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Thread: Silvia or BES900??

  1. #1
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    Silvia or BES900??

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Now that the BES900 or BDB is on clearance for less that $1,200 wondering if it is better option that the Silvia.

    It will be 100% domestic use

    used mainly on weekends

    make one espresso at a time for 90% of uses

    Need to get a decent grinder too. Coffee A roma have a Silvia + Rocky package for the same $ and the BES900.

    Drink of choice is a flat white

    Which would you recommend in this situation.

    Thank you

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    Silvia+K3P.

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    I have the Silvia with PID and K3Push. Could not be happier

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    Silvia with pid and a vario, far simpler and less to go wrong ie electronics on the silvia

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    Given you drink milk based drinks, I'd go for the Breville Dual Boiler as it has the ability to steam milk and pour coffee at the same time. Having said that, the Silvia is a great machine to use with the only drawback being having to wait a bit until being able to steam milk. If I drank purely espresso, I probably would have gotten a Silvia but because the majority of drinks I make are milk based I got a BDB (so I'm also biased ;-))!!

    Good luck with the decision!

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    I have the Silvia+K3P combo (PID'd Silvia).

    The wait time for steaming isn't that bad, it probably comes down to how many coffees you make on average at a time. For two coffees the Silvia works well, but if you were doing say 4 at a time, quite often then maybe the BDB would be a better option to cut the time down a bit.

    Again, it comes down to the style of how you make them as well. I prefer to always pull a double shot, then steam a single milk. Although the machine can easily steam milk for two capps, I don't like the coffee shots or the milk sitting too long before pouring, hence why I make one at a time.

    Also, do yourself a favour and get it from somewhere local to you! Nothing worse than having to post an item as large and heavy if you require any kind of support. Also, the extra for the K3 combo would definitely be worth it. Jetblack and some of the other sponsors have some great prices too, would be worth sending out a quote form and seeing who has what to offer you

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    How many people actually steam milk and pour coffee _at the same time_?

    Since I started gronking, my new technique for milk drinks (which I rarely drink) is:


    - steam knob to get up to temperature (about 30s)
    - grind and tamp
    - steam milk
    - run hot water (this drops the boiler temperature with the new cold water) until the boiler temp is <100C and there is water coming out of the steam wand - this also purges the steam wand
    - if it's < 92C or so, hit the steam button for a few seconds it heat the boiler up a touch
    - pour shot

    A BDB would take out the initial heat up time, and the flush time, but for a single (or two) milk based drink that's not very long at all

    Caveat: I'm not very picky with my froth technique, other that I don't like my milk >75C, so I don't know if this does bad things to the coffee.

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    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hildy View Post
    How many people actually steam milk and pour coffee _at the same time_?
    Ummm............I do......... When I'm not on my knees watching the pour off the naked! ;-D
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  9. #9
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    Yep- me too....

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    Senior Member Lukemc's Avatar
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    Me too unless I'm watching the naked pour, sometimes it's mesmerising

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    Me four. Unless I'm not organised enough in which case I'll be getting the milk ready to start as soon as the espresso is finished.

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    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hildy View Post
    How many people actually steam milk and pour coffee _at the same time_?
    Yep - I do!

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    me five

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    Hey there, I have a DB which I used for 18 months before upgrading to a la pavoni commercial machine. I hadn't used the DB for about six months before using it on holiday in our caravan and man it makes a great coffee with the pre-infusion. I most of the time pour a shot and steam at the same time and have made up to ten lattes in a row for guests without any hassles. And when I bought I got the DB and smart grinder for about $1400 from Harvey Norman.

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    Even when I use a HX machine, I steam milk after I make the shot - otherwise I can't give the pour the attention to detail that it deserves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chokkidog View Post
    Ummm............I do......... When I'm not on my knees watching the pour off the naked! ;-D
    me six, 'mesmerising' sure is the word...

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    Senior Member smokey's Avatar
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    flashpixx, it has been suggested many times, but I'll repeat it here, go for the best grinder you can buy, then buy the coffee machine with what is left over, you will not be disappointed.

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    Picked up a demo Silvia V3 from a local coffee machine specialist at a significant discount. Using a Sunbeam EM0480 grinder until I can afford a Rocky or something better.

    First extraction leaves a lot to be desired but at least I know which way I need to go to improve

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    IMO the K3P would be better money spent, unless you can get a Rocky at a significant discount. The K3P isn't much more expensive from most retailers either

    The K3P will probably last you a few machines too. Best investment I've made in my coffee making ventures so far!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hildy View Post
    How many people actually steam milk and pour coffee _at the same time_?

    Caveat: I'm not very picky with my froth technique, other that I don't like my milk >75C, so I don't know if this does bad things to the coffee.
    Hi Hildy

    Having used commercial machines exclusively for most of my espresso making (40+ years: scary amount of time) and drinking either latte, straight espresso or (rarely) traditional Turkish I cannot live with a machine that cannot do both at the same time. The one trip when I was "stranded" with a Silvia for a month or so I found a Cash Converters and bought a $10 secondhand machine to do the milk. FWIW, the Silvia made great coffee...

    Also, glad to hear you hate scalded milk: one of my instant "sink shots" wherever I am.

    TampIt

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by flashpixx View Post
    Picked up a demo Silvia V3 from a local coffee machine specialist at a significant discount. Using a Sunbeam EM0480 grinder until I can afford a Rocky or something better.

    First extraction leaves a lot to be desired but at least I know which way I need to go to improve
    Hi flashpixx

    Two quick points:

    Quote Originally Posted by Pdockley View Post
    Silvia with pid and a vario, far simpler and less to go wrong ie electronics on the silvia
    I couldn't agree more. A calibrated EM480* does a very good job. So good you may as well look at the Vario as your next stop or you may be very disappointed.
    JM's http://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-eq...w-machine.html has a lot of info about that. Adding a PID is one of the many good upgrade paths from the stock Silvia.

    Also, the main fault with a Silvia is when it runs low on water and destroys the boiler. The early ones did not have a low water level warning light either (Rancilio should have fixed that by now, I hope). It is not a "set & forget" machine in any way. The good news about that: it will force you to learn how to make good coffee manually, that good learning experience will always stand you in good stead whatever you end up using.

    Enjoy your toy


    TampIt

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    Thanks TampIt

    I got the Silvia from Supreme, you may be familiar with them. Simon ran me through the operation of the unit and if he didn't tell me once he told me 5 times to ensure the boiler had water in it. No it doesn't have a low water warning, agree it would be a good idea. I almost emptied the water reservoir while experimenting with various grind settings.

    I've settled on a grind setting but can only get a 18 second pour (espresso). So I either need to put more in the basket or tamp a bit tighter (?? advice?)

    With the grind, any finer and the pour is too long (a dribble from the group handle) or coarser too short! I'm happy that the grind is right...

    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    Hi flashpixx

    Two quick points:



    I couldn't agree more. A calibrated EM480* does a very good job. So good you may as well look at the Vario as your next stop or you may be very disappointed.
    JM's http://coffeesnobs.com.au/brewing-eq...w-machine.html has a lot of info about that. Adding a PID is one of the many good upgrade paths from the stock Silvia.

    Also, the main fault with a Silvia is when it runs low on water and destroys the boiler. The early ones did not have a low water level warning light either (Rancilio should have fixed that by now, I hope). It is not a "set & forget" machine in any way. The good news about that: it will force you to learn how to make good coffee manually, that good learning experience will always stand you in good stead whatever you end up using.

    Enjoy your toy


    TampIt

  23. #23
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    re the grinder (EM0480), I am no expert as this is my first grinder. Apart from being very messy (it spits grinds all over the place!!) I do like the auto function. I have set it at 8 which seems to produce the best result for espresso. The finer grind does result in more in the basket however! At $140 it does seem to be a reasonable investment (cost vs performance). A big jump in cost to the K3P at $440 +/-

  24. #24
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    Hi flashpixx
    Also, the main fault with a Silvia is when it runs low on water and destroys the boiler. The early ones did not have a low water level warning light either (Rancilio should have fixed that by now, I hope).
    Evening Tampit, this aspect of the Silvia has turned into an urban myth, seems to have started a couple of years ago.

    While I have no doubt there are a few challenged souls out there who have managed to cook the Silvia boiler element I've yet to meet one.

    I bought my Silvia in early 2001 and sold it in 2010 in excellent working order, having never had a problem, the new owner is still using it.

    I personally know 4 other Silvia owners who are still using their machines without drama, once you have the machine set up and the boiler primed all you have to do is keep the water tank topped up, not a difficult or challenging task.

    Your post reads as if running Silvia low on water and destroying the boiler is almost inevitable, this is most certainly not the case, there are literally thousands of Silvia's being used in world wide without any problems.

    Having said that I guess you can destroy almost anything with a bit of determination.

  25. #25
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    Flashpixx, this is a typical issue with lower end stepped grinders as the steps can be annoyingly far apart. Only thing you can do is look at altering your dose and tamp in order to hit the sweet spot.

    - ham

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Evening Tampit, this aspect of the Silvia has turned into an urban myth, seems to have started a couple of years ago.

    While I have no doubt there are a few challenged souls out there who have managed to cook the Silvia boiler element I've yet to meet one.

    I bought my Silvia in early 2001 and sold it in 2010 in excellent working order, having never had a problem, the new owner is still using it.

    I personally know 4 other Silvia owners who are still using their machines without drama, once you have the machine set up and the boiler primed all you have to do is keep the water tank topped up, not a difficult or challenging task.

    Your post reads as if running Silvia low on water and destroying the boiler is almost inevitable, this is most certainly not the case, there are literally thousands of Silvia's being used in world wide without any problems.

    Having said that I guess you can destroy almost anything with a bit of determination.
    Evening Yelta

    Personally, I regard a Silvia as a bargain as a "learner machine" as long as you do not expect it to steam & do shots at the same time. After the L plates come off, it can still do brilliant shots. For some that the single boiler is irrelevant, others take it "off the list" immediately for that reason. I cannot see why it would not serve out a decade or so of home use with ease.

    The other thing, I am sure we both know people who spend large portions of their day being highly impractical. A Silvia is not for them. I go to one of two Perth quality repairers every month or three (on behalf of friend's machines or their screw ups). Either shop usually has 3 or 4 Silvias with recently blown boilers. FWIW, I regard it in the same light as the guys who buy a Mahlkonig / Baratza Preciso and break the adjustment levers by adjusting it finer with the motor off: Read the damn manual you idiots! Understand your gear or do not use it... Probably my whole family's engineering background coming out. Some people just should not have one. If I ask, the repairer often tells me it is the second or third time the same "person" has blown the boiler in the same machine (sigh).

    OTOH, I totally agree with you that it should not happen. I like the Silvia, and as I posted, I hope they have at least put a warning light on it to protect the nice machine from aforesaid incompetent cretins. Yes, you can destroy anything with a bit of determination, however the Silvia is simple to destroy through neglect, ignorance and / or stupidity.

    I regard it as only fair to reinforce the warning accompanied by the "if you know you are this type of person, look further". At least half of that is to protect a perfectly good machine from such people.

    Enjoy your cuppa, I just did (Organic medium Costa Rican as a latte)

    TampIt
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    Yeah, silvia isn't an issue so long as the purchaser is aware that the boiler can be burnt out if left on and empty and that it will not be covered by warranty.

    If you have that in your mind while you are developing your own workflow, you will always just do what you need to do to ensure there is water in the boiler. After that it's no longer an issue.
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by flashpixx View Post
    Thanks TampIt

    I got the Silvia from Supreme, you may be familiar with them. Simon ran me through the operation of the unit and if he didn't tell me once he told me 5 times to ensure the boiler had water in it. No it doesn't have a low water warning, agree it would be a good idea. I almost emptied the water reservoir while experimenting with various grind settings.

    I've settled on a grind setting but can only get a 18 second pour (espresso). So I either need to put more in the basket or tamp a bit tighter (?? advice?)

    With the grind, any finer and the pour is too long (a dribble from the group handle) or coarser too short! I'm happy that the grind is right...
    Hi flashpixx

    Chalk up one to Simon!

    Sorry for the brevity, I have to head out now-ish. I missed this post earlier (brain fade).

    Try doing an initial tamp after about 3mm of "coffee fluff". Just level it gently and use the tamper weight plus an easily repeatable light touch (1 to 3Kg?). Add another 3mm and repeat. Do NOT tap the basket... Finish your shot off as usual and let me know what it does (shot length, time to blond and most importantly sourness / bitterness). It will increase the timing somewhat, and the sourness / bitterness will then give you a better idea about dosing. If the balance is still good, you can always make the first tamp a little harder (or even make it smaller stages) to slow it up a little more. The first tamp slows the start down, the others slow the whole thing down.

    FYI, In an extreme, using 30lbs tamps that way will make a brick, so there is plenty of middle ground! As long as you do it in a way you can repeat easily, you can dial it in from there.

    Have fun

    TampIt

  29. #29
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    Thanks Tampit

    will give it a try at the weekend when I have some time.

    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    Hi flashpixx

    Chalk up one to Simon!

    Sorry for the brevity, I have to head out now-ish. I missed this post earlier (brain fade).

    Try doing an initial tamp after about 3mm of "coffee fluff". Just level it gently and use the tamper weight plus an easily repeatable light touch (1 to 3Kg?). Add another 3mm and repeat. Do NOT tap the basket... Finish your shot off as usual and let me know what it does (shot length, time to blond and most importantly sourness / bitterness). It will increase the timing somewhat, and the sourness / bitterness will then give you a better idea about dosing. If the balance is still good, you can always make the first tamp a little harder (or even make it smaller stages) to slow it up a little more. The first tamp slows the start down, the others slow the whole thing down.

    FYI, In an extreme, using 30lbs tamps that way will make a brick, so there is plenty of middle ground! As long as you do it in a way you can repeat easily, you can dial it in from there.

    Have fun

    TampIt

  30. #30
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    Compak K3 Push set up

    For those that have recommended the Sylvia + K3P setup, I have the opportunity to try a K3P.

    So that I reduce time and wastage on initial set up, how to you have the K3P set up for the Sylvia. I will be making espresso.

    Thanks for your advice

    Best, Gordon

  31. #31
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    Make sure you get a set of scales. I just picked up a 0.01g on ebay for about $10, and its got the nice white led style display.

    I measure 15.5g into the double basket, and use a nutating tamp (there is a few threads on this).

    I generally find that I can vary the tamp enough and barely ever change the grind! (That is after I spent a while getting it dialled in).

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicovington View Post
    Make sure you get a set of scales. I just picked up a 0.01g on ebay for about $10, and its got the nice white led style display.

    I measure 15.5g into the double basket, and use a nutating tamp (there is a few threads on this).

    I generally find that I can vary the tamp enough and barely ever change the grind! (That is after I spent a while getting it dialled in).
    Thank you. Was looking for grind setting tips so I don't start at the wrong end and waste a bag of beans!!

  33. #33
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    Mine has the little silver cap thing almost dead in line with the front spout. From memory you need to remove the screw to be able to full remove the burrs, so it should be close. I think you can get the burrs to touch by turning it all the way to the fine setting. yours may be a bit different but at least it's a start!
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by flashpixx View Post
    Thank you. Was looking for grind setting tips so I don't start at the wrong end and waste a bag of beans!!
    It will only come with experience flash, you will waste/use some beans in the process, you cant make an omelette without breaking eggs.
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  35. #35
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    Thanks Yelta. Another annoyance is the filter basket. As it has beveled sides from half way down so the tamper wont fit!! I've ordered a 14g commercial basket to replace it. Unfortunately an 18g basket wont fit the Rancilio handle
    Last edited by flashpixx; 11th January 2014 at 09:16 PM. Reason: schpeelering



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