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Solis SL-90 - Gene Vance's Review
Posted: June 10, 2005, 6:29am
review rating: 7.4
feedback: (0) comments | read | write
Solis SL-90
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More About This Product
Arrow The Solis SL-90 has 26 Reviews
Arrow The Solis SL-90 has been rated 7.98 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow Solis SL-90 reviews have been viewed 114,619 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Rick Waits 9.50
Rohan Durrant 9.50
Rob Novak 7.87
Mark Thacker 7.66
Mark Prince 7.63

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 5.4
Manufacturer: Solis/Saeco Quality: 5
Average Price: $449.00 Usability: 8
Price Paid: $450.00 Cost vs. Value 4
Where Bought: Whole Latte Love Aesthetics 5
Owned for: 3 years Overall 5
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: No
Similar Items Owned: Capresso, Braun
Bottom Line: Nice idea which should be executed with higher quality parts
Positive Product Points

Very easy to use.  The volume of shots may be set in easy increments using push buttons.  Once the volume is set, repeating is a cinch.  

The setup is very intuitive, and, if the machine is working, the quality is consistent.  

When you use the pressure baskets which come with it, you will get very good-looking crema every time, without worrying much about tamp or the volume of the pull.
Large water tank capacity

Makes a very good latte and a decent espresso, though good espresso requires ditching the pressure basket which comes with it.

Negative Product Points

Cheap plastic construction,
Electronic parts which failed
Espresso quality is not first rate
Once steam is engaged, it takes time to get back to brewing
Cup warmer is worthless
Height is too low over drip rail
Not as reliable as I had hoped.

Detailed Commentary

I purchased this machine after comparing features.  I wanted a machine which would upgrade the quality of the espresso from the cheap models purchased locally, and still be usable by my wife, who is not an equipment geek.  I purchased the SL90 on line and it shipped quickly.

However, WLL sent me TWO of the machines.  I will fill in the details below, but if I hadn't acted, I would have gotten two machines for the price of one.  In retrospect, I almost regret my honesty, because I could have used the second machine for parts.

The water tank is a cheap plastic affair with the quality of a disposable Ziplock tub.  It easily slips out of your hand while installing or removing it, and it breaks.  That was my first $40 repair.

The screen in the brew group quickly fills with oily deposits and must be cleaned often.  This is not a big deal, except that the short height above the drip tray makes removing the screen with a screwdriver a bit tricky.

The pressure basket which came with the machine clogged up after one year and was useless.

The basket retainer on the portafilter broke right away, making it impossible to use a knock box for grounds.  I now need to let the basket drop into the sink and rinse it.   These days, the grounds are seldom dry anyway, unless the basket stays on the brew group for a while.

Two months after the warranty expires, the machine stopped working entirely.  The motherboard was blown.  Yes, this machine relies upon a motherboard which costs more than many computer mainboards.   After sending back the machine and going without our espresso drinks for a month or so (and paying triple digit bucks) the machine came back working.

Now, the brew group gasket is falling apart, and its not readily apparent where to get one.  After the number of years and shots on this machine, I would be happy if this had been the type of problem I experienced.  However, it was not.  The machine does not generate enough temperature of pressure to produce a dry pellet.

The machine makes nice lattes, and its Americanos are also quite nice, especially with cream.   Espresso shots are good if you purchase the optional non-pressure baskets.  The pressure baskets which come with the machine make something that looks like crema every time.  However, when I purchased the pro baskets, which require a careful tamp and attention to grind, crema depends more upon getting it right, and the flavor difference is significant.   When you get crema without the pressure basket, you have a nice shot.   This basket should come with the machine, rather than as an option.

If I had it to do again, I would spend a bit more and buy a quality prosumer machine.

Buying Experience

I purchased from Whole Latte Love.  I think it was because I changed my color preference, but they ended up sending me two machines.   One shipped from WLL and one shipped from the distributer, Baratza, LLC.   I notified them repeatedly, but they did not pick up the second machine for almost a year.  It sat in a large box in my garage the entire time.  They sent me some free coffee and accessories for my honesty.   Unfortunately, my machine started to fail shortly after I returned the second machine.

The folks at WLL have been very friendly and helpful, although they have been a bit slow in getting back to me on the gasket.   I would defninitely buy from them again, but I would buy a different machine.

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review rating: 7.4
Posted: June 10, 2005, 6:29am
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