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Thread: Rancilio Silvia - how long to pre-heat machine before first use in the morning?

  1. #1
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    Rancilio Silvia - how long to pre-heat machine before first use in the morning?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Greetings all

    what is the minimum optimum time the Rancilio Silvia machine (I have a V3 right now, but with a V4 element/boiler) needs to be pre-heated before making first double espresso in the mornings?

    Over last 5 years of ownership I tried pre-heating it for: 15 min, 20 min, 25 min and 30 min (and a few times as much as 40-45 min) and I can not tell any difference in quality of my double espresso - i.e. 15 min pre-heating makes as good a double shot as 30 min.

    I noticed that anything less that 15 min is not enough but I dont have any "scientific" proof of that !
    Hence I now pre-heat for 15-20 min.

    Note that I always do the temperature surf but I do not have any machine modifications (no PID, etc) on my machine.

    Thoughts on pre-heating of Silvia?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    I found 15 to 20 mins to be about the mark AR.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    I found 15 to 20 mins to be about the mark AR.
    many thanks! Good to have a confirmation !

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    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    I have a V.4 and let it warm up for 15, flush, purge the wand and then surf.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sprezzatura View Post
    I have a V.4 and let it warm up for 15, flush, purge the wand and then surf.
    thanks, assuming you purge the wand - do you steam milk?

    I only ever make espresso, I never steam, so I never open the steam wand and I never use the steam button on my Silvia either.
    Is that OK? Or do I need to periodically open the steam and use the steam button for well-being of my machine or for better espresso??

  6. #6
    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    Definitely YES! Any valve; pipe; jet; bushing, steam tip needs to be cycled and flushed.

    I'm a technician and I see a lot of precipitate obstructing unused groups and steam and hot water pipes, etc.

    It's good to flush the boiler anyway and introduce fresh water. I almost never make milk drinks but I still cycle the valves and switches.

    Just good practice. Espresso machines need to be used to stay happy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sprezzatura View Post
    Definitely YES! Any valve; pipe; jet; bushing, steam tip needs to be cycled and flushed.

    I'm a technician and I see a lot of precipitate obstructing unused groups and steam and hot water pipes, etc.

    It's good to flush the boiler anyway and introduce fresh water. I almost never make milk drinks but I still cycle the valves and switches.

    Just good practice. Espresso machines need to be used to stay happy.
    thanks, so assuming I never steam - how often do I need to open the steam wand?

  8. #8
    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    How about once a week - switch steam; purge a bit; close steam valve lightly (just enough to stop steam); switch off.

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    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    ... or switch off and purge whatever's left and close valve lightly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sprezzatura View Post
    ... or switch off and purge whatever's left and close valve lightly.
    thanks, will do

  11. #11
    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    Cheers! If you ever have any Silvia functioning/maintenance questions let me know.

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    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    P.s. Do the hot water, too.

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    Buy a cheap timer and set it for 30 min before you wake up, leave the handle in the machine , so by the time you get to the machine it is also hot. These machines have such a small boiler on them ( just like Gaggia Classic) when you pour a shot the temperature fluctuation is huge.
    PID kits on these types of machines, from my testing are also a complete waste of money.

  14. #14
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christiano View Post
    PID kits on these types of machines, from my testing are also a complete waste of money.
    Rubbish!

    Mal.
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    The silvia has a 300ml boiler, a shot is 30ml so you are displacing only about 10% off the boilers volume with liquid at an ambient temperature off say 20 deg C. this would (without temperature control on a standing temperature) pull the temp down at best about 10 deg , on the other hand the hysteresis and the overshoot of the standard temp switches is over 15 degrees! My PID catches a 30 sec expression and turns it around from 105 deg at about 102, and then you only get about 1 to 2 deg of overshoot.

    i would be interested in what your "testing" actually consisted of?
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    Junior Member Christiano's Avatar
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    Unfortunately Koshari, you are wrong in all aspects of your argument and guessing at best.
    The actual water held in the boiler is less, also most boilers are not full of water , also don't forget to account the displacement of an element.
    Your estimate of cold water going into a small area of hot water is also way out.
    Also you haven't accounted the amount of water the coffee soaks up, any coffee professional knows that for a 30 ml shot of coffee a lot more than 30 ml of water is needed and for a double shot a lot more again.
    Using a scace correctly , it is quick experiment conduct.
    Running a service centre, coffee machine sales and coffee company I am very aware there are a lot of buzz words and marketing hype which is designed to get you to buy more.
    I still regularly sell and recommend Silvia and Gaggia classic as a great entry level home machine.

    Cheers

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    I completely do not get why having a repeatable starting brew temp with a PID is a waste of money. I use a Gaggia Classic with PID for brew and steam and it really made a big difference in pulling shots that are repeatable. Temp surfing was too unreliable compared to a PID.

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    Junior Member Christiano's Avatar
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    Because even with a PID , it is not constant and fluctuates drastically half way through the shot.
    You have to start at temperature that burns the coffee at the start and finishes to cold from about half way through the shot.
    Don't pay attention to a digital screen readout on the machine that can't keep up and is not accurate.
    The passion for coffee has got hold love it, but time to move on give the machine to grandma and spend an extra $300 to $500 upgrading and get twice the machine and an consistent 90 plus degrees from start to finish of your shot, also more than double the steam power.

    But most of all , a developed pallet will taste the difference.

    If the machine user happens to be using supermarket coffee or a very dark robusta filled roast , erase everything I have said and just keep enjoying coffee , at least they are not drinking instant.

    Cheers

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    Why would anyone use a starting brew temp that will burn the coffee? What is this obsession with constant brew temp? New technology from Rancilio Xcelsius is profiling brew temp and lever machines are known to have a unique brew temp profile that produces excellent espresso.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christiano View Post
    Unfortunately Koshari, you are wrong in all aspects of your argument and guessing at best.
    no argument here, just commenting based on my observations,


    The actual water held in the boiler is less,
    Really? so what is the capacity of boiler in the Silvia?

    also most boilers are not full of water , also don't forget to account the displacement of an element.
    both good points.

    Your estimate of cold water going into a small area of hot water is also way out.
    Also you haven't accounted the amount of water the coffee soaks up, any coffee professional knows that for a 30 ml shot of coffee a lot more than 30 ml of water is needed and for a double shot a lot more again.
    I admit that I didn't consider the liquid that the puck absorbs but other than that its hard to see where any more water is used, again i are all ears if you can inform me of that as well.
    I are also still interested in the testing you did to support your comments.



    Don't pay attention to a digital screen readout on the machine that can't keep up and is not accurate.
    accurate to what resolution? i suspect accuracy within a Degree C here is more than adequate?

  21. #21
    TC
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    No rocket science with a Silvia.

    Once the machine is warm, let it come to top temp and then flush until you no longer hear steam. Hey presto, good shot temp.

    A PID removes the need to do this and the heating cycle starts immediately cold water enters the boiler rather than many degrees later when the bimetallic strip thermostat in non PID machine would have it heating. The result is somewhat less variation in shot temp, but boiler capacity and heating rates are still a factor.

    Ultimately the PID makes it easier, but will not necessarily deliver superior shots which are about coffee, dose and distribution.

  22. #22
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Absolutely...

    A PID Controller aids in making the coffee making and steam processes more consistent. The quality of the coffee produced is a whole other story...

    Mal.

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    I usually give mine 20 mins. A pid helped me eliminate another variable from my espresso process (but only after I tasted the variability pre temp surfing, and calibrated my palate with 18mo living in Melbourne!!). Now I am delivering good shots on a regular basis - looking to start playing with brew temp now for the diff so coffees I am roasting in my Behmor!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christiano View Post
    but time to move on give the machine to grandma and spend an extra $300 to $500 upgrading and get twice the machine and an consistent 90 plus degrees from start to finish of your shot, also more than double the steam power.
    what machine do you recommend (for espresso only drinkers) for home, if not Silvia?

    I see, for example, Breville Dual Boiler makes great espresso - alas it has very average quality, breaks down too often, does not last long and Breville support is terrible, if consumer reviews are to be trusted.
    All this for $1300-$1500, does not look like a good deal to me.
    Am I wrong?
    Any other machines for home, in $500-$1500 price range that beat Silvia for espresso making ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    No rocket science with a Silvia.

    Once the machine is warm, let it come to top temp and then flush until you no longer hear steam. Hey presto, good shot temp.

    why not simply wait (say) 60-90 seconds after the heating light on Silvia goes off and then begin espresso extraction?
    I feel that flushing drops the water temperature too quickly for a double espresso in 30 seconds extraction?
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  26. #26
    TOK
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    Depends on how long since the machine was switched on or how long it has been on and sat there doing nothing, but superheating. With coffee and coffee machines you need to "feel" what's happening rather than work with timers and assume they have given you the right "spot" for something to work at its best.

    The very simple method described by Chris (Talk_Coffee) in the passage you quoted, is spot on and accounts for how long the machine has been on and at what place it is in its cycle. That way, once all the overheated water has been purged, you cant help but be at the optimum place (no more super heated water flow) and will not burn the coffee. If the heating light comes on again it doesnt matter, its what the water was doing on purge before you apply the group handle and start brewing, that counts.

    Unfortunately the tendency in these forums is for stuff to get way over complicated. Good (great/whatever) coffee making doesnt have to be that hard, to get a great result in the cup.

    Hope that helps.
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    <what machine do you recommend (for espresso only drinkers) for home, if not Silvia?>

    On par, but Gaggia Classic is not to be frowned at
    Last edited by aussieflicker; 20th February 2015 at 05:16 PM. Reason: added stuff

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christiano View Post
    PID kits on these types of machines, from my testing are also a complete waste of money.
    Really? Best coffee related thing I've ever bought is my PID kit for my Silvia...
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by aussieflicker View Post
    <what machine do you recommend (for espresso only drinkers) for home, if not Silvia?>

    On par, but Gaggia Classic is not to be frowned at
    I had this machine for 5+ years before I bought Silvia V3 in 2010.
    My opinion is that Gaggia Classic is significantly inferior to Rancilio Silvia in every respect, apart from being a bit cheaper to buy.
    Main problem - the aluminium boiler can not keep the heat long enough for a good double espresso shot.

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    The lelits are getting a popular following. They are basically based on the Silvia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by acid_rider View Post
    what machine do you recommend (for espresso only drinkers) for home, if not Silvia?
    Any other machines for home, in $500-$1500 price range that beat Silvia for espresso making ?
    At that price , you can be into a decent E61 group , HX machine... Isomac TEA, LeLit Mara, Bezzera BZ10 etc
    .And if you are comfortable with a pre-owned unit, you have many more choices.

  32. #32
    Junior Member Christiano's Avatar
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    I think we are getting off topic here and I obviously opened up a can of worms , but to answer some previous questions, the boiler capacity is actually just under 100ml.

    You need around 120 ml to complete a a double shot.

    Easy to see why when tested it doesn't matter if you have an aluminium or brass boiler with or with with out a PID, all make no big difference as the boiler capacity is just to small.

    Half way through the shot the water is simply getting to cold, as half of the boiler has now been replaced with cold water and by the end of the shot may be well under 65 deg with some machines.

  33. #33
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christiano View Post
    I think we are getting off topic here and I obviously opened up a can of worms , but to answer some previous questions, the boiler capacity is actually just under 100ml.
    Which machine are you referring to here?

    Mal.

  34. #34
    Junior Member Christiano's Avatar
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    I measured the Gaggia again today, at just under 100ml, but will crack some of the other brands open again shortly.

  35. #35
    Junior Member Christiano's Avatar
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    Silvia is meant to be 300ml

  36. #36
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Ah, rightio. Yep, the Gaggia Classic boilers et al are pretty small alright. Very quick recovery time though so I don't think it would be a huge penalty if one made espressos at a steady pace...

    From a couple of Silvias I've pulled apart, they appeared to be holding at about a ~200ml level in the boiler when primed, similar to an Imat Mokita/Lelit style machine as well - Going back a few years though....

    Mal.

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    The thing I like about the saturated group pre 2015 Gaggia Classic in-spite of the small boiler capacity is that there are mods available like OPV adjustment, PID, steam switch hacks for thermoblocking ascending brew temp profile and even dimmer switch for the vibe pump flow profiling. It is a good machine for making 1 or 2 espresso/espresso milk drinks at home in the morning. Pair it with a good stepless grinder and you have a pretty good setup.

  38. #38
    Senior Member Dragunov21's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christiano View Post
    Because even with a PID , it is not constant and fluctuates drastically half way through the shot.
    You have to start at temperature that burns the coffee at the start and finishes to cold from about half way through the shot.
    This doesn't have to be the case.

  39. #39
    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christiano View Post
    Because even with a PID , it is not constant and fluctuates drastically half way through the shot.
    You have to start at temperature that burns the coffee at the start and finishes to cold from about half way through the shot.
    Don't pay attention to a digital screen readout on the machine that can't keep up and is not accurate.
    The passion for coffee has got hold love it, but time to move on give the machine to grandma and spend an extra $300 to $500 upgrading and get twice the machine and an consistent 90 plus degrees from start to finish of your shot, also more than double the steam power.

    But most of all , a developed pallet will taste the difference.

    If the machine user happens to be using supermarket coffee or a very dark robusta filled roast , erase everything I have said and just keep enjoying coffee , at least they are not drinking instant.

    Cheers
    A V.4 Silvia is $799 - what do you get that's better for $1200 and has better temp. stability?

  40. #40
    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    And what's twice the machine for 300 - 500 more? Twice the machine is more in the realm of $1400 more than a new Silvia.

  41. #41
    Senior Member sprezzatura's Avatar
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    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1425215472.336199.jpg

    A.R. - matched my V.4 with a new Macap M2M. I don't have much counter space so the M2M is great!
    Dimal and kopigeek like this.

  42. #42
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Now, that looks like a really nicely balanced setup there "sprezzatura"...

    Mal.
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