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Thread: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advice

  1. #1
    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advice

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all. This my virginal post!

    I have been visiting good coffee shops for years - ones that have award winning Baristas. I finally decided about 2 years ago to get an espresso machine at home. After doing some research I decided that a kettle machine might be the go. However price was a consideration. Then I stumbled onto the Sunbeam Ristretto - claimed to have 15 bar and and an italian designed and made pump and a boiler!! for about $100. I mucked around with pre-ground coffee from Merlos and then got more serious after reading many posts on this forum and got a DeLonghi KG100 - ie Solis 166 (couldnt justify a Rocky at the time).

    It made a big difference. The little machine makes a really good cup. The crema is first rate - It is huge and thick - great colour and I have dropped 2 sugars in my coffee at home because of the sweetness of the crema (I have milk). I am really impressed. I have been grinding my beans (Merlo) on the third finest setting - finer stalled the machine. Over the last couple of months I have noticed that the machine is struggling to push water through the head - I have had to ease off the tamping. I have stalled it a number of times lately with the same grind. You can hear the pump working and then going quite quiet as back pressure must be building up.

    I think that the pump must be on the way out - I have regularly cleaned with de-scaler etc and the water flow is powerful with the head on or off - but tamped coffee strains it. I have I think a machine on the way out ..any thoughts or similar experience.

    I think I have concinved myself to get a Rancilio Silva - they retail in Brisvegas for $719 from Cerebos (Mocopan).

    Funny thing is, that I just tweaked the grinder following that British blokes instructons and now have 2 finer grinding positions in effect (in prep for Miss Silvia). I then, for fun, ground on the finest setting which is now fine and put it in the group. I tamped only very very lightly - ie a pound or so just to smooth really. I then ran it up and wow!!! Crema so thick it could be porridge! Made a great cup and no stall. Good extraction time - about 20 secs!!. But alas, it may not work again that way because the machine is playing up - intermittently.

    It shows that for beginners the group set up to percolate and extract the crema actually works.

    I guess that I will have to learn all over again on the Silvia - and tamp properly? Also, does anyone have a Silvia being fed by my style grinder with the tweak (or without) - how does it go; do you get good extraction time and a good cuppa?

    Thanks all :-?

  2. #2
    Super Moderator scoota_gal's Avatar
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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    Hi ozscott. Welcome to Coffee Snobs. It is a great place for learning and sharing your experiences! ;)

    Im just going to comment on the Silvia and DeLongi/Solis grinder setup, even though Im a relative newcomer to the Silvia having just recently purchased one.

    I couldnt honestly say that I would be finding the grinder a suitable match for the Silvia. As it was we were on the very last setting for our humble Sunbeam EM4800 and with fresh coffee it was okay but if it was starting to get on, forget it, the water would run through everytime (as opposed to that magical slow pour!) Even with the modification that you have done, I would still not be confident that youd get the grind needed for what is essentially a commercial group on a domestic machine.

    We still have our old Delongi grinder, but it has been set aside along with the Sunbeam, replaced by the handsome set up of Rancilio Silvia, Rocky and Inox tray... ;) :)

  3. #3
    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    Thanks Scoota girl - I appreciate the first hand experience.

    Cheers

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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    hmm ... pump may be dying, but then, ULKA pumps are in pretty much every domestic machine Ive heard of. The pump starting to stall and choke is normal with coffee - and remember that coffee grows on a tree, its organic. Two beans will never be exactly identical, and two packets of coffee will never be identical (unless theyre both super-stale).

    So often, youll be needing to adjust grind settings, to get shots in the 25-30 second range.

    An example is that one week, I bought some fresh roasted coffee from a cafe in North Sydney. I pulled a shot or two to figure out the best grind setting, and drank pretty good coffee over the week, until there was none left. The next weekend, I bought a bag of coffee from a different cafe/roastery, on the Northern Beaches. Using the same grind setting for the previous bag of coffee, the machine stalled, and the coffee that did extract looked (and smelt and tasted) like old dirty engine oil. This new bag of coffee would require a much coarser grind!

    Things like moisture content in the beans and even humidity in the room can affect your extractions, and bring on the need to adjust the grind.

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    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    Quote Originally Posted by ozscott link=1151111249/0#0 date=1151111248
    I think I have concinved myself to get a Rancilio Silva - they retail in Brisvegas for $719 from Cerebos (Mocopan).

    Thanks all :-?
    Gday ozscott,

    Welcome to CoffeeSnobs by the way [smiley=thumbsup.gif].
    Regarding your desire to purchase an up-market machine, try our Site Sponsors out first, they support this great community of ours so a bit of support back in their direction does not go astray. Give em a go 8-),

    Mal.

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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    Could you give me a lead to that British guys tweaking info for the Solis 166?
    Ive had that grinder for two years now, and find it a very fine performer for its price, and it certainly does the job well for my La Pavoni - but it may need a tweak to provide a good grind for my new machine, which Ill have in a month -- an ECM Botticelli, which is the newer, handsomer Silvia equivalent.

  7. #7
    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    Thanks for the replies. There is a link on the /www.coffeeco.com.au/articles/september2002.html page - that site in itself is helpful in showing side by side photos of machines.

    I am happy to give the site Sponsors a try - but at the end of the day buying a machine is not like trying out a 300g bag of coffee - I am looking at spending between $700 - $1000. So.. would the sponsors be kind enough to set out the model(s) in this price category and set out the detail of the main parts in the machine - eg size of kettle; what the kettle is made of; whether it has a 3 way valve; whether it has a commercial size and weight group etc.

    The Silvia seems to have a very good line up of parts. Some people conclude that it is the best machine under about $2000.00. I am not treating the purchase as though if I am not completely happy I will just shelve it or sell it and get another one - it is an expensive purchase and i have other things to spend my dough one in the end.

    I am also keen to know what people are using, in terms of machines from the site sponsors and what they think of them (and whether than can, from first hand experience, compare them to the Silvia) - much appreciated.

    Cheers

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    TC
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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    Scott- two possible options are:

    Rancilio Sylvia- http://www.rancilio.it/rancilio/prod...id_category=11
    ECM Botticelli - with some specs at http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1148433045

    Many coffeesnobs have the Sylvia and quite a few have the Botticelli- and Im sure that they will be able to outline the pros and cons as they see them.

    They are both excellent machines within your price range. Attlilo of Cosmorex sells the Sylvia and I sell the Botticelli and also the Sylvia on behalf of Attilio...Whatever you buy, be sure to compare apples with apples. Many of the cowboys who heavily discount machinery "disappear" when service is required or offer parts only warranties. Cosmorex and Talk Coffee both offer 12 months parts AND labour warranty along with great service...

    Chris


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    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    Thanks Chris - appreciate that.

    The price that I got for the Silvia was $719 inc GST from Cerebos (which I thought in the past was a salt company) and they seem to have Mocopan also. I was under the impression that they were the importer? Anyway, I am always prepared to pay for service, advice and backup and to support smaller operators. Would you be kind enough to post the price of both machines that you reccomended.

    Cheers

  10. #10
    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    Checked out the specs Chris - were does the Silvia get the extra 5 pounds in weight from? Am i right in saying that the Botticelli is normally a pricier machine that the Silvia? Which you you reccomend and why?

    Cheers

  11. #11
    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    Sorry to be tiresome, but can anyone tell me which of these 2 machines is most reliabe?

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    TC
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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    Scott- theyre both great machines. RRP of the Botticelli is $1k and the Sylvia is $770. Attilio was expecting stock of the Sylvia last Friday if they arrived *:-? (there has been very little Australian stock for some time).

    The general consensus seems to be that the Botticelli is more temperature stable and the sexier of the two- but both are excellent machines in this category. As for the weight difference, I guess that its in the body as both have a brass group.

    Another option would be an entry level HX machine such as the expobar office (pulsar). You get simultaneous espresso and milk texturing- however you will be a tad on the other side of $1K...

    Your grinder will need a tweak and then most likely be barely adequate with either of the machines. Many owners pair either machine with the Rocky doserless....

    Chris

  13. #13
    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    ..Bugger - you have me thinking now Chris.

    I just read the www.coffeegeek.com/proreviews/firstlook/expobarpulser/details

    review. I have read other reviews - looks like a good bit of kit. In that review they talk about the group getting too hot even after running water through it. The author took off the cover and dialed down the temp on the therm. Is that reccomended? Whats your experience with it.

    For home use - regular 2 person and sometimes 4 - 6 person would it outperform the other 2 machines that you mentioned?

    Cheers

  14. #14
    TC
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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    Scott- if you are doing a few milky coffees, the expobar is worth considering.

    Expobar do sometimes ship with relatively high pump pressure and sometimes high boiler pressure also. Most owners report having to use a grouphead flush...but this is good practice and is required in some form or another with any machine.

    We bench test all expobar machines (and everything else for that matter) to ensure that they ship within normal and acceptable specs..

    Have a look at some of the CG reviews for further information http://www.coffeegeek.com/reviews/co.../expobaroffice

    Expobar reports:
    Semi automatic 1 group espresso coffee machine. Ideal for office or small shop. Commercial group, steam and water tap. Inbuilt 4 litre water tank, no plumbing required.

    Chris


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    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    Thanks mate - this is a good review

    www.bellabarista.co.uk/Expobar/Pulsar/Expobar%20Office%20Pulser%20closer%20look%20encryp ted%20v1.pdf

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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    Have you tried cleaning the showerscreen and group valve of the Ristretto? There may be nothing wrong with it that a cleanout wouldnt fix.

    I agree with the Ristretto being ridiculously good value for money. Once you find the temp surf point, its at least as good as the cheaper SB thermoblocks IME (but then i havent tried tweaking up the temp setting for the thermoblocks Ive played with)

    Greg

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    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    Thanks Greg - I have taken out and cleaned the screen. How do I clean (and with what) the group valve?


    Cheers

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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    Under the screen, there is a brass fitting with a hole in it that is also slotted. The spring loaded valve lives under this so you need to undo it with a large screwdriver - there is a hole in the base under the drip tray specifically to give you access to this. Once this fitting is undone, the spring and valve rubber should follow it out and you can check if this is the problem.

    Of course the brass fitting might be jammed like it was with my friends machine (he got it warrantied because it was leaking in steam mode).

    Greg

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    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: Sunbeam Ristretto - is it dying & Silvia advic

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    ahh. thanks mate. Mine in steam mode leaks when I first take the portafilter off...it might be jammed also. Unfortunately mine is out of warranty. I will investigate.

    Cheers



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