A huge step up in shot quality (for me) while being a better value than a Silvia
Positive Product Points
- Great shots with non-pressurized filters (these should be standard issue) - Steam demon - great microfoam - Great value for money
Negative Product Points
- Looks a bit dated and the front panel is an eyesore - Had a leak on my machine, since fixed - sounds like a common problem that could be eliminated - Twists a bit when you tighten down the PF - not a performance issue, but a bit disconcerting for a reasonably expensive appliance
I bought an SL-70 to replace/upgrade my Starbucks Barista that had about 6 years of duty on it. I had my heart set on a Silvia, but after lots of research decided on the SL-70 as I couldn't find a compelling case to spend the extra $ on the Rancilio. Paired with a SMP grinder, the results far exceed anything I was able to produce before with the Barista/Braun Burr combo (hey, we've all got to start somewhere). I will echo the sentiment that anything beyond a 1.5 oz shot stretches the SL-70 due to the smallish 53mm portafilter, but once you adjust to that it's all good.
Steam power is awesome in this machine and has allowed me to get great microfoam and the first signs of latte art - at least I can't blame the milk anymore!
On the less than glowing side, this is not the most visually striking machine, unless you like the 'bubbles under decals' look of the front panel. I think it takes away from the quality look as does the pronounced twisting of the upper body around the base when you insert the pf. Neither takes away from the horsepower of the machine, though. One actual quality problem was a leak in the supply line that was somewhat troublesome, but through research here I was able to fix it myself. Sounds like this leak is a common problem and should be addressed at the factory.
I have a brother with a Silvia and have had the chance to use that a bit. To me, other than a more industrial appearance, somewhat sturdier build and the 3-way solenoid of the Silvia, the SL-70 is a very appealing alternative as it can produce a shot that is every bit as good as those from the Silvia. If I was in the same position again, I think I'd make the same choice.
1st Line was a pleasure to deal with even though I went against the sales person's advice to get a Silvia. I got the machine in 2 days and everything was in order. They will probably get my business again when I upgrade my grinder. I got the free Panettone as part of a holiday promo and that was a nice bonus.