HomeRoast Digest


Topic: Rancilio Silvia (6 msgs / 254 lines)
1) From: John
I would love to get an espresso machine for my home.  I've been reading about the Rancilio Silvia   And wanted to get some opinions. I'm not opposed to the price but I've read that it might be expensive for what your getting. Creating foam is not a priority for me. I love a flavorful shot straight up. Any comments anyone. 
John
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2) From: Barry Luterman
The Silvia is the espresso machine I broke in on. She is a demanding
unforgiving mistress. One little error in preparation and the shot is
sorely damaged. However, if you master her she is capable of producing
outstanding shots. There is probably no better machine to learn on.
Master her and when you move up to a more complete machine you will
have little or no trouble producing consistent excellent shots.
Pros:
Good resale value
2 way valve.
heavy construction (retains heat)
Easy to clean and maintain
If you are not  using foaming much or pulling multiple shots convenient to =
use
Seldom needs repair. Very well built
Cons:
Broad thermostat shots can vary wildly in temperature.. Shots
seemingly pulled exactly the same can vary from bitter to excellent to
weak. Can be overcome with installation of a PID bur at more expense.
Time consuming pulling multiple shots even with PID. If you have
company expect to spend a long time in kitchen pulling shots.
If doing a lot of steaming (and that does happen with company) machine
is way too slow and a bit difficult to clean. Consider a double
boiler.
Because the machine is so well built if you do decide to upgrade when
the machine starts to age and require repairs. You will have to wait a
long long time. But as I said it does have good resale value and is a
great machine for learning and use for one person having an occasional
shot of espresso with no steamed milk added.
On Tue, May 22, 2012 at 10:47 PM, John  wrote:
<Snip>
 about the Rancilio Silvia   And wanted to get some opinions. I'm not opp=
osed to the price but I've read that it might be expensive for what your ge=
tting. Creating foam is not a priority for me. I love a flavorful shot stra=
ight up. Any comments anyone.
<Snip>
mariascoffee.com
<Snip>
a>
<Snip>
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Homeroasthttp://lists.sweetmariascoffee.com/mailman/listinfo/homeroast_lists.sweetma=riascoffee.com
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3) From: John Stewart
I would agree with and second the points below.  I started with and still=
 have a Silvia.  I did some research and actually purchased the PID befor=
e the Silvia, so I've only used it with a PID in place.
Also, I heeded advice and purchased a good grinder first - mazzer major.
I'm a hands on type, so I installed the PID with no problem.  I bought my=
 silvia version 1 used a couple of years ago.  It has produced many good =
shots.  The only time I'm frustrated with it is when I'm in a hurry and m=
aking steamed milk drinks.  It steams well with good power, and with the =
PID in place it has good temperature control for extraction.  Moving betw=
een espresso extraction and steaming takes time for heating or cooling.  =
As noted previously if you plan to serve steamed milk drinks to a party, yo=
u will spend a lot of time Silvia and not as much time with your other frie=
nds.
I take good care of the machine, and I've had no problems for more than two=
 years of twice daily use.  I use filtered water, and I clean the filter =
screen and group head gasket every week or two.  I don't black flush - as=
 I've seen confusing reports on that.
I did some research and tweaked the pressure - my version allows some adjus=
tment, but it didn't make much difference.
Overall I've been pleased.  Two advantages of the Silvia I've realized ar=
e robust construction and wide spread use - enough that advice and Internet=
 guides are easy to find.  To upgrade, I would want the ability to pull s=
hots and steam milk at the same time, have a bigger drip tray, and have bet=
ter pressure control.  I occasionally get the urge to upgrade - but the n=
ext step up in functionality is quite a dramatic step up in price, and I'm =
not sure that I need another $2k sitting on my kitchen counter.
John
 From: Barry Luterman 
To: "A list to discuss home coffee roasting. There are rules for this list,=
 available athttp://www.sweetmarias.com/maillistinfo.html" =
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 8:38 AM
Subject: Re: [Homeroast] Rancilio Silvia
 =
The Silvia is the espresso machine I broke in on. She is a demanding
unforgiving mistress. One little error in preparation and the shot is
sorely damaged. However, if you master her she is capable of producing
outstanding shots. There is probably no better machine to learn on.
Master her and when you move up to a more complete machine you will
have little or no trouble producing consistent excellent shots.
Pros:
Good resale value
2 way valve.
heavy construction (retains heat)
Easy to clean and maintain
If you are not  using foaming much or pulling multiple shots convenient t=
o use
Seldom needs repair. Very well built
Cons:
Broad thermostat shots can vary wildly in temperature.. Shots
seemingly pulled exactly the same can vary from bitter to excellent to
weak. Can be overcome with installation of a PID bur at more expense.
Time consuming pulling multiple shots even with PID. If you have
company expect to spend a long time in kitchen pulling shots.
If doing a lot of steaming (and that does happen with company) machine
is way too slow and a bit difficult to clean. Consider a double
boiler.
Because the machine is so well built if you do decide to upgrade when
the machine starts to age and require repairs. You will have to wait a
long long time. But as I said it does have good resale value and is a
great machine for learning and use for one person having an occasional
shot of espresso with no steamed milk added.
On Tue, May 22, 2012 at 10:47 PM, John  wrote:
<Snip>
 about the Rancilio Silvia   And wanted to get some opinions. I'm not opp=
osed to the price but I've read that it might be expensive for what your ge=
tting. Creating foam is not a priority for me. I love a flavorful shot stra=
ight up. Any comments anyone.
<Snip>
mariascoffee.com
<Snip>
a>
<Snip>
Homeroast mailing list
Homeroasthttp://lists.sweetmariascoffee.com/mailman/listinfo/homeroast_lists.sweetma=riascoffee.com
Sweet Maria's Forum
Our new Coffee Library
Homeroast mailing list
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4) From: Sandy Andina
Thant's pretty much why, after a couple of years, I realized I had to get a HX or dual-boiler machine.  Shots were not a problem with Silvia--I got the temp-surfing down pretty quickly; as for frothing, the small wand and boiler actually forced me to watch the thermometer and texture, with greater control over latte art. But it was getting frustrating and time-consuming to make more than a couple of lattes at a time.  Looking pretty much at price, I went for a Pasquini Livia 90A from a web-only consolidator. At first I had to replace a defective pressurestat, but had a couple of trouble-free years (other than the nightmare of removing an ossified group gasket). The steam wand was a bit too powerful to get controlled microfoam, but that was a minor quibble.  But then it began leaking like a sieve and would not stop running unless I unplugged it.  A local shop charged me a $200 repair/descaling fee, took it apart, could not get it to work again and offered me another brand of non-e61 HX machine......which, when they set it up, did exactly what the Livia was doing.  They took that back for repair, but then closed down before getting back to me. So I was out a machine and my $200.
During all that foofaraw I pressed Silvia back into service, and worked nobly if slowly.  Finally went to a local wholesaler/service shop recommended by my neighborhood roaster/espresso bar, decided I wanted an e61 group but didn't want to either have to direct-plumb a machine or buy 52mm accessories (the PF diameter of the shop's only consumer dual boiler) when I'd been using 58mm; so I was fine with another HX and ended up with a semiauto "La Cora," which is this shop's customized Andreja Premium (bigger pro knobs, bigger drip tray, better gauges & p'stat). Had it serviced a grand total of once (routine maintenance) since I bought it five years ago.  Still ticking.  It steams rather powerfully, but I get better control than with the Livia. I grind with a Mazzer Mini I got from a cafe that went out of business.
Still bring Silvia and Rocky to parties to make macchiati (small enough size drinks to do in reasonable quantity).
On May 23, 2012, at 3:55 PM, John Stewart wrote:
<Snip>
Peace & Song, 
Sandy Andina
www.sandyandina.com
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5) From: Larry Dorman
I started out with the Gaggia Espresso which was pretty much the bare
minimum entry level to real espresso.  I found that this machine had
limitations that impacted my enjoyment to the point that I eventually
quit using it.  High on the list of limitations were the very small
water reservoir, small boiler, the amount of time it would take to
recover between shots, and the delay in switching between pulling
shots and steaming milk.  It was painful for me to just make a pair of
lattes for me and my wife... to entertain meant that I simply wouldn't
be part of any other activities for the evening.
When I got around to searching for a new machine in March I decided
that all of the prior limitations had to be addressed.  Otherwise, I
wanted something that could be plumbed in, something that would be
attractive, and that could conceivably be my last espresso machine.  I
looked at the Silvia, but it just seemed like the bigger brother to
what I already had and not so much a machine that would address all of
my requirements.  From the other comments on this thread I'm very glad
that I went ahead and spent the extra money to pass over the Silvia,
as I expect that I would otherwise be having buyers remorse by now.
I ended up getting the Andreja Premium and absolutely love it...  the
boiler and water reservoir are so large that I no longer feel the
overwhelming desire to plumb in, even though I can if I change my mind
in the future.  This is a heat exchanger machine and I'm finding that
the only speed impediments are my own skill and processes.  I'm
getting consistently excellent results and the machine is gorgeous.  I
was able to crank out four lattes shortly after getting it in no time
at all and my process/speed has improved since then.  The build
quality seems to be excellent, so as long as I do proper care of the
machine I expect it'll last a really long time.  If I had the purchase
to do over right now, I wouldn't hesitate to purchase this machine
again.
The Andreja costs almost three times as much as the Silvia, so I
respect that there are real financial limitations that come into
play...  that's how I ended up choosing the Gaggia Espresso the first
time around.  However, if you end up going to the coffee shop
regularly because your home machine doesn't cut it for you then that
needs to be factored in.  In my case I knew I had a bonus coming that
would pay for most of the Andreja and I also calculated that I spent
enough at my favorite coffee shop last year alone to pay for it...  it
became an easy decision for me.  Moral being that $629 + 1795 is more
than $1795.
Good luck...  whatever you end up I hope you'll share your experiences.
LarryD
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6) From: Sandy Andina
I had a VERY long (read--gentle and gradual) upgrade curve to my Andreja Premium, so I have few regrets.  Had I discovered I wanted to enter the world of home espresso after I had refined my coffee tastes beyond just brewing with freshly ground non-supermarket beans--and had I done so when I had the requisite disposable income--I might have jumped feet first into the deep end of the pool instead of wading in at the "kiddie" end and wound up at the same spot.  The only step I skipped was "steam toy." (And even there, I was given a Rotel steam-toy as a birthday present by my office staff so I could brew in the office--used it exactly twice, and it was a slow mess). Started with flip-pot machinetta because my Brooklyn childhood memory of "espresso" was the stuff poured tableside into my parents' demitasses at our neighborhood Italian checkered-tablecloth red-sauce joints (and which my folks let me taste before they added the anisette). As a young married twentysomething in early 1970s Seattle, this was the closest I could get to espresso anyway (Last Exit kept "farmers' hours," Olive's East was miles away, Starbucks didn't serve drinks, and Allegro and Ice-Nine didn't open till I was nearly about to leave town).  
Moved to Chicago in '78 and decided I wanted a stronger cup with crema, so I bought first a stovetop moka pot and a plug-in version called the "Vesuviana;" neither had frothing capabilities, and both were made of aluminum which pitted despite my efforts to keep them clean. For espresso and cappuccino I pretty much had to visit No Exit (and later, Starbucks--which it seemed had followed me from Seattle to Chicago along with Nordstrom) until the mid-to-late '80s.  By the time I realized I had to have steaming capacity, I also knew I needed a machine with a pump if I were to get real crema.  So I went with a (shudder) Krups pumper, which had a small capacity but taught me how to tamp and control the steam knob.  Moved up to a Saeco Rio Vapore and then its sister all-in-one Estro Profi (a Vapori with an integrated grinder--but not a superauto, since it ground into the portafilter and I still had to tamp). Gave my sister the Vapore (she had it till the pump died), and I kept that Profi through the '90s (through three gasket changes) until its pump croaked too.  I was set on a Gaggia Baby by then, and a matching grinder. The owner of my local bean store (by then, Evanston's Casteel & Co) talked me instead into his new fave, the Capresso Ultima:  a superauto-sans-grinder which bore a striking resemblance to R2D2. That was upgrade mistake #1:  I hated that I had no control over tamping or steaming, and that no matter how assiduously I cleaned it I could never get it to dispense hot water that wasn't brownish.  It resides in my Basement Museum of Failed Coffee Devices. Once again, I had set my sights on a Gaggia.
But in 2004, my guru Michael Guterman (alev hasholom)--a fellow pen collector turned homeroaster/barista--turned me on to roasting and to the Silvia. He sent me some Malabar Gold and Donkey Blend (both roasted for reference and green) and instructions on how to roast in a hot-air popper.  The Silvia was tricky, but he also sent me the link to Mark Price's "Cheating Miss Silvia"--I never saw a need to PID the machine after that.  Silvia gave me my first "God shots" and consistently good (albeit slowish) microfoam. But because I wanted more capacity I moved up a couple of years later to the Livia90A I mentioned in my previous post--in retrospect, my second mistake because it so spectacularly went blooey and the only Chicago shop that could service it turned out to be bumbling and dishonest.  But when it was good it was very, very good.  
I've had my Andreja Premium (aka La Cora, from Cora Italian Specialties, which services it for routine semiannual maintenance) for over 5 years now, and I couldn't be happier. No need to plumb, and the HX is plenty fast for me, with no need for a dual boiler like a Brewtus or La Spaziale.  And as I said before, Silvia stands at the ready for party, vacation or emergency duty.   My upgrade path started (if you don't count those early non-pump devices) way back in 1985, and pretty much tracked my fiscal ability to progress along its arc. So, no regrets. But if you've got the bucks, the need to make more than one complete drink at a time, the need for a separate hot water tap, and no inclination to either learn temp-surfing or install a PID, go directly to an e61 group HX machine like the Andreja Premium.  Silvia cost me $500 (these days, you can't touch one for under $800) and the PID would have run me (with installation and shipping) close to another $300.  The La Cora cost me $1400 (a tad pricier now, but what isn't)?  I still frequent Metropolis and Intelligentsia when I crave a good shot or latte away from my house (and, I confess, Starbucks when on the Interstates and jonesing for 'spro), but by and large, the money I've saved by pulling my own drinks--and the knowledge that in 10 minutes I can get my machine hot enough to brew whenever I want, with instant hot water for tea or soup--exceeds the expense.
On May 26, 2012, at 2:49 PM, Larry Dorman wrote:
Peace & Song, 
Sandy Andina
www.sandyandina.com
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