Marissanicole67 Senior Member Joined: 21 Feb 2014 Posts: 4 Location: Illinois Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 8:32am Subject: Rancilio Silivia shots pouring too fast; NOT THE GRINDER!
I've worked in coffee shops before. The first coffee shop I worked at I got the job knowing nothing other than "I like coffee!" I didn't know what a latte was, what a cappuccino was, I even said "expresso".
I had a boss who loved coffee and he taught me a lot! Since then, I've learned a lot on my own. Coffee has became my hobby. It's been about a year since I've worked at a coffee shop, but have been non stop reading about coffee online and researching which espresso machine/grinder I was saving up for.
Finally, I made a decision and had enough money! I decided on the Gaggia MDF and Rancilio Silvia. This combination seemed like the best for the lowest amount of money. Over all, I am happy with my decision, however, I am extremely frustrated with my Silvia.
My Silivia arrived a few days ago, and I've been practicing with it ever since. The coffee shops that I worked in before had more manual machines, so I was a pro at frothing milk, but had never tamped before (the machine did it for me). I've seen sooo many videos since then, I thought that with a little practice I could master it, but that has not been the case.
My shots are still pouring too fast. I am grinding on a 4 and 5 on my Gaggia MDF so I do not believe this is the problem. I am using freshly roasted beans (there is a roaster near my house that I pick my beans up at). One thing I have noticed is that my tamping is slightly uneven. The shots pour a little uneven. This has improved slightly.... but still not perfected. Since I've never tamped before, I'm thinking this may be the problem but I don't know what to do to fix it. Does anyone have any other suggestions of why my shots could be pouring fast?
When I was grinding on a 6 my shots were pouring at about 10 seconds. Now that I have switched to 4 or 5 its closer to 15. The crema looks good to me.... but I've only worked in coffee shops and read things online so I am no expert on how to tell. I can post pictures if that will help.
Another question I have is frothing milk. Frothing is significantly harder on this machine than I was expecting. The only other milk frothing experience I have are on prosumer machines at the coffee shops. This steam wand is hard for me to navigate because it doesn't move as easily as I'm used to. I'm guessing this is something I will just have to get used to. I've watched a bunch of videos and it doesn't seem to be difficult for anyone else. I'm also thinking it could be the pitcher, because I only have a 12oz picture (way too small) and a pitcher thats way too large (unsure of the size) so I will be ordering one in between.
Also, for temperature surfing, what I am doing is letting the machine warm up for 15 minutes. Then turn on the coffee brewing switch for a few seconds, seeing if the light comes on. If nothing, again for a few seconds. I repeat until the light comes on. Then I grind my beans and tamp and wait for the light to go off. When the light goes off I wait about 30 seconds or a little longer, lock in the portifilter and brew my shots.
Any advice on either of these issues, but especially the espresso pouring too fast, would be greatly appreciated! I don't know what else to do!
Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 9:03am Subject: Re: Rancilio Silivia shots pouring too fast; NOT THE GRINDER!
The are 4 key components to espresso: machine(macchina), grinder(macchinazione), beans(mischela), barista(mano). These are often referred to as "the 4 M's. ALL FOUR have to be in proper working condition. It may not be "the grinder", but it could be "the grind". However it's more likely "the mano". It sounds like despite your "experience" as a "barista", you have no experience at all doing the "mano" part of the equation - in regards to making the espresso.
Your machine is probably the least of your worries. I mean, all it (or any other machine) does is pump hot water at ~9 bar pressure. Everything else resides outside of "its" control. But, just to cover all the bases. Did you get your Silvia new or used? Can you tighten your grind fine enough to choke the machine? If so, start there and gradually back off in tiny steps until you get a proper flow. If you can do this, the machine is fine. Although the real confirmation (which is probably unnecessary) would be to gain access to a Scace device and use it to measure the pressure at the group.
As you admitted, your problem is likely, at least in part, errors in basket preparation. In addition to tamping level, you need to have good even distribution of grounds across the basket. There are multiple techniques for achieving this, such as evening the grounds halfway into filling the basket, then filling it the rest of the way, sweeping the top back and forth, using Stockfleth's maneuver, or using WDT. I highly recommend reading article 12 on www.espressomyespresso.com (Easy Guide to Better Espresso at Home).
Then, go to www.home-barista.com and read Espresso 101. You'll need the skills covered in Randy's article (above) to get anything useful from the 101, so don't go out of order.
. Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
JasonBrandtLewis Senior Member Joined: 9 Dec 2005 Posts: 6,373 Location: Berkeley, CA Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -... Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -... Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup Drip: CCD, Chemex Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 10:05am Subject: Re: Rancilio Silivia shots pouring too fast; NOT THE GRINDER!
1) The Gaggia MDF grinder is by no means a great grinder, but it should certainly be "up to the task." Period.
2) I agree that the machine is the least of your worries. Period.
3) As the Firesign Theater used to say, "Everything you know is wrong!" In other words, learning how to pull shots and/or steam milk on a professional machine teaches you how to pull shots and/or steam milk on a professional machine. It does not teach you how to pull them on a consumer machine. Period.
When I switched from a setup very similar to yours (a Gaggia MDF & a Gaggia machine, rather than a Rancilio Silvia), it was after 25 years, and I moved to a prosumer setup . . . and I couldn't pull a decent shot for a week or so, and it took me nearly a month until I thought I could steam milk properly. And when I jumped to installing commercial equipment in my home, there was another learning curve -- although not as steep -- until I was satisfied.
Moving "down" from prosumer (or commercial) to consumer would even more difficult the other way 'round.
But at least twice, your initial post left me very confused about your previous experience. I am hoping you can clarify, as it will help us to diagnose the issue(s) here.
-- You wrote
The coffee shops that I worked in before had more manual machines, so I was a pro at frothing milk, but had never tamped before (the machine did it for me).
To start, manual machines are lever machines -- you have to pull a level (it may of may not be spring-assisted). But if the machine itself did all the tamping, I suspect you were using a super-automatic machine. Secondly, most coffee shops will use commercial equipment, rather than prosumer equipment. Could you tell us exactly what equipment you've worked on previously, as it will help us to help you diagnose the problem(s) you're having.
You may also want to take a look at this definition of machine types, so that we're all on the same page, so to speak, as to your prior experience.
Tamping is the least important part of the process. The fact that the steam wand doesn't move the way you are used to is an inconvenience; nothing more.
With stock screen? Don't see how that's possible, anything over 16 in the silvia stock basket with the screw in the screen is recipe for puck fracture. Reason why 99% of Silvia users stick around 15g or so in the double unless they replace the screen or out a flat screw in. It's not a deep basket, I know the double on my CC1 is larger as I've done 18g and measuring with nickels plenty of head room left, even with a flat screw replacing the stock Silvia headspace with screen is super tight.
OP like others mentioned, whats your dose? Too high and your pry hitting the screw causing the puck to break which can cause the gushing issues you have. As mentioned too the MDF can sorta be ok for espresso, but it's really not, has a narrow window for espresso and the steps are large which makes dialing in bang your head against the wall frustrated, making you play with dose which the Silvia isn't fond of. Sounds like a combo of things, tamping is not a big deal, long as you tamp straight, you could try wdt. But this sounds more like a dose + grinder issues (don't take it the wrong way just the MDF is barely passable for espresso so take that plus a machine that's already finicky, Silvia, = issues). MDF also has some high retention of ground so unless your wasting some beans before each shot to guarantee fresh grounds, it's going to be pushing some stale grounds mixed with fresh ground.
Could also be a bad batch of beans, can easily cause trouble like your experiencing. Any way you can order or get some fresh roasted ones different to try and see? I had this happen once with the same beans I generally use. Thought something was wrong with my grinder or machine till I ordered elsewhere and had no problem, just got a bad batch of beans that go around.
crazy4espresso Senior Member Joined: 19 Jan 2008 Posts: 147 Location: Toronto Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Silvia, La Pavoni... Grinder: Pharos
Posted Fri Feb 21, 2014, 12:51pm Subject: Re: Rancilio Silivia shots pouring too fast; NOT THE GRINDER!
Not possible? I'll post a video if you like. Completely stock setup. Stop replacing the portafilter gasket so often! Mine is 6 years old and still going strong. I've even managed to pack 18 grams with older coffee, and no ill effects.
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