PID a Rancilio Silvia or upgrade to an HX or double boiler?

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
werbin

#1: Post by werbin »

I have probably been reading too much and am confused about my best upgrade options.
Please help.

I have been using a Rancilio Silvia + Mazzer Mini for several years now with good experiences and am ready to upgrade to get better shots and to get away from the nuisance of temperature surfing.

Right now, I typically make 2 -3 shots a day and 1 cappuccino in the morning. I use an appliance timer to turn on the Silvia about 1/2 hour before I wake up. I leave the Silvia on until late afternoon. I am having some success with different temperatures with different blends. I try to get cooler brew temperatures with Red Cat than with other blends. It is tricky to do that with temperature surfing.

I think I have an opportunity to get a used Pasquini Livia for a good price.

I have limited counter space. The HX machines I have looked at are much larger than the Silvia. I would prefer Silvia size (w: 9" d: 11.5") than the Pasquini size (w: 12" d: 15"). But, I could accommodate the larger size if that is the best espresso quality option.

I think that my options are:
1. PID the Silvia using the Watlow SD3C w/steam control from pidkits.com.
This will get me better temperature control and avoid the need for temperature surfing.

2. Get an HX machine. I think that the advantages are simultaneous steaming and brewing and reports that the shot quality is better with minimal fussiness. But, it sounds like it is absolutely necessary to flush the HX. That sounds a lot like temperature surfing with minimal temperature control. What's your experience? Are there other, better HX machines to consider?

3. I just started reading about the Expobar Brewtus II double boiler. It sounds like this has a temperature control setting. Is the shot quality better than an HX? Does this need to be flushed like an HX machine? Why does it need to be flushed if it has a temperature controller? What about the build quality and long term reliability? It looks like the Brewtus would be the most expensive option. Cost is a factor for me, but if this would be the least fussy and best shot quality option, I might get it.

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HB
Admin

#2: Post by HB »

werbin wrote:I have been using a Rancilio Silvia + Mazzer Mini for several years now with good experiences and am ready to upgrade to get better shots and to get away from the nuisance of temperature surfing.
You may be interested in the thread Do I need an upgrade to make good espresso? If you're happy with your current setup except for the nuisance of temperature surfing, then adding a PID is a good idea. Most upgraders believe, however, that the next step up represented by the E61 class espresso machines are more consistent. That was my experience and my only regret was not upgrading sooner.

Below are a few related topics that I found by searching on 'PID Silvia': The site's reviews cover a number of heat exchanger E61 espresso machines and the double boiler Expobar Brewtus. Reading a selection of them may help you narrow down your decision criteria, e.g., how important is effortless brew temperature precision versus cost versus forgiveness factor versus...
Dan Kehn

User avatar
Marshall

#3: Post by Marshall »

werbin wrote:I have probably been reading too much and am confused about my best upgrade options.
Please help.

I have been using a Rancilio Silvia + Mazzer Mini for several years now with good experiences and am ready to upgrade to get better shots and to get away from the nuisance of temperature surfing.

Right now, I typically make 2 -3 shots a day and 1 cappuccino in the morning. I use an appliance timer to turn on the Silvia about 1/2 hour before I wake up. I leave the Silvia on until late afternoon. I am having some success with different temperatures with different blends. I try to get cooler brew temperatures with Red Cat than with other blends. It is tricky to do that with temperature surfing.
Your usage is almost exactly the same as mine. I saw no sense in an HX for myself, as the temperature will be much more difficult to control than with a PID'd single boiler. Plus controlling the HX temperature will mean running through lots more water for the cooling flushes, which in turn will either require plumbing-in or getting used to re-filling the reservoir much more frequently and much more frequent descaling.

For people in our situation, I think the only upgrades that make sense are a PID installation, a non-HX E-61 (w/ or w/o PID) or a double boiler.
Marshall
Los Angeles

Randii

#4: Post by Randii »

I upgraded to the Brewtus II after owning my Silvia for only two months, so you have much more patience with temperature surfing than I ever could muster, and for that I commend you. Having said that, upgrading for me has been a wonderful experience. The Brewtus IS a costly investment, but - I noticed when I was researching buying a PID kit for my Silvia - that most of the Silvia users that PIDed their machines, ultimately upgraded to better machines anyway! I decided that upgrading from the beginning would be a much better way to spend my money, and I am very happy with that decision.

All I do now is set the temp and take the shot when I am ready. No fussing AT ALL, no temperature surfing, no "water dancing". That makes me very happy! :D And no, it isn't like an HX machine - the brewhead doesn't overheat - you can choose to flush for a second or so to bring the brewhead up to temp if you want to be that precise, but the E61 grouphead is designed to hold the temperature stable, and it really DOES!

I don't have any experience with HX machines, but I know the Livia is considered a really good one, and - in my not so humble, shopping mad, bargain hunting opinion - if you can get it at a good price, WHY WOULDN'T YOU?! I'd buy it in a heart beat before somebody else gets it! :lol:

MarkD

#5: Post by MarkD »

Randii wrote:I noticed when I was researching buying a PID kit for my Silvia - that most of the Silvia users that PIDed their machines, ultimately upgraded to better machines anyway!
While this is true, I could not justify the upgrade at this moment (well, that acutally goes for the Ms. ;)). Therefore I decided to go for the Auber Systems PID, which is quite affordable with the current Dollar/Euro exchange rate. I am very happy with my Silvia now, but the upgrade-virus is still chasing me... so the PID'ed Silvia is just one of the stops to the ultimate coffee setup. But a very good stop!

werbin

#6: Post by werbin »

I am trending towards a Brewtus II now.
But, how is its reliablility compared to an HX machine like the Pasquini?
The recent messages posted to the Brewtus user group seem to report many leaks and other hardware problems. However, that may just be the typical messages that are posted to a dedicated machine user group.

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erics
Supporter ◈

#7: Post by erics »

werbin wrote:Right now, I typically make 2 -3 shots a day and 1 cappuccino in the morning. I use an appliance timer to turn on the Silvia about 1/2 hour before I wake up.
Then your best bet would be choice #1 - PID the Silvia using the Watlow SD3C w/steam control from pidkits.com. Personally, I would not go with the steam control option, especially for your modus operandi. The PID readout gives you plenty of info as to when to start steaming. I would turn the machine on about an hour before first usage.

A nice step-up from choice #1 would be a PID'ed Alexia.

i.e. I agree 100% with what Marshall said a few posts up from this.
Skål,

Eric S.
http://users.rcn.com/erics/
E-mail: erics at rcn dot com

Randii

#8: Post by Randii »

When I was buying my Brewtus II, I had a lot of doubts, based upon what I was reading in the posts, so I posted to HB to find out what the truth was. Check out "Upgrade-itus Guilt: Did I make a mistake buying an Expobar Brewtus?" That might help you weed through some of your questions about the Brewtus. I went ahead and purchased mine after this post. This is just to help you with your questions about the Brewtus, like they helped me, not to sway your decision. I still think you should take the bargain Livia! ; - )

werbin

#9: Post by werbin » replying to Randii »

It turns out that the Livia offer is not the bargain that I thought it might be. The owner wants to bundle the drawers that sit under the Livia and charge $1200 for the combination.

werbin

#10: Post by werbin »

:D
I ordered the Brewtus from WLL. They said it would ship tomorrow and get to me in New York City by Friday.