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Help Needed between choosing the Silvia and Oscar?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Help Needed...  
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Coffeeismypoison
Senior Member


Joined: 9 Oct 2009
Posts: 9
Location: AUCKLAND
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Quickmill Anita
Grinder: Macap 4
Posted Sun Oct 25, 2009, 11:05pm
Subject: Help Needed between choosing the Silvia and Oscar?
 

Hello All,

Although I am new to Coffee Geek, I share the same passion as you all where a bad coffee is inexcusable and a good brew is a daily ritual and my firm belief that decaf drinkers should drink Herbal Tea or some form of waste water? Not quite politically correct but hey it’s coffee we are talking about which at one time was considered an evil drink and some jokers considered it bad for health.

I live in New Zealand and though there are a few machines available, the variety is quite limited? I do have budget of NZ$1400 which would buy the following machines

• Oscar (Although that is a $200 more I am inclined towards this)
• Rancilio Silvia (Second favourite)
• Gaggia Baby Twin
• Ascaso Dream (not the POD one)

I am heavily inclined towards the Oscar after doing my research for the following reasons

• HX component
• Larger boiler compared to the Silvia
• No need for a PID on an HX machine
• I believe the pressure stat used to be an issue but not sure if it is fixed in the new machines?

The conundrum I face is which of the above machines makes the best coffee; I am sure there will be few out there who understand my confusion?

Your help and opinions will be much appreciated?

Many Thanks
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wankel
Senior Member
wankel
Joined: 22 Jan 2002
Posts: 115
Location: Baltimore MD
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia v1
Grinder: Cunill El Cafe Tranquilo
Drip: Ceramic cone
Posted Mon Oct 26, 2009, 7:19am
Subject: Re: Help Needed between choosing the Silvia and Oscar?
 

Hello Poison,

I can't speak for any except the Silvia and I love mine but my advice is if you really want the Oscar, go for it.  $200 more isn't that much more to pay over the life of a good machine.
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wideasleep1
Senior Member
wideasleep1
Joined: 19 Feb 2005
Posts: 1,434
Location: Tiburon,Ca
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: VBMDoubleDomo
Grinder: Mahlkoenig K30 Vario
Vac Pot: nope
Drip: Bodum Press
Roaster: IR1 and 2,SC/TO,Behmor
Posted Mon Oct 26, 2009, 10:54am
Subject: Re: Help Needed between choosing the Silvia and Oscar?
 

Oscar will be far easier to use. If you prepare more than two milk drinks ever, Oscar is your machine. :)
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,745
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Mon Oct 26, 2009, 12:30pm
Subject: Re: Help Needed between choosing the Silvia and Oscar?
 

I have owned the Oscar but I have not had the Silvia, HOWEVER I did have a few SBDU machines and while with proper use, you can get good espresso out of a SBDU machine, the Oscar is LIGHT YEARS FURTHER UP THE CURVE.

It will effortlessly serve shot after shot after shot and allow you to steam milk at the same time. The newer Oscars have indeed fixed the Pstat issue but you will not be able to put one on a timer unless you add a Vacuum breaker to it. This is an easy mod to do if a timer is a big deal to you. Otherwise, just turn the Oscar on and give it about 5 minutes then open the steam wand for about 5 seconds to let out the false pressure then let it heat up.

They are great machines and you will be hard pressed to be as consistent from shot to shot on a Silvia as you will be on the Oscar.

What grinder are you planning to use? A good grinder is mandatory for good espresso and I did not read anything about a grinder

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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Fjord
Senior Member
Fjord
Joined: 5 Jun 2009
Posts: 8
Location: Dallas
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Sylvia - PID
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: Bonmac Single-hole
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Oct 26, 2009, 1:13pm
Subject: Re: Help Needed between choosing the Silvia and Oscar?
 

Wow, this sounds like the exact decision I had a couple months ago.  Long story short, I ended up going with a PID'd Sylvia.  Here are my thoughts, in a slapdash, haphazard order.

  • The Oscar is ugly, and there is hardly any space underneath the portafilter for even demitasse cups.
  • While an HX machine will maintain temp like a champ, you can't adjust the temp for individual beans like you can with the proper PID.
  • I feel like the Sylvia will hold its value better.
  • I thought I wouldn't be hosting many parties (yeah, may have made a mistake there).

As you can probably tell, these are not rock solid arguments.  I really thought I was gonna get the Oscar myself until I saw it in person, which is what I recommend you do if at all possible.  Honestly, I don't think it's a real black-and-white decision.  You can make great espresso with both machines.  

I do think I may have underestimated the potential demand for espresso based drinks.  I have ended up talking to a bunch of my friends, prodding them to try something when they come over.  It ends up being about a 30 second to one minute wait time between drinks.  Not the end of the world, but definitely feels like a "home" setting rather than professional.

Thankfully my next purchase is an easy one.  That Baratza Vario will be mine.
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germantownrob
Senior Member
germantownrob
Joined: 2 Dec 2007
Posts: 2,151
Location: Philadelphia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Duetto 3, A Dead Oscar
Grinder: Vario-W, Preciso w/Esatto,...
Drip: Brazen
Roaster: Diedrich IR-1, HT B
Posted Mon Oct 26, 2009, 1:53pm
Subject: Re: Help Needed between choosing the Silvia and Oscar?
 

Fjord Said:

Wow, this sounds like the exact decision I had a couple months ago.  Long story short, I ended up going with a PID'd Sylvia.  Here are my thoughts, in a slapdash, haphazard order.

The Oscar is ugly, and there is hardly any space underneath the portafilter for even demitasse cups.
While an HX machine will maintain temp like a champ, you can't adjust the temp for individual beans like you can with the proper PID.
I feel like the Sylvia will hold its value better.
I thought I wouldn't be hosting many parties (yeah, may have made a mistake there).

Posted October 26, 2009 link

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I like the ABS plastic of the Oscar and it's looks and easy clean. Flipping the drip tray top gives plenty of room for bodum 8oz glasses.

Temp surfing an HX gives plenty of solid shots at different temps.

Sylvia is due for a price reduction.

Love that the Oscar is always waiting for me not the opposite.
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acasabia
Senior Member
acasabia
Joined: 17 Oct 2008
Posts: 616
Location: Westchester, NY
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus iv-p,...
Grinder: Quamar M80e, Hario slim
Vac Pot: Yama Vacpot, Aeropress,
Drip: french press
Roaster: hot-air popper.
Posted Mon Oct 26, 2009, 2:50pm
Subject: Re: Help Needed between choosing the Silvia and Oscar?
 

isnt the Oscar a HX? that being said its in a class above the Sylvia. and Nuova is a big brand with a hefty following, the oscar itself is a pretty well respected machine. I dont know where you're seeing it for only 200 more than the sylvia, but if its only $900 Id grab it.

that or a bezzera HX.

 
Anthony C

Currently pulling:
Gimme! Piccolo Mondo Espresso Blend
http://coffeeandneuroscience.wordpress.com/
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Fjord
Senior Member
Fjord
Joined: 5 Jun 2009
Posts: 8
Location: Dallas
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Sylvia - PID
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: Bonmac Single-hole
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Oct 26, 2009, 3:09pm
Subject: Re: Help Needed between choosing the Silvia and Oscar?
 

germantownrob Said:

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I like the ABS plastic of the Oscar and it's looks and easy clean. Flipping the drip tray top gives plenty of room for bodum 8oz glasses.

Temp surfing an HX gives plenty of solid shots at different temps.

Sylvia is due for a price reduction.

Love that the Oscar is always waiting for me not the opposite.

Posted October 26, 2009 link

Definitely, definitely agree that looks are subjective.  I was actually surprised at the Oscar when I first saw it, and that's the only reason I bring it up.  I'm really glad that you like the look of the Oscar, that's great!  It's just that the OP may not, so the best bet would be for him to take a gander himself.

Temp surfing can be done, but as far as I understand it isn't the same as on a single boiler machine.  Even with a PID, a single boiler needs the right treatment to brew at the correct temp, but to me it's more straightforward.
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davethebrewguy
Senior Member
davethebrewguy
Joined: 31 Jul 2008
Posts: 1,228
Location: The Brewery
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Fiorenzato Bricoletta,...
Grinder: Compak K-6, Baratza Maestro...
Drip: Saeco Renaissance
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Oct 26, 2009, 3:49pm
Subject: Re: Help Needed between choosing the Silvia and Oscar?
 

This is really a no-brainer in my experience. I've owned a Silvia, with and without PID, and I currently own a HX machine, the difference is night and day and there is no way I would ever go back to any single boiler machine. Sure, the Oscar isn't the most beautiful machine in the world, but the Silvia isn't exactly a Mistral either, they are both boxes that make espresso. The difference between the two is in how they make the espresso. With a Silvia you can temp surf to make a great shot, if you want a milk drink there will be a wait and multiple drinks means more waiting, Add a PID to the Silvia and you won't need to temp surf but if you want to change the temp you have to spend a few seconds playing with tiny buttons and then wait for the relatively small heater element to bring the water up to temp. Even with a PID, multiple shots or milk drinks means waiting and multiple milk drinks means a LOT of waiting.
Compare this to a HX machine, the Oscar or any other HX. The warm up time is similar to the Silvia but the waiting stops there. Once the machine is up to temp there is no more waiting, a cooling flush is the equivalent of temp surfing and temperature control all rolled into one action and it usually takes less than 10 seconds (start at any time, there is no light that has to go on or off before you start counting). Want to pull a shot a couple degrees hotter? Shorten your flush. Next shot cooler? Flush a few seconds longer. You can try one shot after another all at different temps with no waiting for the boiler to catch up, just pull shots as fast as you can. You can also steam your milk while you are pulling these shots. With practice you could probably make a double shot and steam the milk for it in under a minute and keep doing them back to back. I doubt you could match that speed with two PIDed Silvias (one for pulling shots and another for milk would not produce as one after another the way a HX can)! Based on this, any HX is easily worth at least twice as much as a PIDed Silvia. In the US you can get a brand new Oscar for a little over $1000, delivered, that puts the value of a brand new Silvia with a PID installed somewhere under $500. If you can get the Oscar for just $200 more than the Silvia, you'd be crazy not to do it.
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germantownrob
Senior Member
germantownrob
Joined: 2 Dec 2007
Posts: 2,151
Location: Philadelphia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Duetto 3, A Dead Oscar
Grinder: Vario-W, Preciso w/Esatto,...
Drip: Brazen
Roaster: Diedrich IR-1, HT B
Posted Mon Oct 26, 2009, 3:49pm
Subject: Re: Help Needed between choosing the Silvia and Oscar?
 

I am still getting the hang of  temp surfing the HX on the Oscar but it starting to click and become second nature to find the 203 f spot and each 1 second more of flushing drops it about 1f.  I was a bit lost for a couple of months making heads or tails of the flush. One day I will upgrade to a duel boiler but the Oscar should take care of my needs and as many peoples needs I can fit in my kitchen for a very long time.

I agree that seeing a machine in person is a very good idea, I knew the measurements of the Oscar but it seemed  much bigger when sitting on the counter. I admit while looking at or describing the looks of the Oscar I never have uttered the words beautiful, stunning, gorgeous or even shiny but I would use those words to describe the use of it, except shiny.

I bought my Oscar from Chris' for less then the $1050 going rate for it.
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