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Thread: Upgrading Silvia

  1. #1
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    Upgrading Silvia

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Im looking @ upgrading my Silvia. I have about $2500 - $3000 to spend. I have an MD50 Grinder ugly but does the job.

    Im thinking Rancilio Epoca single group Commercial is there a better alternative?

    David

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Ill bite!

    I upgraded from a Silvia to an ECM Giotto after much research and have had zero issues. The Giotto is arguably the best of the E-61 based domestic machines.

    As far as I can tell there is no single group Epoca machine. They are 2 or 3 group. This size machine draws a lot of power and needs to be plumbed in.

    If Rancilio takes your fancy then have a look at the S24, S26 and S27 that offer increasing sophistication and features and all are in your price range.

    Another option is the Reneka Techno which is probably the cheapest of the dual boiler machines with rotary pump.

  3. #3
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    Re: Upgrading Silvia



    Theres one but an s24 is an option but the looks are dated. The ECM machines are worth a look I guess. Plumbing in doesnt bother me too much the water pipe and drain from the dishwasher pass right under where it would go.

    Thanks CS for ya help with the image.

    Is a commercial machine better than say a HX machine.

    David
    He who Lurks

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    David
    In this price range, the Giotto is right up there and is certainly a fine piece of equipment. I have had one on the bench for about 2 years. Initially the Classic and now a Premium.
    Another contender is from the Diadema range. The Junior or (La Valentina) has a number of similar features to the Giotto. Also similar price.
    I currently have a Giotto, a Diadema Junior and an ECM A1 on my kitchen bench (luckily my better half loves her coffee). To be honest there is not much difference between the three. They all make excellent espresso.
    Excelent steaming capabilities.
    Team it up with a reasonable grinder, Mazzer, ECM Best, Tranquilo and start training for the world titles.
    I also have a MD40, so I could not see you having any problems with your MD50 and any of the above machines. If you have not changed your blades (burrs) over the past 12 months, I suggest you invest in a new set.
    If you have any specific questions on any of the machines I mentioned, I would be happy to answer them on or off the forum.
    John

  5. #5
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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    The burrs are about 6months old i guess but the HUGE doser never gets used. :-/ My Turkish friend does get me to grind all his coffee for him tho ;)

    I have some hard thinking to do.

    David

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Ah! Interesting that Rancilio dont have the one group Epoca on their web site.

    To be honest Im not overly sold on the look of this machine :-X, but I guess thats why there are many products to suit the broad range of tastes ;).

    From a practical point of view a commercial size machine needs to be on all the time or at least powered up an hour or more before you want your first coffee.

    Other than that dual boilers etc are nice but really only create a discernable difference to the absolute coffee pedant. (;D Not a bad a thing!)

    The Epoca S1 is a bit odd in that the standalone version has a 3.9l boiler but only a 2l tank ???.

    In the "low end" commercial machines you could look at the La Spaziale Vivaldi S1 in addition to the S24-S27 machines.

  7. #7
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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Quote Originally Posted by GR8WineandCoffee link=1101282668/0#3 date=1101292567
    I currently have a Giotto, a Diadema Junior and an ECM A1 on my kitchen bench (luckily my better half loves her coffee). To be honest there is not much difference between the three. They all make excellent espresso.
    Excelent steaming capabilities.
    Wow now that line up would be worth a picture. you must have a huge kitchen

    Rich

  8. #8
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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Ohh so all the silvia posts are wrong too..... well actually most of them are saying she is finicky and needs modding etc complete load of rot. I am convinced that the 110v Silvia is a completely different beast to the 240v version it has to be with the 240v version having a higher wattage boiler. One of the reasons I started this site.

    I think that views expressed on sites like this by real people who actually use the machines is very valuable.

    I always with out fail seek out the opinions of actual users and technicians before buying an expensive piece of equipment that I have seen written up by some retailer. It pays to double cheque when making a major purchase.

    Rancilio has done exrtremely well out of Mark Prince and coffeegeek. The Importer of Rancilio in Australia told me himself.

    Keep it real folks!

    Tell the world what you think of your coffee machine set up. Weather its a Sunbeam or a 6 group commercial sitting on your bench. Tell it like it is People. Whether you love it or hate it. Tell us.

    Cheers
    Rich
    Keeping It Real - JJJ

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Hi Fresh_Coffee.

    Well I did say arguably so here we go! ;)

    I find the look of the Giotto to be the best (IMHO) and with regard to its technical merits: the build quality, boiler orientation (good for cup warming), and boiler size just seemed to put it a little ahead of the others for me. (Although the Unico Splendor does look very nice :)).

    My comment re the relative merits of the Giotto is based on looking at a number of E-61 based machines including the E-61 Rocket, Isomac Tea/Millennium, and a couple of the Diadema machines you sell.

    I settled on the Giotto because it is very well known, well built, looks great, has a lot of enthusiastic owners and has had no reports of any fundamental problems - hence the justly deserved accolades. It was also cheaper than most of the Diademas.

    The dealer delivered my Giotto in person to Canberra with Charles, the ECM distributor in tow. I bought a Mazzer Mini Electronic at the same time because it was doserless, has huge burrs and patented stepless grinding adjustment. I am not aware of any comparable grinder.

    Sure I could have bought a different E-61 based machine, but I bet Ill get more for my Giotto and Mazzer second hand than any of the lesser known brands.

    The real proof in the pudding for me, my family and friends is that I make the best coffee we have tasted anywhere (using Alan Frews roasted beans until recently). Things have dropped back a notch since I got my HOTTOP :-/ but that situation is recovering rapidly 8).

    As a final point, you say that people are blinded by the hype and only want to look at machines like the Silvia, well your web site has the following quote:

    "Simply the best manually operated domestic espresso machine on the market, manufactured by a respected commercial espresso machine maker."

    If you are willing to price match the apparently inferior Unico Splendor Id be happy to buy one! ;D

  10. #10
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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Well I had a play with the ECM Giotto is very nice the Diadema junior plus lever would do to. Just seen pictures of this one.

    I want a closer look at the Rancilio machines too, Ill do that on Monday.
    The Silvia is best in its class and makes some damn fine coffees. So the epoca or s24-27 should do the same or better.

    I noticed that a few sites say the e61 machines will make commercial quality espresso wouldnt a real commercial machine do that too? As it is my Silvia makes better coffee than 99% of cafés. Its just a pain when there are guests all wanting my coffee. ;)

    David
    Hey CS you listen to Triple J too huh? :D

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Have you considered a La Cimbali? You could get a new Junior S for under $3k. They are built extremely well with heavy duty being the operative word, my 1996 version looks almost brand new.

    If you do a bit of research youll find plenty of info. The US market seems to pay as much if not more for them after $ conversions and they are keenly sought after as good value even when they cost nearly twice as much as Giottos in the states

    Coffex in Melb are the Aust distributors. Besides if you buy one Ill have someone else to swap notes with ;)

  12. #12
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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    How much would a Diadema Junior plus set you back?

    There is also the Snob value of having a commercial machine in your kitchen. When asked what sort of machine you have and the answer is "Commercial" in stead of a "insert brand" the usual reaction is "A what machine?"

    Even if the X brand machine is better the word "Commercial" says it all IMHO. People start taking you seriously. Ive tried it even those who should know better.

    David

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Hi Fresh_Coffee.

    I might take you up on that comparison since I live in Canberra and I do duck out to your shop for a look occasionally. It would be good fun and interesting education for the group. ;)

    My comment about price matching was just a tongue in cheek reference to your web site comment that the Silvia is the best manual lever machine available. I was suggesting that if that is the case then other lever machines shouldnt be any more expensive. :D

    With regards to PIDing the Silvia, I did consider that before I got rid of mine, but decided I wanted something new and shiny. I sold it after a year for around 80% of what I paid for it. Not many things hold value that well. Only reason I got rid of it is beause I wanted a machine that can make coffee after coffee after coffee...

    I give a big thumbs up to the people that mod their Silvia. They are the car mechanics of the espresso world who push the boundaries for all and show what is technically possible.

    Thumbs up to the La Cimbali too. Is very solid and has a very big boiler for this class of machine.

  14. #14
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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Im not agianst modding the Silvia but i am against saying its an absolute MUST. Such statements are false.

    Ive considered pidding my Silvia, more as a project than really needing too but like you ill upgrade instead some time this year. Not sure to what tho.

    Should talk nicely to some importers and do a review or two. ;)

    Would I be correct in saying the diff between a top end HX machine and a commercial machine is like the Difference between a truck and a Rolls Royce?

    Cheers
    Rich

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Id say the difference between a HX and Commercial machine is the more like the difference between a Subaru WRX and an Audi.

    Both are capable of producing pretty much the same results but people seem to fiddle more with WRXs. In terms of build quality and safety (reliability) Id go with the Audi hands down.

    Oh and in case you are wondering, I own an Audi. ;)

  16. #16
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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Off topic replies have been moved to [link=http://www.coffeesnobs.com.au/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=Brew;action=display;num=1101568412]This Thread[/link] by CoffeeSnobs.

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Rich
    Ill take a pic of the smallish kitchen dominated by espresso equipment and send it to you. I am not sure how to put it on the forum.
    John

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Wired
    WRX vs Audi: Safety and reliability.
    Audi is a great machine. But from personal experience so is the WRX. Assume we are comparing the Quatro and the WRX. And $ for $ the WRX leaves pretty well everything else in its wake. Incredible brakes and safety features. Unfortunately I only had my last one for 6 weeks. I hit a red light runner broadside. The WRX pulled up pretty smoothely. Unfortunately it was a right off. But fortunately, I walked away. I would have no hesitation in buying another.
    John

  19. #19
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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Quote Originally Posted by GR8WineandCoffee link=1101282668/15#19 date=1101635358
    Rich
    Ill take a pic of the smallish kitchen dominated by espresso equipment and send it to you. I am not sure how to put it on the forum.
    John
    Excellent ill look forward to to the "Dude Wheres my Kitchen?" Pics. Email them to me and Ill add them to your origonal post.

    or does your kichen look more like a Darlek invasion "Exterminate!" ;)

    BTW you can pick up a good WRX in NZ(Jap Import) for $15000 -$25000 with about 45000 k on the clock. a stuffed one will cost you $10000 or less.
    Rich

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Rich
    After the prang, (nearly went under the tray of the Rodeo ute) decided to get a little higher of the tar. So found a RAV4 at the right price. It is a bit sluggish, but gets me from A to B and it is pretty cheap running.
    Compared to the fridge the 3 machines do not take up much space.
    I keep saying to Roz that the fridge can be easilly moved into the loungroom!!!!!!!!!!!
    Will get a few pics.
    john

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Quote Originally Posted by CoffeeSnobs link=1101282668/15#21 date=1101637681
    a stuffed one will cost you $10000 or less.
    Rich
    Owing to the fact that (from what Ive seen anyway) the vast majority of WRX drivers are under 25 have a baseball hat on backwards and drive along flat chat in a 60km zone with DOOF! DOOF! DOOF! music playing. Id suspect youd be be paying $10000 less for all of em. The vast consensus would be that theyd all be stuffed. ;)

    Good (used) WRXs owned by responsible people would be very much the minority.

    Most of the ones on used car lots would be formerly owned by kids who drive them into the ground, leave them in a smoking heap and say.... "Dad this car doesnt work anymore. Can I get a HSV Holden or BMW Z1?" :-/

    Warren -

  22. #22
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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    I would have gone Kenworth Vs Ferrari or Catapiller D10 Vs Bobcat if you wanted to dig a hole. You can dig a mighty big hole mighty quickly with a Catapiller D10 bulldozer you can the same hole with a Bobcat it will take you a little bit longer.

    thought for the day

    Rich

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Wired
    Do you have the Classic or Premium Giotto?
    John

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    I have a Classic as the Premium was only a vague rumour at the time I bought it. Wish I had the double walled steaming wand but otherwise Im happy.

    re HX machines being the same as commercial machines, this comes down to common terms of reference as I was intending to distinguish home HX machines from more basic home machines with thermoblocks.

    The difference with commercial machines is they have rotary pumps, larger boilers and more thermal mass so would generally be expected to introduce less variables in this area. Of course I know there are the Krups of commercial machines too.

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Quote Originally Posted by Fresh_Coffee link=1101282668/15#28 date=1102032159
    I spotted on another site and wait for it... "prosumer"...(gimme a break)...
    Id say "Prosumer" derives from overused American marketing hyperbole. ;)

    Seems to be the only way they can sell something in the US is to use the adage "Do it like a Pro" .... "Just like the Pros use".

    You see it as a selling point on many things. Justifies the higher price point. Thus giving a higher-end machine the "Prosumer" tag makes your average home user feel like theyre running his/her own cafe. ;D

    Warren -



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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Well, a "prosumer" tag does distinguish machines like the ECM Giotto, La Scala Butterfly and Expobar Pulser from the fully commercial single group machines like the La Cimbali Jr or Gaggia TS which are MUCH bigger physically (basically due to the larger boilers). Operation principle is the same but capacity and heatup energy are rather different.

    Greg

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    There are officially accepted industry terms? I thought it was all marketing no matter how you looked at it. Can I see a reference to the rules? Id like to see the official definition of semi-commercial as opposed to commercial.

    Greg

  28. #28
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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Hi
    I am allowed to get my Rancilio Epoca S1 just before Christmas from Mocopan $2500. No semi-commercial for me. Ill also use it for HOT water in the kitchen ;)

    I am going for the Epoca for this reason:- Silvia is head and shoulders above all other machines in its class. I figure that the Epoca will be of equal quality and they look much better in real life. Plus the most important the coffee tastes fantastic

    David

  29. #29
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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    If the other machines are "The Same basic" how did they get it so wrong?

    Why do the coffees out of a Silvia taste (and thats the important bit) So much better. My friends have a Seaco something that *$s were selling the comparison isnt even close. IMHO the only machine in my experience that is close to a Silvia is the Gaggia classic. So IMHO Silvia is head and shoulders above the compitiion in its class. Siliva does make coffees almost as consistantly good as the two HX machines I tried some time ago. Where Silvia will let you down is when you have to make more than 4 coffees. My sisters machine Arieti or what ever it is still isnt a close second to Silvia and thats italitan built. I could make a list Solis, Imat............ while will make you a perfectly acceptable cup of espresso and better than most cafés. IMHO Silvia is still better.

    Silvia will most certainly make coffees better than 95%+ of all cafés you will care to visit.

    The interals of ANY hot water storage device turns disgusting after a period of time. The hot water wand on the Epoca is very short so to contaminate the boiller through stuff being sucked through that you must be PFS or very unlucky. I was only going to use it for hot water for Tea and cooking veges go for me it will suit me. Now I will be able to turn my underbench hot water service down to the recomended 60deg C for saftey reasons.

    I dont feel ill need "Luck" with the Epoca as Im sure the build quality is of the high standard as my Silvia. Which will be semi retired to going on trips. Put out to pasture so to speak ;)

    Cheers
    David

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Fith,

    firstly congrats on getting a new epoca, Im sure it will be an awesome machine which will serve you well for many years.

    regarding Silvia I took a double take when I read your original statement about it being head and shoulders above the rest as well as FC. Ive had a krups, gaggia baby, gaggia factory(lever), silvia and cimbali junior all of which except the Krups are capable of making great coffee.

    The gaggia classic is a nice machine but will produce identical shots to the much cheaper carezza or evolutions as they have the same internals excpet for the three way valve.

    IMHO The major determination for great coffee will be in order of importance.

    1. Beans quality and freshness. if the beans are crap or stale you will never get a decent cup even if you have $20k LM

    2. Grinder: Gotta be capable of fine consistent grind for espresso.

    3. Operator skills: A bad operator can make great beans taste like crap

    4. Water quality

    5. Machine

    Differences in the first 4 points will have a much greater bearing on the outcome of the coffee than the machine. Id much prefer fresh beans from a Krups than stale from my Cimbali.

    To validly compare output from different machines all the above variables must be consistent or at least of comparable quality.

    re contaminants being sucked into the boiler this would usually be milk via the steam wand not via the hot water tap. If you want to understand how easily this can happen do some googling on false pressure valves and espresso

  31. #31
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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Hi
    I must say my experience with Silvia has need nothing but good.

    While Ive never used a Gaggia Cassic both machines rate very highly on any espresso web site you care to visit. So I suspect the 2 machines are on top of the heap as Fith says "In thier class"

    What sold me on the Silvia over the Classic was Silvias larger boiler, bigger cup warmer, longer steam wand (The Classics is very short if you dont want to use the froth enhancer, I dont know if there is an after market mod) and the greater distance between the group and the base (I sometimes make a double size Latte). Plus the Silvia is a good 10 pounds heavier.

    But the final clincher was after I rang an Espresso Machine Tech listed in the Melb Yellow pages and he recommended the Silvia over anything else due to *reliablity and availabilty of parts should something go wrong out of warranty. This was before I even told him what brands I was interested in at the time but after saying I had $800 to spend. Oh that and I picked up my Silvia for $599 on special. *Which was *cheaper than the Classic at the time from Myer. ;D

    To date the Techs advise has been good the only bad shots I have is if I stuff something up. Like today I found some OLD (3 Months) beans in the cupboard ground them up and Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwe or I have forgotten to clean her. :-X

    Cheers
    Rich

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Lets put the cards on the table Richard, what it really comes down to, is the fact that the Silvia consistantly gives good results, in Looks, Perforamance, and Longevity... We have a couple of friends that have Silvias as well and very rarely do you hear of any complaints, then your Techie recomended one.......... Consistancy is a very very good thing. How many times do you hear of people buy a machine and 12 months down the track they get rid of it........ If I were to be looking a new home machine I would certainly give the Rancillios a very very close look.

    For someone starting out in the vast coffee making world, having a nice machine also adds to the confidance of the user and with this in mind the confidance will flow out and help the user produce a greater quality cuppa.... But if your happy with what you have I think that in many ways is a very important factor.

    I recently did a Barristas course and was a bit dissapointed that I didnt learn a great deal but the bits I did learn solidified the fact that indeed 50% of the quality of the coffee is in the Barrista and much of the rest is in the Grinding and the Beans, not the actual espresaso machine (however with that in mind the extraction and pressures too is very important), Our Boema is an old horse, but she too consistantly gives great results and that to me is the most important thing..... One day when I am old and my Boema dies and spares are no longer avail I hope my replacemant will be a Rancillio.

    We recomend to people that a Silvia is a good machine to buy once for a long time usage.
    FB :)

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Quote Originally Posted by Fresh_Coffee link=1101282668/30#34 date=1102288021
    the terms are as used in the espresso machine manufacturing and reselling industries for perhaps half a century or more. Way before all this johnnycomelately stuff that is generated & perpetuated in lists like this inhabited by many with no industry expertise. This is not meant to be anything other than a statement of fact, black and white.
    OK, so the terms have been in common usage within the industry for 5 decades+. So what? The little HX machines havent been around for all of this period - they are a fairly recent product created to fill a market niche that has opened up in the last 20 (maybe 25) years as some users of domestic machines have come to desire the ease of use and concurrent steaming/extraction capability of HX machines but didnt want the size of a commercial machine. You put the sem-commercial tag on these machines but that is because you are coming from a commercial point of view. From a consumer standpoint, the prosumer tag makes just as much sense and has probably been around (in the US at least) for just as long as semi commerical machines.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fresh_Coffee link=1101282668/30#37 date=1102297614
    Aside from the larger size of the boiler (which is peculiar to the silvia) the only other slight technical difference is whether or not any particular model has a group solenoid valve or not.

    So in the hands of an understanding operator it is impossible for the silvia to make a higher quality brew than any other boiler design domestic as they are essentiall all the same. Notice the words "in the hands of an understanding operator". This is because you have to "play" your domestic machine on the one hand so it wont burn the coffee, and on the other hand so it wont underextract...due to the sine curve like fluctuation in brew water temp due to powerful electric element vs size (quantity of water) of boiler.
    That happens not to be the case. The Sylvia does have some differences to all dual purpose boiler machines aside from the very expensice Isomac Venus and even more expensive Zaffiro. Most of the differences are purely to do with more robust build and do not affect espresso quality. What the Sylvia and the 2 Isomacs do have is a separated group head from the boiler (E61 in the case of the Zaffiro) and this separation gives better temp stability within a shot than machines with the group head attached directly to the boiler. And it is this better stability that gives these machines the potential (if surfed carefully to the optimum temp before extraction begins) to produce shot as good as HX machines (commercial or semicommercial).

    Quote Originally Posted by Fresh_Coffee link=1101282668/30#37 date=1102297614
    The gaggia as mentioned by you is another kettle of fish however due to its aluminium boiler. I wonder if the flavour of coffee produced (by the same principle as the others above) could be being enhanced by the aluminium corrosion contained in the boiler ;D ! If you have ever seen inside one of these it will cure you of making coffee with machines containing aluminium.
    Let me disagree again. The corrosion of the aluminium boiler (if any, it varies greatly depending on your water supply) is so miniscule on a per shot basis as to have no effect on the taste of espresso extracted from one of these machines. The limitations are due to the design issues you have raised for normal domestic machines as you *have stated earlier in your sweeping statements.

    Greg

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    Re: Upgrading Silvia

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    I do not wish to get involved in the politics of this thread, BUT,
    Yep, the corrosion rate will totally depend on the quality of your feed water.

    In many areas of Australia (and the world) the use of aluminium boilers could be questionable!!!!!

    I have a small domestic machine in the shed. It belonged to a friend. She used it, here and there before giving it to me. I filled it up and plugged it in. I put some water through the group head, tasted it, it was disgusting, tasted somewhat metalic. This taste, believe me, will impact on any espresso. The foul taste may be hard to pick up in a milk based drink. I have not pulled the machine apart, but I suspect that the boiler system is corroded. I believe that she used to use reverse osmosis water in it. The RO water will greatly increase the rate of corrosion.

    FACT:
    An important thing to remember about all types of these machines is to make sure they are used regularly. Especially the "spare machine". If you let them sit in the cupboard for a few months and then drag them out to take on holidays or camping, then BEWARE and be PREPARED for failure.

    I also suggest that you flush all machines before and after every use.

    John






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