Recently, I've been transferred to a shop that hosts a refurbished Synesso Cyncra. Prior to that, I was being trained on a La Marzocco Strada.
The Cyncra worked great on the first day. Velvety microfoam. Great texture. Loved it.
Second day, issues started to arise. The steam boiler was building up too much water, so consequently when you turned on the steam wand, it was just spraying water everywhere. I was the first to notice this, and I brought it up to the owner, who took some convincing to finally acquiesce.
Third day, a technician came to the shop and apparently fixed it. Although water isn't blasting out of the steam wand anymore, I've noticed another problem. The milk texture is horrible. No matter how perfect your technique and form, there are always tiny visible bubbles in the milk.
It's okay if you're making mediocre rosettas and hearts, but if you want really sleek, glossy, detailed art work, it's almost impossible.
I've brought it up to the owner, but he's sort of just brushing it off. Personally I was seriously embarrassed with the milk texture we were serving to customers today.
Anybody have ideas as to why the machine is yielding fizzy microfoam? One of my theories is that the pressure might be set too low... I notice the pressure's not as strong, anymore. I don't necessarily ever crank the lever the entire way when I'm steaming, because I only get to steam about 5 ounces of milk, but I'm cranking the lever back about 3/4th of the way. Prior to the technician's visit, I only had to crank the lever about halfway for the milk to develop a dynamic roll.
Also, I noticed that the machine starts squealing towards the end of the steaming process. Now I don't really understand why steam boilers start squealing, but I generally associate it with the beginning of the steaming process, as opposed to the end... the only times the steam boiler on my Silvia has ever squealed towards the end, is when the steam pressure plummeted.
Any thoughts would be appreciated. I feel that if I can present a more specific theory to the owner, he may be inclined to have the technician take a look. Otherwise, I fear I'm gonna be stuck with a faulty steamer for the duration of my employment...
PS: Bubbles in my microfoam has never been a problem. On the LM Strada, the steamer produced consistently velvety microfoam. And at home, the microfoam from my Silvia is very smooth.
So yeah... I went in this morning, and the bubbles are back.
I was there with one of the guys who trained me, and it was ironic, 'cause he was able to create really nice microfoam.
Yet when I steamed the milk, it was giving me bubbles. It was very confusing for a while. I asked him to demo for me a few times, and here's what I realized...
When he steams milk, he doesn't completely purge all the water out of the steam wand. He does a split second purge, whereas I purge for a good 1 or 2 seconds to get the steam as dry as possible.
With my method of purging, you get bubbles.
With his method of purging, you get smooth microfoam. According to a Synesso tech, some water will actually mask microfoam issues.
Unfortunately, I wasn't around long enough to convince him that it wasn't technique, but the purging disparity. By the time I figured it out, my shift was pretty much over...
Again, I don't understand why there are certain days where the steaming is perfect, and then days where you need to try to mask the issue by not fully purging the wand... it's really inconsistent and frustrating.
BTW, the bubbles are not around when you steam larger quantities of milk in a 20 oz pitcher. It's just with the 12 oz pitcher... I don't quite understand the science of it. All I know is that Synesso sells a flat tip, low flow tip for a reason.
Thanks Troy, yes, that was exactly the problem.
Fortunately, it's already been fixed. I didn't see the repair myself, but now that you break it down, I'm assuming they tightened up the bolts.
Troy J Mallett said:
Hey Andy. Just to step aside the mink steaming part of your topic for a second, you mentioned that the right steam arm would get caught half way through the action. Next time you work on the machine, take a look if the side panel (and the arm) get pushed out while pulling down the arm. Saw it before that the bolts were loose and the arm would catch.
Okay, back to steaming.
So the low flow tips arrived promptly, and the owner luckily replaced the preexisting high flow tip with the new low flow tips.
I've only tried steaming on two separate shifts, since the change, and so far, so good.
There are some employees who actually preferred the older, high flow tip - because it steamed faster - so they reverted back to the high flow tip for one of the steam arms. Best of both worlds. It's fine by me.
Glad that worked out. I like that setup, since it gives you the capability of perfectly steaming 3oz for a capp OR 10 oz for a couple of lattes. Plus it keeps one side from getting all of the action.