After this machine, you can almost compete with proffessional baristas!
Positive Product Points
Consistent Flavor and Crema; Amazing steaming power
Negative Product Points
There are some brew temperature prb's....Thinking of PID
So in the span of a year the Rancilio is my third espresso machine!!
So I started off with a steam powered Mr.Coffee given as gift. I got a blade grinder. Then as my espresso passion grew...one fine day my wifey bought me a Krups Novo 2300 and a can of Illy. Whoa....that was a whole different ballgame.... couldnt believe the quality of espresso I was getting over a steam machine... the Illy worked pretty well on the machine, but then came the onslaught of beans from all over...I finally figured that the grinder was the cause of my pains due to inconsistent espresso flavor and crema. In comes the Solis Mulino...bang I am up there again. Then I discovered the Coffee kid website....and I was indroduced to the pressurized portafilter....I get rid of the pressure disc in my Krups portafiler....whoom...yet another leap....I get the best consistent cups I have ever got from Peets roasts.....but I am still unhappy. I still could not duplicate Espresso Roma(Berkeley) cappa at home.
Was it time to upgrade....wifey couldnt believe it....Spent long hours reading reviews at the Coffee kid ..... the Silvia it seemed, but no image on the web did justice. Other machines I researched were Gaggia classic or Baby, the Tebe, the Starbucks Athena, Solis SL90, and the Saeco Classico....the finalists were Tebe, Gaggia Classic and the Silvia.
I was just so thrilled with the Silvia...though I had initial worries about tamping and grind requirements....it looks like I was already doing a hell of a picky job with my previous machine....so that was no hassle at all...I was already heating the portafilters and all other things picky baristas do to prime their home machine.
After, surfing for a while, I found 1-st line equipment and got a deal on a Silvia. So the Silvia arrives....got me fresh Espresso Roma beans...voila....I was there!!!! I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. This was it the ultimate espresso I had ever made at home. Unbelievable...I could finally taste the elsuive seediness in the espresso shot...ummmmmm.....'the guiness effect'....it was all true...caffe nirvana!
The steamer.....enough said on this site already....amazing dry steam and lots of it.
I think all the pains of grind and tamp fickiness is a small price to pay for amazing espresso...cup after cup after cup....hm wait....I do have extraction problems when, - if I brew instantly after switching the Silvia on using Marks cheat method gives great results....but a few espresso shots later....no crema....yucky black shots...I attribute that to bad temp control. - if I had the machine on for 30-45min before I brew....not a single decent shot! hmm....so I just switch the Silvia on when I need it...and I got an appliance timer to give a 5min warm up time before I show up in the kitchen. - had no luck with brewing after steaming!!! brew in heated cups first and steam in but later.
So looks like my next project will be a PID controller for the Silvia.
But the espresso is just amazing.....my friends are sick of hearing me talk about it. Wait till master the art of microfroth and then I will have myself an Espresso party. Another word of caution for newbies.....MUST HAVE FRESH BEANS....cant have old beans lying around....the Silvia will espose them for what they are! I buy 1/2 lb beans 'just in time' on a weekly basis. Waiting for Cafe Vivace beans to show up tonite!!!
Cant thank Mark enough for his CoffeKid site that has posted so many insights on how to get the most out of the Silvia.....his cheating method works like a charm.
Post 3 month update:
Alright, my big beef was temperature consistency if one is planning to do lots of shots and a mix of steam and shot job. So, I got a PID controller off ebay for $50 + other components ($20) and got a neat system going. All my shots now are totally consistent. Recovery times between shots has become shorter too. With PID though, you cant rely on Silvia's light anymore...just use the digital readout to know that you are at your setpoint...ready to brew.