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Please help, any machine advice appreciated
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Please help, any...  
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Garrett
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Nov 2010
Posts: 54
Location: Chicago Suburbs
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Bodum French Press
Posted Mon Feb 14, 2011, 6:55pm
Subject: Re: Please help, any machine advice appreciated
 

Josh,

The Silvia does indeed take some time, recommended 30-45minutes although you can cheat a bit (Here's a quick guide to give you an idea http://www.coffeekid.com/archived/rancilio/cheatsilvia) to help bring it up faster.  What a lot of us do is put it on an automatic timer for a half hour before you wake up for example so that it's warmed up.  

As for the models you're looking at, all of them are good models but it comes down to understanding the limitations of the machine.  There are a few folks here who were able to find used NS Oscars which, being a Heat Exchange machine, makes it much each to do milk-based drinks and shot consistency vs the Single Boiler machines you'll find (which are pretty much anything under 1k).  There are hybrids too which have a thermoblock for the steaming side and a boiler for the brew.  The Ascaso Duo has both thermoblock and boiler so you can pull shots and do steaming at the same time vs waiting for the temp to ramp up for steaming after brewing on the silvia.

The Le'lits have been a very popular and well-received machines lately especially for the price.  As for grinders, if you want used, there's a great deal on a used (although a member did just ask about the electronic upgrade on the head unit) Vario in the Buy/Sell topic "Sold    : Baratza Vario Grinder"  Figure it's $360 for a refurb from Baratza so $310 isn't bad at all if it has the upgraded head unit (costs $20 from Baratza).

Cheers,
Garrett

 
- Garrett
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,368
Location: Berkeley, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: CCD, Chemex
Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Mon Feb 14, 2011, 7:38pm
Subject: Re: Please help, any machine advice appreciated
 

Josh, there is a difference between the light for the heating element going out and the machine being thermally stable.  The light may go out in as little as 5 minutes, but 20 minutes is the minimum that a machine -- any machine -- takes to reach a state of thermic stability; the larger the boiler and the more mass that comprises the  grouphead, the longer it will take to become stable.  My machine has a 6.0L boiler and a very heavy group -- I have it on a timer that turns the machine on one hour before I get up so it's ready to go when I get into the kitchen . . . and it needs that hour!

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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daschlag
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Feb 2011
Posts: 34
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Silvia
Grinder: Vario
Drip: Cuisinart programmable...
Posted Mon Feb 14, 2011, 8:41pm
Subject: Re: Please help, any machine advice appreciated
 

Alright y'all, settled on the Silvia.  I'll make due with the coffee shop grind for now until I can drop another few hundred for the Rocky doserless.  Thanks again all for the great advice.
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Garrett
Senior Member


Joined: 12 Nov 2010
Posts: 54
Location: Chicago Suburbs
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Bodum French Press
Posted Mon Feb 14, 2011, 9:08pm
Subject: Re: Please help, any machine advice appreciated
 

Happy to hear, it's a solid machine and will teach you a LOT while owning it and SCG should have a few open-box Silvia's too to save a few bucks.  You will definitely notice a difference once you pick up the grinder too.  Let us know how it goes!

Cheers,
Garrett

 
- Garrett
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JtothaR
Senior Member
JtothaR
Joined: 20 Dec 2010
Posts: 683
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Faema D92/A1 Smart
Grinder: B VARIO, Krups Conic
Drip: Manual Pour-Over, Bodum...
Roaster: Redbird, Metropolis
Posted Mon Feb 14, 2011, 10:12pm
Subject: Re: Please help, any machine advice appreciated
 

JtothaR Said:

Don't forget to budget for the grinder first and foremost.

Posted February 13, 2011 link

The grinder is the most important thing you need to buy. It still seems as though you're still focusing on machines that don't allow you a grinder budget. "GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER" (I don't remember who said this, but the point is made.)

I can say from experience and without the doubt of anyone here: Pre-Ground is -not an option-, your roaster grinding it for you is -not an option-, and Illy in a can? That's a can of worms we don't want to open.
I'm speaking purely from experience here. I've wasted the money and learned the lessons.


JtothaR Said:

If the $600 is for machine and grinder, Whole latte love is offering a Gaggia New baby with an MDF grinder for $664

Posted February 13, 2011 link

The above is an option that's under $700 and allows you to get a good starter machine and a decent grinder, New.

I CANNOT EXPLAIN TO YOU THE FRUSTRATION OF TRYING TO USE MISS SILVIA WITH COFFEE SHOP GRIND. LETS JUST SAY IT AIN'T HAPPENIN' (Not yellling, btw. This is just the most important thing in my whole post.)

Hopefully this helps,
James

 
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wbaguhn
Senior Member
wbaguhn
Joined: 16 Feb 2009
Posts: 980
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Ponte Vecchio Lusso
Grinder: Cunill Tranquilo, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Cory DR
Drip: Vietnamese gadget, AeroPress
Roaster: Behmor
Posted Tue Feb 15, 2011, 5:46am
Subject: Re: Please help, any machine advice appreciated
 

daschlag Said:

Alright y'all, settled on the Silvia.  I'll make due with the coffee shop grind for now until

Posted February 14, 2011 link

It's probably easier to get better coffee with the broken Breville and a good grinder than a Silvia and no grinder.

Grinder first.  I used a department store quality machine (not Breville, but similar) for about a year along with my Tranquilo, and things were pretty decent - better shots than many local cafes.

Don't settle for mediocrity.  Do it right.


(Also, Go read the guide on buying an espresso machine.)
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,368
Location: Berkeley, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: CCD, Chemex
Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Tue Feb 15, 2011, 7:45am
Subject: Re: Please help, any machine advice appreciated
 

Josh, are you familiar with the Rule of Fifteens?

Babbie's Rule* of Fifteens:
-- Green (unroasted) coffee beans should be roasted within 15 months, or they go stale.
-- Roasted coffee beans should be ground within 15 days, or they go stale.
-- Ground coffee should be used within 15 minutes, or it goes stale.

Your choice.

Cheers,
Jason

* OK, so there are very few hard-and-fast "rules" -- more like "rules-of-thumb."

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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JR
Senior Member
JR
Joined: 31 Mar 2003
Posts: 1,821
Location: Germantown, TN (right next to Elvistown)
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Old Coffee Gaggia (x2.5)
Grinder: Cunill Tranquilo
Drip: Bona Vita (Thermal)
Roaster: GG/UFO
Posted Tue Feb 15, 2011, 7:00pm
Subject: Re: Please help, any machine advice appreciated
 

daschlag Said:

Thanks again all for the great advice.

Posted February 14, 2011 link

You're ignoring the best advice.  When you come back here disappointed and frustrated, the advice will still be the same: get a good grinder, the machine is secondary.  (sigh...)

Jack

 
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http://www.GaggiaUsersGroup.com
www.IsuzuPup.com
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daschlag
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Feb 2011
Posts: 34
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Silvia
Grinder: Vario
Drip: Cuisinart programmable...
Posted Tue Feb 15, 2011, 8:37pm
Subject: Re: Please help, any machine advice appreciated
 

Okay, okay, I get it.  I may be dense, but I recognize a common theme when I see it.  The new coffee grinder-shaped dent on my head is also a bit of a clue.  I've read a ton of reviews on the Silvia (both from people who know what they're talking about, and people who don't.. ahem... Amazon) and it's clear that the machine will basically be worthless without a good grinder and lots of practice.  I can handle that.  So, I'm heading up to SCG later this week to cough up a grand for my new setup.
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daschlag
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Feb 2011
Posts: 34
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Silvia
Grinder: Vario
Drip: Cuisinart programmable...
Posted Sat Feb 19, 2011, 3:41pm
Subject: Re: Please help, any machine advice appreciated
 

Update:
Today I brought home a new Silvia and Vario grinder.  Wow - what a great combo!  First impressions are the following:

Silvia - heavy, solidly made, mostly beautiful (not crazy about the phillips screws on the front and top panels and some of the panel gaps are wider than necessary), definitely looks and feels like a workhorse.  I love the beefy knob on the v3.  The drip tray is tiny.  It wasn't nearly as fussy as I expected, and the very first double shot we pulled made two delicious caps for my wife and I.  The steamer was impressive and quickly frothed about 16 oz of milk.

Vario - I was surprised by how tiny this grinder is.  But heavy, and also very solidly built.  A piece of cake to figure out and calibrate.  I can't wait to play with the grinds more and see the results.

I got the combo at Seattle Coffee Gear's retail store in Lynnwood.  Well worth the drive up from Seattle.  They were super helpful and knowledgeable, and their website is just awesome.  I love a retailer who takes the time to educate their customers.  Their package deal is incredible and I got a 5% coupon code via their online "price match" feature.  All said and done, I got the Silvia, the Vario, a Rattleware stainless tamper, a frothing mug and thermometer, two shot glasses, a cleaning brush, a backflush insert, JoeGlo, and a pound of Velton's beans, for $1058 including 9.5% WA sales tax.  I would highly recommend SCG to anyone.

Overall I'm very happy with the results.  I blew my budget but, well, it's only money.  :):)  Huge thanks to everyone who weighed in, I owe a lot to your expertise.  Happy brewing, y'all.
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