Manometer. PID. Deck lights. Flow control. ViaVenezia!!

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?

#1: Post by coyote-1 »

It's done. If Lance supposedly turned a $400 Gaggia into a $3K machine by adding a PID, what then have I done to this $15 thrift Saeco? :mrgreen:

So this machine, in addition to the title list, has the brand new pump and the repaired OPV. Which works very well btw. My first shot maxed at 8 bar when I turned it to full flow. The brew head valve starts passing water at @ 2 bar, so preinfusion works roughly as desired (and about as good as I could hope on this machine). It's wonderful to have the real information and not have to guess!

That first shot was awesome.

I'll open it up and tighten the OPV a half turn or so in a few days. For now, I'm just going to enjoy.

Team HB

#2: Post by JRising »

I am not a fan of those machines, but I gotta say "That is impressive"... I think you might be insane, but don't ever change, man.

Where are the Deck Lights? Is it illuminating the "cup area" from above and behind the reservoir?

coyote-1 (original poster)

#3: Post by coyote-1 (original poster) replying to JRising »

Couldn't get a good pic earlier when it was bright out. But now that dusk has set in....
I installed another one on the other side of the group head, but opted to not connect it at this time.


#4: Post by meshkaffe »

Nice work man.

By the way what other hobbies do you have?

coyote-1 (original poster)

#5: Post by coyote-1 (original poster) replying to meshkaffe »

Thanks! This isn't so much a hobby as it is merely a desire for a good cup of coffee. 8)

I do other things, though I'm not sure they qualify as hobbies. For example I was a pro musician for @ 15 years, and I still enjoy playing and teaching and occasionally performing. But just in general, I have a desire for optimal experience while also not liking to spend money unnecessarily. I also love proving self-proclaimed 'experts' wrong. lol

Where espresso is concerned, more than thrice I've heard folks claim that the minimum spend on a machine is $1500 else "you will struggle terribly". I submit that a $10 lamp dimmer and a $2 digital thermometer make that claim questionable, as long as someone does not consider a bit of installation effort to be equal to "struggle terribly". And since this hobby requires time and effort to learn anyway, might as well learn without breaking the bank in the process.

And as long as I'm modifying, why not go the extra mile and make it look like it came from the factory this way? Why have it look like Frankenstein's monster that needs to be hidden away on a workbench, when instead it can look like it deserves a place on my kitchen counter?

So in learning (and modifying) my gear while having minimum $$$ outlay, and obtaining great results both in the cup and aesthetically, I'm having an optimal experience.

coyote-1 (original poster)

#6: Post by coyote-1 (original poster) »

Ok, here's a vid in action. I was only doing this shot to illustrate how it functions, so don't check time on it or anything.

Made the change to get slightly higher than 9 bar. Note how the pressure gauge reacts to my manipulation of the flow lever. Note also that utilizing the flow control limits the heat loss. The PID started at 194; by the end of the shot it was still above 190.


#7: Post by meshkaffe »

Excellent, that is why I'm here as well re: a good result.

I was asking because personally I have too many hobbies and I wanted one less thing to worry about/tinker with since I just don't have the time these days. I thought other hobbies might be consuming your finances. I just want good coffee without the tediosity.

If I'm ever in the northeast I'll drop you a line so I could sample your creations :D

coyote-1 (original poster)

#8: Post by coyote-1 (original poster) replying to meshkaffe »

A lot of my 'tinkering' is done elsewhere. That is, if an idea pops into my head while at work or whatever I take a moment to make a note of it. I then return to my notepad when I'm not working, and develop the idea. Or if I'm installing a rack of app servers, that's 'rote' work where you spend a fair amount of time just waiting for code to be written into directories so you can spend a few of those minutes thinking.

By the time I get around to actually doing a thing, it takes very little time because it's already done in my mind. The one thing that took lots of time on this project was cutting/grinding the steel case of the unit. It's heavy steel, between 1/16" and 1/8" thick. It took a couple hours to do that while ensuring I did not mess up anything (plenty of masking tape).

Making the coffee is itself not tedious. I dunno, maybe I'm just spoiled by my early move to flow control... but I rarely have issues.

As for other hobbies, I treat them the same way. I devote my investment more to gaining knowledge and improving my own methods than to investing in gear. Example is golf. I got a great set of clubs back around 1980, and played that same set up until around 2018 when I finally got new set. Fundamental swing issues are not fixed by purchasing new clubs; they are addressed by correct practice.

Note I did not say "addressed by practice". Because practicing the wrong stuff will not only not make you a better golfer, but could easily make you a worse golfer. And I wonder how many folks are afflicted by that in their various interests/hobbies, even in something like espresso.


#9: Post by marteccino »

Would open the boiler if I get this used too
These are probably the best home machines in my book for several reasons, but often overlooked and dismissed due to their look & cost and the trend that more expensive machine btter the espresso that I too thought is the case before getting similar to this one
One of the benefits is that water travel via very short journey straight to the stainless steel boiler and straight to the puck.
Pressure is the same as in all vibration pump machines, which what I see from general audience thinking big machines produce bigger pressure.
The only issue with these small boiler machines is dropping temperature due to small boiler. Simple indicator is the white crema drops towards the end of extraction that I get. That white tail crema also forms under the brown too that I seen after mixing espresso with spoon after extraction, where high temp stability machines produce nice uniformly brown crema that I seen on many videos, so thinking that heater pipe would fix this.
Am actually surprised no coffee maker came with some
preheater pipe and make this an ultimate home machine. Wouldn't want any gaggia nor Silvia or any e61 over this.
Also I found that I have zero need for three way valve. Not sure why it's discussed like a big deal, because my portafilter has no pressure left unless I remove it immediately after extraction which I don't do anyway and after a bit there is no pressure, if left for little longer the puck is completely dried out too

Not sure why they stopped making these.
Saw saeco focus solely on full auto coffee machines probably due to constant stream revenue for them for requiring service, etc.

coyote-1 (original poster)

#10: Post by coyote-1 (original poster) »

marteccino wrote:Would open the boiler if I get this used too
These are probably the best home machines in my book for several reasons, but often overlooked and dismissed due to their look & cost..... (snip for brevity)
I'll gladly expound upon the great things, and the shortcomings, of the Via Venezia. Great things:
First, it's built like a tank. As I mentioned above, it's not bent tin.... it's heavy thick steel. You don't need to hold the machine in order to lock in the portafilter. And it's well-finished. It does not threaten to slice you open if you pick it up the wrong way. And it's so well thought out! The arrangement of the drip tray and accessory tray is better than that on a lot of significantly pricier machines.

Second, it's simple. Not a lot to understand. Puts the onus on the barista to learn their craft.
Third, the components are robust. The OPV, for example, is not the cheap plastic found in, say, the DeLonghi appliances. It's heavy, substantial, quality. The boiler? Not gonna burn through any time soon. Etc.
Fourth is that the boiler and group head are one and the same. Water temperature in the boiler is the temperature coming thru the shower screen. Think this is not a big deal? Look at the new Linea Micra from LaMarzocco. The group head is a small boiler!

Fifth is that it's relatively easy to work on and modify.
Sixth is they are plentiful, for very low cost, out on the market. You just need to keep your eye out for it.
Seventh is that with the small boiler, it heats very quickly. It's ready to brew in less than five minutes.
Eighth is it holds plenty of water. You don't have to constantly refill it.

Lastly, it looks great on the kitchen counter while taking up very little space. And like you, I don't see where the 3-way solenoid is needed. Backflush? What's that? lol

1. That small boiler. It would make a huge difference if it held, say, just 15 grams more of water, and would heat up nearly as quickly.
2. The supplied steam wand on some units. Easily overcome by getting the Gaggia/Saeco panarello and using only the internal bit with the single steam hole, but a deficiency nonetheless.
3. The portafilter. I get it, and it's really a great arrangement for the average consumer... but it's not great for moving forward in the craft. And cleaning it is a PITA.
4. Parts are being discontinued. :cry:
5. Steam. Not a big deal for me as I rarely do milk drinks, and I find it entirely sufficient for those rare moments when I do. But if milk drinks are your thing, you should be looking at a different class of machine.