upandatom Senior Member Joined: 18 Dec 2005 Posts: 4 Location: Kansas City, MO Expertise: I like coffee
Espresso: Gaggia Carezza Grinder: Tranquilo
Posted Thu Dec 13, 2012, 8:58pm Subject: My Upgrade Plan
Background: Several years ago I started into "real" espresso with a Cunil Tranquillo grinder and a Gaggia Carezza. I'd say I only had a modicum of success with this setup. I grew frustrated with inconsistent results and rarely used the machine.
Several months ago I dusted off my setup and have been making slightly better (but much more consistent) espresso. Note that I'm comparing much more consistent to my previous iteration with the machine, in the grand scheme of things I'm still not satisfied with my espresso on a consistent basis and am looking to upgrade. Getting a scale to weigh my grinds and getting a bottomless portafilter have helped my learning curve.
Currently I make about a max of about 10 double shots a week. Mostly on weekends and occasionally in the evening during the week. My drinks are split between straight espresso (with sugar) and cappuccino's. I don't entertain and I'm the only coffee drinker in the house. My budget is $1,000. Key feature I'm looking for is a PID control for brew temp. Not interested in getting a used HX machine.
I've read on here quite a bit and overwhelmingly I always read that it's best to upgrade the grinder. I've been pleased with my Cunil Tranquillo. It's ugly has homemade soap but that's no concern to me, and it seems to give fairly consistent grinds. I know it's not stepless, but a 1 notch adjustment seems to do the trick for fixing extraction times for the most part. It's also the only coffee grinder I've owned so I don't have anything else to compare it to.
Right now I'm deciding between a used-like new Breville Dual Boiler and the Quick Mill Silvano, leaning towards the Silvano. The feature that draws me most to the BDB is the preinfusion that you can program into it, PID control. What makes me hesitant is all of the electronic parts that can fail, it has to be sent in for service and doesn't have a long track record of reliability. That being said it's gotten some amazingly good reviews here. What attracts me to the Silvano is the simplicity of it's design, large (for this class of machine) PID controlled boiler, andjustable OPV and Chris Coffee has an excellent reputation for service. I also considered the improved Crossland CC1 that Chris Coffee is now selling, but it seems a bit too new and unproven for my taste right now. Price wise the Used BDB was recently $850 while the Silvano is $995. I already have a bottomless Gaggia portafilter that from what I've read I could use on the BDB, but would need to purchase a separate bottomless portafilter if I go with the Silvano.
I know there are better grinders out there than the Cunil Tranquillo, but I think the best bang for my buck and better espresso in the cup would be getting a new machine. I considered trying to PID my Carezza, but it would cost more to do that than the machine is worth. It's also several years old, hasn't been descaled as much as it should have, the the pressure relief valve has been sticking occasionally.
Posted Thu Dec 13, 2012, 10:58pm Subject: Re: My Upgrade Plan
Consider yourself lucky to be in a place where these machines are even an option. Your budget allows you to consider some decent machines. I like my Silvano but others like their Breville BDB just as much. My lack of interest in milk drinks directed my decision in a major way even though I made sure my unit can accomplish steaming some cow gland juice if necessary. I was drawn to the look of the Isomac Venus from first glance so the Silvano was an easy choice for me visually. The adjustable OPV and PID were technical advantages that sealed the deal.
That said, there was no BDB on the market at the time so my choice was easier than yours. What you mention about Chris Coffee is true too. I haven't needed them for warranty during my one plus years of ownership but it was nice to know that they are available. Chris was helpful with matching my expectations by recommending this machine and so far I have no regrets about taking his advice. Like you, I am the primary user so volume (think Oscar) was not as significant as adjust-ability to me.
Good luck with your decision! : )
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?
Posted Fri Dec 14, 2012, 9:11am Subject: Re: My Upgrade Plan
What was said about Chris' service is true. I had two problems with my machine, one was a metal insert coming loose in the steam knob assembly (allowing the wand to leak water, as the valve was ever so slightly open), and the other was a corroded hot water pipe (due to faulty build at the manufacturer, I was told). The knob problem was on a custom built, but was diagnosed by Chris' guys after I disassembled the valve and couldn't figure out why it was failing (and I was able to repair it easily, after they explained the problem). They also helped me with the other issue by 1) sending me a replacement water pipe at no charge, and 2) helping me over the phone twice while I was doing the actual replacement. As you might imagine, it's a little stressful to be in the middle of a repair and find you're stuck behind the 8 ball, but Chris' guys were right there when I called to help me through the difficulty I was having, and I was up and running in no time.
Another thing, I've been told by Chris at least once to not buy something he felt I didn't need. For these and other reasons, they are the paradigm of "service" in my book!
. Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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