JWPATE Senior Member Joined: 15 Nov 2007 Posts: 7 Location: Nevada Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Riviera Grinder: looking at K3
Posted Tue Dec 4, 2007, 8:11pm Subject: Re: Has anybody purchased the new Starbucks Sirena?
Best wishes to those with plans to purchase and also those with the machine already in hand. Opinions are just that – personal views. My own view is that the machine looks OK and I have no idea what the price might be.
I just went over to the Starbucks site though, and sat through a couple of the introductions they have waiting there. What a great load of BS in my opinion. I would never venture another step in that direction after a quick glimpse at the company’s silly hype and High-School level marketing effort.
To those with opposing views and opinions………..I wish you only good luck and best wishes. I expect the thing will make coffee just as well as you are accustomed to at a Starbuck stand.
Posted Fri Dec 7, 2007, 10:25pm Subject: Re: Has anybody purchased the new Starbucks Sirena?
I bought one, too, with a huge discount because my girlfriend knows an SB manager. Since I just set it up last night, I still have a lot of experimenting to do before I post a full review. But I can report a few items that may be of interest to the hardcore espresso-head:
1) The pressurized portafilter is in fact a heavy commercial-grade 58mm PF -- just take out the rubber disc and plastic peg, and presto! Tamp to your heart's content. 2) I've tried SB's pods in the pod filter, and I'm glad I didn't have to pay for those. Feh. 3) There's one ground-coffee basket for both singles & doubles -- ridges indicate the coffee level for each size. 4) The steam wand has a panarello tip that is quite easy to remove, thus exposing the narrow plastic steam tip & making microfoam possible (this tip is also easily removed). The ball joint makes the wand very easy to maneuver. 5) Yes, the temperature fluctuates between shots. But if the pattern is predictable, I can learn to work with it. A temp gauge with precise degrees marks would have been appreciated. 6) The drip tray to PF distance isn't ideal -- I use the tray only in the elevated position, to have the cup closer to the spouts.
Despite the marketing, which is clearly meant to lure in the punters with its glam looks and ease-of-use, this could be a high-quality competitor to the Francis Francis and Ascaso Dream (the established glam machines). I have no doubt Saeco knew that serious users would figure out how to get the most out of the Sirena -- I would not mind a little help from them, though. I have to give SB & Saeco some credit for not going the super-automatic route this time, which they easily could have.
Posted Sun Dec 9, 2007, 1:27pm Subject: Re: Has anybody purchased the new Starbucks Sirena?
A few more observations about the Sirena:
1) SB's adverts refer to it as a dual-boiler machine, but one cannot pull shots and steam milk at the same time -- and the manual's spec sheet refers to "Rapid Steam generator material" as die-cast alloy. My speculation: it might be a single-boiler + thermoblock arrangement rather than a true double boiler. The plus side: switching between steaming and shot-pulling is very quick, often as little as 10 seconds (I'm going to take more stopwatch measurements before writing a review.)
2) The steam wand is also the hot-water dispenser. So it's not a big surprise that a small amount of hot water shoots out the wand first when one opens the valve; one just has to have a cup or glass handy for catching the water. When the panarello tip is taken off, the remaining plastic nozzle produces good microfoam; I only wish the steel tube was a bit longer so milk residue wouldn't get on the curved part where the plastic wand grip is attached. Letting the machine warm up beforehand helps with everything, naturally.
3) The top of the machine can hold cups, but they won't get truly warm there. One can either run blank shots to preheat the portafilter and cups simultaneously, or just have a pot of hot water for dunking beforehand.
4) I have no complaints about the water reservoir; it holds 57.5 oz. & lifts out easily by a built-in handle; the plastic cover is adequate and matches the rest of the machine. I wonder if the Sirena's tall profile was partly to accommodate the reservoir -- it might explain why the PF-to-drip tray distance is greater than it needs to be. (Or perhaps they were pandering to those hapless Starbucks customers who expect all their drinks to be super-sized!)
5) I don't know if it can be backflushed, but it does have a sort of pressure-relief so you don't have to worry about PF-sneeze if the machine chokes on a too-fine grind (just wait a few seconds). The manual is skimpy and says nothing about backflushing, and of course there's no blind filter included. Whether other Saeco 58mm baskets will fit in the Sirena PF is unknown, but worth investigating.
So far the Sirena looks and performs like any number of good semi-automatics out there -- in stock configuration, it's a "convenience" machine -- but strip off the pressurized PF and panarello junk, and it's a Francis Francis-killer even at full price. I was lucky to get mine for $385.
I disagree. The GE at WalMart has a lightweight and supercheap aluminum portafilter but apparently the Sirena has heavy Chromed Brass. So to to match or beat the Sirena's capability you'd need a Gaggia entry-level machine and a stovetop steamer (combined cost ~$250)
beaniebaby Senior Member Joined: 9 Dec 2007 Posts: 1 Location: canada Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Starbucks Sirena Grinder: Krupps
Posted Sun Dec 9, 2007, 8:22pm Subject: Re: Has anybody purchased the new Starbucks Sirena?
Got the Sirena last weekend. Used it about 12 times so far - still getting used to it. concerns:
heavy and difficult to move - I have to pull it forward to use, push back to store
I wish I could tell when it needed water without having to pull it out and turn it around. May get a little mirror to help with that anoyance.
Under the base plug in is akward - keeps coming unplugged with moving the machine around, and then you have to tilt it at about 45 degree angle to plug back in. May be able to secure the plug with tape or something.
Biggest concern at the moment - is unequal shot amounts from the two sided portafilter. I like to make 2 cups at same time each morn for husband and self. One cup gets about 1/3 more than the other. Machine is sitting level - so can't tell why this is happening. But the right spout consistently delivers 1/3 more than the left spout.
I am going to try removing the steam wand cover and see if roastaroma's recommendation will help me achieve micro-foam. Something I love, and was actually getting quite good at with my $30 Mr. Coffee Espresso machine :) No crema from that machine - but good brew and with practice - great micro-foam.
I just read the How-to guide on Geek about milk frothing - and will try to 'surf the hole' - if I can find it with the Sirena.
All in all - it seems like a sturdy machine but the lack of visibility on water resevoir, and the lack of wheels (like other Saeco machines have) make it cumbersome to me.
roastaroma - I would welcome more advice as you get used to yours.
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