Posted Wed Jan 29, 2014, 12:05am Subject: Rancilio Sylvia V3
Hi all, I am new to this forum though I've read the posts consistently over a number of years. I have a query regarding the above machine and thought I'd put it out there to see if anyone has any words of wisdom. I've had a Rancilio Sylvia V1 for a number of years so am not new to coffee brewing. I recently sold that machine and upgraded to the V3. This includes the Rocky Doserless and the base unit. I'm less than impressed at the quality of some of the parts ... far inferior to the V1. Anyhow, me and V3 Sylvia have been getting acquainted since last August - not too many problems and once she and I made friends, we produced consistently nice coffee and microfoam. Over the last few weeks however, that production has become less than satisfactory and I am having major problems steaming milk. It seems that Sylvia sputters from her steam wand and no matter what technique I try, she consistently splits the milk so I have watery white crap at the bottom of the jug and thick crap at the top - not happy at all. I've tried temp surfing, bleeding the steam wand, not bleeding the steam wand, different types of milk, full fat, no fat, lactose free (which incidentally worked very well for a while). Anyway, I am begining to suspect a pressure issue? The machine whines and groans sometimes, pressure noises - something I never heard with the V1, and no matter whether water or steam comes from the wand, it comes out in splutters. I regularly descale and backflush, and have even poked something up the steam wand to no avail. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
You're not wrong about it being a 'dance'. I had that dance down to a fine art and had nice microfoam no matter what type of milk I used.
In watching the You Tube videos, there was no microfoam but what resembled whipped cream on top of watery milk ... ugh, that makes for horrid coffee.
Anyway, since I've been absent, I've been experimenting. It seems that everything else was constant, but the one thing not controlled for was the position of the steam wand.
Since the V3 has a kind of an elbow joint, which means the steam wand has a great deal of movement in all directions, I started studying how the steam gets pushed into the milk and so on.
I found that keeping the steam wand relatively straight up and down, so when put in the milk jug, the tip would be pointing at the bench top, rather than the side of the jug (if you get my drift)..
So far I've tried trim milk, full fat milk and lactose free milk ... here in NZ we have trim, light and full fat milks to choose from ... in keeping the steam wand position constant and following the dance that ericcomposer72 outlines, I can get very, very nice microfoam which makes me happy.
At the moment I am working on perfecting my technique so that I get perfect coffee every time, meaning that once it is all in the cup, if you pull the foam away from the side with a tea spoon, you should not see coffee, rather you should see thick creamy milk that is brown as it has combined with the coffee ...
Moral of the story, a poor workperson always blames his/her tools and it was my technique at fault, not the machine ...however, the machine still splutters and although I descale frequently, it spits and carry's on like a grumpy cat ....
sorry...with the best intention...that's not how an elbow joint works. The elbow joint is a hinge joint, flexion and extension only. The rotation you get near the elbow is from the proximal radial-ulnar (or radioulnar) joint, and it's rather limited. True, your hand turns a full 180 degrees, but if you look at your elbow while you rotate the hand, you'll see it barely moves at all. The Silvia v3 movement is probably closest to a shoulder (glenohumeral) joint. So ends the human physiology lesson...
Now, back on topic...wand angle and position needed to achieve high quality microfoam depends on several factors...angle, size and number of holes in the steam tip, steam boiler pressure, milk to pitcher volume, pitcher shape. Perhaps the steam tip and pitcher shape are the most important of these. While it's helpful to watch videos and hear how people do it, all of the factors need to be identical to be able to reliably use someone else's technique to mirror. I'd take the recommendations you see and hear about as things to try in your setup. Focus first on the vortex. Once you know how to achieve that, you're on your way to making microfoam, as it's the majority of the battle. When I had my Silvia v1, I got great results using a v3 wand with three different 30 degree positions (wand rotated 30 degrees out to the right side, pulled out towards me about 30 degrees and then pitcher bottom canted towards my right about 30 degrees). That info is meaningless, without telling you I used 16oz Motta Europa pitchers, filled to about 1/4" under the spout and using a 120 degree 0.9mm 4-hole steam wand tip (the one CCS carries). Wand was about 1cm towards center from the sidewall at about the 8 o'clock position (looking down into the picther). I got a wonderful vortex going immediately with that technique.
. Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
I can vouch for this. It took me a while to get the vortex but once I did it was easy to repeat. From there it was just making sure the tip of the want stays submerged. I also found that fully opening the steam valve right away help with stability rather than slowly opening it.
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