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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Help with my...  
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Robs291
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Feb 2013
Posts: 11
Location: New Jersey
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Silvia V3
Grinder: Vario
Posted Fri Feb 22, 2013, 8:22pm
Subject: Help with my first purchase
 

I have been researching and reading what should be my first purchase, but I have a few questions.

I think I have narrowed down the espresso machine to the Silvia but am a little hesitant from all the comments I see about her being "finicky". I understand that once you find the right grind it should be easier, but then I see that you have to temperature surf or would need a PID. Since I am just starting out I am not sure I would like to have to temp surf every time to pull a shot, and I'd rather not spend the extra money for a PID right away. In a perfect world I'd like to be able to turn on the machine, have it warm up, and then grind and pull my shot (is this reasonable?) I plan on making espresso, some milk drinks, Americanos and cafe cremas. I will be the only one using it so the size shouldn't be an issue. I chose the Silvia over the Gaggia classic for the bigger boiler capacity to pull cafe cremas. Which brings me to the grinder.

I was thinking of going with the Preciso from the reviews I read and the ability to adjust the grind to make espresso and cafe crema using the same grinder. But then I am not sure if I can do the same with the Rocky, which a local coffee shop that sells both highly recommended the Rocky over the Preciso.

So I guess my questions are:

Is the Sylvia easy enough to use and also able to make great espresso without a PID and having to temperature surf? Has anyone made cafe cremas with it with great success? Considering the drinks I would be making is this the right machine for me? Any feedback one my grinder dilemma? I am looking to spend around $800 for both the grinder and machine, which I see I can to at WLL or SCG.

I have been reading and researching so much I think I have information overload! Thanks for reading and I look forward to reading your responses!
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,757
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, 2 Macap M4s, OE...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Fri Feb 22, 2013, 9:18pm
Subject: Re: Help with my first purchase
 

Welcome to CG! There is a great buying guide here...maybe you've already seen it? There are several questions that should be answered before we'd feel comfortable making recommendations, such as...

How many drinks in a session, how many sessions per day?
Do you entertain often?
What kind of drinks will you be making? (You answered this one)
What's your budget and does that include a grinder? (You answered this one)
Can you plumb in?
What's the power supply where you'll be operating?

Regarding you pointed questions (well, a couple of them at least). temp surfing on a Silvia is really just a matter of getting to know the machine, learning how long after what cues it's at the right temperature to pull a shot or steam milk. That's all there is to it. Yeah a PID is helpful, because it gives you tighter control over boiler temp fluctuations, and it also gives you a digital readout of the current boiler temp, but that's about it. It will take any decent machine at least 30 minutes to come to optimal operating temp (thermally stable), regardless of what the little lights are doing. Silvia is no exception. If you plan to use it in the am, when you get out of bed you walk directly to the machine and turn it on. If you have a machine that will auto fill the boiler, you put it on a programmable timer, set early enough so that it's been on 45-60min before you need it.

Preciso is generally thought to be a decent starting point for a grinder. You can save a little cash by getting a refurbished one directly from Baratza. It'll still have a one year warranty.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Iluvdabean
Senior Member
Iluvdabean
Joined: 7 Mar 2005
Posts: 1,217
Location: Kentucky
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra/Gaggia...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso/K-A Pro...
Drip: Bonavita BV 1800 TH
Roaster: Nesco 1010/Behmor 1600
Posted Fri Feb 22, 2013, 9:21pm
Subject: Re: Help with my first purchase
 

I dont have one but went Classic 5 years ago. I think the Silvia is a great machine and has sold probably more than any home machines than any other in this class.
Found this for you and its good info from Tom at Sweet Marias a trusted name in coffee.


'Befriending Miss Silvia: When you master the true single espresso (a mere 1.5 ounces) and start to enjoy the tiny Ristretto (a very, very short espresso), you will become aware that very small differences in water temperature at the brew head affect the quality of the espresso. Like all home machines, the Silvia kicks on the boiler when it senses a low water temperature (the orange light on the front by the power switch indicates this). It is called a "dead band controller" with the "dead band" being the range in which the boiler is off. This temperature cycling between the low and high temperature limits of the dead band produces varying brew head temperatures. Water temperature can range between 210 and 240, whereas you want something around 220 at the brew head for good espresso extraction. (Note that 220 at the brew head doesn't mean you are extracting at 220, but there is a 20 degree heat loss through the "puck" of compressed coffee grounds.) The good news is that during the shot you only have a 2-4 degree range, so the idea is to start your espresso extraction at the right point in the cycle. There is a simple timing technique you can use with the Silvia to brew in the right temperature range every time. This sounds more complicated than it is. All you are doing is getting the machine to start its boiler cycle, then starting the shot at a prescribed time after that orange light comes on ... that's all. In a nutshell, here is how you do it:

Turn on the machine and let it get to full temperature. (Make sure water tank is full! always leave it full from the previous session) Put the coffeehandle in the brew head to heat it up during this time. My machine takes about 20 minutes to get really hot, so that touching the bottom of the coffee handle (the spouts where the coffee comes out) is uncomfortable!
Now, grind your espresso, dose it, tamp it, and load the coffee handle in the group head.
With a receptable under the steam wand, open the steam wand valve and flip the Hot Water switch. I have a 1 quart Mason Jar I leave under the wand permenantly.
When the orange light on the front comes on (meaning the boiler is starting its heat cycle), Do the following: start your timer, turn off the Hot Water switch, close the steam valve.
After 1 minute has elapsed*, start your shot. Watch your timer for proper extraction time (I shoot for 20-25 seconds). Folks have experimented with varying times; 20, 30, 50, 50 seconds. I like 1 minute after the boiler light has come on, but almost everyone else seems to prefer 40+ seconds.The boiler light should go on for 1 minute to 1:30, so you can also do this without a timer by simply starting the shot as soon as the boiler goes off. *Note - I used to use a shorter interval, but after a lot of testing I like a longer 1 minute +, which according to my thermocouple allows the water to get up to true espresso extraction temperature.'


http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.details-rancilio.php

Tom at Sweert Marias is one of those trusted names in coffee .
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myallawala
Senior Member
myallawala
Joined: 25 Dec 2012
Posts: 86
Location: San Antonio, TX
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Mazzer Major & Baratza Vario
Vac Pot: Yama Burner
Drip: Hario V60 & Chemex
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Fri Feb 22, 2013, 10:14pm
Subject: Re: Help with my first purchase
 

I think the Silvia is a little dated and overpriced. I think it's an excellent machine, but it's not worth its asking price in my opinion. And at that rate, I think you should look in to a Gaggia Classic. Similar and considerably less in cost.

If you want more, take a look at the Crossland CC1. I'm biased because I own it but I think it's a great choice. I am never caught guessing when to pull the shot or any of that nonsense when I'm brewing. I hated that so much when I had my Venezia. Yes it costs a bit more, but ask yourself honestly what you're willing to pay to own a machine that takes the unecessary guess work out of a process that has enough variables? It's also got a thermoblock which I feel like makes a big difference in steaming. There's no having to refill the boiler or priming to use it again. AND the drip tray is bigger! I don't know why the CC1 hasn't exploded with people yet. I LOVE it for what I paid and what my alternatives were. SCG has a deal on it plus a Vario for $1000. That's $150 less than retail. I also think the Vario is superior for espresso for its flat burrs. Its a bonus that it has programmability.

If you STILL want to go Silvia, I think it would be wise to pick a used one up at least. I see them pop up on the bay and on BST here pretty often.

Again, I'm a huge advocate of the CC1 so feel free to message me if you want to know more.

Edit: If you're split on Preciso/Virtuoso vs Rocky, get the Rocky if you're going espresso.. flat burrs again.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,757
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, 2 Macap M4s, OE...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Sat Feb 23, 2013, 8:07am
Subject: Re: Help with my first purchase
 

flat vs conical burrs is all about flavor profile preference.  So, one must take any recommendation saying, get x grinder because it has flat/conical burrs with a huge grain of salt.

to recommend Rocky merely because of it's burr type is a disservice, particularly if you're not going to warn the reader about the innumerable posts regarding its main flaw - limited number of steps at wide increments.  I strongly advice the OP to read about that.  Having owned a Rocky in the past, I would never recommend it to anybody.

Again, read the buying guide, answer the standard questions, then people can help you decide which machine might be right for YOU.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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myallawala
Senior Member
myallawala
Joined: 25 Dec 2012
Posts: 86
Location: San Antonio, TX
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Mazzer Major & Baratza Vario
Vac Pot: Yama Burner
Drip: Hario V60 & Chemex
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Sat Feb 23, 2013, 12:59pm
Subject: Re: Help with my first purchase
 

emradguy Said:

flat vs conical burrs is all about flavor profile preference.  So, one must take any recommendation saying, get x grinder because it has flat/conical burrs with a huge grain of salt.

to recommend Rocky merely because of it's burr type is a disservice, particularly if you're not going to warn the reader about the innumerable posts regarding its main flaw - limited number of steps at wide increments.  I strongly advice the OP to read about that.  Having owned a Rocky in the past, I would never recommend it to anybody.

Again, read the buying guide, answer the standard questions, then people can help you decide which machine might be right for YOU.

Posted February 23, 2013 link

That's very true. I just understood from my reading that flat tends to be better. That could and probably is way off base. I've always wondered why the Robur has conical burrs..
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crazy4espresso
Senior Member
crazy4espresso
Joined: 19 Jan 2008
Posts: 144
Location: Toronto
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Silvia, La Pavoni...
Grinder: Pharos
Posted Sat Feb 23, 2013, 1:36pm
Subject: Re: Help with my first purchase
 

I don't find the Silvia any more "finicky" than most other SBDU machines, and like others will take a little time to get to know her.  I can pull consistent shots on the Silvia all day long with no fancy PIDs.  Do PID's help? Of coarse they do.  Are they an absolute must for this machine? No.  The temperature surfing aspect has become second nature to me, and all part of the routine.  I don't have to think anymore, it becomes almost instinctual. What would someone who feels they must PID their machine think if I were to place my 40 year old LP Europiccola in their hands? They'd be absolutely bamboozled! No gauges, no PIDS,  nothing! All analog and manual. Now that is a challenge. A trained monkey can pull a half decent shot on the Silvia.  All and all she's a great machine and if you can maybe find a used one to fit your budget (considering you need a grinder), then go for it, but I would put greater emphasis on the grinder.
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Robs291
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Feb 2013
Posts: 11
Location: New Jersey
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Silvia V3
Grinder: Vario
Posted Sat Feb 23, 2013, 3:23pm
Subject: Re: Help with my first purchase
 

A trained monkey can pull a half decent shot on the Silvia.  

This sounds right up my alley!

Thanks for all the responses. I will be the only one who drinks coffee in the house, and mostly on the weekends.  When we entertain I may have to make only a drink or 2 so I think this machine would be fine. I have no plans or desire to plumb in the water, and plug into a kitchen outlet beneath cabinet. That said, will it produce a lot of steam between use and surfing that it may cause damage to the cabinet?

I do like that Sylvia is well made, has been around for a long time and has a loyal following which all mean something in my book. I have seen some mixed reviews on the CC1 (on any machine for that matter), which does have some great features, but I am still leaning towards the Sylvia. Plus, I think Sylvia might be a good entry level machine to also help me "learn" more about espresso and how to make it well. I am a little hesitant to buy used and would rather buy new knowing that I have a warranty behind me, especially because I take care of things and usually keep things for a long time.

After doing more reading I was thinking I might upgrade the grinder (and my budget) to the Vario. I will need a decent tamper, cleaning supplies and a frothing pitcher (I was thinking 12 oz) and a good set of cups. Anything else I am missing?

Thanks again for al the help.

Rob
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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 1,897
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Preciso
Posted Sat Feb 23, 2013, 3:35pm
Subject: Re: Help with my first purchase
 

Robs291 Said:

I will be the only one who drinks coffee in the house, and mostly on the weekends.  When we entertain I may have to make only a drink or 2 so I think this machine would be fine.

Posted February 23, 2013 link


For that description of use Gaggia Classic should also work well and perhaps a better value.

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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Robs291
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Feb 2013
Posts: 11
Location: New Jersey
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Silvia V3
Grinder: Vario
Posted Sat Feb 23, 2013, 3:45pm
Subject: Re: Help with my first purchase
 

D4F Said:

For that description of use Gaggia Classic should also work well and perhaps a better value.

Posted February 23, 2013 link

I was seriously considering the Classic but what swayed me was the larger boiler size on the Sylvia as I want to make americanos and cafe cremas which require more heated water than the Classic holds.

If I am mistaken and the Classic would be more than adequate at these, please correct me!
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