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Thread: Setting up/stepping up - suggestions welcome

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Setting up/stepping up - suggestions welcome

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I just returned after living in Boston with a Sylvia with a Rocky grinder for the past 5 years, so Im used to dealing with the demand for milk drinks with a single boiler machine. Here I am back in Sydney and reduced to an italian espresso style stovetop pot, and eyeing Australian prices with dismay...

    I am thinking about reproducing exactly the same setup - I know exactly what Ill get and can live with it ,but its probably time to think about stepping up to a dual boiler or HX machine and of course a decent grinder. Budget is limited by my wifes tolerance for my coffee habit and I can see that I need help from the fellow coffee crazies here :) to make a good decision.

    So, what would you recommend? How much am I going to have (to beg) to spend and what should I get? Im not sure I can stretch the budget far enough to upgrade from the sylvia - all the decent hx/dual machines seem to start around $2k and I know Im facing another 500 or more for a decent grinder, so any suggestions will be welcomed!

  2. #2
    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    Re: Setting up/stepping up - suggestions welcome

    Id suggest giving the site sponsor near you a call:
    Di Bartoli

    Im sure they can give you some options to think about in your price range.
    Plus, you could probably go and try some out too!

    Budget of ~$2,500 should allow for a pretty good setup!

  3. #3
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008

    Re: Setting up/stepping up - suggestions welcome

    Welcome back. Is the choice of CS username a reference to your mental state after living on the other side of the world?

    Anyway, I think your choice is pretty clear. If you can afford to get the set up you want then the only thing to do is go along to DiBartolis and selecting your weapons of choice. That doesnt sound like it is an option atm.

    If fiscally challenged like me, go for the good grinder and a lesser entry level machine machine. A 2nd hand Sylvia might be your best bet if you are prepared to wait for one to come up. Otherwise you can get a Gaggia Classic/Baby or Sunbeam 6910 or similar until you are able to afford your HX or DB. It sounds like you will need a min. of $500 for your espresso machine plus another $500+ for your grinder (as you already know).

    My current setup is a Gaggia Baby Class + Mini Mazzer. The Gaggia costs around the $500 mark but I got mine using award points. If I had to buy I would go the Classic instead so you can do the steam wand mod. The Mazzer cost around $750 but you go a cheaper grinder like the Iberatal Challenge. If buying both DiBartoli might get a package discount on top of your 5% CD discount.

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Re: Setting up/stepping up - decision made - repla

    ok. I agonized long and hard.

    One way to measure costs for my new machine has to be the price of a Sylvia *since thats what were used to using - say about au$800 or so. For 2 sylvias, I could buy a better single boiler (non hx) machine - were very familiar with the cooling down period needed between steam and coffee for that design. Everything Ive read tells me that the Sylvia is probably the value leader in that category - twice the price doesnt cure the fundamental single boiler machine problems although there will be better temperature stability with a bigger boiler. I was briefly tempted by a 2nd hand plumbed in machine but we really do not have the right space in our kitchen - and renovating is way off the agenda!

    Another option at that 2 Syliva level was the ascaso steel duo professionale for example. Since we do a lot of milk drinks the ascaso seemed a good match because theres a separate steamer thermoblock, so always available and no need to wait between steam and coffee. Renzo at di bartoli kindly gave me the chance to bench test it - good extraction power, easy to use, but just not enough steam for me - slow, anaemic steam more like the old saeco magic combi we once owned than a properly timed blast from a Sylvia - and no steam volume control knob - just a switch - on or off. Interestingly, neither of these issues get much attention in the reviews I was able to find - but they really gave me pause - always on but relatively underwhelming steam didnt seem to be much of an upgrade.

    After reading a lot here and elsewhere, it seems that *to really step up to a machine that can reliably outperform the syliva on all fronts, were going to have to spend 3 sylvias or more and upgrade to a higher end dual boiler like brewtus 2 or the hx vbm super lever. Not really possible right now unfortunately in terms of our finances.

    I decided on a dual steam/brew pid kit as the upgrade for now, to improve the extraction thermal stability and steaming power. *Ill report more after its installed. Im not expecting any miracles, but am looking forward to less effort to get the best out of the Sylvia and I know that with proper care it will probably outlast me. Meanwhile, well save our pennies for an upgrade.

    As far as purchasing goes, Renzo was very knowledgeable, patient and more importantly, straight forward in helping us come to a decision that suits our current situation. The opportunity to bench test a machine in the di bartoli showroom was very valuable for me. Instead of a Rocky grinder, my wife decided we just had to have the compak touch on display with fancy brushed aluminium finish rather than the stock black, and Renzo was kind (and in my experience, wise!) enough to yield to her wishes....

  5. #5
    Senior Member Koffee_Kosmo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    Re: Setting up/stepping up - suggestions welcome

    After thinking hard about your post and a budget of 2k

    Here is my 2 cents worth but focusing on machine and coffee quality

    VBM Levetta superior to the Silvia
    Macap M4D grinder or M4/5 doser

    The combo I chose is a quality set up that will last for years
    and it is within the budget

    Yes go to Di Bartolis and try these machines out you wont be disappointed.


  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Re: Setting up/stepping up - suggestions welcome

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by Koffee Kosmo link=1216866315/0#4 date=1217386499
    After thinking hard about your post and a budget of 2k
    Thanks for the thought and the suggestion! For 2k you might be right, but our budget ended up being less - nearly a whole sylvia less - at $1319 - although I then cheated $190 for a pid as the upgrade.

    For a 2k budget, Im sure the domobar is a great single boiler machine - and I gave it careful thought - bigger boiler for one thing - but if anything, isnt that likely to worsen the delay between steaming and extracting as more thermal mass means slower cooling? As far as extraction goes, the pid might make the sylvias thermal stability more than a match for the non-pid domobar? We drink a lot of cafe latte and the reviews I read seemed laced with comments that its a good espresso machine but not ideal for milk drinks?

    Cant comment on differences between the grinders - theyre both probably fine choices - it was the timer that I really wanted to decrease yet another variable in my routine....

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