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.
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 :)