I've got a Silvia and a Rocky as well......What # grind typically works for you? Does it depend on the beans used? Just got my Silvia back from Whole Latte Love.......so I havent used it for a while..........had to go in for a full rebuild.
The numbers on a grinder are just to provide a reference point. No two grinders will be exactly alike in this respect. Common practice for dialing in espresso in is to keep all variables (dose, distribution, tamp, etc) as consistent as possible while grinding a touch finer for each shot. Once the machine starts to choke a bit, back off a bit coarser for each consecutive shot until you get the taste, texture, color you want. You might have to tweak this a bit daily to compensate for bean aging, humidity, etc.
Bean roast level can certainly dictate how fine the grind needs to be, but there are really no guidelines for this. Just follow the above procedure until you lock onto something that works for you and your setup. If you stick with the same beans/same roaster you probably won't have to tinker with it too much with each new batch once you get your setup in the range best suited for that bean. However, if you switch bean types often dialing in as outlined above will usually need to be done with each new batch to find its sweet spot.
By full rebuild on the Silvia... do you mean seals? heating element? descaling? Later!
That is exactly what I remember doing with it to find the right grind now that you mention that......., I'd go a bit too fine, the Silvia choked, or waited way to long to start dripping (probably not good for my Silvia), so I'd back it off the grind a bit to find the right setting.
Well, I was the idiot who blew off backflushing the machine, and only did it once in a blue moon. I replaced a seal, because the machine eventually started leaking water out the handle sides. So I opened up the machine, and realized my boiler was totally corroded. I sent pics into Whol Latte, and they said they have a full machine fix (I guess whatever is wrong with it they fix it and test it). Also, I was using water from a refriderator's water filter, rather than using real bottled water. The maintenance guy who fixed my machine said if my area has hard water, the fridge filtered water may not have done the job to remove the hardness in the water. he also told me that for 2 shots a day, I should backflush it every 6 weeks. Doh!
Glad to find this site, and thanks for the grinder tips. Machine arrives Tuesday.......I've been drinking crap drip coffee for a long time. Looking forward to getting back to normal.
A choked extraction won't hurt the Silvia due to it having an Over Pressure Valve that simply diverts that excess pressure, probably back to the water reservoir.
Personally I think many people backflush way too often. Of course it depends on the machine usage. On a commercial level I backflush with detergent at least once weekly and with plain water at least 1-2 times daily. Doing that seems to work just fine. Awhile back I purposely backed off on the detergent flushes, to every 2 weeks I think, and sure enough I started getting a bit of dripping at the group. Went back to my normal regimen and all cleared right up. If I had double or triple the volume of course I'd step it up a notch, but I surely wouldn't do it just for the sake of doing it. It shouldn't be thought of as a ritual, but more a necessity to keep things clean/clear. For your situation I'd do a clean water backflush maybe twice weekly and use detergent monthly.
FWIW, backflushing does nothing for the boiler. Just clears the water pathway between the 3-way solenoid and group. The function of the 3-way is to release pressure right after the extraction is complete. The release of this pressure pulls coffee oils, some stray grounds, etc. up into this water pathway and into your drip tray, but over time can cause these areas to become clogged, especially the solenoid plunger itself. This can lead to abnormal brew pressure, dripping at the group and of course some nasty tasting brew.
"Corroded" wouldn't necessarily be a product of hard water, but more along the lines of acidic water, meaning the PH could be too low. Scale in the boiler would be the result of hardness/too much alkalinity more than anything. My suggestion is to get a water test kit/pool test strips and see exactly what is in your water. Even if you have some hardness present all you need to do is a simple citric acid descale every 1-3 months depending on the level of hardness. BTW, those fridge/faucet filters simply remove chlorine, lead, etc. They do nothing for hardness, PH, etc. Later!
that's right, i remember reading that the backpressure will divert, worst case scenario.
I will do that for sure, a lot more straight backflushing
I should realize my water isnt' great. I use an RO/DI unit for a reef tank, and the sediment I get from the salt water mixing bucket is pretty hard core. I'm going to use straight bottled water for sure.
Now I just need to find some good quality beans on line without breaking the bank.(any suggestions?).....that repair cost me almost $200 with shipping.
Order the 5 lb. bag and deep freeze what you can't use right away in 1/2 lb - 1 lb. increments. If prepped correctly this pretty much stalls the staling process and allows you to buy in bulk and have fresh coffee for the long haul. BTW, that espresso is getting rave reviews at the moment. Not just price, but quality as well. Later!
Machine and beans here this week....solid.
Have you personally tried these 'killer beans' for sale? My buddy sent me a link to the web site, but if I remember correctly, these beans were sickly expensive.
You talking about the Redbird coffee? Never tried the Redbird Espresso myself, but have read of lots of people on various forums really liking them. Can't beat that price either. Wholesale on a commercial level isn't much better than what they're offering. Do package in smaller increments and deep freeze what you can't use within a week or so. Then thaw out what you need for a few days to 1 week. Later!
Some of their prices are inline with other specialty roasters. IMO their "Electric Chair Espresso" is a bit much, both in price and description, but to each his own. The "secret 7 bean blend" sounds like something Illy would conjure up in an effort to make the perfect espresso blend. Realistically it would take a VERY defined palate to recognize all 7 bean types in a blend, especially for espresso.
Personally at the moment I'm more into Single Origin coffees as some blends get too complicated with too much going on and this can throw off an extraction. For example, I recently sampled 4 espresso blends from a nationally recognized/award winning roaster and of those 4 I could only tolerate 1. The worst of the bunch had very strong notes of lemon peel. If this blend was used by an inexperienced barista they could be led to believe the brew temperature was OFF and causing the sourness that resulted from that particular blend. Later!
very interesting......i can see that happening with the lemon peel taste.....thinking the shot may be off when in fact it was intended.
got the machine back yesterday. I freaked out, because I put water in, walked away, turned on the machine, and i found a half gallon of water all over my counter. The water container that slides into the machine had a huge hairline crack in it. Probably from me sending it in for repair with the heavy handle, in the water bin. Doh! So, I have a 'container' alongside for now holding water. Using some World Market Amalfi Coast beans for now, until Redbird arrives (today). So I'm working on my grind, and the amount i should be loading into the double basket........got a really good shot....reminded me of how great the Silvia can be....but..... Question for ya......if you dont grind right, or if you put a bit too much coffee into the basket, is it normal to see a little water seepage from the seal area, where you sorta lock in the handle? Scares me a bit, especially since i just paid a lot for a rebuild on this thing (assuming new seals were done)....maybe i need to crank the handle further......not sure.....been a while since I've used this thing...again thanks for the replies and help.