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Crema Gods Help Me ... a Rancilio Silvia Mystery.
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Crema Gods Help...  
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Mallory67
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Feb 2013
Posts: 2
Location: Charlotte, NC
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Wed Feb 20, 2013, 7:07pm
Subject: Crema Gods Help Me ... a Rancilio Silvia Mystery.
 

I have a one year old Rancilio Siliva that I clean and descale every couple of months.  I have measured the flow to check the pressure of the machine.

My problem is that it seems I really have to tightly pack the double basket to get good crema.  I mean I have to basically pack the espresso in until the portafilter won't fit and then scrape a little off the top to get it to fit.  Only when it is *really* hard to turn the portafilter into place do I get good crema.  Otherwise it's little pale and runny and the shot is too quick.  Also it seems I have to really put a lot of pressure on the tamper ... and I mean a lot, I am a big guy.  If I do all this work I get great crema, great tasting coffee and great "tiger" stripes.

A lot of the videos I watch seem to use a lot less espresso (topping off lower in the basket) and just a simple twist of the tamper and then "boom" good crema .. with good striping.

What am I doing wrong?  I have a Virtuoso Preciso grinder set to pretty fine .. about 4F right now.  The scale is a bit weird ... starts with a 1 then 4 ticks then 10.  So I am on the second tick in from the 1 on the macro scale.

I am using fresh beans from Amazon ... Lavazza Super Crema .. which I store in a vacuum container.
I think my cofee is actually coming in contact with the screen on the brew head ... which I know is not right.

Any help from the experts??
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JGG
Senior Member
JGG
Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 1,385
Location: Kentucky, US
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: PID Silvia; PID Alexia
Grinder: Mazzer SJ
Roaster: Hottop D w/HTC+TC4C
Posted Wed Feb 20, 2013, 8:12pm
Subject: Re: Crema Gods Help Me ... a Rancilio Silvia Mystery.
 

For espresso purposes, those beans are not fresh enough. You need them roasted, not sold, two weeks or less before using.

Jim
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CMIN
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Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,454
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Wed Feb 20, 2013, 8:40pm
Subject: Re: Crema Gods Help Me ... a Rancilio Silvia Mystery.
 

Lavazza = stale upon arrival, may be able to pull a "ok" shot for a day or two. Need fresh roasted beans.
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hollyan
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Joined: 20 Feb 2013
Posts: 19
Location: Grand Rapids
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Feb 21, 2013, 5:58am
Subject: Re: Crema Gods Help Me ... a Rancilio Silvia Mystery.
 

Agreed. If you're grind setting is dialed in, then the other simplest explanation is that the beans are stale. I'd try to find a local roaster who puts the roast date on their beans. In my experience, I've found that espresso beans really get good 5-7 days after roasting. With something like Lavazza, you're just paying for the brand name- no guarantee of quality.
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ZimZim
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Joined: 20 Feb 2013
Posts: 1
Location: New Orleans
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Feb 21, 2013, 7:16am
Subject: Re: Crema Gods Help Me ... a Rancilio Silvia Mystery.
 

I have a V3 and wonder: why don't you grind finer? That would slow the pull and hopefully extract more of the flavor. I wrestle with grinds as my Baratza Virtuoso is barely able to keep up, using a 0 setting.  I borrowed a friend's OE Pharos grinder (Titan burrs, etc) and was surprised what the Silvia can do with good grinds done more finely than my Baratza can accomplish.

I have to agree about the freshness of the beans, but I'm not as fanatical as some here.  I used to by Lavaza and generally liked it.  But the older the beans, the less taste and more acidity.  I recently switched to small roaster in Wisconsin, and the taste is much better.  Now that could be b/c roast is w/in 5 days of arrival, or because beans are just better tasting (and more expensive!).
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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,437
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Thu Feb 21, 2013, 8:42am
Subject: Re: Crema Gods Help Me ... a Rancilio Silvia Mystery.
 

I had a Silvia for 6 years and NEVER had a cup that was not full of crema. I had quite a few that were sink shots, and others that tasted not really very good, but never had even one without thick, rich crema. Secret? use fresh coffee.

No crema is generally caused by one of two things - stale coffee, and I don't remember the other one...   ;-)

Seriously, unless your grind is WAY off (too coarse), or your brew temperature is WAY low (like you just turned the machine on three minutes ago), or the pressure relief valve is set wrong of faulty (low brew pressure), there is no reason (or at elast to say, virtually no reason) to be producing crema-less coffee unless the coffee is stale. Even gushers will produce crema with fresh coffee.

And additionally, tamping force has VERY little to do with it. If you find that you have to tamp very hard (like over 75 pounds) or very lightly (like under 10 pounds) you are compensating for other problems that need to be addressed.

Finally, you are using WAY too much coffee.

On my website www.EspressoMyEspresso.com, check out this article: 12 - EASY GUIDE TO BETTER ESPRESSO AT HOME. You NEED to read this. Seriously.

 
Visit My Website
www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 1,006
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Thu Feb 21, 2013, 11:45am
Subject: Re: Crema Gods Help Me ... a Rancilio Silvia Mystery.
 

...and, if you really need another opinion, your beans are stale.  Find a local roaster and you'll see immediate and drastic improvement.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,950
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 Fri Feb 22, 2013, 8:57am
Subject: Re: Crema Gods Help Me ... a Rancilio Silvia Mystery.
 

Do I really need to say it by now?
Get fresh beans and use them before 2weeks since the day they were roasted. Next grind finer.

 
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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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,051
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Fri Feb 22, 2013, 11:24am
Subject: Re: Crema Gods Help Me ... a Rancilio Silvia Mystery.
 

Your amount of grinds are not allowing the coffee to spread out when it is wet.  And I got to say your beans are old.  Sorry to kick you when you are down.

 
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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Mallory67
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Feb 2013
Posts: 2
Location: Charlotte, NC
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Mar 8, 2013, 1:31pm
Subject: Re: Crema Gods Help Me ... a Rancilio Silvia Mystery.
 

Ok .. First let me thank all the gurus out there are provided advice ... it was all good advice.

I am now pulling shots like a champ after doing the following:

- Upgraded to the  La Marzocco Double Portafilter Basket ($7)
- Got the new flat screen kit from pidsilvia.com ($20)
- Replaced the grinder with Baratza (my old grinder was not grinding fine at a setting of "4" ... and I could not choke it out even at a setting of "1").  Baratza had amazing support.

And of course ... some really fresh locally roasted coffee (as you all suggested).
Got some great stuff from Dilworth Coffee here in town and from Counter Culture Coffee upstate.

I am now using only about 14-16g of coffee for a double shot ... and I don't have to tamp very hard.
Getting wonderful results and superb crema ...

Thanks to everyone who responded ... just a fantastic set of advice.
And hopefully this thread will help out other newbies like myself.
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