Thursday, August 17, 2006

Nuova Simonelli's Cylindrical 4-hole tip

So, I know I've been stating that it's more about learning to work effectively with what you have than about the equipment itself. Almost in-line with Mark Prince's creed of "any machine, any grinder, any time", or something along those lines.

Of course, there are limitations, and I would freely admit that, but in a commercial atmosphere with commercial equipment, I was a firm believer that one should easily be able to adapt to what they have to create good, even great, results fairly consistently. I would say it's based on an understanding of one's equipment.

Well, I'm embarrassed to say that I've proven myself wrong. Great microfoam on the NS Mac series is difficult at best. I can consistently create froth capable of pouring art, but consistently creating froth that is truly great in flavor, texture, et al is something else.

The design of the factory steam tip is none-too encouraging in the realm of great frothing techniques. To top it off, the steam wand is terribly short, and does not bend outside of the drip-tray in terms of effective useable space.

My frothing has been a bit off, lately. It's either not enough froth, or overly large froth. Where's the balance? It's not an easy thing to achieve the sweet creamy texture we all love so well with this setup.

Considering that I am generally able to achieve perfect microfoam every time on my home Gaggia machine, I got back to frothing on my home setup to see if I could pinpoint the problem.

To sum it up, at home, I have 1 effective air-jet that doubles as the heating jet. This allows for mucho time to concentrate on the frothing before the milk reaches temperature. On the Nuova Simonelli, there is 1 effective air jet, and 3 effective heating steam jets during the frothing process. This makes things rather difficult. To top it off, it's nearly impossible to find an angled tip fit for the NS threads.

One of our steam wands recently broke. With the new nice-n-shiny chrome wand in place, we had a broken steam wand just lying around, and I got this bright idea of trying to modify the factory tip to be only two holes.

Cylindrical steam tip, meet J.B. Weld. I filled two of the four holes with JB-Weld, praying that it will be enough. We'll find it in.. (where'd that JB Weld package go..) 4 minutes? Okay, so I used JB-Kwik. I'll let it set over-night before testing it out.

We'll see how this goes.


Well, the little trick worked like a charm. Looks almost like it still has 4 holes, until closer inspection, or until the steam is activated. It does what I hoped it would. It allows for more time, and more control for better results in microfrothing... especially for traditional cappuccinos when using a tiny 12oz. pitcher.

I highly recommend this to anyone using a Nuova Simonelli with the cylindrical 4-hole tip. Well worth the (total of) 10 minutes of work.

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