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Ascaso Steel UNO Professional Espresso Machine Versus Rancilio Sylvia 2009
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espressoaddict
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Joined: 18 Mar 2009
Posts: 346
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia V3 (Primary)...
Grinder: Baratza Vario 2009 and...
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Posted Mon Oct 26, 2009, 3:26pm
Subject: Re: Ascaso Steel UNO Professional Espresso Machine Versus Rancilio Sylvia 2009
 

acasabia Said:

I saw somewhere that while the ascaso site says its a 58mm, the filter basket is 57mm. I know that the blank I use in my machine is intended for the ascaso and it is a 57mm basket.

this is very possible with the Le'lit. after removing the attachment I am left with a 3.5 inch regular wand, mine is newer so it may not be the same on older models

the Le'lit pl041 does have a 3 way valve. there is a new version that does not have a 3-way... pl042? I dont know its model number (it has buttons not switches). but the pl041 does in fact have a 3 way valve.

check clive coffee, last I checked they still have the pl041 in stock for $379 if you're interested.

Posted October 26, 2009 link

I apologize for the confusion about their 3-way valve on this model.  The lady I talked to was new and was not up-to-speed on the model.

Now that is cleared up, there are mixed comments about the BAR pressure of this unit providing the full BAR pressure of 11 or higher.  Does this mean, it can be adjusted to 9 BAR via a an OPV?  This is a concern as I typically make Ristrettos and aiming for that optimal flow is crucial for me.  

Have you had any success in preparing excellent Ristrettos?  If so, can you share some info on any challenges in the process and photos?

The other issue buying this now is Lelit plans to release a newer module featuring a longer steam wand.  The release date is sometime Q1 2010. Ideally I should wait, but that is just too long and wondering is it a challenge to make micro-foam with that attachment or is it Mickey Mouse?

Thanks!
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espressoaddict
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Mar 2009
Posts: 346
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia V3 (Primary)...
Grinder: Baratza Vario 2009 and...
Vac Pot: None
Drip: Melitta Single Cup, Bodum...
Posted Mon Oct 26, 2009, 3:46pm
Subject: Re: Ascaso Steel UNO Professional Espresso Machine Versus Rancilio Sylvia 2009
 

Frost Said:

An old boss once said, 'When the list of complaints gets long enough, it's time to start a new list.'

I'm assuming whatever machine you get, you will put your PID from the Gaggia on it.
The Ascaso data on the PRO model does say it uses a 58mm basket and a 10oz boiler. ( but can we really trust the data is accurate from Ascaso? Better confirm with an actual machine) Really the basket size is just about easy availability of different commercial baskets. I think it makes a difference.

Assuming this is the case I would head towards getting the Ascaso for the saturated group vs. offset on the Silvia. This will give you more predictable and easier to manage brew temps.

There is no mention of what OPV is on the Ascaso, so you may have to deal with this issue to tune it in.

The way I see it, the rap sheet on Silvia is long enough that I avoid it. (Because of the offset group and alleged issues with showerhead/water dispersion) Break the cycle/tradition, don't follow the crowd, get a different machine and open it up, install your PID and see what you can get out of it! I'm betting you will be able to beat the Gaggia on shot quality. (.....but that's based on my WAG and comparing Venus to Gaggia Espresso)

Be sure to report back here in a few months with what you did and your results.

(on your Gaggia boiler corrosion, it sounds like your de-scaling was too aggressive and shortened it's life. With the right water, descale should only be one maybe once or twice a year. Every month would be for some hard water. )

Posted October 26, 2009 link

I'm still hesitating on the Ascaso Pro after a few places giving a higher rcommendation on the Sylvia for it's more reliable and build history.  But the Sylvia is still not going to meet my needs is not only over-priced, but many have seem to had to add a PID for a more repeatable experience.  It is just not practical. A Sylvia plus PID will cost around $800.00 (Sylvia 593.99 + MLG PID $199.00).  For that price, I'd rather buy the Isomac Venus, but it's no longer $600.00, it's $699.00.

However, from what the site reports this model was found to report 11 - 12 bars of pressure during extraction.  Does this mean it also does not have an OPV and requires adding one or does one exist?

Lastly, have you prepared Ristrettos on this machines?  If so, what is easily reproducible?

In your opinion, why did you favor the Venus over the Sylvia?

The Venus is still over my budget by $100.00, so if the Lelit has the adjustable OPV, then may go that route.  If I do go that route then I'll test first w/o PID, as one user indicated it didn't matter much w/or w/out.  I'll try without and if it is too difficult to temp surf, I'll try adding my old PID.

Thanks!
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acasabia
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acasabia
Joined: 17 Oct 2008
Posts: 619
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, 4:12pm
Subject: Re: Ascaso Steel UNO Professional Espresso Machine Versus Rancilio Sylvia 2009
 

espressoaddict Said:

I apologize for the confusion about their 3-way valve on this model.  The lady I talked to was new and was not up-to-speed on the model.

Now that is cleared up, there are mixed comments about the BAR pressure of this unit providing the full BAR pressure of 11 or higher.  Does this mean, it can be adjusted to 9 BAR via a an OPV?  This is a concern as I typically make Ristrettos and aiming for that optimal flow is crucial for me.  

Have you had any success in preparing excellent Ristrettos?  If so, can you share some info on any challenges in the process and photos?

The other issue buying this now is Lelit plans to release a newer module featuring a longer steam wand.  The release date is sometime Q1 2010. Ideally I should wait, but that is just too long and wondering is it a challenge to make micro-foam with that attachment or is it Mickey Mouse?

Thanks!

Posted October 26, 2009 link

I read somewhere that there is an opv that can be adjusted, but wasn't meant to be easily accessed, Im sure you can find info on it here, and as long as you're not shifting it every day Im positive it wound cause a problem.
When I pull ristrettos its all in the grind dose and tamp, I rely on the brew group to do its own thing, and almost always, I get great results. I haven't noticed any variations in brew pressure throughout my use of the machine, however I have not taken the time to do any accurate measurements.

Basically, I just know that the machine does what its supposed to do, as long as my grind dose and tamp are set.

As for steaming. I had some issues adjusting to the machine, but I got a good rhythm with it now (after a week)
and yes, without the attachment this machine produces good microfoam. my latte art skills aren't exactly up to par but it's getting there. I also heard you can fit a sylvia wand on this machine but I have yet to try. Im sure that when the new one comes out, you can pick up the part from 1st line and just stick it on yourself.

Temp surfing hasn't been an issue either, I just purge the group into a cup to warm the cup, clean the screen, and restart the boiler, dry the cup, grind dose tamp and pull. this method with about 4 different roasts has worked well.

 
Anthony C

Currently pulling:
Path Coffee Roasters (PortChester, NY) Feather in cap espresso.

Cold Brewing:
Gimme! (ithaca, NY) Moca Java

http://coffeeandneuroscience.wordpress.com/
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Frost
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Frost
Joined: 26 Jul 2007
Posts: 2,093
Location: Sierra
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Venus
Grinder: Lelit PL53
Roaster: Poppery I w/variac, MET, BT
Posted Tue Oct 27, 2009, 11:30am
Subject: Re: Ascaso Steel UNO Professional Espresso Machine Versus Rancilio Sylvia 2009
 

espressoaddict Said:

I'm still hesitating on the Ascaso Pro after a few places giving a higher rcommendation on the Sylvia for it's more reliable and build history.  But the Sylvia is still not going to meet my needs is not only over-priced, but many have seem to had to add a PID for a more repeatable experience.  It is just not practical. A Sylvia plus PID will cost around $800.00 (Sylvia 593.99 + MLG PID $199.00).  For that price, I'd rather buy the Isomac Venus, but it's no longer $600.00, it's $699.00.

However, from what the site reports this model was found to report 11 - 12 bars of pressure during extraction.  Does this mean it also does not have an OPV and requires adding one or does one exist?

Lastly, have you prepared Ristrettos on this machines?  If so, what is easily reproducible?

In your opinion, why did you favor the Venus over the Sylvia?

The Venus is still over my budget by $100.00, so if the Lelit has the adjustable OPV, then may go that route.  If I do go that route then I'll test first w/o PID, as one user indicated it didn't matter much w/or w/out.  I'll try without and if it is too difficult to temp surf, I'll try adding my old PID.

Thanks!

Posted October 26, 2009 link

Just look to the Ulka pump spec, a graph showing flow vs pressure and you will see why there is a need to regulate brew pressure either by voltage (108-110V) or OPV bypass.  At your ristretto volumes all these machines will be above 11 bar.

If you adjust the brew pressure to somewhere in the 8-10 Bar range (by whatever means) you will get better results than running at or above 11bar.

Why did I get Venus instead of Silvia?  What a reputation! Hunt down the details on the thermal behavior of this machine. There's plenty of detail data out there, but still hard to find under everything else that pops up.
I just think it is much simpler to predict the important thermal behaviors of a 'saturated group' single boiler than what occurs with the offset group on Silvia. If you pull multiple shots, the group will tend to over heat. After steaming, the group needs to be cooled (like all the single boilers, but this tends to run cooler...at least at idle). You have no direct control over the group temp, only indirect by (some) boiler contact and how much water at what temp has passed through the group and how long ago. It's just more complicated to get it right and less predictable in the variety on situations of practical use. Put a strap heater on the grouphead and set it to 200F and you would have a much different machine.

....Add to that all the reports of shot quality 'no better than a Gaggia', why bother?
( to be fair though, I believe if one takes the time to figure out how to handle the machine, you could deliver quality shots.  But I don't really know as I've never used one. It does sound to be a difficult machine to master.)

To be fair again, the Hx machine is a 'dynamic thermal situation' as well to manage brew temps. The big advantage though is a stable constant boiler temp. The user must still manage the Hx volume temp/residence time, cooling or heating flush, group temp differences from idle to pulling multiple shots and recovery time.  Every implementation will behave a bit different but if the manufacturer did good on engineering, it should be fairly easy and predictable.

I still recommend to use a thermometer to monitor brew temps, especially for beginners as how else will you learn and understand the taste effects of changing brew temperature? How else will you know what your brew temps are?

On the temperature issue.... I can't imagine you would want to return to the temp surf 'guessing game' after using a PID and controlling boiler temp on your Gaggia. All these machines use essentially the same thermostat with a wide dead band. Larry did some preliminary on the Le'lit machine here;

"Le'Lit PL041 mod's"

....haven't heard from him in a while on how it's going......

You already know the effects of 195-198-202-205F brew temps on a particular coffee. If you don't use your PID then at least put a thermometer on the boiler to characterize the machine behavior.

The Venus does have an adjustable OPV, but they have put it on hot (stream valve) side of the boiler rather than the cold water inlet. this is far from ideal to tax the thermal stability of the boiler during a shot by removing 'excess' hot water.  What I have done is to use voltage control to lower the overall flow of the pump, and then set the OPV to the upper limit (around 10bar) so that in use there is very little flow from the OPV during a shot. I routed this excess to the drip tray instead of returning it to the reservoir.

Remember to follow the recipe; pressure, temperature, fresh grind, dose, extraction time. They are all inter-related and must sing together for excellent espresso.
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Frost
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Frost
Joined: 26 Jul 2007
Posts: 2,093
Location: Sierra
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Venus
Grinder: Lelit PL53
Roaster: Poppery I w/variac, MET, BT
Posted Tue Oct 27, 2009, 1:31pm
Subject: Re: Ascaso Steel UNO Professional Espresso Machine Versus Rancilio Sylvia 2009
 

....back to your machine selection; as you live in Seattle, spend some time checking out the machines at Seattle Coffee Gear;  

http://www.seattlecoffeegear.com/articles.asp?id=176

I believe they have a showroom where you can get at least a little hands on with the machines.
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acasabia
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acasabia
Joined: 17 Oct 2008
Posts: 619
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 Tue Oct 27, 2009, 9:04pm
Subject: Re: Ascaso Steel UNO Professional Espresso Machine Versus Rancilio Sylvia 2009
 

heres my Le'lit with the frothing attachment removed.
CLICK :P (mind the dishes you can see in its reflection)

 
Anthony C

Currently pulling:
Path Coffee Roasters (PortChester, NY) Feather in cap espresso.

Cold Brewing:
Gimme! (ithaca, NY) Moca Java

http://coffeeandneuroscience.wordpress.com/
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wideasleep1
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wideasleep1
Joined: 19 Feb 2005
Posts: 1,439
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 Tue Oct 27, 2009, 10:02pm
Subject: Re: Ascaso Steel UNO Professional Espresso Machine Versus Rancilio Sylvia 2009
 

wideasleep1 Said:

I would tend towards Silvia for many reasons: Tried and true, loads of support and user-derived experience behind her, made of serious commerical components and built to last, parts availability when the inevitable failure happens on ANY machine, and, of course, Italian parentage vs. Spanish. :p

FWIW, I have a PID'd (Watlow SD3) Silvia in BST around your price point. ;) It's a V1, before Rancilio began adding plastic 'bling' to Silvia.

Posted October 25, 2009 link

With 3 years experience on an unPID'd Silvia, I can attest to the steep learning curve required to get decent, consistent shots out of her. With close to a year experience with her PID'd, I can attest to both decent and consistent shots (more occasional wow/gawd shots), without any fuss about temperature surfing, reverse surfing, worry about offset groups/temps,etc. She definitely becomes more compliant, if not almost automatic. Some gripe about her elevated price, but quite a few machines have also gone up slightly in price, and her build quality, durability and commercial components justify her cost when compared to the lower tiered, cheaper machines.
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espressoaddict
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Mar 2009
Posts: 346
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia V3 (Primary)...
Grinder: Baratza Vario 2009 and...
Vac Pot: None
Drip: Melitta Single Cup, Bodum...
Posted Wed Oct 28, 2009, 12:50am
Subject: Re: Ascaso Steel UNO Professional Espresso Machine Versus Rancilio Sylvia 2009
 

Frost Said:

Just look to the Ulka pump spec, a graph showing flow vs pressure and you will see why there is a need to regulate brew pressure either by voltage (108-110V) or OPV bypass.  At your ristretto volumes all these machines will be above 11 bar.
If you adjust the brew pressure to somewhere in the 8-10 Bar range (by whatever means) you will get better results than running at or above 11bar.

Posted October 27, 2009 link


Assuming, I was able to drop the voltage on Lelit, IMHO, it is not as easy as calibrating an OPV on a different machine.

Frost Said:

On the temperature issue.... I can't imagine you would want to return to the temp surf 'guessing game' after using a PID and controlling boiler temp on your Gaggia. All these machines use essentially the same thermostat with a wide dead band. Larry did some preliminary on the Le'lit machine here;

"Le'Lit PL041 mod's"

Posted October 27, 2009 link


Thanks for the link. He had some interesting data, but not all too accurate in some areas.  Anyway, I'm most likely going to pass on the Lelit as there is not much support on this unit compared to the Sylvia.

Frost Said:

You already know the effects of 195-198-202-205F brew temps on a particular coffee. If you don't use your PID then at least put a thermometer on the boiler to characterize the machine behavior.

Posted October 27, 2009 link

You are right about that, but I still want to experiment at least for a week with temp surfing. Worst case, I'll probably just move my PID onto the newer machine.

Frost Said:

....back to your machine selection; as you live in Seattle, spend some time checking out the machines at Seattle Coffee Gear;  

http://www.seattlecoffeegear.com/articles.asp?id=176

I believe they have a showroom where you can get at least a little hands on with the machines.

Posted October 27, 2009 link

I've been there before.  It's a nice place to visit as they have possibly the largest selection of machines in the entire city.   They do have the Ascaso there, but when I asked the question which of the two units they would recommended -- the answer was the Sylvia for it's quality components & etc.

The Gaggia Classic and Sylvia seem like the two top contenders, as they have the 3-way valve and adjustable OPV built-in.  However, the Gaggia gets a thumbs down for the Aluminum boiler.  Although the Sylvia is finicky by nature, but despite it is $200.00 more, it does come with a larger boiler 12 0z boiler compared to the 3.5 0z on the Gaggia. The new commercial articulate arm is now standard.  The Gaggia's boiler just didn't have much power to steam, and plus I can practice my Rosetta art with this type of steam arm.  Plus it is easier to sell if needed while it retains a good resale value.  I suppose this is another set of training wheels before the real big bike (HX).  

Thanks for your help!
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espressoaddict
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Mar 2009
Posts: 346
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia V3 (Primary)...
Grinder: Baratza Vario 2009 and...
Vac Pot: None
Drip: Melitta Single Cup, Bodum...
Posted Wed Oct 28, 2009, 12:52am
Subject: Re: Ascaso Steel UNO Professional Espresso Machine Versus Rancilio Sylvia 2009
 

heres my Le'lit with the frothing attachment removed.
CLICK :P (mind the dishes you can see in its reflection)

Thanks for sharing, but like in the photo that is just too short. It will probably work for a small steam pitcher.
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espressoaddict
Senior Member


Joined: 18 Mar 2009
Posts: 346
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia V3 (Primary)...
Grinder: Baratza Vario 2009 and...
Vac Pot: None
Drip: Melitta Single Cup, Bodum...
Posted Wed Oct 28, 2009, 12:56am
Subject: Re: Ascaso Steel UNO Professional Espresso Machine Versus Rancilio Sylvia 2009
 

wideasleep1 Said:

With 3 years experience on an unPID'd Silvia, I can attest to the steep learning curve required to get decent, consistent shots out of her. With close to a year experience with her PID'd, I can attest to both decent and consistent shots (more occasional wow/gawd shots), without any fuss about temperature surfing, reverse surfing, worry about offset groups/temps,etc. She definitely becomes more compliant, if not almost automatic. Some gripe about her elevated price, but quite a few machines have also gone up slightly in price, and her build quality, durability and commercial components justify her cost when compared to the lower tiered, cheaper machines.

Posted October 27, 2009 link

Any reason you bought a Watlow PID other than it is the one to buy because of it's great reputation?  The Auber PID is cheaper.

By the way, thanks for the offer, but I will probably buy new as it is easier to justify purchases with the Wife.
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