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Thread: Setup advice - the little guy? silvia? something else?

  1. #1
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    Setup advice - the little guy? silvia? something else?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all, I've been enjoying reading this forum for some time now, although I don't have a coffee machine as of yet.

    Nearly all of the coffee produced will be either in 1 cup or 2 cup batches, rarely more than that. I did buy a second hand mazzer super jolly a couple of weeks ago, not the ideal grinder for single doses as I understand but I couldn't pass up such a quality grinder at the price I got it for. Now I just need to work out what to do with the ground coffee!

    Most of the coffee I make will be lattes and flat whites. Currently winning the race in my head are a Rancilio Silvia or The Little Guy - but I would be very interested to hear if I am overlooking another option. Would I be right in thinking I would be sacrificing the crema on flat whites if I got a Little Guy?

    I am hoping to keep my spending under $800.

    I am sure whatever I decide will be a massive step up from the instant coffee I currently drink! Thanks in advance for any and all advice I receive!
    Last edited by elasticat; 1 Week Ago at 12:10 PM.

  2. #2
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    Welcome elasticat to the start of your coffee obsession!

    Really depends if you want to look at new or used.

    Used: Rancilio Silvia V1/V2 expect to pay $250 and up, Rancilio Silvia V3 $350-$800 watch for rust in drip tray and plastic chrome around group head peeling. Gaggia Classic is another solid machine used anywhere from $200-$400, could also consider a Saeco Via Venezia these come up for $100-$200. A few others machines to consider used are ECM Casa, Lelit PL41 series. Another well regarded machine from domestic ranges is Sunbeam EM6910 but they are getting a bit long in the tooth but if you could snag a good used one they will take you a fair way in terms of quality coffee.

    New: Your options here are limited and from site sponsors I don't know of any machines apart from "The Little Guy" I think you can look at Gaggia Classic, Breville BES920/ Breville BES840. Sunbeam EM7000 (successor to EM6910) but these tend to get a bad wrap due to poor reliability. Another option new might be other manual type machines such as Flair and Rok which can produce great coffee. With some of the manual machines you would need a milk frother as a separate device.

    The Little Guy Machines were on run out recently and were going for $300 odd but this is a fully manual machine and requires a gas stove or induction element.

  3. #3
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    Thank you for the response! Just to throw a spanner in the works and mention a completely different machine - how about a la Pavoni pro? It looks right up my alley with regards to experimentation, my only concern is less than fantastic things I've read regarding its steaming wand, sounds like it's at an awkward angle and difficult to froth milk with?

  4. #4
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    for anyone interested i bought a La Pavoni Romantica off ebay - looking forward to getting into it
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  5. #5
    Senior Member WhatEverBeansNecessary's Avatar
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    Congrats! I'm guessing the $800 budget went out the window?

    With all lever machines (particularity the Pavoni's) there is A LOT to learn. So don't expect your first shot to be superb. It takes time and practice to develop a good routine to get a great shot. I love my Pavnoi but what I think about the Pavoni's is that the shots are always good, every now and again they are just marvelous or a 'god' shot. But not all the time. So be patient and be prepared to spend many many hours pouring shots and throwing them away.

    There are dozens of threads about using the Pavoni's, but a few things to keep in mind:
    1. Always use fresh beans (within a month of roasting is ideal)
    2. Grind only as you need it, never more than a few minutes ahead of time
    3. Super Jolly's can clump so look into ways to break them up (like a distribution tool or method)
    4. After 3 or 4 shots the Pavoni will overheat, turn it off and give it at least 30 mins to cool down
    5. Never leave a Pavoni turned on unattended (in rare cases they can overheat and crack the boiler/seal/other piece, spraying super heated water everywhere - listen carefully to the over pressure valve)
    6. Steaming the milk can be tricky (disclaimer: I have never used a Stradivari to steam) but with practice it makes great micro foam
    7. The amount of beans in the portafilter makes a huge difference on a Pavoni, I would suggest single dosing by weighing out beans on a scale - preferably one that goes to 0.1g or more. These can be bought pretty cheaply from ebay and the likes.
    8. Maintenance on the Pavoni's are key - they need pretty regular descaling (depending on your water quality). But a 50/50 mix of water/white vinegar or the equivalent of citric acid works well for me. Regular cleaning of the group head is also key to getting good quality shots.
    There is a fabulous website which covers maintenance: dr.pavoni
    It will be a really good tool to make sure you look after your machine for decades to come.

    You are now part of the exclusive lever owner club! People will love it and also think you are mad. But all machines have their limitations - the Pavoni has many including only being able to do 3-4 shots at a time and being a bit finicky. So you wont be able to pump out 10 coffees for guests.

    Enjoy the new machine! Pavonis are a wonderful unit and provided me with a lot of joy getting into a 'serious' coffee machine.
    elasticat likes this.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Sullo's Avatar
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    Ive owned a Silvia, and now in my collection are BES900 now 920 and two EM7000's (and Jura Impressa, former Azkoyen Bravo, Grimac Mia, Nuova Simonelli Mac V, EM6910, and maybe something else depending on certain unnamed website later today :P )
    I would give those a serious look instead of the silvia and related temp surfing malarkey
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  7. #7
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Sulo, I used a La Pavoni Europiccola while fixing it for my son.

    It might be "romantic" in that it transfers control to the operator like an old-fashioned barista, but it makes makes the Silvia look like a twin boiler, PID controlled machine by comparison.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Sullo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robusto View Post
    Sulo, I used a La Pavoni Europiccola while fixing it for my son.

    It might be "romantic" in that it transfers control to the operator like an old-fashioned barista, but it makes makes the Silvia look like a twin boiler, PID controlled machine by comparison.
    Looks interesting that thing

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhatEverBeansNecessary View Post
    Congrats! I'm guessing the $800 budget went out the window?
    Picked it up for 980, and got my super jolly for 175 so overall I am happy with my purchases!


    Thanks for all that advice! I figure I am in for a steep learning curve, can't wait to get started
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Sullo's Avatar
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    One of us one of us!!!
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