Posted Mon Oct 11, 2010, 5:14pm Subject: Re: Taking A Step Up: Moving On From The Silvia
Never owned a Silvia, but did own a Gaggia Espresso for a couple years before recently upgrading dramatically to a used La Cimbali Junior D. Why did I upgrade? Temp surfing on the Gaggia was too inexact a science, the brew pressure too high (and no adjustable OPV). With the two main factors that a machine brings to the table out of whack, shots were generally erratic and hard to dial in. I have been looking around for used machines for a while when this one came up. It was easy to convince my wife to shell out a several hundred bucks for a used junior (about the price of a Silvia) when I showed her how much comparable machines cost on various web retailers sites (my wife just can't pass up a deal). My first pour on Junior was better than any on my Gaggia (lucked out there). Overall, though, more consistently good shots and more easily understood and controlled variables. I think because Junior has no PID or brew temp gauge, you tend to pay more attention to your flushes. My brother with his Brewtus II just sets the temp and figures that has it covered. I think he should play with flushing as well to get his group up to temp.
Back to the advantages I have now compared to before: no portafilter sneezes (don't get those with Silvia either, but it was a big change for me), plumbed in means never having to fill the tank or empty the drip tray (surprising how much you appreciate it when you have it), INSANE steaming capacity (steams 2-3 times faster than gaggia), hot water on demand, better temp stability, adjustable opv, built like a freakin tank (every part of this just says "I'm built to last"), and last but not least, stainless steel.
Disadvantage: takes much longer to warm up. 20-30 mins if you watch and flush. Gaggia was like 5 mins. I've put it on a timer to take care of that issue (just about any cheap $20 timer will do).
SO are you actually considering an upgrade now or just interested in the discussion?
Posted Mon Oct 11, 2010, 5:50pm Subject: Re: Taking A Step Up: Moving On From The Silvia
^ A bit of both. I'm interested in seeing how people have justified their upgrade and when. I'm still new at the whole science of extracting "the perfect espresso" however, I am at a point where I am disciplined enough to learn the ins & outs of the Silvia for at least another year or so before a major upgrade. I purchased the Silvia simply because of the vast amount of information and support on the web. The whole premise behind my purchase of the Silvia was to be used as a learning tool and a stepping stone before moving on. I understand that by no means this is a commercial/professional machine but I would like to learn as much as I can before I drop a larger amount of money into a bigger and better machine. I personally saw no point in spending thousands of dollars into an expensive machine and not knowing how to even dial in the grind, dose, tamp and controlling the other variables to pull a shot.
Let's put it this way - I was prepared to spend $2000 and change for a Wega MiniNova as my first machine but was afraid that I would no longer enjoy pulling my own shots at home. It was a matter of managing risk and taking precautionary steps to prevent a meltdown of an un-likable hobby. :)
billherbst Senior Member Joined: 6 Jul 2006 Posts: 114 Location: Florence, Oregon Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Expobar Brewtus II Grinder: Baratza Vario, Ascaso iMini Vac Pot: Melior French Press Drip: Melitta Cone Roaster: Behmor 1600, Poppery II
Posted Mon Oct 11, 2010, 9:18pm Subject: Re: Taking A Step Up: Moving On From The Silvia
Here's my long saga:
1970s: Chemex drip ($40), Melior French Press ($65, still have it), 3 whirlybird blade grinders, Braun burr grinder ($50) 1980s: local roasters appear in Minneapolis; I begin buying artisan-roasted fresh coffee 1990s: Salton steam toy ($10 at Walgreens), using foil-packed pre-ground imported Italian coffee (from a grocery outlet) 2003: Delonghi pump machine ($30 new on eBay), I continue using preground and occasional local roasts 2005: Starbucks Barista machine ($75 used on craigslist), Capresso Infinity grinder ($75 used from Amazon), 2006: KitchenAid Proline Grinder ($100 new from Amazon), LÚLit PL041 ($235 used on eBay), 4 Poppery I and II popcorn poppers ($20 total at Goodwill), begin ordering green beans and home roasting 2007: 2nd LÚLit PL041 with PID installed ($400 new), Vaneli's Roma doserless grinder with 50mm flat burrs ($200 new) 2008: Ascaso iMini conical burr grinder ($235 new), Behmor 1600 roaster ($225 refurbished) 2009: Expobar Brewtus II ($1399 new/refurbished) 2010: Baratza Vario ($400 new)
Since I'm not wealthy (far from it), finding good deals has been essential at every step along the way. In the early decades, I gave away most outmoded stuff as I moved up. Since 2005, all the retired "good" equipment has been sold here to other CG members.
My biggest claim to true "espresso geek" status is that I now repair my own equipment, having replaced the pump and OPV assembly and the E61 seals in the Brewtus earlier this year, with replacement of the motor in my Behmor coming up later this week.
grumpybarista Senior Member Joined: 19 Feb 2007 Posts: 220 Location: Detroit Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: LP Pub1 Grinder: Mazzer Mini w/ doser, NS... Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup Drip: French Press, aeropress Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Oct 11, 2010, 10:03pm Subject: Re: Taking A Step Up: Moving On From The Silvia
Silvia sure was lovely to me over the nearly three years that I've had her, and while she still chugs along, I've also gotten more exposed to other machines with heat exchangers. When I was just making myself a morning cappuccino, I never made too much fuss about the extra time it took for her to heat up to steam mode. But as I started entertaining more, and I became the local coffee "expert", it started to become more frustrating to cycle back and forth between brew and steam. And to remember to refill that tank every so often. I ran her dry on more than one occasion in the middle of making my nth cup at the moment.
I was lucky to find a great deal on a HX machine, the La Pavoni Pub1, with a plumbed in feed and drain. Now the only problem I have is that I need to install a more robust counter in the place I previously had Silvia, which was little more than a bookcase. Granted, this is a major upgrade, but I can crank out as many lattes as you require :)
If you're only making yourself a cup, or maybe two, Silvia (or similar) is a great option. Unless you get the deal I got ;)
JasonBrandtLewis Senior Member Joined: 9 Dec 2005 Posts: 6,278 Location: Berkeley, CA Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -... Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -... Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup Drip: CCD, Chemex Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Tue Oct 12, 2010, 1:58pm Subject: Re: Taking A Step Up: Moving On From The Silvia
1976: I purchased my first espresso machine, a brand-new Pavoni Europicola EPC-8, just like this one (except that it was $299.00).
1981: Frustrated by my lack of consistency with the Pavoni, I gave it to a friend of mine, and acquired a Gaggia Coffee (now discontinued, it was essentially a Gaggia Classic but without the benefits of a 3-way solenoid valve). Simultaneously, I also (gulp!) ditched my "trusty" Krups blade grinder for a Gaggia MDF, and was delighted by my new-found consistency!
1993(?): My Gaggia Coffee died, and I replaced it with a Coffee Gaggia -- a more modern, redesigned version of essentially the exact same machine.
2006: Gave my Gaggia machine and grinder combo to my brother-in-law, and -- after several false starts -- purchased a La Valentina full-auto.
2008: Moved my La Val into my office, and acquired an Elektra T1 for my home.
Somewhere along the line, but within the past 5 years, I also acquired an Olympia Cafferex and an Arrarex Caravel.
kevlar Senior Member Joined: 25 Mar 2008 Posts: 72 Location: Winnipeg Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Expobar Brewtus 3 Grinder: Vario Vac Pot: Hario Drip: Bodum French Press Roaster: Leaving that to the pros
Posted Tue Oct 12, 2010, 4:55pm Subject: Re: Taking A Step Up: Moving On From The Silvia
Had a Silvia and Rocky combo for a little over a year. Machine was good but the temperature surf water dance and the steam surf to get decent steam pressure as we mainly drink latte's and cappuccino's became tiresome quickly.
Moved on to an Expobar Brewtus 3 and Baratza Vario, better temperature consistency, steam power is better and you can steam and pull shots at the same time. Love the machine and the grinder and I have no desire to upgrade to anything else. The machine does everything that I need and more, only downfall is that it takes 45-60 mins to warm up.
Still, 45 minutes seems excessive. I have a Rancilio Epoca DE 2-group in my basement that takes about 15-20 minutes max. Biggest factor should be the wattage (this one has 2700W) and the tank (11 liters). Looking up the Brewtus III, it uses about 1300W on two 1.7 liter boilers. I haven't personally used one but 45 minutes does seem like a long time. If it is normal, then:
Quickly overcome by the purchase of a timer from your local hardware store.
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