Espresso lessons.

Knowing people is a good thing.

Having recently popped in to see Ben at the Barista Academy I got to borrow his La Marzocco naked portafilter. Unfortunately it didn’t fit my Silvia, but the LM double basket does fit into my Silvia portafilter. So I’ve been pulling a few practice shots with the LM basket instead. It’s a little deeper than the standard Rancilio double basket, and the walls are straighter, and the holes in the bottom go right out to the edge of the basket, as opposed to the Silvia which has a little gap around the edge where there is no extraction.

Baskets side by side

Having said all that you’d think i’d be getting better shots with the LM basket, but so far that hasn’t been the case. I assume it must be because of my dosing/tamping method and the amount of coffee I’m putting in each shot, because each shot I’ve pulled with the LM basket has been soggy on top (a sign of under dosing), and a lot faster than normal.

I think the additional holes in the LM basket, as well as the increased size, all add up to there being less resistance in the puck, which means fast/under extracted shots.

So to test this I kept the grind at exactly the same level and repeated my procedure with my standard Rancilio double basket, and immediately got a much nicer, properly extracted shot.

The lesson in all of this. Better equipment does not add up to better espresso if you don’t know how to use it properly :)
I’ll keep playing with the LM basket and try adjusting my technique to see if I can compensate for the differences i’m seeing.
It could also have a lot to do with the beans I’m using, which are a couple of weeks old now… Not having a roaster is causing me much pain.

Also, here’s a couple of latte art shots I’ve taken in the last couple of days. Still not getting them how I’d like despite getting Ben to show me… More practice required :)

Take away art

Lost it on the dismount

3 thoughts on “Espresso lessons.”

  1. the idea behind the silvia basket is that because of the sloped walls, downward pressure from tamping also pushes against the side, thereby creating a better seal. since the path of least resistance for the water is usually between the basket and the coffee, this works quite well.

    i use a la marzocco self tamping swift grinder and an fb70, and i can tell you from experience that the biggest problem is channelling around the puck, right next to the basket. i hear synesso will be shipping all the new cyncras with sloped baskets.

  2. Thanks for that conrad … I think i’ve gotten used to the LM basket after a little while now. I changed my dosing routine to knock the basket a couple of times, and then do a levelling swipe after over dosing the basket. Seems to give me pretty consistently good shots without channelling. I’ve seen the swifts used before… but i think i like having a bit more control.

    A cafe is opening up over here soon with 2 x 3 group Synesso’s… So I may just have to check them out :)

    Thanks for the comment.


  3. Hi Conerad or Conrad??

    The Synesso machines can be shipped with the purchasers choice of basket – fancy a manufacturer being tuned into the debate! It’s good news. I don’t think that they are being drawn into the debate – they just recognise that people are wanting to choose baskets and are giving them choice. More to the customer!


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