Upgrade grinder then espresso machine? - Page 2

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

#11: Post by innermusic »

I'm also getting good results out of my MXK, for around the same price as SJ.
Steve Holt
Trent Hills, Ontario Canada
Vivaldi II, Macap MXK, Baratza Vario

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boar_d_laze

#12: Post by boar_d_laze » replying to innermusic »

Yes. Nothing against the MXK particularly but your comment raises an important point. That is, you want a grinder that won't handicap the limits of your espresso machine. I don't know the Silvano at all, but it might not have as much "resolving power" as the OP's next machine.

Whatever the OP buys is likely to be a huge step up from his Silvia, for temp control, group, some sort of pre-infusion and other relevant stuff.

The way things stand now, it seems to me that Rocky is a better grinder than Silvia is a machine. I don't disagree with the "grinder first" conventional wisdom, but wonder if Rocky plus a good machine is likely to do less damage to the brewing chain than Silvia would do with a better grinder.

BDL
Drop a nickel in the pot Joe. Takin' it slow. Waiter, waiter, percolator

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EricBNC

#13: Post by EricBNC »

boar_d_laze wrote:... I don't know the Silvano at all, but it might not have as much "resolving power" as the OP's next machine.

BDL
What is "resolving power"?
LMWDP #378
Author of "The Bell Curve: Instructions for Proper Herd Mentality"

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tekomino

#14: Post by tekomino » replying to EricBNC »

Meaning does it really have firm determination to make espresso or is it just half-assed effort :wink:
Refuse to wing it! http://10000shots.com

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innermusic

#15: Post by innermusic »

I've never used Rocky, but my understanding is it would be a limiting factor in most espresso setups. The Vario OTOH is a great grinder. The improvement that I got from the MXK over the Vario is probably going to be way one would get going from Rocky to Vario. That would be a very large improvement I think.

As for the machine, Silvano is to me a "poor man's DB". If the OP wants a DB, which he says he does, then the Silvano ain't it. But for the money, what else is there that really competes with Silvano? Separate pump and system for coffee and steam (steam and pull shots simultaneously), good temp stability with PID combined with big grouphead, solid construction...

Unless a right and proper DB is required for the OP, I'd say Silvano + Vario, at around $1500 for the combo, is pretty awesome.
Steve Holt
Trent Hills, Ontario Canada
Vivaldi II, Macap MXK, Baratza Vario

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boar_d_laze

#16: Post by boar_d_laze »

What I meant by "resolving power" was the machine's ability to reveal the nuances of the coffee (or at least stay out of the grinder's and barista's way). To my mind, that ability is key to defining the difference between excellent, very good, good, and adequate machines.

And of course, what Dennis said too.

Whether the OP upgrades grinder or machine first, either way his old equipment will limit the performance of his new. The consensus seems to be that the a mediocre machine and good grinder are better than a good machine and mediocre grinder. Consensus or no, that's my take on the way things usually work as well.

Considering the difference between modern machines and old SBDUs like a Silvia, and that a Rocky is at least a functional bottom of the high-end grinder, I wonder if it might make more sense to upgrade Silvia first. In part because I also wonder if Silvia can make sense of the differences between a Rocky, a Vario, and an MXK.

BDL
Drop a nickel in the pot Joe. Takin' it slow. Waiter, waiter, percolator

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EricBNC

#17: Post by EricBNC »

boar_d_laze wrote:What I meant by "resolving power" was the machine's ability to reveal the nuances of the coffee (or at least stay out of the grinder's and barista's way). To my mind, that ability is key to defining the difference between excellent, very good, good, and adequate machines.

BDL
If the machine can hold a pre-determined temperature (in the portafilter) through the time it takes to pull a shot while applying proper pressure as well - would this machine "stay out of the way" with enough "resolving power"?
LMWDP #378
Author of "The Bell Curve: Instructions for Proper Herd Mentality"

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HB
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#18: Post by HB » replying to EricBNC »

Not to barge into this discussion, but in my experience, attempts to correlate various metrics like temperature stability and proper brew pressure to actual in-cup performance are folly (the thread Pressure profiles, preinfusion and the forgiveness factor was my most public mea culpa on this point). Such metrics are the favorite fodder of this vs. that discussions, but that's because they're easily measured. Considerations like "how evenly does the dispersion system diffuse water over the puck?" or "is its preinfusion design effective at mitigating channeling?" are hard to measure, but I argue more important than whether the brew temperature is held within 1.0°F of the setpoint. Were this not true, few would see the need to upgrade beyond a PID'd single boiler like the Rancilio Silvia, and yet there's ample evidence that many choose to do just that (e.g., How long before you upgraded from a Rancilio Silvia-class espresso machine? suggests more than half do in less than 2 years).
Dan Kehn

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EricBNC

#19: Post by EricBNC »

HB wrote:(the thread Pressure profiles, preinfusion and the forgiveness factor was my most public mea culpa on this point). Such metrics are the favorite fodder of this vs. that discussions, but that's because they're easily measured. Considerations like "how evenly does the dispersion system diffuse water over the puck?" or "is its preinfusion design effective at mitigating channeling?" are hard to measure, but I argue more important than whether the brew temperature is held within 1.0°F of the setpoint. Were this not true, few would see the need to upgrade beyond a PID'd single boiler like the Rancilio Silvia, and yet there's ample evidence that many choose to do just that (e.g., How long before you upgraded from a Rancilio Silvia-class espresso machine? suggests more than half do in less than 2 years).
The Silvia can't steam and pull a shot at the same time - I see this mentioned often when someone posts a "Help me upgrade" thread. Adding a PID to the Silvia will not address this need - a new machine will.
HB wrote:Not to barge into this discussion, but in my experience, attempts to correlate various metrics like temperature stability and proper brew pressure to actual in-cup performance are folly
I read that thread - I see a lot of pressure data but not much saying temp stability isn't a good thing - In the 5 years since anything new was added to that data set PID temp controls are more common and likely for good reason - maybe it gives these machines that much needed "resolving power".

Proper pressure reduces channeling - the vibe pump on the Silvano is smooth once it jumps to 9 bar in the dial - I think it is "staying out of the way" enough to allow for a decent shot.
LMWDP #378
Author of "The Bell Curve: Instructions for Proper Herd Mentality"

fizguy

#20: Post by fizguy »

boar_d_laze wrote:Do you plan to single dose?

Do you change coffees frequently?

Why doserless?

Rocky/Silvia is one of the few combos where upgrading the machine first might make sense.

BDL

I don't plan to change coffees frequently or single dose. I think I am wary of dosers because I have never used one, and have preconceived notions that they will be noisier to use (thwak thwak), that each dose will include stale coffee from the day before.

I like the idea of the mazzer mini e with the grid and metal funnel...it seems to me that this would help to reduce clumping.

My main issue with Rocky is the size of the steps. I don't have enough experience to know how a different grinder would effect the taste. Perhaps a machine upgrade first would help me to understand more fully what I am looking for in a grinder.