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Thread: Which machine?

  1. #1
    tim
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    Which machine?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I bought a Sunbeam thermoblock machine nearly a year ago and while it puts out an accepable shot ( once I figured I needed to pre-heat it with a blank shot and get a decent grinder). The most annoying thing I discovered straight away was that you cant steam milk and make coffee concurrently. I know, I shouldnt have to be Einstein to figure out its only got one pump :-).
    As a consequence, my beloveds cappuccinos and lattes are never quite as hot as they should be because the switch-over time between brewing and steaming is about 120 seconds. This also makes a coffee session for 4 or 5 visitors a pretty laborious project.
    Now Im a little bit wiser, Im thinking about replacing it with maybe a Silvia, but my question is : Does the Silvia do concurrent brewing and steaming and if it doesnt, what are the available types of machines that will. (within the realms of a sane budget)

    Tim

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    Re: Which machine?

    Tim, it all depends on what you call a sane budget. A Silvia has one boiler and one pump and either brews or steams but not both simultaneously. If you want to do that and are consistently looking at making multiple milk based drinks you are talking a heat exchanger (HX) machine. There are a few threads on this site that will give you some clues. I cant help you with the specifics about brands and prices but for new think over $1,500 and possibly closer to $2,000 and upwards. If you get lucky you might find a bargain like the Grimac grinder.

    cheers,

    Graeme

  3. #3
    tim
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    Re: Which machine?

    Thanks Graeme,

    It looks like a HX machine is powerball stuff for me....bummer.
    Would it be fair to say that the recovery time from brewing to steaming should be a fair bit shorter on a Silvia?
    On the Sunbeam the pump pulses in 9-pulse bursts for 90-120 seconds by which time the coffee is losing heat or if I do it the other way around, the milk is losing its "zing".

    Tim

  4. #4
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    Re: Which machine?

    Tim, there are a number of us on this forum who have Silvias and have come to the conclusion they are terrific machines for 2 people but not great if you want to regularly entertain and put on shows of your coffee prowess.

    Heating time from brew to steam is managable but it is best to brew all espressos and then do the milk. There is a lot of thermal mass which stores heat well and does not lend itself to qickly going back to brewing after steaming. The steam function on the Silvia does not take long to get up to temperature and once there does not take long to heat a jug of milk.

    I understand the limitations of the Silvia well enough to know that if I was starting again I would think carefully about a HX machine. When I consider the number of times in a year I really need that volume of milk drinks and what else I could do with the money it tends to cool my interest. If I have to put on a show, I increasingly tend to it by showing off the products of my roasting skills rather than expensive hardware.

    cheers,

    Graeme

  5. #5
    tim
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    Re: Which machine?

    Fair point re: the hardware. Im more interested in what comes out the bottom (although Ill admit to being a bit of a gear freak!).
    I can think of a lot of stuff we can do to our house for what a HX machine would cost and for the most part, its just the 2 of us drinking the coffee.
    I dont even get to show off the big beasty grinder cause its so big, my beloved sent it to the shed!! ;-)

    Tim

  6. #6
    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Re: Which machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by gwdcoffee link=1097467840/0#3 date=1097475659
    Heating time from brew to steam is managable but it is best to brew all espressos and then do the milk. There is a lot of thermal mass which stores heat well and does not lend itself to qickly going back to brewing after steaming. *The steam function on the Silvia does not take long to get up to temperature and once there does not take long to heat a jug of milk.
    I have a Silvia and I do things the other way round with my coffee making. I do my milk first and espresso second. I find that the milk holds its heat a lot better than the shot of coffee. Also, the Silvia takes time to get up to the correct heat level for steam, but once I flick the switch off steam, it says it is ready for espresso.

    Thats just me. However, as Graeme said, it is not the ultimate machine when you want to make 4+ at a time.

    If I did an actual temp test each way, I might find that my method does not produce as hot a shot.

    Anyhow, at present, Im happy with the coffee Im producing.

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    Re: Which machine?

    Quote Originally Posted by fatboy_1999 link=1097467840/0#5 date=1097538066
    I have a Silvia and I do things the other way round with my coffee making. I do my milk first and espresso second. I find that the milk holds its heat a lot better than the shot of coffee.
    Id like to second Fatboys method. I use an Imat Junior (similar to Silvia). Ill be moving on to a Silvia soon.

    I find that steaming the milk first reduces the stress of watching your shot go cold and lose its crema. All I do is steam the milk. When its finished I bleed water out of the steam wand. This is a twofold thing. It cleans milk from the inside of the wand and introduces fresh water to the boiler. While Im waiting I grind and tamp.

    By the time I lock in the P/F the heating light has gone out. Good thing about milk drinks is that theyll mask defective espresso shots somewhat.

    Warren -

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    Re: Which machine?

    An alternative is a Gaggia (any of them, aside from Cubika and Gran) as they have small boilers and loads of heating so the brew to steam transition is very short - not instantaneous but pretty acceptable for total time to steam milk for 2 lattes. For 4 lattes, the Gaggias take a fair while to steam up the milk since their steam power is weak compared to a Sylvia or Imat (due to the small boiler) but they still have loads more steam power than a Sunbeam thermoblock machine.

    Greg

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    Re: Which machine?

    When making multiple milk drinks with Silvia I have found that double-skinned stainless steel cups are a great investment. Preheat them for a couple of minutes with hot water before pulling the shots and they will keep the shots hot whilst you steam.

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    Re: Which machine?

    Hi folks, *
    * * * * *Long time reader, first time writer. I have been pouring over the www to sort out the real players in espresso machines. I ended up with a few choises. Newmox dellopera as a combi, Imat mokita combi and the miss silvia. All are around the same price -/+ a few bucks. Warranty and service *is comparable. Im leaning toward the Silvia basically swayed by this forum and coffee connoissueurs. A fair shift from the original start point of a seaco incarta. THe change came when I looked at the design and make up. *:)Thanks to those people with the enthusiasm to tell their story!! *The down side is I have to wait until christmas to get it. *:(

  11. #11
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    Re: Which machine?

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Hi Tim,

    just thinking that if you are buying another machine, you would be able to brew on one and steam on the other... ;) Magic.

    Laurent




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