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Topic: Silvia-to PID or not to PID? (17 msgs / 452 lines)
1) From: Jeremy DeFranco
Hello everyone,
     I am considering purchasing a Rancilio Silvia, but I don't know whether
or not it would be worth it to spend extra money on a PID for it. I know
lots of people on this list have a Silvia, and so I figure there is no
better place to ask this question than this list. It seems as though the
argument for a PID is consistancy. But, is there really a problem with
consistancy on this machine? I always hear such great things about this
machine, and never hear anyone without a PID complain about consistancy.
Please help me out on this one. Thank you in advance for your comments,
Jeremy.

2) From: Michael Dhabolt
Jeremy,
miKe...........??
Barry...........??
I'm sure they'll show up soon.
Mike (just plain)

3) From: Brett Mason
Silvia good
PIDd Silvia better
HX machine even better
Dual Boiler even more Better
Sweet Marias Priceless
Everything else - well there's MasterCard
Brett
On 11/6/06, Jeremy DeFranco  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
Cheers,
Bretthttp://homeroast.freeservers.com

4) From: Barry Luterman
Right here I am. The Silvia has a band thermostat it can vary up to 12 
degrees. To fairly well know where you are one has to surf the machine. This 
can be a real pain in addition to having to wait for the temp to reach steam 
capability. As you may know espresso, to be perfect, the temperature must be 
right on. A few degrees difference can be the difference between a sink shot 
and a G-d shot. Without a PID you never know exactly the heat of the shot. 
Thus the need to surf to get the temp as near as possible to the ideal temp. 
The time needed to surf plus the time needed to wait for steaming translates 
to an enormous time spent with the machine in the kitchen when company comes 
over. We had 2 couples over once and everyone wanted Cappos I spent the 
entire time in the kitchen with erratic results some were great some were 
good (I never admit to sink shot). With the addition of a PID surfing is no 
longer needed and your shots are all consistent. The cost of the PID is not 
really that much. I would never go back to an unPID' Silvia.

5) From: Barry Luterman
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Most important e61 group head. All else bells and whistles

6) From: raymanowen
I wouldn't supercharge it or install a racing cam and 180 exhaust until =
I
got pretty good driving it with the standard engine.
If you start off with all Hell's Bells, gold plating and fuzzy dice, you
will miss the point that the most important part of brewing espresso is not
even IN the espresso machine. Granted, you start the shot correctly by
roasting the very best green coffee however you like it.
Between aging and brewing, most people destroy potentially gorgeous coffee
with an ungorgeous Edsel (that looks like a Tijuana Cat House) grinder. The
coffee is at the mercy of the grinder.
If Grinder M is big, ugly and heavy- who cares, if it's controllable,
repeatable and consistent? Make way for the BUFF if you're half-serious
about coffee.
Cheers -RayO, aka Opa!
My song Stang-

7) From: Barry Luterman
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
A PID to a Silvia is like a new timing belt to a supercharged car with =
100,000 miles on the old timing belt. You constantly say why didn't I do =
this 6 mos age

8) From: LInda Reese
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Brett, you do have a way with words! Linda

9) From: Greg Scace
Hi:
The stock thermoswitches used in consumer espresso machines have a 
pretty wide deadband.   I forget how big they are in the Silvia, but 
they are large enough that temperature surfing is definitely an 
improvement over just blindly using the machine.  PID transforms the 
machine into something pretty special because you can tweak brew 
temperature in small increments, and the stability of the system ends 
up being better than a lot of prosumer heat exchanger 
machines.  Regarding your comment that you never hear folks without a 
PID complaining - I bet you never heard people in the 1600s going 
"Damn, what we need here is a car."
If they hain't used it, the ain't knowin what they's missing.
Now a question for you.  Where are you in your espresso journey?  Is 
this your first machine?  Got a good grinder yet?  The PID stuff is 
great, but don't let it distract you from perfecting your 
technique.  Without fresh coffee (which I presume you got covered 
since you're posting here), proper grinding, and consistent dosing 
and distribution, you ain't gonna get the results you want on a 
consistent basis anyway, if at all.
I'd buy the tool with the PID installed, but realize that it is just 
a tool and not a substitute for crappy technique.  It ain't a magic ticket.
-Greg
At 11:14 PM 11/6/2006, you wrote:
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10) From: Les
Greg,
One outside observation I have made.  Many people on this list who
have PIDed their Miss Silvias end up upgrading to a better machine
within a year.  So maybe upgrading to a PID leads to upgrade fever.  I
may be just a better move to go to a Bric or Brewtus right away.  For
the cost of a PIDed Silvia you could get an HX Exopbar Office Pulsar.
I have the Office Control, and really like it.  So you would have a
modified E-61 with HX and less chance for upgrade fever.
Les
On 11/7/06, LInda Reese  wrote:
<Snip>

11) From: Vince Doss
Les brings up a good point, I am getting my Silvia modified now, but only
because I purchased it used from the list here. I will use it for a while
and then pass it on to another start-up and then upgrade. There are many
variables to this decision, money being only one. I wish I had a mentor to
show me what a "perfect" shot is like. Sometimes finding these things out on
your own, while rewarding, can be drag....You dont know what you dont know.
I did get discouraged trying to Temperature surf when I first got her
though.
On 11/7/06, Les  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
At some point between French and fire, it really doesn't matter much what
the "origin character" of the coffee was...
Tom Owens - Sweet Marias

12) From: Greg Scace
Yeah, you're right on that although the OP asked if he should get the 
PID thing or not.  I don't have any experience with the 
Office.  Theres's certainly utility in being able to brew and steam 
together, and I don't think I would wanna go back to a single boiler 
machine.  However I don't think the shot quality from a PID silvia is 
worse than from a prosumer hx machine.  Pressure rampup from e-61s 
driven by vibe pumps is very gentle, which makes them pretty tolerant 
of some technique faults.  On the other hand, temperature control on 
machines whose boiler pressure is set at 1.2 bars and above is not 
that good.  Machines I have tested often brew very hot, requiring 
another flushing regimen to  be learned.  Then again, that brewing 
and steaming thing is really useful.
Yours is a good point, and well worth considering.
-Greg
At 11:15 AM 11/7/2006, you wrote:
<Snip>

13) From: Jim Russell
Jeremy,
I had my Silvia about 5 years before I finally PID'd it.  I don't think my
shots with the PID are any better than they were before, but they are far
more consistent.  It's very nice to know that if I grind the coffee the same
and pack it the same, as long as the Silvia is properly heated up, I'm going
to get a very good shot.  I can't remember the last time I had a sink shot
since I got my PID set up properly.
That being said, I think that in the  long run, you'll be missing out if you
take the short cut of buying a pre-PID'd Silvia.  Temperature surfing all
those years probably helped my technique.  When Silvia is variable, you've
got to be extra careful that all your other steps are consistent.  For
really good espresso, you need a really good, consistent grinder.  My Mazzer
Super Jolly consistently cranks out uniform grinds every day.
That's not to say that you shouldn't get the PID'd Sylvia.  What you do is
your choice.  Some people jump in to things with both feet, others step in
slowly.  Either way you go, you'll get a great machine.
Jim
On 11/6/06, Jeremy DeFranco  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
Roasting them almost as fast as they come

14) From: Jeremy DeFranco
This will be my second machine. I have been using a Saeco Magic Cappucino
for about 4-5 years now, and I just got into homeroasting 7 months ago.
Before I knew any real facts about making quality espresso,  I thought this
machine was great- great crema all the time, seemed to taste good. I thought
I was top of the mountain with my capresso burr grinder (which ground some
of the beans into big chunks, and some of the beans into fine powder), Saeco
Magic, and always expensive coffee beans. To make a long-story short, when I
began Homeroasting, I realized that Homeroasting and the Saeco Magic just
don't go together. The crema I get from this machine is "fake"! The machine
forces the espresso through a rubber layer to produce what looks like real
crema, but is surely fake. Sure, I started using a Solis Maestro Plus, and
started properly dosing my shots, and aimed for that 25 second shot, and
this all made a huge difference. But it still just wasn't "real" espresso.
So to answer your question, I am aware that a lot goes into a properly
pulled shot of espresso. I may not have the dream grinder yet, but I'm
thinking the Solis Maestro Plus should be suitable for now. I am looking
forward to moving further along on this lifelong journey.
---Greg Scace wrote:
Now a question for you.  Where are you in your espresso journey?  Is
this your first machine?  Got a good grinder yet?  The PID stuff is
great, but don't let it distract you from perfecting your
technique.  Without fresh coffee (which I presume you got covered
since you're posting here), proper grinding, and consistent dosing
and distribution, you ain't gonna get the results you want on a
consistent basis anyway, if at all.

15) From: raymanowen
...bet you never heard people in the 1600s going "Damn, what we need here is
a car."
Or rather, "Drat- What is this user-operated carriage that can't even
navigate a small stream, burns fuel and uses rubber tires we don't have- and
the spark has to be generated by a Wimhurst machine? Saddle one of the
horses...  We have no suitable roadways- What the Sam Hell should we do with
it for the next Quarter Millenium?"
If the PID temperature control were properly set up, it wouldn't be just
better than XYZ- it would be like the Rock of Gibraltar. Lacking a good
installation, it would be a supreme waste. It's not even close to being
"plug and play."
Then the Grinder would finally have to be dealt with.
I don't own a Silvia, but I wouldn't deprecate or modify it right out of the
box before I learned how to best use it on its own merits. The machines that
have been recklessly PID'd probably have been bastardized to the point that
arbitrary temperature sensor placement has forced the temperature control
loop into an unstable mode.
"Wild" could describe the water temperature excursions going into the
portafilter. Interesting espresso.
Cheers -RayO, aka Opa!
-- 
When is upgrading actually downgrading?

16) From: miKe mcKoffee
IMO rather than buying a new Silvia with PID you'd be better off stretching
the budget a bit more (and not that much more at all) for either a single
boiler E61 machine or E61 HX machine. If you're absolutely sure you won't be
making milk based drinks but very seldom look long and hard at machines like
Quick Mill Alexia or Fiorenzato Colombina. Either of those with PID would be
extremely super stable shot work horses whether pulling one or two shots or
one or two dozen shots. And they'd be better and faster at going from shot
to steam to shot than Silva too. HX machines shine in convenience of
immediate shot to steam to shot OR even shot AND steaming simultaneously. HX
machines add the routine of cooling flush from idle AND shot temp flush
management. A couple of excellent sub $1k (ok barely sub $1k) E61 HX
machines out there. Only way around the HX surf is either hassle steaming
(single boiler) OR go dual boiler (mucho more $ and very limited options
unless way way mucho more money!)
As Silvia's price has risen over the years HX prices have come down AND new
E61 single boiler machines have come out. Silvia isn't the great deal she
once was IMO. Still a decent machine to be sure, but in today's market IMO
either a $200 Gaggia or a E61 based machine better ways to go.
Kona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffee
URL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://mdmint.home.comcast.net/coffee/Rosto_mod.htmUltimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment
found exploring the many divergent foot steps of Those who have gone before.
	From: homeroast-admin
[mailto:homeroast-admin] On Behalf Of Jeremy DeFranco
	Sent: Monday, November 06, 2006 8:14 PM
	
	Hello everyone,
	     I am considering purchasing a Rancilio Silvia, but I don't know
whether or not it would be worth it to spend extra money on a PID for it. I
know lots of people on this list have a Silvia, and so I figure there is no
better place to ask this question than this list. It seems as though the
argument for a PID is consistancy. But, is there really a problem with
consistancy on this machine? I always hear such great things about this
machine, and never hear anyone without a PID complain about consistancy.
Please help me out on this one. Thank you in advance for your comments,
Jeremy.

17) From: Greg Scace
Ya know, you might really wanna get yourself a portafilter for your 
Saeco that doesn't have the crema enhancer, and then consider getting 
yourself a really kick assed grinder.  That might seem bass ackwards, 
but the grinder is extremely important.  I'd recommend you score a 
Mazzer mini first.  Then I'd save my pennies and make the jump beyond 
the Silvia.  The PID Silvia is a great machine, but Mike is right 
that there are other options there that don't cost a whole lot more 
and will give you more functionality.  Functionally they will be a 
bigger step forward from what you are using now than doing the Silvia thing.
My opinion is that your rate limiter is your grinder, which really is 
pretty marginal for espresso.
-Greg
At 06:24 PM 11/7/2006, you wrote:
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