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Topic: An Aesthetic Question (14 msgs / 339 lines)
1) From: C.Taylor & K.Iconis
I am sure many readers will understand that now that I have taken the 
plunge into roasting at home and reading the posts on this list I am 
seriously considering upgrading my coffee equipment.  I now have a 
Solis Maestro and a Solis SL-70.  I am pleased with the quality of 
espresso I get from this combination.  The grinder seems obviously the 
weaker link in terms of durability and so I have decided to upgrade.  
No problems there.
The two espresso machines that seem at the top of many lists are the 
Silvia and the Livia 90.  I know that the Livia costs significantly 
more.  My question is: does the Livia make better espresso?  I should 
explain that I make straight espresso with no steamed milk etc.  We 
seldom have dinner parties in which I would need to make multiple cups 
of various kinds of coffee.  For me the pure aesthetic issue comes 
first and durability is the second issue.  I anticipate no significant 
difference in durability between these two machines.  Using a different 
metaphor I can distinguish the sound of pair of speakers costing $1000 
from a pair of the same series costing $1500 a pair.  I know the Livia 
costs ca. 3X the Silvia.  I do mot expect it to make espresso 3X as 
good.  But does it make better noticeably espresso?
Chuck Taylor
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2) From: Jim Schulman
Hi Chuck,
The Sylvia will make a slightly better espresso than the SL70 when everything is right. But 
the average shot from the Solis may be better, since the Sylvia is maddeningly inconsistent 
unless you are extremely persnickitty with your coffee making ritual
When you go to a heat exchanger machine like the Livia and particularly those with E61 heads 
like the ECM Giotto or the Isomac Tea or Millenium (these machines consistently beat out the 
Livia in taste tests and cost about the same) is consistency. The average shot from these 
will be as good as the best Sylvia shot. When I did a side by side test of my old SL700 and 
my Tea, I rated the Tea's espressos about 8/100 higher than the Solis espressos (using the 
normal coffee tasting scoring).
BTW, you can also get eight points quality increase by going from the Maestro grinder to a 
pure espresso grinder like the Innova, Rocky,or Mazzer (in order of price and ergonomics -- 
the grind qualities are similar). These added points are in the flavor categories rather than 
the mouthfeel, body, and crema categories improved by more expensive espresso machines.  This 
will set you back about $800 less.
Jim
On 12 Oct 2002 at 18:43, C.Taylor & K.Iconis wrote:
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3) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
"The two espresso machines that seem at the top of many lists are the Silvia
and the Livia 90..." wrote Chuck.
Few months ago, I was in a similar situation you are in today, Chuck. After
a lot of research, I decided to buy Isomac Tea.  Although Silvia and Livia
are more popular, I think that the Isomac Téa is a better machine (as
compared to the Livia and other "Livia class" home machines). Search the Net
for "Isomac Tea review" and you will find a lot of interesting information.
I am very happy with our Miss Tea. You wrote that for you " ...the pure
aesthetic issue comes
first."  Aesthetics -- that is a very personal and subjective view. To my
eyes, the Isomac Tea is a very beautiful, sort of art deco retro-look
fifties science fiction machine. I like it better than the Isomac Millennium
for both functional and aesthetical reasons.  Some people consider the
Millennium a better looking machine.
I believe that the Tea will consistently make "better" espresso and that is
more forgiving and more consistent than many other similar machines.
Although it does not have a rotary pump, it is "good enough" for me.
Cheers, Lubos
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4) From: Chris Beck
Very true, Jim.
May I also add that much of the maddening inconsistency of the Silvia is 
due to the stock thermostat.  The brew temp on a stock Silvia is all 
over the map, even with 'surfing', and results in chasing your shots all 
over the place.  Since I've PID'ed my Silvia, I just grind-n-go.  As 
long as the machine is fully warmed up, my shots are always quite 
consistent.  
Now, I modded mine for basically free from surplus parts at work, but 
the 'average Joe' would need to spend about $200 to do it right with new 
parts.  This closes the gap a bit more to a heat exchanger machine like 
an Isomac or Livia.  But, heat exchanger machines have their own temp 
problems, but they are easier to work around.
Still, a modded Silvia will easily make espresso as good as most any 
machine it's up against.  However, I do give the nod to a true rotary 
pump machine (Wega Mininova,  Reneka Techno, or any other host of true 
commercial machines).  To me, a rotary machine indeed does give a 
richer, less harsh, more flavorful shot.  I've had opportunity on 
several occasions to visit with HV in Holland and drink a LOT of 
espresso from his Techno.  It just plain gives a better shot than my 
Silvia, all else equal.  Is it 3x or 4x better, no.  Maybe 10%.  But, 
like high end audio, you have to spend 90% more to get the last 10%. 
 Some day, a Techno will be in my kitchen.
Chrishttp://www.execpc.com/~n9zesJim Schulman wrote:
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5) From: Jim Schulman
Hi Chris,
I'm sorry your plan to get a techno on your last trip fell through. You're right about the rotary pump I think, the 
improvement is in the same category as a good grinders, the origin flavors come out crisper. That's also true for spring 
lever machines.
Jim
On 12 Oct 2002 at 18:27, Chris Beck wrote:
<Snip>
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6) From: Mike McGinness
From: "C.Taylor & K.Iconis" 
 I know the Livia
<Snip>
I can't speak hands on for higher end espresso machines. Miss Silvia works
fine for me within her limits. Mainly gotta surf before each shot. For a
couple shots no biggy, to me. If I was looking to upgrade the Livia would
not be what I'd be looking at. (and I have been researching...;-) I'd be
looking dual boiler, rotary pump, possibly direct plumbed, much better temp
control of course etc. I'll stick with Miss Silvia 'till $2000 price range
becomes a reasonable price point for me. From reports I've heard the SL70 is
also capable of very good shots when paired with a very good grinder using
non-crema enhanced PF. (but personally has too much plastic;-) I'd suggest
waiting 'till after you upgrade from the Maestro grinder before considering
a minor espresso machine upgrade...
MM;-)
Variable Variac Rockin' Rosto Roasting
Miss Silvia brewin'
Limping along with Solis Maestro grindin'
Christmas is coming!!!
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7) From: Jim Garlits
Chuck,
I just purchased a Sylvia for my home.  You may have heard me mention my
coffee shop closing.  We used a 10,000 Rancilio 2 group unit there.  Huge
boiler, programmable group settings, semi auto controls, lots of bells and
whistles.  The Sylvia has a 10 oz boiler, and takes a few to rebound after
steaming a pitcher of milk.  But you said that isn't a problem with you.
The Sylvia is a solid machine, and using an identical grind (from the shop)
the Sylvia's performance was nearly identical.  Its noisier, it vibrates
moderately, and it is completely manual.  You should use a shot glass for
consistant volume.  But the elements of good espresso are there.  I've heard
some say the Sylvia leaks.  Mine doesn't.  The people who said that probably
were packing the insert too full.  The water temperature is constant and
right on, and it achieves seven atmospheres of pressure.  Its a good little
machine. I'm happy with it.
Jim

8) From: Rick Farris
Chuck wrote:
<Snip>
I hope you're not trying to start a religious war here, Chuck. ;-)
I think you can make a very good cup of espresso with a machine as small as
a Krups Gusto.  What the Livia does is to remove a lot of the variability.
For instance, the Livia, right out of the box is known for excellent
temperature stability, which is a major component in pulling a good shot.
If you've researched the Silvia, you know that those guys go to all manner
of trouble to get the proper temperature -- temperature surfing, adding PID
controllers, etc.
You won't find accounts of people doing that with a Livia, because it's not
necessary.
If you have the money, you cannot go wrong with a Livia.  it's sort of like
All-Clad cookware.  I've never heard a person that bought All-Clad
complaining about it.  The complainers are all people that can't afford it.
So goes the Livia.
On the other hand, if your budget was, say, $1100 for espresso machine *and*
grinder, I'd say go with the Silvia and a Mazzer Mini.  If you can afford
$1500, you won't be unhappy with the Livia and a Mazzer.
--Rick
P.S. You said you didn't steam milk, so I won't tell you about how well the
Livia does it vs. the Silvia.  :-)
[RF]
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9) From: The Scarlet Wombat
The Livia 90 gives you one thing the Silvia does not have, if you get the 
automatic version, it does liquid volume measuring, like the sl90 does.  It 
has a very large boiler, as well.
For me, that single feature, although expensive, will make the difference 
when my sl90 puts its toes up, but for a sighted person, it seems a Silvia 
might be a superb choice.  It seems they both use the same pump, a 41 watt 
one, so perhaps there is not so much difference as the price would suggest.
Dan
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10) From: The Scarlet Wombat
I have to agree with Mike's suggestion to upgrade the grinder first.  I 
have an sl90 and was using a low end burr grinder.  The quality of my shots 
improved a thousand percent when I got a better grinder.  Admittedly, I 
really did it right and got a Mazzer Super Jolly, but it is a grinder for 
the rest of my life.
The sl90 now makes very good espresso, but of course, I am looking at a 
better machine.
Being an espresso buff is as bad as being an audiophile, and just as bloody 
expensive.
Question for the knowledgable, I am considering a high end home machine, 
can one get a rotary pump in a non-direct plumbed model?  Which ones come 
to mind?
Thanks,
Dan
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11) From: Chris Beck
Yeah, the Euro vs. Dollar really took a dump the last half of this year. 
 Added almost 20% to the cost of the machine.  I still will be making 
fairly regular trips to Europe, and we have shipments of goods coming 
from our facility in Holland, so I'd still be able to bring back a 
Techno.  I'll need a good machine to introduce our newest caffeine hound 
to espresso when he/she (we'll know in about 5 weeks) is old enough.  
Chris
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12) From: Andrew Thomas
--- Chris Beck  wrote:
[snip]
  I'll need a good machine to introduce our newest caffeine hound 
<Snip>
Chris, Congratulations in advance. Just curious -- how old is old enough?     Andy
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13) From: Chris Beck
Good question!  I'm thinking I'll start training as soon as he/she can 
motivate under self-power.  Might as well get started early.  Of course, 
decaf will apply...I'd like to get some sleep!
Chris
Andrew Thomas wrote:
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14) From: susan oppenheim
all the 12 yr. olds around me are starting with "frozen cappuccinos"
they think it's ice cream
we know better.............
congratulations on your baby!!!
Andrew Thomas wrote:
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