Category Archives: Tips – Tech

How to Backflush the Rancilio Silvia

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Backflushing the Rancilio Silvia is an essential element of it’s cleaning and maintenance routine. In fact, we say this about all machines that have a three-way solenoid/brew pressure release valve — such as machines with the E61 brew group, the Pasquini Livia 90, Ascaso Uno Pro and Duo series or the La Spaziale Vivaldi machines, among others.

This release valve system serves two purposes: It relieves pressure in the brew head (so you don’t have an exploding portafilter) and it also sucks up a little bit of water from the coffee puck (so you don’t have soupy grounds). As you can imagine, this action will take water and a little bit of coffee with it each time, a residue that can build up in the system and eventually damage the machine. For a long time, Rancilio didn’t recommend doing this out of concern for proper customer education and the belief that these home machines didn’t get enough use to merit such maintenance. Over time, however, they have adjusted their opinion — it is something they do recommend on their commercial machines — and they are proponents of educating home baristas to properly care for their equipment.

While we demonstrated the procedure on the Rocket Giotto in one of our very first videos in 2008, we received many requests for demonstrations and tips on how to perform this on the Rancilio Silvia. At long last, here it is!

Tech Tip: Disassembling Brew Groups

Keeping your espresso equipment clean is essential to producing consistently excellent shots. Backflushing on the Rancilio Silvia and machines with the patented E61 brew group will definitely address the brew group and screen, but it’s still a good idea to take them apart every so often and give them a good scrub down. You’ll also need to know how to do this when replacing the brew head gasket, also an important part of regular care and maintenance.

Watch Gail take apart the brew head on the Rancilio Silvia:

Now watch her take apart an E61 brew head:

Tech Tip: My Superauto with SBS Keeps Clogging!

Have a Saeco superautomatic with the Saeco Brewing System (SBS) functionality? If so, this tip is for you!

We occasionally have customers calling with the following issue: They haven’t used the machine for awhile and now, when they try to use it, it’s grinding and tamping and everything but it’s either not brewing at all or giving an error. The cause? Well, if you let the machine sit unused for a few days, the coffee can dry in the SBS system, harden and clog it with a little coffee plug. This could even happen as quickly as overnight if you use dark roasted/oily beans in the grinder or if you use pre-ground flavored coffees (that sometimes have sugar in them) in your bi-pass doser.

How to resolve? Simple: Start brewing a shot and twist the SBS knob back and forth repeatedly. This combination of actions should break the hardened coffee free and coffee should start to flow.

The Grind – March 2010

March 2010′s version of Seattle Coffee Gear’s monthly newsletter, The Grind, is live and direct in someone you love’s inbox. Is that someone you? Well, it should be. We should all love ourselves — truly, madly, deeply.

So give yourself some sugar and, while you’re checking out this month’s newsletter — which features a yummy mint & Irish cream latte recipe, tips on the Baratza Vario display panel upgrade, a blog showcase and info on some of the new products we’ve got — sign up to receive next month’s missive. What you won’t find online is our Grind Special, available only via the email version of the newsletter, and we know how much you love a good deal, baby.

Baratza Vario H2 Display Upgrade

Baratza recently released an upgraded display for their Vario grinder, which now has memory (so it retains its programming even when the grinder is unplugged) and sleep mode functionality. If you have a Vario that was manufactured before March 2010, you can purchase the upgraded display separately and easily install it yourself. Vario models produced from March 2010 forward will have this new display as standard.

We filmed Henry as he installed the upgraded display in our older floor demo model. Questions on how to program the sleep mode? Check out these instructions.

Look to the Coffee Grounds

Along the lines of reading the tea leaves or a chicken’s innards, a rich tradition of examining the coffee grounds at the bottom of one’s cup has long given answers to some of life’s more complex questions. It’s in that spirit that we divine your monthly dose of caffeinated fortune telling, our Espresscopes over at Brown Bean. Curious what 2010 will bring to your java-sphere? Well, there’s only one way to find out.

Ask the Experts: Can I use Lemon Juice to Descale my Machine?

DIY lovers are all into the idea of using lemon juice or vinegar to descale their machines, but while the latter will leave a nasty residue and we don’t recommend it for that reason, the former just isn’t concentrated enough to do as an effective job in as an efficient manner as a concentrated citric acid solution like Dezcal. This is what we find out from Gail, plus she makes freaky faces and it’s worth watching just for that.

Ask the Experts: How do I Keep my Grinder Chute Clean?

One of the most popular questions we receive on a regular basis is around keeping the grinder chute free of clogs. Often, people will clean the burrs regularly, but forget about the chute and they’ll have inconsistent grind results because of that. It’s pretty easy to keep this area clean — watch as Gail demonstrates how to take care of a few different models of burr grinders.

Tech Tip: Cleaning the Rancilio Rocky Grinder

Extend the life of your grinder and minimize re-calibration and changing grinder function by regularly taking it apart and thoroughly cleaning out the burrs. While the excellent cleaning product Grindz is really good at keeping the burrs free of caked-up coffee grounds, nothing beats a disassemble and reassemble.

In this video, Gail shows us how to take apart the Rancilio Rocky, clean it and then put it back together again.

Ask the Experts: What’s a PID?

Single and double boiler espresso machines can have greater temperature control if a PID is installed to more minutely manage the thermostat on the boiler. In this video, Gail talks about what a PID is and gives us the lowdown on why you might want one and how you can get one.