PLEASE HELP - Rancilio Sylvia frothing problem

mick-whit

New member
Apr 29, 2006
2
0
Hi all,

I recently purchased a Rancilio Sylvia and I am not doing so well in the coffee making scene, especially when it comes to stretching milk and creating froth and I'm a little frustrated and I was wondering if I may have some help please as the Rancilio manual is rather ordinary and not overly helpful.

I have tried all types of milk (skinny, full cream and even crema) and I am unable to create any foam. I have purchased thermometers, specific frothing jugs (bulge at bottom) and still no foam. I end up having to use the AA electric whizzer to obtain any sort of foam. Which as I’m sure you can apprecite is nothing short of painful?

I have used boiling water to clean the steam wand with a brand new cleaning cloth and still no froth. The steam wand is not blocked as I have extensively cleaned that and plenty of steam comes out. I even bleed off the excess moisture in the wand (from making the shot) prior to stretching the milk and still I cannot achieve any froth

It appears sometimes that the Rancilio Sylvia steam wand pressure is far too much if I open it up all the way (as I have read achieves best froth on some websites). If I open it right up, the pressure is so high it causes small waves in my milk and obviously ruins any froth.

I have attempted to tilt the jug on a slight angle with steam wand just under the milk open pressure (slightly) and allow a slight whirlpool motion and when the temp gets to 30deg I put the wand all the way to the bottom until the desired temp is reached (as this is what the man in the store I purchased it from said to do) however, this method doesn't seem to work either. I have tried the opposite as well, with the steam wand down the bottom and slowly work up until the steam wand is just below the surface of the milk until the desired temperature is reached on the thermometer but again that does not seem to help.

I'm really at a loss and I am hoping that you may be able to help or certainly point me in the right direction. I am particularly interested in how other Rancilio Sylvia owners stretch their milk and the procedure they use. I am completely confident that the problem is operator error and nothing else.

Thank you for your time in this matter and I eagerly look forward to your replies.

Kind Regards,

Mick.
 

ElPugDiablo

New member
Jul 16, 2004
991
0
Hartford and New Haven, CT
mick-whit said:
It appears sometimes that the Rancilio Sylvia steam wand pressure is far too much if I open it up all the way (as I have read achieves best froth on some websites). If I open it right up, the pressure is so high it causes small waves in my milk and obviously ruins any froth.

How big is you milk pitcher? You might want to get a bigger pitcher and practice with more milk. Also how many holes are on the wand tip?
 

mrgnomer

New member
Jan 22, 2006
149
0
Canada
mick-whit said:
I'm really at a loss and I am hoping that you may be able to help or certainly point me in the right direction. I am particularly interested in how other Rancilio Sylvia owners stretch their milk and the procedure they use. I am completely confident that the problem is operator error and nothing else.

Thank you for your time in this matter and I eagerly look forward to your replies.

Kind Regards,

Mick.

Hi Mick,

The Silvia is a good steamer if you get to know her. I think she steams best just the top of the steaming cycle, that is just before the boiler light goes off when the steam switch is on. That's when the top of the boiler temp reaches about 155F. The trick is to hit the timing just before the light goes out but not to let that light go out. That way the element will stay on through frothing and you'll have good power all the way through to froth then incorporate the froth.

These are a few links to help with frothing info http://www.espressovivace.com/archives/9512scr.html
http://www.coffeegeek.com/guides/frothi ... steamguide

The trick to frothing, I think, is in the tip. It needs to be just below the surface of the milk but not too deep so that air is incorporated but not blown in from the surface. It should make a tsssk, tsssk kind of noise when you've hit the sweet spot. You'll know it too because the milk will seem to increase in volume or stretch. Big bubbles aren't good. Put the tip in a little further. No tsssk noise or no stretching isn't good either. Pull the tip out a little. You've got to move with gentle finesse to stretch.

After the temp hits about 100F plunge the wand into the milk to incorporate the froth. Find the spot where it roars and lift the tip up just above it. Hold the container slightly at an angle to try to get a swirling vortex going. The volume should look like it's expanding further. Stop at just before 150F to keep the milk from scalding.

Tap the container on a counter to get rid of bigger bubbles, swirl to keep the froth incorportated and when you're ready, spoon/pour away.
 
OP
M

mick-whit

New member
Apr 29, 2006
2
0
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #5
Hi all,

Firstly I would like to apologise for my tardy reply.

Secondly, I just wish to say a very big thank-you to all who have responded offering help and suggestions to my frothing dilemma.

I must say that I am getting better froth now since posting my problem and receiving your suggestions. I am not sure if it is a combination of using a little less milk (about 1/4-1/3 jug) or changing my technique slightly to have the tip of the steam wand right on the surface of the milk and introducing the occasional ch, ch ,ch (read introducing air) as opposed to my old technique where I held the steam wand just under the surface of the milk and not introducing any steam (air) at all – expecting it to just happen :D

Now to keep practicing and perfecting the microfoam, and maybe one day get into a little late art

Thanks again to all who took their time out to offer recommendations.

Your help has been greatly appreciated.

Kind regards.

Mick.
 

mrgnomer

New member
Jan 22, 2006
149
0
Canada
mrgnomer said:
I think she steams best just the top of the steaming cycle, that is just before the boiler light goes off when the steam switch is on. That's when the top of the boiler temp reaches about 155F.

Sorry, I meant to write 255F is about the top temp of the steaming cycle in the boiler.
 

tekkie

New member
Mar 13, 2012
2
0
Silvia stopped frothing, but good steam, pressure

I frothed microfoam milk for years, first on a single wand Krups and then on a La Pavoni Si'. I just upgraded to the Silvia 3 months ago and had no problem frothing milk until about 2 weeks ago. I have cleaned it out twice, but not yet descaled it. It seems like the problem started when I stopped using the Silvia for a couple of weeks and then went back to using it again, although I cleaned it with the cleaning agent around the time I started using it again.

I suppose it's possible that it may need a descaling, but I'm getting good heat and steam and always use Brita filtered water. My La Pavoni Si' never needed descaling/cleaning and never had frothing issues, although I probably should have descaled/cleaned it. What other things could be causing the problem? I haven't changed the milk and still use the same, chilled pitcher as before, so it probably has to do with descaling, but what if there's something deep inside the wand? Will that come out with a descaling?

UPDATE: I descaled today and was able to get some microfoam. Will see what happens after brewing a shot tomorrow. I'm surprised at how sensitive this machine is compared to my older, cheaper machines.

UPDATE 7 days later: Still having problems, but now I suspect that it's because my Rancillio runs hotter than it may for some. I usually let the Rancillio heat up for 30 minutes to an hour before brewing. I notice more problems if I brew a shot, then switch on the steamer and wait a minute before opening the valve, running the water and then steaming. The power of the steam is too strong, so I just end up with hot milk. I have better success if I brew a shot, then immediately switch on the steamer, open the valve and run the water until steam forms and then start frothing. If I fear the water is getting too hot, I turn off the steam switch before I finish frothing. I hope this helps you, too rock18567.
 
Last edited:

rock18567

New member
Mar 14, 2012
10
0
Hi all,

I recently purchased a Rancilio Sylvia and I am not doing so well in the coffee making scene, especially when it comes to stretching milk and creating froth and I'm a little frustrated and I was wondering if I may have some help please as the Rancilio manual is rather ordinary and not overly helpful.

I have tried all types of milk (skinny, full cream and even crema) and I am unable to create any foam. I have purchased thermometers, specific frothing jugs (bulge at bottom) and still no foam. I end up having to use the AA electric whizzer to obtain any sort of foam. Which as I’m sure you can apprecite is nothing short of painful?

I have used boiling water to clean the steam wand with a brand new cleaning cloth and still no froth. The steam wand is not blocked as I have extensively cleaned that and plenty of steam comes out. I even bleed off the excess moisture in the wand (from making the shot) prior to stretching the milk and still I cannot achieve any froth

It appears sometimes that the Rancilio Sylvia steam wand pressure is far too much if I open it up all the way (as I have read achieves best froth on some websites). If I open it right up, the pressure is so high it causes small waves in my milk and obviously ruins any froth.

I have attempted to tilt the jug on a slight angle with steam wand just under the milk open pressure (slightly) and allow a slight whirlpool motion and when the temp gets to 30deg I put the wand all the way to the bottom until the desired temp is reached (as this is what the man in the store I purchased it from said to do) however, this method doesn't seem to work either. I have tried the opposite as well, with the steam wand down the bottom and slowly work up until the steam wand is just below the surface of the milk until the desired temperature is reached on the thermometer but again that does not seem to help.

I'm really at a loss and I am hoping that you may be able to help or certainly point me in the right direction. I am particularly interested in how other Rancilio Sylvia owners stretch their milk and the procedure they use. I am completely confident that the problem is operator error and nothing else.

Thank you for your time in this matter and I eagerly look forward to your replies.

Kind Regards,

Mick.

I am waiting to hear the answer.
 

tekkie

New member
Mar 13, 2012
2
0
You won't get the right frothing/microfoam action if you drop the wand down to the bottom of the milk and/or create a whirlpool. If you are creating a whirlpool, your pressure is too high. You want to have the wand just barely below the surface of the milk (I'd say that about 1/4 of the hole opening should be slightly above the surface, since the wand should be at a slight angle near the side of the metal jug). The foam is almost imperceptibly formed. You want to hear a quiet--not loud--PFFFT sound while frothing. Dropping the wand down to the bottom of the milk until it is hot will make it too hot for you to foam afterwards. You have to start foaming right away, since the steam is already quite hot and will heat that milk right up while foaming.

I suggest experimenting with the timing. Try steaming at different times based on when you switch on the steaming function. Try before the light goes out, after the light goes out, etc. I've had to do this to rediscover the steaming sweet spot on my machine. Incidentally, I didn't have any scaling issues. When I descaled the water was clear. I just realized the boiler water was just too hot.
 
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