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Getting Via Venezia temperature correct
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Getting Via...  
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ajellyb
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Joined: 5 Oct 2012
Posts: 11
Location: Fremont, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Mar 28, 2013, 11:57am
Subject: Getting Via Venezia temperature correct
 

Hi all,

I've been using a Via Venezia for the past 8 months or so. Obviously getting a consistent temperature is a bit tough. I'm using a non-pressurized portafilter.

One thing I noticed is that when I pull a shot the "ready" light turns off about 5 seconds into the shot. I am guessing that this means the water temp for the final 15-20 seconds is low. A lot of my shots are inconsistent, with a sourness to them (also indicating, I believe, that the water temp is low).

I have tried running the pump for about 3 seconds before pulling  a shot. This causes the "ready" light to turn off....and then turn  back on 10-15 seconds later. I have been using that time to prep the pf. But even so the shot never pulls before the ready light turns off.

I'm usually letting the machine warm up for 60+ minutes before pulling the shots.

Any suggestions for a more consistent temp?
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Burner0000
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Joined: 28 Jul 2011
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Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
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Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Thu Mar 28, 2013, 12:10pm
Subject: Re: Getting Via Venezia temperature correct
 

You could try preparing your shot and waiting for the machine to be ready then pull right away.  Sounds like the water is cooling too much just before you pull causing the thermostat to kick back in too early.
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al_bongo
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Joined: 26 Aug 2008
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Location: Scotland
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Espresso: Starbucks Barista
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Vac Pot: Cona
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Posted Thu Mar 28, 2013, 12:32pm
Subject: Re: Getting Via Venezia temperature correct
 

I have the Starbucks Barista (same machine). The design of this machine I believe means that temperature stability is an issue at the end of the pull.

I don't believe there is much you can do that you are not already doing. I tend to preheat the portafilter like you do by running hot water through it. I run hot water through the steam wand prior to tamping/attaching portafilter. This means that the boiler is at it's max temp ie ready light lit for a few seconds prior to pulling shot, which is I think basically what you are doing.
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dspear99ca
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Joined: 17 Jan 2013
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Location: BC, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Coffee
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Thu Mar 28, 2013, 12:37pm
Subject: Re: Getting Via Venezia temperature correct
 

ajellyb Said:

Any suggestions for a more consistent temp?

Posted March 28, 2013 link

What grinder are you using, and how long does it take to pull a 2.5 oz. shot?  What beans are you using?  How long since they were roasted?  Since they were ground?

Most machines, even el-cheapo ones, can generally make decent espresso.  The machine is the last thing to suspect if you're not getting good shots... not ruling it out but the beans, the grinder, and the technique are more likely culprits by far.

You can test the water temp cheaply and easily as follows:

  • Get a styrofoam cup and cut the top down so that the cup fits snugly into the group head where the portafilter normally sits.  

  • Stick a digital thermometer probe through the top edge of the cup angling downward so that the tip is near the bottom.

  • Pre-heat your machine.

  • Pre-heat the cup with boiling water from a kettle.

  • Dump out the cup and immediately put it on the brew head and turn on the pump.

  • Read the thermometer.
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Coffeenoobie
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Coffeenoobie
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Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Thu Mar 28, 2013, 12:44pm
Subject: Re: Getting Via Venezia temperature correct
 

Work on these very good suggestions and if it doesn't fix the issue it could be the machine.  Are you sure it is getting hot enough?  It is not 100% but you can use a thermometer and a Styrofoam cup to try to see if the temp is ever getting close to hot enough at the group head.

If it comes to the point you feel the machine is not working I would get another one for parts off craigslist (if you are handy) or move up to a larger, more stable machine.   I would probably not spend the money to get new parts for this machine.  You money would be better spent on something larger.

 
Coffeenoobie

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

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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D4F
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Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
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Posted Thu Mar 28, 2013, 12:48pm
Subject: Re: Getting Via Venezia temperature correct
 

As above, heat the PF.  I lock it in the machine while it heats.  You may be doing that but I cannot tell for sure.  Some info on temperature on Gaggia, the technique is similar.  Page 2 below for Styrofoam cup temperature review

Click Here (coffeegeek.com)

Below page 2 to use a Polder digital thermometer for boiler temperature.

Click Here (coffeegeek.com)

BB&B and you can use 20% off so cheap. Buy 2, so that you can take one apart. Many brands have the thermistor or wiring glued in and do not slip apart, so get the Polder.

For the second Polder, and surfing, this post. You take the thermometer apart. You may need to heat the steel probe to soften the plastic where it holds the probe. You can find a place to put the wire through the front or top and get the thermistor the boiler. Sometimes you can wedge it in a spot by an existing fastener, or try high temperature foil tape or glue.  You could have a failing or low stat or need to change technique.  The thermometer will help.

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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tinytot2
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Joined: 31 Dec 2012
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Location: Wisconsin
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Espresso: NS Oscar
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Posted Thu Mar 28, 2013, 1:31pm
Subject: Re: Getting Via Venezia temperature correct
 

I have a Barista and it does the same thing.  I just assumed it's because the machine was meant to be used with a pressurized portafilter, which runs WAY faster than a non-pressurized.

I follow the same procedure as al_bongo listed.
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D4F
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Joined: 15 Mar 2012
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Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Thu Mar 28, 2013, 1:39pm
Subject: Re: Getting Via Venezia temperature correct
 

Another thought on using the ready light.  Your description makes it seem that the light will come back on after a flush of about 1 oz., 3 sec, in about 10 15 seconds.  If that is correct, then turn on the pump a couple seconds before the ready light is back on.  You would like to get near max temperature, but keep the element on without cold water turning it on.  Once cold water turns the element on, there is a lag of temperature and you are on the cold side.  Experiment with a 3 second flush and then find the time to use to hit brew to keep the element on.  On Gaggia with 1425 Watts, the elements can add heat faster than cold calories come in during a normal brew extraction.  For an about 60 ml in 25 seconds, the Gaggia elements would run about 12 13 seconds, about half of the time to replace the calories.  If you do not want an intrashot drop, then you need to anticipate the need and get the element on.  Once the temperature drops from incoming cold, the Gaggia can add enough heat but it will not catch the drop, so the brew drops and then the temperature overshoots after the brew.  You have a larger buffer/boiler and may be less susceptible but also only 950 watts.  Page 1 and first few below.

http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machinemods/571792

Another way to help is to hit the steam switch for a few seconds before the brew to put heat in just before the cold.  Also covered in the first several pages above.  I hit 4 seconds steam, then 4 seconds rest, then brew.  I can clearly see the effect on the PID readout, but you could get the same by using the suggested Polder thermometer.

In short, assuming that your machine works, it is about learning to fool, surf, the machine and that is much easier to do knowing the temperature.

I do not use cooling flush in the Gaggia due to the small boiler and the fact that my PF is already boiler temperature, particularly if I run water in it at the beginning.  Water helps with the heat transfer as it is close to steam sitting in the group.  Many SBDUs are similar, the Silvia is not.  Many "surfing" articles are available on Silvia, but YMMV.  The group is not under the boiler and needs a flush to heat the group.  Most of the rest do not need a flush unless it is to try to turn on the boiler and keep it on.  I prefer adding a few seconds of heat and rest to anticipate the cold water and have used a Polder on the boiler to help this.  A larger tank may need 5 or 6 seconds of heat on and then rest to get the proper amount of heat in before the brew, but that could be determined.

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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ajellyb
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Joined: 5 Oct 2012
Posts: 11
Location: Fremont, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Apr 6, 2013, 8:37pm
Subject: Re: Getting Via Venezia temperature correct
 

Sorry for the delay in posting about this. Thanks for all the tips.

I haven't had the time to check on the temperature by doing the styrofoam cup process, but I expect to try it out soon. In the meantime I've actually had a good amount of success by experimenting with the instructions for "Readying an Idle Machine" here: http://www.home-barista.com/espresso-guide-skills.html

In my case, I was flushing for 1-2 seconds before pulling a shot. I have found now that flushing approximately 3 ounces of water (around 10-12 seconds) will do better. Flushing 3 ounces turns the ready light off, and then pulling after it is back on seems better. The ready light stays on through the full pull....and the espresso seems less sour.


I'll follow up again once I try out the styrofoam temp test per the suggestions by dspear99ca. Also, I'm using a modded Bodum bistro grinder (obviously not that great, but modded so it grinds a bit finer). I'm using SM Liquid Amber beans roasted at home usually 5-20 days prior. I grind individually for each shot. I have a bottomless portafilter and am getting a pretty nice cone from it, so I think my tamping technique is at least OK.
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