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Essential Silvia mods???
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Essential Silvia...  
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gt_nc
Senior Member


Joined: 17 Jul 2004
Posts: 2
Location: Charlotte, NC
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Espresso, Silvia
Grinder: Solis Maestro, Rocky
Drip: Bunn
Posted Thu Jul 22, 2004, 7:02am
Subject: Essential Silvia mods???
 

Hi All, took the plunge and am now set up with Silvia and Rocky.  I am getting decent shots right now and am looking forward to aligning things for the "god shot".  I have read a lot on here (proabably too much, it took me forever to finally decide on which machines to buy, but that is another story) about things you have done to your machines.  

Some of the mods to your Silvias:  pressure adjustment, commerical portafilters/baskets, steam tips and pids, I'm not sure what, if anything, I need to upgrade on my machine.  I'd like to pose the question:  What mods do you think are essential to a Silvia and why?  Thanks in advance
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Rick
Senior Member
Rick
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 774
Location: North Vancouver
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Wega Mininova Inox Auto...
Grinder: Macap M4 stepped
Drip: Melitta #2 cone filter
Roaster: Stir-Crazy/Infinity Turbo...
Posted Thu Jul 22, 2004, 9:39am
Subject: Re: Essential Silvia mods???
 

gt_nc Said:

Hi All, took the plunge and am now set up with Silvia and Rocky.  I am getting decent shots right now and am looking forward to aligning things for the "god shot".  I have read a lot on here (proabably too much, it took me forever to finally decide on which machines to buy, but that is another story) about things you have done to your machines.  

Some of the mods to your Silvias:  pressure adjustment, commerical portafilters/baskets, steam tips and pids, I'm not sure what, if anything, I need to upgrade on my machine.  I'd like to pose the question:  What mods do you think are essential to a Silvia and why?  Thanks in advance

Posted July 22, 2004 link

No mods are essential.  A properly functioning Silvia will produce very good espresso as is.

You can improve it with (in my order of combined priority/simplicity/contribution to shot quality):
- LM double basket (cheap, easy, definite improvement)
- pressure mod (assuming you borrow the travelling PF first to establish that you actually have an overpressure problem (cheap, relatively easy, will reduce channelling and harshness if your pressure is significantly high)
- PID (expensive, complex, will increase shot consistency and reduce effort, but won't help your steaming performance.  Also really cool!)

I found the stock one-hole Silvia steam tip to produce excellent microfoam.

Commercial PFs are a "nice to have" but I don't think they contribute to shot quality if your technique is good. Don't leave the PF out of the grouphead for long, and it will stay hot.
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jcd
Senior Member
jcd
Joined: 19 Jul 2004
Posts: 14
Location: Northeast
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Silvia
Grinder: Rocky
Drip: French Press
Roaster: Z&D
Posted Thu Jul 22, 2004, 10:06am
Subject: Re: Essential Silvia mods???
 

I agree that none of the typical mods are "essential". I too recently bought the Silvia/Rocky combo, and am making very good espresso, if I do say so myself....

That said, I have ordered the LM PF and double basket (as well as the triple, just for the hell of it) and am looking forward to experimenting a bit....been bitten by the bug I guess...

My understanding is that, as of the last few months or more, the Silvia is shipping with the heavier commercial PF. Anyone care to confirm this?

 
jcd
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CupaJoeKid
Senior Member
CupaJoeKid
Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 208
Location: Cary, NC
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Silvia w/ PID, pressure mod
Grinder: Mazzer Mini P
Vac Pot: nada, french press
Drip: See french press
Roaster: WB Poppery II w/ control box
Posted Thu Jul 22, 2004, 11:00am
Subject: Re: Essential Silvia mods???
 

I'll go the other direction.  All of the common mods are essential!

All espresso machines can aim to do is to deliver water at the right temp and pressure to a well prepared puck of good quality coffee.  I'll let you worry about the latter two; the work to to done is to get Silvia to produce the first two for you.

In fact, I'll go a step further, just because I'm feeling passionate.  Any machine that doesn't produce water in the area of 200F +/- 10F at 8.5b +/- 1b (or so about) MUST be modified to perform within the correct range.  You are in huge luck that the Silvia is so easy and cost effective to modify to do so.

Here is the order I would go in:

$10 Grounded Utility timer: set the timer to warm up the Silvia 1 hour before you wake up and pull your first shot.  Best mod for your money by far.

PID: yes, it is expensive, but pony up the cash, follow the Murph PID pages, and get on with it.  Until you get your temps right, you are wasting your time chasing other mods (even temp surfing gives a much wider variance than you would think).  PID'ing makes a HUGE difference.

Pressure mod: Don't do this without the ability to measure the pressure (ie. travelling PF); you may find out that your range is already good.  I dropped from pre-mod 11.5b to 8.5b and ALL of my channeling problems disappeared.  WONDERFUL mod for the money.

LM-style 3x basket and 15d PF from Espressoparts NW: In our local group there is universal agreement that the 3x is a very significant improvement for Silvia, much more so than for the commercial machines that we play with.  Why?  Not sure, but there is completely agreement on the point.  I will also agree that I have a hard time thinking that a heftier PF is going to make much difference, but in this case you were upgrading so that you could hold a 3x basket anyway...

Some of the a.c folks have done preheating on the inflow water and also done actively heated groupheads, but at least for now I have decided they don't bring me the benefit:cost ratio I want.  But I can definitely tell you that the above four mods will take you to a very, very good level of performance.
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JonR10
Senior Member
JonR10
Joined: 26 Apr 2004
Posts: 10,376
Location: Houston, Texas
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: E61 Legend, Livietta,...
Grinder: Robur, B-Vario-W
Vac Pot: Hario Tabletop, Yama...
Drip: Technivorm
Roaster: 1-lb US Roaster, Behmor 1600
Posted Thu Jul 22, 2004, 11:33am
Subject: Re: Essential Silvia mods???
 

I don't own a Silvia - never have...

But I can say this:  The biggest single difference I made in my
espresso quest was to start roasting my own beans.  There is

***NOTHING***

IMO, that improves the process more than good beans.   This of
course assumes that you already have the basics of temperature
and grind/tamp/brew pressure covered.

I was getting excellent results before,
but now I'm in a whole new world.

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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gscace
Senior Member


Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 237
Location: Laytonsville, MD USA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Marzocco Linea 2AV, Astra...
Grinder: 3 Mazzers Robur, Kony,...
Vac Pot: Cona D, Hario Nouveau
Drip: Technivorm
Roaster: Has Garanti 1kg. electric
Posted Thu Jul 22, 2004, 12:14pm
Subject: Re: Essential Silvia mods???
 

Hi:

You can make some kick-ass coffee now, but it'll improve if you learn to temperature surf - See Randy Glass's site at http://www.quiknet.com/~frcn/Coffee/Coffee.html for instructions.  

The LaMarzocco portafilter and triple basket are a relatively inexpensive improvement that yields a very rich tasting shot.  I'd pretty much do this one first because it doesn't require any effort other than exercising your credit card, something that you seem to be down with already.  

I'd definitely do the PID mod.  Contrary to the opinion of others, it ain't hard to do if you are at all handy.  The benefits are extremely well documented now and if your technique is at all consistent you will turn out shot after shot of stellar expresso.  I've owned a Silvia for nearly 4 years now with 3 1/2 years of that time PID'd.  The only reason that I've ever considered upgrading is the issue of simultaneous steaming and brewing.  Addition of PID control makes Silvia totally rock!

The pressure mod is easy to do as well.  But I'd do the PID thing first.  The difference between doing the pressure mod and not doing it is actually pretty small compared to the bang for the buck you get from the PID thing.   the pressure mod is sort of the icing on the cake.

-Greg (Done em all and I'd do em again) Scace
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tom_b
Senior Member
tom_b
Joined: 19 Aug 2003
Posts: 537
Location: Maui, Hawaii

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia/PID
Grinder: Nuova Simonelli MCF
Roaster: USPS/Popper
Posted Thu Jul 22, 2004, 2:45pm
Subject: Re: Essential Silvia mods???
 

I've had a Silvia since last august, and the most significant improvements for me have been beans, grinder and a tested temp surf method. Also, I've had a ridgeless double from day 1, and wouldn't be without it. The La Marzocco double gets the same results for me but doesn't want to let go of that puck! And of course the rancilio double is awful..

Mail order beans were the ticket for me. Many here home roast, but in HI, where I am, non-native green beans are fumigated, and I've found the native stuff too mild for espresso. My first Vivace pours were revelatory.

I was a grinder hold out, with a tweaked $25 delonghi that died after a couple months, but when I tasted evenly ground beans I realized.. Espresso is not meant to be slap-you-in-the-face bitter!

The most recent change for me was testing my temp surf method. I used the 40 second method for the first 6 months, and when I finally tested, I found a huge range of results, depending on the point in the boiler cycle I was at, and temp was way too high in general. Now I run water, stop at light on, wait until light off, run water again, stop at light on, wait 27 seconds and pour. This has me getting a 3-4 F degree range. It sounds slow but I'm busy grinding beans, messing about, salivating etc. during the process.

PID? I'm making only 1-4 shots a day, so no need. Eventually I'll get temp stability and adjustability along with instant steam in a HX/E61 machine, or I'll get tired of surfing, decide i don't need steam and do it. It does look fun..

I did the pressure mod without having checked pressure, ended up too low with 2 gaskets. I could sand down the 2nd one, but haven't gotten there yet.

The other mod I recently attempted was to reduce pump noise. I got some peel and stick sound damping stuff from a car audio place, stuck some under the pump and on the pump area walls, only got a little noise reduction. Next I'll try wrapping the pump in sound damping foam, detaching it entirely from its base; we'll see if that gets significant improvement or no.

I also got the rancilio commercial PF, which was an improvement for me, as I'm a bit slow dosing and tamping. Besides staying hot it is way way cool.
:-)
tom
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CJR
Senior Member
CJR
Joined: 23 May 2004
Posts: 18
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Silvia
Grinder: Rocky
Posted Thu Jul 22, 2004, 3:59pm
Subject: Re: Essential Silvia mods???
 

jcd Said:

My understanding is that, as of the last few months or more, the Silvia is shipping with the heavier commercial PF. Anyone care to confirm this?

Posted July 22, 2004 link

I just bought Silvia (although it was in Melbourne) a week ago.  I got the 'new' PF in the pic below.  I think in Australia Silvia has been selling with this PF for at least 6 months.  It's not quite as heavy as the Rancilio commercial PF but is a lot beefier than the old Silvia PF with the ridged handle.

CJR: portafilter.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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CJR
Senior Member
CJR
Joined: 23 May 2004
Posts: 18
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Silvia
Grinder: Rocky
Posted Thu Jul 22, 2004, 4:00pm
Subject: Re: Essential Silvia mods???
 

Another photo...

Chris

CJR: portafiler bottom.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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CJR
Senior Member
CJR
Joined: 23 May 2004
Posts: 18
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Silvia
Grinder: Rocky
Posted Thu Jul 22, 2004, 4:02pm
Subject: Re: Essential Silvia mods???
 

And one more...

Chris

CJR: portafilter close up.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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