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Topic: Solis SL90 OR Rancilio Silvia (10 msgs / 301 lines)
1) From:
I am looking at purchasing ONE of these excellent machines. They are the
same price and I am wondering if any of you who have experience with both of
these machines have advice and or recommendations?
Richard Estes
Bellingham, WA USA
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2) From: Jim Friedlander
  Depends on what you want.  The Solis is easier to deal with
day-in-day-out and is more consistent.  You can probably pull slightly
better shots with the Silvia, but you can also pull much worse shots.
  You need to do quite a bit of temperature surfing (not a difficult
task) with the Silvia and you don't with the Solis.
  The Solis has preset water volumes, which I used for a couple of
weeks, then never used again.
  Solis is reputed to be very reliable (though I had a number of
problems with mine), Silvia less so.  The Solis distributor, Baratza,
provides phenomenal support.  Silvia dealers vary (1st Line seems to be
Both provide good steaming for the price class.
If you get the Solis, make sure to get the non-pressurized baskets.
To sum up, they are different beasts.  I owned a Solis, but would have
liked to have had a Silvia as well.
Most important thing to me is that you spend the money on a good
grinder.  My Mazzer Mini has changed my espresso life completely :)

3) From: David Marley
Ahhhh, so we open this can of worms.  Another commonly debated topics is
Silvia vs. Gaggia Classic.  But anyways...  Here is my short piece (if you
want, I can send an off list mail with more detail) on the Silvia.  I have
only sampled espresso's from the SL-90 from a friend, but have pulled any
shots myself.
Silvia - 
high class all the way (sturdy design, quality parts)
Will produce GREAT shots and HORRIBLE shots, so if you into the science of
getting a great pull this machine is for you.
Powerful steam for cappa's
Fickle with grind and tamp settings
Mike McGuiness endorses it! (CSA member)
Programmable!  However, my friend used the programs for about a week then
decided to go manual which basically makes it a sl-70 in many ways (not a
bad thing!)  Some really get good milage from programmed settings, but I
think many like the power of stopping the shot and starting it manually.
Great Steaming
Plastic doesn't get as hot
The stock pressurized portafilter should be tossed for the non version so
you can get higher quality shots (but this means you can get worse shots as
I forgot his real name (The Scarlet Wombat is his list name) from this group
really enjoys it, then again he also has a Mazzer for a grinder so that
can't be bad...
David Marley

4) From: Mike McGinness
I've never had the chance to play with the SL90. Testing one Solis (SM5K) at
a time is more than enough!  My suggestion is you contact Baratza,
schedule a time to pop over to Bellevue WA and play with the SL90. You're
welcome to cruise to the other end of our State and check out Miss Silvia
Home Roasting in Vancouver, WA USA
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5) From: Mike McGinness
It sounds like you're going through a similar process I did before getting
Miss Silvia. At one point I thought to get the SL90 figuring I'd get good
shots immediately using the stock pressurized baskets and learn "to do it
right" later with non-pressured. Tough decision. You've hit CoffeeGeek and
checked out reviews I'm sure, including consumer reviews. I decided, for me,
to learn how to grind and tamp from the git go. All I'd used prior was a
steam toy. Did a lot of how to reading before I got her, and did use a
bathroom scale as suggested learning tamp pressure. Oh, a good tamper a
must. If you decide on Silvia order a 58mm tamper of some kind. Silvia comes
with an undersized plastic useless unusable piece of 54mm junk! Almost 1/4"
too small... Reg Barber optional! 
From: "Jim Friedlander" 
Sent: Tuesday, May 14, 2002 3:14 PM
Subject: RE: +Solis SL90 OR Rancilio Silvia
The Solis would be easier if using pressurized crema enchanced basket true.
I don't see how easier if using regular basket. Measured shot vs. turning it
off true... If using standard non-pressured basket with Solis I'm wager
heavily it's capable of just as bad of shots as my beginning shots with Miss
I believe the SL90 uses a 'thermalblock' system, kind of like a radiator,
rather than a boiler. It's supposed to be more temp' stable. What I do with
Missy is always pull a blank through the portafilter until the temp' low
light comes on. As soon as the light goes off I pull my shot. From cold, as
I just did, it took a hair over 2 minutes for temp' low light to go out on
Miss Silvia. NOT READY really. Brew head still way cold. With portafilter in
place pulled a blank till light on, waited to go out, pulled another blank.
Then removed portafilter, rinsed with 190f hotwater on demand, dried, loaded
with 14gr Vienna roasted Kona, and pulled a double I'm sipping now. Still
not 100% up to temp' but about 70% crema, delightful shot. Next will be
better. Espresso shots are pickier than Cafe' Crema... I may start pulling 3
blanks from cold start.
Hopefully I won't have to find out any time soon!
 Most important thing to me is that you spend the money on a good
I'm 'getting by' with the Maestro. It's 18 step settings just barely
adequate for fine tuning espresso. I've come to believe and even finer
tuning stepless grinder, dedicated for espresso, would yield more consistent
shots. For me a counter space thing again.
Home Roasting in Vancouver, WA USA
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6) From: Mike Gallant
	If it is less reliable, I can't imagine it would be by much. I've 
been running Silvia daily for almost 18 months now, with nary a problem. 
Perhaps all those MG shots from the new Livia is affecting your 
mind... ;)
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7) From: The Scarlet Wombat
Hi, I'm the Scarlet Wombat, also known as Dan.
I've been using the sl90 and Mazzer for almost two weeks now and have found 
espresso heaven, or at least, the peanut gallery of same.
I chose the sl90 for only one reason over the Silvia, the preprogrammed 
volume amounts.  Being blind, I had visions of burning fingertips while 
determining how much espresso was being pulled into a cup.  The sl90 
removes this issue, it pushes the premeasured volume.
What you must do with it, however, is to time the shot.  If it takes 14 
seconds to pull a double with 14 grams of coffee, you did not grind fine 
enough or didn't tamp firmly enough, or some variant of that.  I got a 24 
second pull on a double this morning and made it into an Americano, and saw 
angels on the cieling...and I can't see, so it was pretty damn good.
Those who have recommended getting the non-pressurized filter baskets are 
correct.  I have two of them.  A caution is in order here.  Not all 
non-pressurized baskets are created equal.  One that I have has holes that 
are, in my opinion, a tiny bit too large.  It is nearly impossible to get a 
proper length shot through this and you rarely get crema.  The baskets 
Sweet maria's sells are better, they have smaller holes and give a good shot.
The built in tamper on the sl90 is irrelevant, you must get a decent tamper 
of the proper diameter.
The all brass portafilter is not only good at retaining heat, if you're 
ever attacked in the kitchen, it makes a formidible mace.
The sl90 is easy to clean up and is ready to roll in less than four 
minutes, though I find I get better coffee from a 15 minute warmup.
And yes, having a Mazzer Super Jolly is not only overkill, it is 
magnificent overkill.  I get the most perfectly ground coffee I've ever 
felt.  It purrs like a cat in tuna heaven.
Happy espressoing,
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8) From: jim gundlach
On Wednesday, May 15, 2002, at 07:37 AM, The Scarlet Wombat wrote:
I still haven't got a regular tamper for the non-pressurized basket, but 
in the meantime I'm using a 60mm marble sphere.  It took a little 
practice but I can now tamp and pull much better shots with the 
non-presserized basket I got from Sweet Maria's  than I ever produced 
with the ones that came with the SL-90.   I have a larger marble sphere, 
about 110mm that I am going to grind one side down to fit the basket and 
try to make a good hefty tamper.  I'll let people know how it turns out.
Also for what it is worth, I've never tried the Silvia but I love the 
Jim Gundlach
roasting over pecan wood fires
in La Place, Alabama
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9) From: Mike McGinness
From: "The Scarlet Wombat" 
How do you 'really' feel about it!  BTW, Snoopy is the Ultimate Cool,
 The all brass portafilter is not only good at retaining heat, if
I can see it now, dueling with portafilters for espresso bragging rights. En
Ditto Miss Silvia...
Home Roasting in Vancouver, WA USA
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10) From:
"The Scarlet Wombat"  wrote:
 > I got a 24
Thanks for the laugh on an otherwise busy, busy day!
Michael G., who is busy, busy ... but not so busy as to goof off by reading
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