Rancilio Silvia vs. high end espresso machines... what is the truth? - Page 3

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#21: Post by DigMe »

Psyd wrote: Just in case: Never replace your pro kit in your shop with Silvias, that would be silly. Never open up a shop with a pair, or even four, Silvias and hope to succeed.

*cancels small business loan and order for two Silvias*


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Team HB

#22: Post by luca »

HB wrote:I will also disagree with the assertion that time spent on Silvia is well invested. Let's face facts: It's a fussy machine with a mountain of research behind it. But someone starting from scratch on the next level machine (essentially every machine reviewed to-date on this site except Silvia) would have better results in a shorter amount of time with less frustration.


Furthermore, I'm puzzled by the popularity of a PID'd Silvia as a first-time purchase. It may make sense for those who already have one and wish to free themselves of the temperature surfing routine, or for those willing to put a kit together themselves on the cheap. But dropping $600 on a Silvia and then investing even more for a PID kit when the total cost is within a hair's breath of an entry level E61 heat exchanger espresso machine? I don't get it.
Hi Dan,

I agree with you one million percent.

I think that part of the problem really is the internet. If you search for the silvia, you get a gagillion webpages and forum posts extolling its virtues. These sources are basically out of date, but I'm sure that people still stumble across them. Further, people seem to have a tendency to label things in absolute terms. I know of more than one person who has bought an entry level machine and grinder and proclaimed them to be absolutely incredible, then upgraded the machine and talked about how there was absolutely no comparison with the previous pile of juk that they had, then upgrade the grinder and talk about how they can't believe that they were using their original crappy grinder for so long. The signal to noise ratio is always going to be a gigantic problem for people looking for useful information and I just hope that the majority are sensible enough to keep that in mind.

The silvia isn't the only piece of equipment that this has happened to. IMHO, the Compak K3 touch (more expensive) and the stepless conicals (cheaper) have basically rendered the Rocky completely and totally obsolete in Australia, yet people still buy them by the bucketload. It will be interesting to see what happens in the USA and Canada once the K3 touch comes on the market. The Linea is great, but the GB5 is, IMHO, worth the extra coin. Ditto when comparing the major and the Compak K10WBC. The sunbeam EM6910 might well have completely relegated the Silvia to the sidelines in Australia - not sure; I haven't given either a good go for a while. I guess the dilemma for the consumer is always going to be whether or not to believe the buzz about new stuff or to stick with something that's "safe." Either decision could be bad.


LMWDP #034 | 2011: Q Exam, WBrC #3, Aus Cup Tasting #1 | Insta: @lucacoffeenotes


#23: Post by JimG »

bigstu44 wrote:1) This will bring about a level of temperature control, perhaps not quite as accurate as a PID, but a hell of a lot better than nothing. And still pretty good to within a degree or two?

2) It'll be 'manual' instead of automatic? In other words, I'll obviously still have to surf but it will bring that all important accuracy?

In conclusion, it'll not be as hassle free as a PID but will have the ability to make shots as good and as consistently as a PID'd unit?
Probably shouldn't think of it as "control." Your boiler is still going to do its thing and cycle within a 40F range. The difference is that now you'll get to watch the cycle and you should be able to figure out where you get the best tasting shots.

And if you let the machine warm up completely, and give it a few minutes to restabilize between shots, you should get very consistent results from pulling shots at the same start point on the temp cycle.

Like you said, not as hassle-free. But still a good improvement for the money spent.

Aside from convenience, the biggest downside to the thermometer approach is that you cannot select a new average boiler temperature. The selection of the PID setpoint indirectly controls the temperature of the group, too, which you will not be able to affect much by just timing your shot using a thermometer.


bigstu44 (original poster)

#24: Post by bigstu44 (original poster) »

Yep, 'control' wasn't a good choice of language. I understand that whilst a thermometer isn't going to actually control things, it will bring about a much better state of affairs than a standard unit-the ability to monitor. From there, I'd be able to use timing as a method of control

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#25: Post by Dieter01 »

jesawdy wrote: Use a deeper basket than the stock Rancilio double. I prefer the 18g 'Synesso/LM' ridgeless basket. This particular basket requires the use of a bottomless portafilter as it is too deep for the uncut one. The 14g 'Synesso/LM' ridgeless basket is a good second choice,

Grind and dose your coffee. I typically go 16g in that 18g basket. You may want to dose less in a smaller basket. The idea is to have an increased headspace
Too many times (even with the 18g basket) I have seen that after locking in the PF the showerscreen has touched the grounds. Reducing the amount of coffee in the basket to allow for proper headpspace was by far the biggest leap in consistency for me.

I notice a big difference between machines as well. My parents own a Silvia which has seen little use. Mine runs continously. The two machines behave quite differently. Maybe its due to worn gaskets, I don't know. There is a significant difference in strength required to lock in.

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Compass Coffee

#26: Post by Compass Coffee »

Dieter01 wrote:I notice a big difference between machines as well. My parents own a Silvia which has seen little use. Mine runs continously. The two machines behave quite differently. Maybe its due to worn gaskets, I don't know. There is a significant difference in strength required to lock in.
Having to power lock the PF indeed an indication the group gasket is past due being replaced. Group gasket replacement is part of regular maintenance. Under 24/7 use every 3 to 4 months.
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)


#27: Post by JimG »

bigstu44 wrote: ... it will bring about a much better state of affairs than a standard unit-the ability to monitor...
Well stated.

If you give this a go, I'll be very interested to know the degree of improvement in the cup.


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#28: Post by Psyd »

DigMe wrote:Oh...aah...oops.
*cancels small business loan and order for two Silvias*
*sigh* Sorry, call my solicitor, he'll write the check...
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175

bigstu44 (original poster)

#29: Post by bigstu44 (original poster) »

I am very happy!

As Jim suggested, I did the thermometer thingy today. This was already being discussed over on coffeegeek. So, to avoid repetition, what I did and the results I achieved are over there. https://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/espre ... ods/333927 for that thread.

To say I'm happy with results is an understatement. As you will see from my previous posts, I was getting somewhat disheartened! To be honest, even though I know I'm a beginner at this and there is very likely room for improvement, I had the nagging feeling that my technique wasn't really the culprit. I am methodical to the point of obsession! Technique is driven home for very good reasons-it is crucial. I want you to realise I am firmly aware of that! However, my suspicions about the importance of the ability to monitor temperature on machines like Miss Silvia were confirmed today. I now feel strongly that this should NOT be overshadowed by technique.

It's been said many times that without good technique one isn't going to be able to make a good coffee even on upmarket machines. And, of course, this would be even more noticeable on Silvia etc. However, conversely, I just cannot see how the greatest Barista in the world is going to be able to pull consistently great shots on the Silvias of this world flying blind without temp monitoring. I realise the previous statement may well show up my inexperience of such matters. If it does, I'm not too disappointed-because if technique can bring another quantum leap like the one I experienced today then as my own technique improves I can be looking forward to consistently great shots with a good few God shots thrown in! But, even with my inexperience, I just can't see how anybody could argue the point about just how important monitoring temp is.

So, to wrap up the early findings of this particular fledgling. Yes, never forget technique-it's very, very important. But instead of being secondary, my feeling is that on machines like Silvia it's equally important to monitor temp. There are two Gods-technique AND temperature! Thanks everyone for your help on this-what a great place these forums are.