Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ch-ch-ch-changes: espresso, home

Two new things have come along in my coffee setup recently:
  • LLL splashed out and bought some digital scales. I now know what 14 grams of coffee looks like. I thought I did before, but I was way off.
  • I installed a PID in the Silvia. The temperature is now far more stable. That means better espresso.
I'll explain both of these in more detail in other posts fairly soon, but all I want to mention right now is that both of these changes happened in the same day. I'm making much better coffee now, but it's hard to know which of the two Major Changes was more beneficial.

Picture a swimming pool. You've been swimming laps at the same pool for a year and a half. One day, you decide to shave your head AND wear flippers. Your lap times improve dramatically, but it's difficult to figure out if it's the new aerodynamic (or is that hydrodynamic?) properties of your head, or just the extra kicking power that made the difference.

Wow, I think all those episodes of Numb3rs have started to rub off on me. I just did a Charlie-style analogy without even realising.


  1. Now I'm intreaged. What are your temperature settings for both steaming and pulling a shot. I installed one last week. Not enough time to sit down and play with it though. So far not the best results. HELP!!! Great posts

  2. Thanks for dropping by Tony! Which PID did you go for? Mine is the Auber with steam control, but no pre-infusion.
    I've been happy with steam at 140ºC – much better results than pre-PID. More steam, and it lasts longer. Takes a long time to cool down again though.
    With brew temp I felt 105 was a bit high. It always gave me that "psshht" sound of water instantly turning to steam, so I took it down to 102. Boiler temp still seems to swing by over 10 degrees during a shot, but I have no way of measuring the temperature at the grouphead so I'm not sure what's really going on in there.
    I'm pretty sure it tastes better than before, though that could be the lower dosing/finer grinding.

  3. Sorry but my machine died and had to do some major work to get it going again. I have a watlow 96 PID controller. It has 2 set points - 1 for brew 109C and 1 for steam 147C. The other day this went passed 170C. SO the thermostat saftey swtich - a red switch at the front of the boiler came out and it would not heat anymore. Anyway... All good. I now know this machine in and out. I think 135C for steam is better and about 102C is good for pulling shots but you get too many varied results with whatever bean your playing around with 9taste texture etc). The good thing is it gets to temp way quicker and that means more coffees ina shorter time RIGHT!!! Now the fun beginsChoosng the right temp that you like. ARGGGGHHHH sorry YEAHHHHHHH