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Solis SL-70 - Fr. John Abraham's Review
Posted: May 25, 2003, 5:09am
review rating: 8.3
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
Solis SL-70
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Arrow The Solis SL-70 has 25 Reviews
Arrow The Solis SL-70 has been rated 7.21 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow Solis SL-70 reviews have been viewed 110,352 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
James Schulman 8.50
Steve Boothe 8.50
Fr. John Abraham 8.29
Mike Prince 8.20
Stan Malyshev 8.00

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 8.2
Manufacturer: Solis/Saeco Quality: 8
Average Price: $379.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $299.00 Cost vs. Value 9
Where Bought: Espressopeople.com Aesthetics 7
Owned for: 3 months Overall 8
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned:
Bottom Line: Would recommend to anyone in this budget range without hesitation.  Excellent espresso & milk drinks.  Very solid.
Positive Product Points

Excellent machine for both straight ristrettos (better than I've had anywhere) and milk based drinks (great steam).  Solidy built for the most part.  Great capacities for the boiler and reservoir.  Quite fast overall.

Negative Product Points

Though quite solid there is a bit of body racking when positioning the PF.  As stated in the detailed review here, the front facing is a bit cheap.  Would like to see stiffer side panels.  Also, though the PF handle seems fairly solid it could be better.

Detailed Commentary

I have owned the SL70 for three months now and have had very little to complain about.  After researching machines in this price range for some months I settled on the SL70 because of the excellent reviews here and the advice of those at Espressopeople.com where I bought the machine.  I needed a machine for about $300 that would be capable of producing four lattes at a time.  With some tweaking I can now manage 4-5 in a row.

I was definitely impressed with the packaging.  Well, as impressed as you can be with packaging anyhow.   I removed the machine and had it running within minutes.  I did, I admit, read the manual, something I normally avoid.  But since I had no experience with pump machines I thought I should start off on the right foot.  I was immediately impressed with the heft of the PF and the overall weight of the machine.  The warmer plate on top is very nice, will hold about 6 espresso cups, but unfortunately could be a bit warmer in my opinion.  The water reservoir is quite large, big enough that I only fill it every few days, pulling 4-8 doubles per day.  The drip tray is sufficient but would have been nice in metal and a bit larger.  As for the controls, I couldn’t be happier, solid, well designed and simple, including the steam knob.

After turning on the SL70 I was up and running in about 15 minutes or half that once I learned to run a few ounces of hot water through the group head and PF.  My initial shot was horrid, I under packed, over ground (blade grinder) and pulled much too quick.  A few more tries and I was pulling half-way decent shots.  The pump seemed quite strong and I have yet to this day found it difficult to choke the machine.  After a week or so I found that I was definitely going to need a better grinder and to upgrade my filter baskets from the supplied pressurized versions to the aftermarket non-pressurized.  I ordered 5 of the aftermarket filters and finally settled on a Rocky grinder.  The difference was remarkable.  I was now pulling 1.5 oz. ristrettos in 23-27 seconds.  The crema was very rich, so much so that I rarely see any black coffee in a well pulled shot.  The Guinness effect is fantastic.  Really the best I have had anywhere, so far.  As for milk based drinks, I usually make 3-4 lattes every morning, all at once!  The steam on this machine is fantastic and produces excellent micro foam with little practice.  The SL70 is ready to steam in less than 2 minutes.  My pattern is this:  I grind, fill and tamp (about 30lbs) as many baskets as I need, in this case 3.  Prepare all my cups and my frothing pitcher with milk.  I pull all three shots (since there is no 3 way valve on the SL70 there is a wait time of approx. 20 seconds before you can switch out the PF) and cover each cup with a saucer to keep the espresso hot.  I switch over to steam, clear the wand of water, and steam about 10oz. milk in about a minute or so.  I realize this method is a bit unorthodox , especially where pulling consecutive shots with a non-HX machine are concerned, but it works well and I am a bit less finicky with milk based drinks than I am with straight espressos.

Overall I couldn’t recommend the SL70 more.  The non-pressurized filters are a must, as is a decent grinder.  Pulling as many shots and making as many lattes a day as I do I have been tempted to upgrade to an HX machine, however as I have perfected my system I have found that I will keep the SL70 for quite some time as it is a real trooper.  I think I would find it hard to beat this machine without going to the $700+ range.

Buying Experience

Espressopeople.com.  Lowest price and free shipping.  Very nice people.

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review rating: 8.3
Posted: May 25, 2003, 5:09am
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
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