Obtaining Tolerable espresso wth the poor temp control is possible. Eventually I'll spend more $$ and get a better machine.
Positive Product Points
Reliable Good steam Nice Aesthetics
Negative Product Points
Poor brewing temp control - way too hot!
I have owned and used my Sylvia machine daily for the past 7-8 years with its companion Rocky grinder. Overall, the machine has been profoundly reliable, and I have not needed to have any maintenance done on the machine. It still works and runs like new. I have used Reverse Osmosis and Distilled water in my machine to ensure there is no calcium/mineral buildup in the boiler. It remains very reliable and the steaming is good.
The only significant downside to the machine is the espresso brewing temperature control. My Sylvia runs hot – very hot, and will consistently burn the espresso if allowed to reach full operating temperature. My solution is to sneak the shot of espresso while the machine remains in the warming cycle (i.e. warming light on). I am able to manage a 5-10 second pull that results in okay espresso with some crème. This is a best-guess scenario. About once per month I get a better shot of espresso – one with good crème, rich flavor, and no burn. It doesn’t happen very often. About 1 year ago, I learned that good temperature control is essential to good espresso and Sylvia completely fails in this regard. It took me about 6 years of "usability" to figure out what the Sylvia was/wasn't doing. The "quality of product" temp control is inadequate. The result is a machine that is priced appropriately – in my opinion.
Also, I have read and experimented with temperature surfing. After hundreds of experiments there is absolutely no way that temperature surfing will result in a perfect pull on a consistent basis with this machine.