NobbyR Senior Member Joined: 10 Jul 2011 Posts: 2,041 Location: Germany Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo Vac Pot: N/A Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe Roaster: N/A
Posted Wed Nov 20, 2013, 2:40am Subject: Re: Some Noob question about Rancilio Machine
Welcome to CoffeeGeek!
The Rancilio Silvia being a single boiler dual use (SBDU) machine requires temperature surfing in order to be able to pull your shots at a consistent brewing temperature, i.e. you aim to start the shot at a specific point of the heating cycle of the machine and thus at a more or less precise temperature. This routine is pretty simple and effective and needs no upgrading. However, if you want to avoid temp surfing, you'll have to equip your machine with a PID, which minimizes the temperature difference between high and low. Installing a PID takes some do-it-yourself handiness though.
As far as the differences between the Silvia models are concerned, from what I know they're only details, but no major improvements:
V1 - no adjustable OPV. Older version drip tray (all circular holes). Older version (non ball joint) steam wand and knob. The copper pipe for the steam arm and its attachment to the boiler is a slightly different design.
V2 - adjustable OPV. I think the rest is the same as the V1, with the possible exception of the drip tray. Im not sure if all V2s have the older drip tray or not, some do.
V3 - adjustable OPV. New style ball joint steam wand and boiler attachment. New design steam knob. New design drip tray and brew head collar. New design portafilter handle.
*** "This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
Posted Wed Nov 20, 2013, 5:42am Subject: Re: Some Noob question about Rancilio Machine
No need to replace the thermstats if you purchased a V1/V2 model second hand but it wouldn't hurt to get one for down the road if your considering upgrading with V3 parts.. I would strongly suggest at least getting the V3 steam wand for better frothing control. The rest are looks. To touch base on temp surfing.. After I warm up the machine I fill a shot glass with water from the brewhead to start the temp cycle then I prepare my shot. depending on what I'm preparing and how tired I am in the morning I usually start brewing within a min of the brew light turning off. I've always got consistent results. :) (Flush, prepare, and brew.)
Posted Wed Nov 20, 2013, 8:13am Subject: Re: Some Noob question about Rancilio Machine
It's really not as hard as it sounds. all your doing is reheating the boiler (takes about 30sec) before brewing. After the 3rd time you will have a handle on it. Personally I've been lazy and brewed with the boiler at it's lowest temperature and still got a tasty cup. For now just enjoy the machine. Worry about temp surfing and such when you have your routine down pat.
Posted Wed Nov 20, 2013, 9:48am Subject: Re: Some Noob question about Rancilio Machine
I would also break the V1 version down further: V1a - bolted-in heating element replaceable separately from boiler body. Design proved to be prone to leakage. V1b - welded-in heating element is now part of the boiler top half. Both of these had the spring style OPV which could only be adjusted by the use of washers and was not meant to be adjusted by the user.
The later models had no significant updates that would have potential to improve the coffee other than the adjustable OPV which is marginally valuable because of the lack of pressure gauge on this machine. After +/-14 years on the market it still makes about the same quality of espresso as it always has. Most all other changes have been either cosmetic or (presumably) to make production faster or easier or to enhance visual appeal (new steam wand and drip tray cover design).
Based on that, if buying a used one, I would be more concerned over the water that has been used and the maintenance schedule the machine being considered has experienced.
Skylar Senior Member Joined: 15 Apr 2004 Posts: 137 Location: New Jersey Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: lelit espresso Grinder: lelit grinder Vac Pot: B. D. Electric Drip: chemex Roaster: wok roast and popper, heat...
Posted Wed Nov 20, 2013, 7:14pm Subject: Re: Some Noob question about Rancilio Machine
The grinder you have will not allow you to get the best out of your Silvia, I fear. Sad, but true (and I am a living, breathing example) we tend to try to "get away" with grinders that really are not capable of grinding for espresso. I went through three before breaking down and spending an appropriate amount for my current one. The rule is that the grinder is more important than the espresso machine.
I do not know what is available in your area but please consider saving for a good espresso capable grinder which is stepless. Around here in the USA they tend to be available new for 250 - 300 dollars. Yes, and those are the cheap ones. Of course you could buy a hand grinder and do it that way if you are willing to put in the work.
Freshly roasted beans, used within 10 days of the ROAST DATE not the "use by" date are vital and they need to be ground right before brewing.
Have I depressed you yet?
OK. The good news. You don't need a bottomless portafilter to get crema. That tool is to help see if your distribution of grounds in the filter is good.
Those fresh beans and a good grinder is what you need, believe me.
Posted Wed Nov 20, 2013, 9:43pm Subject: Re: Some Noob question about Rancilio Machine
When I had my Silvia I never made an espresso that didn't have crema. That's easy with a good grinder. The grinder is more important than the espresso machine. If someone asked me if they should get a $900 grinder to go with their $450 espresso machine I would say YES!
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