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Setup for a Noob
Rancilio Silvia - How to
Step by step guide for easy brewing and steaming with the Rancilio Silvia
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Setup for a Noob  
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TheShakes
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Nov 2013
Posts: 4
Location: CA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Nov 8, 2013, 6:49am
Subject: Setup for a Noob
 

So I've finally gotten around to getting my own set up... After much research, I settled on the Rancilio Sylvia V3, paired with the Rocker (doser) and the matching stand. I read that the stock Sylvia tamper is garbage, so after a little more research on optimal weight and shape, I picked up a tamper from an outfit on eBay called Precision Tamper Maker, based out of Florida... 58mm stainless steel base and handle, "semi-flat" base shape.

I'm thinking I'm about ready to pull some terrible (and then hopefully eventually not so terrible) shots... Well as soon as all the gear arrives in the post, that is.

Am I missing anything, besides beans and patience? Should anything else on the Sylvia or Rocky be swapped out, or does the tamper upgrade cover it?

Thanks in advance, people who are even weirder about espresso than me...
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,675
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Fri Nov 8, 2013, 7:17am
Subject: Re: Setup for a Noob
 

I wish you had asked us before sending money to buy things.
Sylvia is a good and solid machine but in todays market, equally able machines can be purchased for less. The same is true with Rocky, it is a stepped grinder and while it has good build quality, it is no longer the leader for home use. Stepless is really the way to go and good stepless grinders can be purchased at an equal cost.

What you bought is not a bad setup, just a dated one at more expense than other equal setups can be purchased for. The problem with the internet is the data is not flushed from the system so to speak as time moves on. A lot of the very good reviews on both pieces of gear are several years old and do not reflect the market as it is today.

You might want to think about not opening the boxes as they arrive until you do more research to be sure they are what you want.

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,971
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Fri Nov 8, 2013, 8:40am
Subject: Re: Setup for a Noob
 

+1

However, you did go ahead and purchase a high end tamper.  I don't disagree with your tamper decision at all, but should caution you that tamping is a very small and less significant part of the entire process.  Regarding your tamper purchase (again, not saying I disagree with your choice at all), optimal size and weight are somewhat user dependent (optimum size is determined by your basket(s), while optimum weight is determined by what feels good in your hand...same as optimum handle size and shape.  

Regarding the Silvia and Rocky combo.  I hope you didn't pay full retail price.  Both of these items have been recently (as in, within the past week) posted on the BST forum here, seemingly in good condition.  As Wayne said, maybe you can return them still?  If that's a possiblity, then you should post answers to all the questions in the sticky at the top of this particular forum page.

The Rancilio base is excellent, and since it comes with a knock drawer, you don't need to buy a box. Of course, if you do end up returning the Silvia and Rocky, then the base probably won't do you any good (depending on the size of the gear you end up with).

You'll need a frothing pitcher, unless you don't plan to ever make milk drinks.  Some people like a thermometer.  You also may want a supply of bar towels.  Other stuff to get/consider...machine cleaner, descaling powder, a blind pf basket insert, a firm nylon bristle brush, a soft brush for cleaning out your grinder, grinder cleaner (Grindz), a spare group gasket and shower screen.

Also, read the Easy Guide to Better Espresso at Home on www.espressomyespresso.com It's article 12 under the how-to section.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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TheShakes
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Nov 2013
Posts: 4
Location: CA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Nov 9, 2013, 5:29am
Subject: Re: Setup for a Noob
 

Aw geez... Hours of research quickly debunked, ha ha. So much for my attempt at clever consumerism. Definitely should have come here before I opened the wallet.

Well, I didn't pay full retail, but I didn't exactly score a steal, either. I paid $575 shipped for the Sylvia V3, new in the box, from a large coffee equipment seller on eBay (they are an authorized dealer, so full factory warranty) and $269 for the Rocky doser, which is factory refurbished and sold by Whole Latte Love... The stand was $100, new, and also from Whole Latte Love. I'm unsure what retail is on the Rocky or the stand, but I think the Sylvia is supposed to be what, $999 or something? Although many places I saw had it for $639. I guess I was able to score everything for a little bit less than "street price", but nothing to brag about.

All-in cost (including shipping) for the Sylvia, Rocky, and stand was $944. I saw a site that had this whole set for $1094 shipped, so I guess I saved just $150 off that. Plus my grinder is refurbished, so I guess it can be argued that the deal is actually pretty identical, factoring that in.

So it appears I've overpaid for a rig that is matched in performance by less expensive options. Now I just need to figure out what those options are, ha ha. What would you guys recommend instead for roughly this money? I definitely want to keep it under a grand...
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,356
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Sat Nov 9, 2013, 6:40am
Subject: Re: Setup for a Noob
 

Yeh the Rocky has wide steps and can frustrate you as it's hard to dial in, then as beans age or change beans etc you'll find yourself all over teh place trying to dial and dose up/down to compensate. One I used had the steppless mod and still didn't care for it (granted I also prefer single dosing and that's a huge advantange to the Baratzas), however every once in awhile you can score them cheap and their a good deal and will last.

But as an example, I have a CC1 which is priced only a little more then the Silvia but way outperforms it, has a built in PID for full control of temp/preinfusion/dwell/timer etc, separate thermoblock for steaming (make milk based drinks way faster), has a huge boiler for this class at 17oz vs the Silvias 11 or 12oz I believe. And I have a Baratza Preciso, will it last a life time like the built like a tank Rocky... no, but I'll take it any day over the Rocky for espresso grinding. That combo should be under a grand. But just saying you have the Gaggia Classic which is priced quite cheaper then the Silvia but performs basically the same (can do the Silvia steam wand mod as well), Le'Lit has a PID'd machine for cheaper.

Your not alone, a lot of people buy that combo and come on here or home-barista b/c they read reviews online, and didn't realize so many of these reviews date back like 10+ years. That said the Silvia is a proven machine, but you have to work with it's quirks like temp surfing, or slow recovery after making a milk drink etc. If you keep the grinder too your gonna want to do the tape mod, and steppless mod.
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,014
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Nov 9, 2013, 9:59am
Subject: Re: Setup for a Noob
 

In my opinion, my used Oscar + new Vario w = about a grand and a stronger set up than rocky and Silvia.  Even with me having to add the vacuum breaker later I am happier longer with Oscar (2 years and counting) than I would be with any single boiler.  

But everyone starts somewhere.  If you can't return it or sell it then learn to surf and upgrade later.   We will help you spend your money then. :)

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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TheShakes
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Nov 2013
Posts: 4
Location: CA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Nov 9, 2013, 8:36pm
Subject: Re: Setup for a Noob
 

Thanks for all the great advice so far...

I can definitely return everything, and while I am budgeting this project, I'm lucky enough to be able to cover the cost of a new rig without waiting to ship the other stuff back and get the refund... So let the "helping me spend my money" begin.

I guess I'll stretch the total budget to $1200. Obviously under a grand is better, but I'm easy.

I should mention there are three caveats I have with gear, however:

First of all, nothing made in China. I know that limits me, but I have some experience here, in terms of the toxicity of metals, plastics or welding techniques sometimes used there, generally under-the-radar and unbeknownst to the manufacturer who's farming out the fabrication. I am aware that sometimes a product from, say, Italy may have parts or use metal sourced from China, but this is a lot easier for the manufacturer to verify as safe than some random weld on the inside of a boiler hidden deep in an assembled machine. As a noob here, I don't want to start a big thing, so that's all I'll say on that, and I'd love not to get sidetracked on it... But this is a deal-breaker for me.

Anything plastic that touches hot water should either be BPA-free or replaceable with a metal part. Like the made in China thing, this is also a deal-breaker.

Lastly, and this one is negotiable, I'd prefer a brass boiler over stainless steel. Not a ton of proof here (and again, I don't want to sidetrack things with a debate on it), but there are murmurings that brass is healthier, so cool. But again, not a deal-breaker.

I know, I probably sound like some health alarmist, but this machine is also for my girl... Who, while very cool and very beautiful, also happens to be a huge PITA health-new-age-yoga weirdo. It's a miracle she drinks coffee at all. She's just not going to stop being who she is, so if I want to keep the peace, I'd better get a machine she will drink the espresso out of, ha ha.

Finally, and this isn't a caveat, but more of a wish... A built-in PID would be nice.
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,054
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Sun Nov 10, 2013, 8:29am
Subject: Re: Setup for a Noob
 

TheShakes Said:

Thanks for all the great advice so far...

I can definitely return everything, and while I am budgeting this project, I'm lucky enough to be able to cover the cost of a new rig without waiting to ship the other stuff back and get the refund... So let the "helping me spend my money" begin.

I guess I'll stretch the total budget to $1200. Obviously under a grand is better, but I'm easy.

I should mention there are three caveats I have with gear, however:

First of all, nothing made in China. I know that limits me, but I have some experience here, in terms of the toxicity of metals, plastics or welding techniques sometimes used there, generally under-the-radar and unbeknownst to the manufacturer who's farming out the fabrication. I am aware that sometimes a product from, say, Italy may have parts or use metal sourced from China, but this is a lot easier for the manufacturer to verify as safe than some random weld on the inside of a boiler hidden deep in an assembled machine. As a noob here, I don't want to start a big thing, so that's all I'll say on that, and I'd love not to get sidetracked on it... But this is a deal-breaker for me.

Anything plastic that touches hot water should either be BPA-free or replaceable with a metal part. Like the made in China thing, this is also a deal-breaker.

Lastly, and this one is negotiable, I'd prefer a brass boiler over stainless steel. Not a ton of proof here (and again, I don't want to sidetrack things with a debate on it), but there are murmurings that brass is healthier, so cool. But again, not a deal-breaker.

I know, I probably sound like some health alarmist, but this machine is also for my girl... Who, while very cool and very beautiful, also happens to be a huge PITA health-new-age-yoga weirdo. It's a miracle she drinks coffee at all. She's just not going to stop being who she is, so if I want to keep the peace, I'd better get a machine she will drink the espresso out of, ha ha.

Finally, and this isn't a caveat, but more of a wish... A built-in PID would be nice.

Posted November 9, 2013 link

Sounds like the Crossland CC1 might be up your alley. For under $1000 it's a good bet with either the Baratza Preciso, Refurbed Vario from Baratza or a stepless grinder.

Bill from crossland usually has refurbed CC1's for under $600 and Baratza always has refurbed grinders
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TheShakes
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Nov 2013
Posts: 4
Location: CA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Nov 10, 2013, 7:08pm
Subject: Re: Setup for a Noob
 

The Crossland machines are made in China (Taiwan)...
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Burner0000
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,054
Location: Cambridge, Ontario Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, VFA Expres...
Grinder: Macap MX/VFA N1464/Kyocera...
Drip: Manual Drip, French Press
Roaster: Behmor 1600 / Sonofresco
Posted Mon Nov 11, 2013, 5:50am
Subject: Re: Setup for a Noob
 

TheShakes Said:

The Crossland machines are made in China (Taiwan)...

Posted November 10, 2013 link

Well then the Silvia is good enough to stick with.  I'd eventually look into a PID then if you really want it but myself I'm happy just temp surfing.  The Silvia may not be the "BEST" bang for your buck but it isn't far off.  Even the Rocky isn't to bad.  Both items are built well.  For now I'd enjoy what you have sitting on the counter and if both are maintained well you can sell and upgrade.  I've had my Silvia for 1.5yrs and have been using a stepped grinder for 2yrs.  I have just now went stepless.  A big benefit to a grinder like the Rocky is it has the ability to jump from espresso to press or drip very easily.
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