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Up at the Sharp End by Alan Frew
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alanfrew
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alanfrew
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 640
Location: Melbourne
Expertise: Professional

Posted Sat May 24, 2003, 7:00am
Subject: Up at the Sharp End by Alan Frew
 

Up at the Sharp End
by Alan Frew

An evaluation of high end domestic espresso machines
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jim_schulman
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jim_schulman
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,772
Location: Chicago
Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Sun May 25, 2003, 5:53am
Subject: Isomac Boiler
 

Hi Alan,
Great article as usual, although I disagree with your conclusion that the Silvia is as consistent as the HX machines. But maybe you're the world's most consistent Silvia shot puller.

BTW, the Isomac boiler in my Tea is 10cm diameter and 15 centimeters long, which gives a gross volume of  1178cc.  It holds about 550cc to 650 cc of water.
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xristrettox
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xristrettox
Joined: 22 Jan 2003
Posts: 278
Location: Portland
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon May 26, 2003, 8:38am
Subject: Great article
 

Thanks for the write up Alan.  So if Silvia doesn't have a HX, what does she have?  I don't use prosumer machines, but it's nice to know a little about them.
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rbh1515
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Joined: 15 Feb 2003
Posts: 1,282
Location: Milwaukee
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: LM GS3
Grinder: Mahlkonig/VersalabM3
Vac Pot: have one
Drip: no
Roaster: got that too/never use it
Posted Tue May 27, 2003, 8:23am
Subject: Isomac pressurestat
 

Is the 220v version of the Isomac Millenium different--my pressurestat on my Millenium is very easy to adjust. Just lift off the top warming tray, get a flash light and a very skinny screw driver. I do not have to take off any panels and is very easy.  Rob
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Rick
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Rick
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
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Location: North Vancouver
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Wega Mininova Inox Auto...
Grinder: Macap M4 stepped
Drip: Melitta #2 cone filter
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Posted Tue May 27, 2003, 2:13pm
Subject: Damn, I knew it!!
 

Thanks, Alan, for a job well done.  I was not a bit surprised to read that you, too, felt the PF basket had more effect on the differences between these machines than any other variable.  I've come to the same conclusion with my machine.

Rick
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Daniel_Hanna
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Daniel_Hanna
Joined: 4 Jan 2003
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Location: Sydney
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: San Marino Compact CKXE
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Drip: Sunbeam Aroma Coffee 10
Posted Sun Jun 1, 2003, 7:50pm
Subject: So... what basket for my Silvia?
 

Alan, I've found real differences between filter baskets on my Silvia too.  The coffee does seem better using a Marzocco ridged basket, but it's a complete pain to tamp.  What do you (and others) recommend?
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MarkPrince
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Joined: 19 Dec 2001
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Location: Vancouver, BC
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Espresso: KvdW Speedster
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Roaster: Hario Glass Retro Roaster
Posted Mon Jun 2, 2003, 11:00pm
Subject: Awesome Article, but two points...
 

Awesome article overall, but I have to echo the first posters' comments - I disagree with the conclusion that the Silvia is as consistent as a HX machine. I've put several machines head ot head with the Silvia myself, in some pretty intense testing, and where all other things are equal (volume of grinds, tamp, baskets used, etc), it has a hard time matching the shot performance of some of the HX machines that are just as "dialed in" as the Silvia is (ie, temperature surfing, flushing the grouphead, knowing the cycles, etc).

This is true in the taste profiling , but especially noticable in putting it through the Fluke tests (getting the raw numbers). In fact, I have to say I'm slightly disapointed with the "common use" numbers from the Silvia we tested - temps were all over the map. Once we dialed it down to surfing the temperatures and doing the steam switch trick, we were getting more consistency, but nothing that would match some of the HX machines I got in the mad scientist lab.

I do have a possible explanation though. First, the Silvia has undergone a boiler change which has changed it's brewing profile over the initial models back in the late 1990s. Which style of machine are you evaluating? And second, perhaps the 220 vs. 110 thing has something to do here.

The second point is the pressurestat on the Expobar. Unless they've changed it, they do have pressurestats - mine does (a Pulser)... the problem is, it's a bit hard to find - it's down low, on an angle, and towards the front on my model. Once I remove the "firewall" between the reservoir and the boiler unit, it can be spotted, again on my test machine at least. I've already tuned it several times in fact :)
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alanfrew
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alanfrew
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
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Location: Melbourne
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Posted Tue Jun 3, 2003, 5:14am
Subject: 220v world
 

All I can say re boiler volumes and positions, phantom pressurestats and Silvia consistency is that I call 'em as I see 'em. The boiler in the  220v Millennium is horizontal rather than vertical and the pressurestat is on the end, right up against the side panel. (see photo in article.) And even with the firewall removed, there ain't no pressurestat anywhere inside the Expobar, again see the photos.

I find 220v Silvias to be remarkably temperature stable, and easy machines to get good shots with, once the grinder is dialled in...in fact, I expect the FIRST shot on a new Silvia to be spot on during testing, now I've got the coffee volume worked out, and so far it always is!

There is no doubt in my mind that machines produced for the North American can be significantly different to those we see here. AFAIK Rancilio never shipped us any teflon lined boilers, for instance.
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jim_schulman
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jim_schulman
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,772
Location: Chicago
Expertise: I live coffee
Posted Tue Jun 3, 2003, 7:29am
Subject: 220 versus 110
 

The 220 volt Silvias are 1200 watt, the 110 volt ones 800. Don't know what that does to stability, but there's lees wait down under.

The repositioned Isomac pressurestats are just for machines shipped to Chris. On the Tea I have, it's the same as on Alan's test machines. Chris wanted to set the stats himself up to 1.3, and asked Isomac to relocate them for easy access.
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gord0001a
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Joined: 15 May 2006
Posts: 1
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Expertise: Pro Barista

Espresso: Expobar Office Control
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Mon May 15, 2006, 10:22pm
Subject: Re: 220v world
 

alanfrew Said:

All I can say re boiler volumes and positions, phantom pressurestats and Silvia consistency is that I call 'em as I see 'em. The boiler in the  220v Millennium is horizontal rather than vertical and the pressurestat is on the end, right up against the side panel. (see photo in article.) And even with the firewall removed, there ain't no pressurestat anywhere inside the Expobar, again see the photos.

I find 220v Silvias to be remarkably temperature stable, and easy machines to get good shots with, once the grinder is dialled in...in fact, I expect the FIRST shot on a new Silvia to be spot on during testing, now I've got the coffee volume worked out, and so far it always is!

There is no doubt in my mind that machines produced for the North American can be significantly different to those we see here. AFAIK Rancilio never shipped us any teflon lined boilers, for instance.

Posted June 3, 2003 link

All I can say is, maybe it was an early model of the Expobar... Mine has one.

(FYI, I need a new pressurestat, mine is sticking, which is why the machine is open)

I love the Expobar. 10/10. Maybe runs a little hot, but I just pull a blank shot to cool it down. It's beautifully made, as you can see in the photo.
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