also, even if I were to get a 25 second shot at the 'finest' setting, that would leave me zero room to adjust any finer.  Could someone describe the sound you're listening for when you calibrate the Vario's burrs? When I did it, the pitch of the burrs immediately shifted higher when as I was turning the allen wrench so I backed off right there. I've verified this a number of times too with the micro lever -- anytime I move it one notch above halfway (with the macro at the finest) I hear the same pitch shift.

Posted August 28, 2010 link

It sounds like the Vario may need to be recalibrated.  That doesn't sound quite right.  I grind with the coarse at 1 below the top and the fine 3-4 notches below the top and have a decent amount of play.  There are many threads out there about how to recalibrate.  Here is one example:
Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

I would give Baratza a call.  Their customer service and support is extraordinary.  Perhaps they can give some advice.  Close up pictures of the grind might help them.  There should be a reasonable amount of play to adjust the grind within a usable range.  You should be able to grind fine enough to choke the thing without difficulty.

tejas Said:

Could this be related to the OPV valve on the Siliva? That's the only variable that I can think of that might be causing this. Does anyone know the consensus on the V3 Silvia's OPV? I'm wondering whether decreasing it's pressure would improve things...

Posted August 28, 2010 link

I don't think so.

tejas Said:

Are there any other obvious variables/adjustments that I'm flat out missing? It's been pretty frustrating, and I've wasted a lot of good coffee, which is never fun.

Posted August 28, 2010 link

Weighing input (or output with the timer on the Vario) will help with consistency which is really what you need to get.  Stick with either doubles or triples.  Ultimately I got the best shots from 21g into a triple basket.
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tejas
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Oct 2009
Posts: 30
Location: Houston
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Silvia w/ PID
Grinder: Baratza Vario, KitchenAid...
Vac Pot: Hario and Yamas
Drip: Chemex
Roaster: popcorn poppers
Posted Sun Aug 29, 2010, 9:47am
Subject: Re: trouble -- vario and new silvia NOT getting along...
 

Thanks for the help and insight y'all!

I did a little more research and browsing through photos online, and I'm convinced that the Vario simply is NOT grinding fine enough. The finest grind I'm able to get from it isn't NEARLY as fine as what most people seem to be using for espresso.

I have a newer model -- I think the serial number was well into the 1000s -- and the calibration technique is just to set the macro at the finest, set the micro halfway, and turn the allen wrench clockwise until you hear any burr friction. I've verified this a number of times, and it appears to be calibrated properly.

I definitely don't want to move the micro level up any more PAST where I hear the friction because I don't want to damage the burrs.

So I guess my question is just whether there are any other settings that can be calibrated on the Vario and if the noise I'm hearing is in fact the burrs lightly touching?

Thanks again!
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CraigA
Moderator
CraigA
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 11,176
Location: Rexdale, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: PID/PressureMod 2001...
Grinder: BUNN FPG-2 DBC, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos manual, Yama 5...
Drip: Behmor BraZen, BUNN VPR-APS,...
Roaster: Refurb Behmor 1600, BBQ...
Posted Sun Aug 29, 2010, 12:09pm
Subject: Re: trouble -- vario and new silvia NOT getting along...
 

tejas Said:

I definitely don't want to move the micro level up any more PAST where I hear the friction because I don't want to damage the burrs.

Posted August 29, 2010 link

You won't damage the burrs, it's the flat triangular area that's touching (not a cutting area or surface) much like a Rockys burrs or any other flat parallel burrs.

So I guess my question is just whether there are any other settings that can be calibrated on the Vario and if the noise I'm hearing is in fact the burrs lightly touching?

Yes, the 2.5mm hex cap screw for the finest grind setting has to be all the way forward, (see cbear9494's post above yours!) & please see my post here: "Re: The Baratza Vario Grinder Owner's Thread"  Yes, that loading (slowing down) of the drive motor is the ceramic flats on the outermost circumference of the two burrs touching.

CraigA: phpTT3vdFPM.jpg
(Click for larger image)

 
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tejas
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Oct 2009
Posts: 30
Location: Houston
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Silvia w/ PID
Grinder: Baratza Vario, KitchenAid...
Vac Pot: Hario and Yamas
Drip: Chemex
Roaster: popcorn poppers
Posted Sun Aug 29, 2010, 8:53pm
Subject: Re: trouble -- vario and new silvia NOT getting along...
 

Thanks for the help all!

I did a little more reading and looking, and I'm a bit confused about the two adjustment hex screws. (I just now noticed the one that 'slides' on my grinder -- I guess the newer builds don't include the rubber grommet, so I assumed that there wasn't another hex screw.)

My current question is: do they both do the same thing? Does the one that adjusts by 'sliding' do the same thing as the one that adjusts by 'turning'? And if so, is the difference just that the sliding one is a gross adjuster and the turning one a finer adjuster, like the two levers on the grinder itself?

If they both do adjust the same thing -- just the distance between the burrs -- I guess there's no reason to keep twisting things.

I'm still confused because even at the finest setting, just below where I hear any burr noise, my grind just isn't fine enough. I thought I was crazy at first, but I confirmed this by checking some photos online. For example, when pinched together between my fingers, the grind doesn't clump together at all really.

If there's no other adjustments to try on my own, I guess I give Baratza a call tomorrow to see if they have any ideas.

Thanks again!
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JonR10
Senior Member
JonR10
Joined: 26 Apr 2004
Posts: 10,376
Location: Houston, Texas
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: E61 Legend, Livietta,...
Grinder: Robur, B-Vario-W
Vac Pot: Hario Tabletop, Yama...
Drip: Technivorm
Roaster: 1-lb US Roaster, Behmor 1600
Posted Sun Aug 29, 2010, 9:03pm
Subject: Re: trouble -- vario and new silvia NOT getting along...
 

tejas Said:

Thanks for the help all!

Posted August 29, 2010 link

Apologies - I did not notice before that you are in Houston...and I have not read this thread.

If you want to bring your machine and grinder over to my place we can do some simple testing and adjustments and maybe get you making some better shots.  We can try my grinder(s) and beans with your Silvia and we can try grinding for my machine on your grinder.  We could start with some test grinding and see if your Vario needs attention from Baratza...


I promise to make your trip worthwhile and you will probably learn a little about coffee in gerenal, and about making espresso  ;-)  
If you're interested just shoot me an email JonR10-at-yahoo-dot-com (I live near 290 and Hwy 6 on the NW side of town)


Cheers,
Jon

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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CraigA
Moderator
CraigA
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 11,176
Location: Rexdale, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: PID/PressureMod 2001...
Grinder: BUNN FPG-2 DBC, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos manual, Yama 5...
Drip: Behmor BraZen, BUNN VPR-APS,...
Roaster: Refurb Behmor 1600, BBQ...
Posted Sun Aug 29, 2010, 11:01pm
Subject: Re: trouble -- vario and new silvia NOT getting along...
 

tejas Said:

My current question is: do they both do the same thing? Does the one that adjusts by 'sliding' do the same thing as the one that adjusts by 'turning'? And if so, is the difference just that the sliding one is a gross adjuster and the turning one a finer adjuster, like the two levers on the grinder itself?

Posted August 29, 2010 link

Yes that's correct.

If they both do adjust the same thing -- just the distance between the burrs -- I guess there's no reason to keep twisting things.

Well, they're not doing exactly both the same thing.. Just like you said, the sliding 2.5mm one is a more gross/coarse adjuster., & the smaller 2mm one is strictly a fine control only. It's where the coarse sliding one is set at/to, that sets up or determines where the grind range has preference.

 
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clumeng
Senior Member


Joined: 19 Aug 2006
Posts: 351
Location: Ann Arbor
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Vivaldi II, 67 Cremina
Grinder: Vario, Maestro, Pharos
Vac Pot: Aeropress
Drip: Technivorm, Chemex
Posted Mon Aug 30, 2010, 5:29am
Subject: Re: trouble -- vario and new silvia NOT getting along...
 

JonR10 Said:

Apologies - I did not notice before that you are in Houston...and I have not read this thread.

If you want to bring your machine and grinder over to my place we can do some simple testing and adjustments and maybe get you making some better shots.  We can try my grinder(s) and beans with your Silvia and we can try grinding for my machine on your grinder.  We could start with some test grinding and see if your Vario needs attention from Baratza...


I promise to make your trip worthwhile and you will probably learn a little about coffee in gerenal, and about making espresso  ;-)  
If you're interested just shoot me an email JonR10-at-yahoo-dot-com (I live near 290 and Hwy 6 on the NW side of town)


Cheers,
Jon

Posted August 29, 2010 link

+++1
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,479
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Mon Aug 30, 2010, 12:50pm
Subject: Re: trouble -- vario and new silvia NOT getting along...
 

JonR10 Said:

Apologies - I did not notice before that you are in Houston...and I have not read this thread.

If you want to bring your machine and grinder over to my place we can do some simple testing and adjustments and maybe get you making some better shots.  We can try my grinder(s) and beans with your Silvia and we can try grinding for my machine on your grinder.  We could start with some test grinding and see if your Vario needs attention from Baratza...


I promise to make your trip worthwhile and you will probably learn a little about coffee in gerenal, and about making espresso  ;-)  
If you're interested just shoot me an email JonR10-at-yahoo-dot-com (I live near 290 and Hwy 6 on the NW side of town)


Cheers,
Jon

Posted August 29, 2010 link

DO IT, DO IT NOW! You will learn so much more with Jon helping you, you could spend big money at a local roasters "class" and not learn near as much DO IT NOW!

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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