Advice: Upgrade from Rancilio Silvia

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
MikeinChicago
Posts: 22
Joined: 3 months ago

#1: Post by MikeinChicago »

I purchased my Rancilio Silvia in the early 2000's sometime and about 10 years ago upgraded to a Kitchenaid burr grinder (KCG0702CU). I descale, clean and change the gasket pretty regularly and I never use the wand (and never will on a new model). I like light roasts and recognize that if I try to pull a shot with this machine I lose out on a lot of the smells/flavor I get from a pour over. And though I'm fairly handy I've never tried modifying the machine.

The pump has degraded by now and regardless of what I do with grind or tamp I cannot get a good shot anymore and have reached a point where it's time to move on. Is it worth trying to fiddle with this particular model, replacing parts? Or is it time to buy a new machine? It looks like I could upgrade to a Pro X to get a dual boiler and somewhat more control. Is there another one in that price range that you would recommend?

Here are the criteria:
  • The machine has to have close to the same footprint (9/5 in.) as the current model
  • It has to be easy enough to use for my partner (who likes coffee but is not quite as fiddly with it as I am)
  • We will never use the wand
  • Our KA grinder seems to be working fine for the current model and it would be nice to keep it
  • I'm willing to replace parts on this but don't want to be without coffee for very long and it's the only one we have!
Any ideas other than the Pro X?

Splatcat
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#2: Post by Splatcat »

I ran a Silvia with PID for almost 10 years and it served me well. But there came a time when things started to degrade. I decided to move on and bought a small lever machine and boy, what an improvement. You may want to try a different group configuration. Maybe an ECM puristika or any small lever. I will say that a grinder upgrade will be a massive improvement, even if you stay with miss Silvia.
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MikeinChicago (original poster)
Posts: 22
Joined: 3 months ago

#3: Post by MikeinChicago (original poster) »

Thanks for the advice. Guess I need to look at grinders, too!

Splatcat
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Joined: 3 years ago

#4: Post by Splatcat »

I went from a smart grinder pro to a ceado e37s and it was a great decision. Look at the Niche grinders.

ggcadc
Posts: 66
Joined: 13 years ago

#5: Post by ggcadc »

Puristika seems like a great fit for you considering they dont have steam built in. Theres also the Profitec Go (or ECM casa), which looks really cool if youre into color. As someone else mentioned a tangible improvement would be had by upgrading your grinder. The new Niche flat burr would do well for the coffees you like. Maybe a df64. There are really tons of grinder options that would serve you better than the kitchen aid.

MikeinChicago (original poster)
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Joined: 3 months ago

#6: Post by MikeinChicago (original poster) »

ggcadc wrote:Puristika seems like a great fit for you considering they dont have steam built in. Theres also the Profitec Go (or ECM casa), which looks really cool if youre into color. As someone else mentioned a tangible improvement would be had by upgrading your grinder. The new Niche flat burr would do well for the coffees you like. Maybe a df64. There are really tons of grinder options that would serve you better than the kitchen aid.
I appreciate this. Given that I'm grinding 95% of the time for espresso, wouldn't the Niche Zero (conical burr) be fine? I just did a deep dive into the difference between these and I don't think I see the need for the Duo. Unless I'm wrong, it's only a little bit more. The burrs won't heat up since we only make coffee in the mornings.

I see there are different DF64 models. Any recommendations on which one of these?

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Jeff
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#7: Post by Jeff »

The Casa didn't have any temperature adjustment that I could find. These days, in that price class, that's a non-starter for me.

"Conical burr" is a big oversimplification. Niche Zero uses Mazzer Kony burrs which are very traditional. There are flat-burr grinders whose burr sets are also very traditional. There are conical burr sets that have more "clarity" in their presentation than others.

A Niche Zero will provide excellent usability and good grind quality for traditional espresso. There are better grinders out there if you're looking to expand into medium or lighter roasts or greater clarity in the cup. I wouldn't pay $660 for a Niche Zero new with them being available on the used market now.

MikeinChicago (original poster)
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#8: Post by MikeinChicago (original poster) »

Jeff wrote:The Casa didn't have any temperature adjustment that I could find. These days, in that price class, that's a non-starter for me.

A Niche Zero will provide excellent usability and good grind quality for traditional espresso. There are better grinders out there if you're looking to expand into medium or lighter roasts or greater clarity in the cup. I wouldn't pay $660 for a Niche Zero new with them being available on the used market now.
I only use light roast beans, usually within a week of roast. I assume this affects how it's ground or how it responds to the grind? What would be a better choice do you think?

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Jeff
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#9: Post by Jeff »

"Light" is unfortunately not a standard anywhere. I think that a lot of the people that are talking about high-end flat-burr grinders consider light starting somewhere around Tim Wendelboe's filter roasts. At the other end of the spectrum is Starbuck's "Blonde" which, as I recall, was advertised as being dropped somewhere in second crack. Unless you know that your roaster is known for quality, light roasts and are ordering their "filter" roast, they are probably medium or medium-light on the broader scale. This is mainly to help in putting grinder/burr discussions into context. What someone thinks is a great burr for The Picky Chemist's "light" may not be a good choice for a typical US roaster's "light".

Grinders at a "moderate" price that I would consider for someone interested in traditional or medium-roast espresso include:

* Various Eureka grinders if you insist on a hopper-fed grinder
* Refurb (or used) Baratza Sette 270 or Vario with steel burrs
* Option-O Lagom Mini if you are only pulling a few shots at a time
* Perhaps the DF64 in one of its recent incarnations, stock burrs OK to start, can upgrade burrs later

I'm mixed on the DF64 series as the first generation and several of the variants weren't very predictable. If you got a good one and were willing to do the mods, they could be a good grinder. If you didn't and didn't get dealer support to replace it, you had a paperweight. If you decide to go that way, I'd only buy from an in-country retailer that is known to provide good support, including exchanging units.

None of these are "perfect" grinders. They all have drawbacks. The trick is finding one whose drawbacks are least objectionable to you, for the price you're willing to pay.

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baldheadracing
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#10: Post by baldheadracing »

I would definitely recommend changing grinders given that you pull light roasts.

I would consider replacing the pump and install an Auber PID kit (auberins.com) in the Silvia. The kit can be easily installed in an afternoon as all the wiring is pre-cut and prepared with terminals installed. Then there is no reason to consider a Silvia Pro X given that you never steam, as the brew boiler and group of the Pro X are identical to the regular Silvia; the only appreciable difference is PID temperature control.

The only spring lever machine in your price range that I would consider in North America and for light roasts is the Elektra Micro Casa a Leva. However, the Elektra does produce a very different cup from a Silvia. Although I have both machines; I never use the Silvia for light roasts - but definitions vary on what is a "light roast," as Jeff explains above. My definition of "light roast" will not taste good on most stock pump machines (without flow/pressure control, etc.).

What I would do if I were you is fix up and PID the Silvia, and pick up a relatively inexpensive manual lever like the Flair 58. That would give you more consistency in your current Silvia and allow for experimentation.

Good luck!
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada