Posted Tue Jan 15, 2013, 2:18pm Subject: The luxury of time with Miss Silvia
I've recently acquired a Rancilio Silvia V3 (my first big-girl espresso machine!), and of course I've been reading and researching like mad. Many of the instructions and guides I've read focus on jump-starting or circumventing the length of time it takes to properly heat the machine, but because I work from home and prefer to shower before I do anything else, even coffee, I actually have the luxury of letting the it heat up for awhile before my first morning espresso. So I've got a couple questions:
What's the best procedure for preparing to pull a shot if the machine's been heating up for awhile? I (sort of) understand that there's a difference between just turning the machine on and actually heating the boiler, but I'm not sure how that works in practice. Will I still benefit from a bit of temperature surfing? Do I need to run water through the grouphead, purge steam from the wand, etc.? I've been just pulling a blank shot and then waiting for the light to go back off before pulling a shot for real, but that's just because that's what I did with my previous cheap consumer machine, not because I actually know what I'm doing. :)
How long is too long to leave the machine on before using it? If I turn it on, take a shower, and then get distracted by work and forget about making coffee for awhile (this is unlikely!), will Bad Things happen?
Posted Tue Jan 15, 2013, 3:23pm Subject: Re: The luxury of time with Miss Silvia
Agreed. I used a Silvia for about 8 years or so, until I upgraded to my DB machine in Dec 2011. Funny how quickly one forgets the specifics, but my routine was to stumble over to the machine to turn it on when getting out of bed in the am, then go get ready (which sometimes included 45min on my rowing machine and then a shower) and only then after a long warmup prepare my cappuccino, and my wife's latte (and often my in-laws lattes). I would not recommend using her before at least 30 minutes of warmup time.
I used to leave it on all day when I was home with it (I worked from home for a couple of years). When doing so, I would run some water through the group and look inside the reservoir every couple of hours (yeah, I know, that's a little excessive). I never had a problem, but the Silvia won't autofill the boiler when necessary, so you have to do something like dispense hot water from the wand or boiler, to get it to keep the boiler full.
The following is just my $0.02...
I recall an article called "cheating Miss Silvia" I wouldn't recemmend doing that. It's just a way to make crappy drinks. If you really don't have the time or patience to use it right, you should either PID her or upgrade to something that can pull shots and steam milk simultaneously and that you can leave on a timer.
. Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 7,314 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Veneziano A1 Grinder: Many different commercial Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Milita, Bunn&Curtis... Roaster: Cast iron pan, gas burner
Posted Wed Jan 16, 2013, 9:47am Subject: Re: The luxury of time with Miss Silvia
I picked up and rebuilt a Sylvia for work and since have taken it home and now it mostly just gets used for travel but that is beside the point, I have let it stay on for hours, to all day with no ill effects but then I made sure the boiler was full to start with and it did not leak either steam or water any place as either of those will lower the water level in the boiler and there is not a lot of water there to loose. If it gets low, you can damage the heater, which btw, is how I bought my Sylvia, it had a leak in the boiler and ran it dry then burned up the heater.
If your machine is in good shape, no leaks and starts with a full boiler there is no harm in leaving it on for hours. However, I would not leave it on and then leave for the store or to work while the machine is on. Play it safe and when no longer need, turn it off.
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!
Posted Wed Jan 16, 2013, 9:53am Subject: Re: The luxury of time with Miss Silvia
So if I understand correctly, I fill the boiler by running water through the grouphead? Or hot water through the wand? Or both/either? And there's not really any way to know if the boiler's full or empty, but if I've filled it and not released any more water or steam, I can be reasonably assured that it's still full?
Posted Wed Jan 16, 2013, 9:59am Subject: Re: The luxury of time with Miss Silvia
yeah, that's right. running water through either will release steam first, if there's any, then after the boiler is full, you'll hear a sound change in the pump (assuming it wasn't full when you started). Then there's no need to worry, as Wayne said, unless you have a leak. I was just paranoid, since I knew Silvia wouldn't refill the boiler automatically.
. Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
Posted Wed Jan 16, 2013, 1:25pm Subject: Re: The luxury of time with Miss Silvia
I usually give my machine a min of 20min. If I'm not keeping track of time I will touch the group and portafilter. If it's hot will prepare a shot. I usually just pull a bit of water through the steam wand at brew temp to warm the shot glass and start the temp surf. A word of caution. Don't set your machine to steam and leave it for a long time (longer than 15-20min MAX) If the temp gets to high it will trip the "Overheat-protection Thermostat". Even though this thermostat prevents element damage the high temp can still ruin the heat element. I have read that the max amount of milk to steam at one time is 12oz. I usually just steam a MAX of 8oz.
Once I am done I kill the power, clean the wand, purge and turn on the power and water flow through the wand to cool the machine down. Once you get a good water flow the boiler has refilled.
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