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For good espresso: Silvano or Europiccola
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morning_hit
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Joined: 7 Apr 2014
Posts: 6
Location: London
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Apr 7, 2014, 11:46am
Subject: For good espresso: Silvano or Europiccola
 

So I'm reluctant to start another this v that comparison thread, but I'm a bit stumped.

I've owned a Rancilio Silvia+Rocky for a year, now we're moving countries I have to sell them. I know what new grinder I want, but now the question of which espresso machine. I found Silvia was a challenge to get consistent espresso - and I really don't want the hassle of installing a PID.

I know there are big differences between Silvano (best for milk and making more coffees at one time) and Europiccola (looks cool and greater control). But I wanted to ask a very specific question around which of these two is going to give the best espresso, after all, the machine you really want is the one that'll give you a great espresso in the morning. I can forgive Europiccola's short comings if it gives the best espresso, but if they deliver the same then I'll pay the extra and get the Silvano.

Has anyone tried both of these machines? Appreciate help in advance.

Thanks
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Buckley
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Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Apr 7, 2014, 7:56pm
Subject: Re: For good espresso: Silvano or Europiccola
 

Dear 'hit,
No, I only have the Europiccola but I have to underscore that when you say there are big differences there are BIG differences.  I only know the Silvia by reputation, which is one of temperature instability, but you could inform me about that better than I could say anything further on that score.  You obviously know how to work with the machine and circumvent the temperature problem, or at least ameliorate it to your satisfaction without a PID.  As you know, almost everyone mentions Silvia and PID in the same breath.
The Europiccola requires you to learn barista skills to the extent that you become 'one with the machine'.  It is not going to wait for you or forgive you.  It will frustrate you at every step up the learning curve except those serendipitous successes that you wished to God you remembered how you got it and after enough of them, you get it, at the cost of a lot of sink shots.
You have not said what kind of experience you have had besides the Silvia and you have not mentioned your drink preference, espresso, milk drink, etc., or how many pulls you will want to be making at one time.  Everything you have heard about the Europiccoa overheating after two pulls is just about right.  But the control one can theoretically have is very precise - if only one knew how hot it was at any given time.
At the risk of showing how FOS I am, here is an analogy:  my understanding of the Silvia is like shooting an arrow with no feathers - it is all over the place on the way to the target but by not pulling the bow too taut, by lobbing the arrow and by not getting too far from the target, you can at least hit the target and, if you are lucky an occasional bulls-eye.  In comparison, the Europiccola is an arrow with precision, high-accuracy feathers.  It goes right where it is aimed.  The only problem is that now you are wearing a blindfold.

What I meant by that lame analogy is that, in a standard Europiccola, you have no idea how hot the boiler is and there is a very short passage for all of that superheated steam to condense in the group head and you have no idea how hot your group is.  The group will overheat quickly and the key to making one good shot or, as a few can do, several good shots in a row is to turn the boiler off and let the superheated water coast down from its 114 degree C level even as the group is climbing up to a decent 93 degree C level from its cold start.  To get there you have to do a warming flush and learn exactly how many seconds (between 2 and 3-1/2, say) is enough but not too much.  Then if you want to bring the boiler up to steam milk and then make another shot, you have to learn all of the ways that there are to cool the group head down (ice cube massage, cold portafilter, cold wet rag, etc.) and continue from there.

Here is a way to avoid flying blind with the Europiccola temperature: buy a dual channel digital thermometer and two thermocouples on wires and some high heat metallic tape.  Tape one thermocouple to the boiler and the other to the group head.  It will cost from US$35 to US$75, depending upon the quality of the digital readout.  A more imprecise but still viable way to do it is to replace the top screw on the sight glass housing with a pressure gauge so you will have some idea of how hot the boiler is and buy an adhesive temperature strip indicator (both available at Orphan Espresso) (buy the high range strip) and stick it on the front of the group head.  Both of these are imprecise for exact temperatures, but by watching what they look like when you get good shots, they give you something quantifiable to shoot for on the next attempt.

Does this start to answer your question?  The more precise answer to your question will require the input of your usage preferences, as alluded to above.

Buckley
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,203
Location: Monrovia, CA
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Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Tue Apr 8, 2014, 7:00am
Subject: Re: For good espresso: Silvano or Europiccola
 

Buckley Said:

No, I only have the Europiccola but...  only know the Silvia by reputation, which is one of temperature instability....

Posted April 7, 2014 link

Buckley,

SILVANO, not Silvia.

Rich
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DanoM
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Joined: 20 Mar 2013
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Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega, '84 La...
Grinder: Compak K10, Kludge grinder,...
Posted Tue Apr 8, 2014, 7:09am
Subject: Re: For good espresso: Silvano or Europiccola
 

I've been running a La Pavoni Professional and a Nuova Simonelli Oscar for about 1 year now.  I use both machines quite often.  They both make great espresso, but I would never call their shots anywhere close to comparison.  Totally different tastes from each machine - at least in my experience.

As the previous poster noted the La Pavoni becomes a much more manageable machine once you've put on some temp monitoring.  I have a dual zone thermometer like he described and it works well for me.  I generally use the La Pavoni for 1-3 shots at a time and then turn it off as it only takes 10 minutes to heat up.

My NS Oscar can do back to back shots without breaking a sweat.  Doesn't dispense hot water, but will heat a pitcher of water to boiling quickly using steam.  This is the system I use on weekday mornings and when guests are around.  It's just much easier.  Cleans up easier overall too.

I love my La Pavoni, but I love it more because I don't have to rely on it for every shot.  If I had to keep only 1 of these machines as my only machine forever it would be a hard choice.
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,203
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Tue Apr 8, 2014, 7:38am
Subject: Re: For good espresso: Silvano or Europiccola
 

morning_hit Said:

... Silvano (best for milk and making more coffees at one time) and Europiccola (looks cool and greater control)... (emphases added)

Posted April 7, 2014 link

You very clearly know the answer to your own question, but can't be faulted for asking for confirmation.  Consider it confirmed.  

You have a better chance of pulling a "God shot" with the Europiccola than the Silvano.  And if you're on your game, will usually get a more layered, nuanced shot as well because that's the nature of levers.  But it's also the nature of levers to punish you if you do anything wrong, and the nature of small levers to punish you sometimes even if you've done everything right just for the helluva it.  Beyond "in the cup" inconsistency, the Europiccola has all sort of quirks and limitations which make it a (beautiful) PITA.  

If you've never used a lever before, the Europiccola comes with a steeper learning cruve, but after a couple of months that's not going to signify -- so keep it in perspective.

The Silvano is neither the easiest nor the most difficult "straight pump' machine to dial in for temp.  As a shot puller, once it's set up, the Silvano is very consistent.  But you knew that, I think. No espresso machine other than a super automatic is "set it and forget it," but a machine like the Silvano with it's PID controlled brew boiler is about as close as it gets.

People taste any deviation from the ideal temp for a given coffee greater than 2F or 2-1/2F (depending on the individual coffee and palate) as an unbalanced sour or bitter.  Your old Silvia can't be temped by "surfing," into a tighter range than plus or minus 5F from ideal.  A Silvano, once dialed in, will hit the temp within plus or minus 1F.  Assuming you can competently dial in for temp, dose, grind and can built a decent puck, the difference in the quality of your morning shots from Silvia to Silvano is tremendous.  

Even with its separate, dedicated steam pump, the Silvano isn't a very good steamer, but it's hugely better than the Europiccola.  If milk is a regular part of your routine, it's the rational choice.

You were right, the Europiccola is more beautiful, the Silvano is more consistent.  Would you rather live with a gorgeous but bipolar girl-friend, who makes every morning an adventure, but not always in the good way; or a merely attractive, sane woman who knows just how you like your waffles?

Tough call.        

GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER
A grinder upgrade should be your first priority.

People get mad at me when I say the Rocky is inadequate, so I'm beaming the thought to you instead of saying it out loud. (Ahem). Let's try that again. The Rocky isn't a good espresso grinder. If you can stretch your budget, you really want to move up to something in the Baratza Vario class, minimum.  

Just in case you blinked... A grinder upgrade should be your first priority.

In your price range, you'll get way more bang for your thousand bucks from a CC1 + Vario combination, than from buying either of the machines you've mentioned and sticking with the Rocky.

Rich
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Buckley
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Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Apr 8, 2014, 9:45am
Subject: Re: For good espresso: Silvano or Europiccola
 

boar_d_laze Said:

Buckley,

SILVANO, not Silvia.

Rich

Posted April 8, 2014 link

Sorry.  Try out for senior moment.

B

P.S. Hey, 'hit (where are you?), any kids in the house?  If there are, it's an easy decision: the Europiccola is nice and shiny and it will burn the Sh@!* out of them.
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EricBNC
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EricBNC
Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 1,866
Location: North Carolina
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: QM Silvano, LP Stradivarius,...
Grinder: K30, Major, Preciso, Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam C30, Bodum Santos...
Drip: Bonavita BV-1800,...
Roaster: Behmor, Melitta, Fresh...
Posted Tue Apr 8, 2014, 10:45am
Subject: Re: For good espresso: Silvano or Europiccola
 

The Silvano is much easier to use than my Stradivarius (pretty similar to the Europiccola), but I like them both for different reasons. The Silvano looks more durable to me if that helps.

 
I chew coffee beans with my teeth while gargling with 195 F water to enjoy coffee. What is this "coffee brewing" device you speak of?
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morning_hit
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Joined: 7 Apr 2014
Posts: 6
Location: London
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Apr 8, 2014, 3:14pm
Subject: Re: For good espresso: Silvano or Europiccola
 

Buckley,

I feel really bad that you took the time to respond with Silvia comments. Sorry, partially my fault for using closely named machines in the post, should have highlight "Quick Mill". Thanks for your time anyways.

No kids in the house, so no worries there

-Hit
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morning_hit
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Joined: 7 Apr 2014
Posts: 6
Location: London
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Apr 8, 2014, 3:39pm
Subject: Re: For good espresso: Silvano or Europiccola
 

I haven't used a blog like this before, so please forgive me for screwing up the quote feature. I'll just copy/paste/sight, hopefully that'll work.

Buckely:  "In comparison, the Europiccola is an arrow with precision, high-accuracy feathers.  It goes right where it is aimed.  The only problem is that now you are wearing a blindfold."
I like the analogy. By the sounds of things there is work involved, but I don't mind that. Call me crazy, but I like the work and quite honestly any variation would just keep me on my toes and appreciate the good ones. It was a bit the same with the Silvia, but I just didn't find that it ever delivered a GREAT shot, pretty two dimensional and not layered in flavour.

DamoN: I know what you're saying. Oscar keeps popping up, bad man does it look cheap and it seems like the easy way out. Also wonder if it'll deliver really good espresso when I want them, but yeah, way better for milk drinks and serving coffees to a crowd.

Rich: Thanks. I've just moved to the UK and so the CC1 would be my first choice, but as I understand it they're not currently being made for the 230V power system here. For the grinder; I kind of thought the Vario would be best if I was changing the grind often, but if I'm just using it for espresso (and most likely the same beans/roast) is it worth it? I was looking at the Eureka Mignon ( I think it's called the MCI is the US). Thoughts?

So, to try and sum up. If I put in the work and learn to use the Europiccola, out of every 10 shots I pull on the Europiccola v Silvano, how many will be 1. Bad 2. OK 3. I'm happy with that 4. Stonking hot!

Thanks everyone for helping
Nick
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DanoM
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Joined: 20 Mar 2013
Posts: 356
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega, '84 La...
Grinder: Compak K10, Kludge grinder,...
Posted Tue Apr 8, 2014, 4:14pm
Subject: Re: For good espresso: Silvano or Europiccola
 

(I'm not promoting the Oscar, just using that for comparison sake.  It's a decent HX machine, but it's by no means perfect.)

Once I have my La Pavoni dialed in I think I can make 10 out of 10 shots drinkable with milk.  If I were pulling for espresso, and I have it dialed in properly for espresso (difficult for me sometimes) I can pull 5 out of 10 being happy shots - the other 5 could be anywhere from milk worthy to drinkable espresso.  Don't forget I had to shut the machine off and refill the boiler twice on a europiccola to complete 10 shots back to back.

On the other hand once I dial in my Oscar I can expect nearly the same result shot after shot.  Dialing in is much easier than for the La Pavoni, especially for straight espresso.  Dial it in for espresso and I'll have 8-9 out of 10 be pleasurable if not 10 of 10.  (Once you learn to handle your HX anyway.)

So if I want less sink shots I'd probably opt for the HX machine.  If I want to entertain at all I'd opt for the HX machine.  If I didn't have experience with a La Pavoni I'd opt for the HX machine.  If I were looking for a good deal on a second machine I'd be looking for that La Pavoni!

GRINDER!  The Baratza Vario is really nice for espresso.  My macro setting for the Oscar is in the 2 range and for the La Pavoni it's in the 4 range, quite a change in grind, and I can switch back and forth between machines hitting the right grind time after time as long as I jot the settings down.  I've been very happy with mine, but don't personally know the Eureka to compare.

FYI:  The most shots I've done back to back was 20 on the Oscar, one after the other.  Load, tamp, pull, knock, rinse, wipe, repeat...  It was for a large batch of espresso ice cream, and the best coffee infused ice cream I have ever eaten.  To do that on the La Pavoni would have taken me far too long and many more shots, pausing in between for depressurization of the PF or risk puck explosion.
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