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  • Taking the plunge......(please help!)

    Hi Everyone,

    (first off, a quick thankyou to Andy for the warm welcome and encouragement to post)

    Ive come to the end of my tether with pre-ground coffee - as much as I love the Campos beans for a consistently good milk drink (read strong latte), theyre not quite my cup of tea for espresso! I tend to prefer darker and more complex beans for this, but havent got any favourites yet through lack of experience and........well and addiction to Campos coffee. At a pinch I use Espresso Galleria in Haberfield as its a lot closer to where I live, and the owner is a half-decent barista!

    Im a coffee addict. And for health reasons too (trigeminal neuralgia & cluster headaches) I require a number of cups through the day to keep me sane/well/out of excrutiating head pain and able to function. Seems that a good strong latte works better for this purpose than any medication, and leaves me better able to concentrate and function. It is also cheaper and tastes far, far nicer.

    So onto the business end

    My drinking habits are as follows - a cup as soon as i wake up (large double shot latte) and then another about two hours later. Random coffee drinking through the afternoon, with a double shot of espresso in there when possible (it tends to kill my stomach lining ). The evening tends to have a number of strong lattes (maybe 3) as I work from home and do a lot of UK-based work.

    My wife tends to make my first cup in the morning and isnt particularly brainy in the mornings, so the stovetop tends to get left on the gas now and again - melted black plastic and a trip out for another stovetop tend to be the order of the day every three weeks.

    Id love some crema. And Id love microfoam. With a Bialetti 3-cup costing $100 and a Verna 3-cup costing $20-50, I seem to be spending hundreds of dollars on stuff my wife can easily fry (Ive melted two in the last year to add to the count), and Ive come to the conclusion that what Im after is a decent semi-automatic espresso machine. Im new to the art of espresso, and planning on dropping by Di Bartoli on monday for a bit more advice.

    However - Ive found an old looking Brasilia Club, grinder (both orange) and base in Sydney for $475. Im looking at the PID controllers and thinking that a Rancilio Rocky + a new Silvia is $1200ish (maybe more, maybe less) and also in the price range, while HX and double boiler machines Im guessing (and research seems to have indicated) are out - I think the maximum I could justify to my better half is $1600 including grinder and Id prefer to keep it below that.

    My main concerns are as follows:

    - If I buy the Brasilia Club and need it refurbed, how much is it likely to cost? Is it PIDable easily and how does it compare to a new Silvia? It looks to have had moderate use for about 6-10 years, with the burr grinder (as far as I could tell) in half-decent condition. Reviews elsewhere seem to indicate that you can boil it dry if you so wish - is this really a good thing??
    - Are there any other options I should be looking at within my price range? Id love to get into roasting but Im happy with the beans I can buy (though Ill try anyones!).
    - I (and most importantly, my wife) would love to be able to have someone with decent technique make me a strong latte and her an espresso before purchasing the machine. Im aware of DB thanks to the sponsoring/advertising on here and one of the staff at Campos. Were unlikely to be able to do this with the Club - is it still worth buying blind at that price? Although it looks clean and well-maintained it has obviously seen some use (bobbling to the paintwork on the wall behind the drip-tray.
    - Where can I get training in Sydney? Ideally in my home/office but otherwise anywhere else!
    - How long do these machines really take to warm up? Im much less fussy in the morning about how it tastes, but I still need a cup to function! If neither of these machines does the job in that regard, should I just keep mum on the subject and keep my beloved melting the occasional stovetop, or is there another solution?
    - Must be okay on a standard wall socket and not require plumbing!

    Thankyou in advance for your help and responses - Ive learnt a lot already and would love to make a buying decision early next week. And to talkcoffee - yes, yes Id be interested in a Silvia PIDed under warranty! Especially with a doserless Rocky and the steel base (unless theres another recommended way of keeping things tidy).

    John

  • #2
    Re: Taking the plunge......(please help!)

    Re Silvia warm up time. Site Sponsor PID Kits has a Silvia warm up page including a graph on their web site, Hope this helps.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Taking the plunge......(please help!)

      Hi John,

      Others can probably answer most of your questions, I just wanted to let you know that machine warm up time doesnt need to be a problem. I think it is recommended that most machines warm up for about 30 min. I have a Rancilio and it technically warms up in 8 min (as in you can then pour shots), but the coffee is much better if I wait 30/40 min. So, just buy yourself an inexpensive timer and set it for your machine turns on early and is nice and warm by the time you wake. I also have mine programmed to go off at 7:00 pm. I leave my Rancilio on all day. The only time I have to even think about the timing issue is when daylight savings hits, and I need to reset the timer. It works really well!!

      Also, your wife sounds like my husband - Im scared that he will let the boiler of the Rancilio run dry and this would mean that you need a new boiler. I wish there was some sort of water level indicator to prevent this from happening. I think a lot of machines have this similar issue. I have just gotten into the habit of checking water level before brewing any shots. Oh, and my hubby isnt allowed to use my machine although Im hoping he is trainable in the future!


      Cheers, Mary

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Taking the plunge......(please help!)

        Ive recently put a little sign on the top of my PIDed Botticelli- it says something like, "To all coffee aficionados- after steaming, please flush the boiler with water using the hot water button until clear water runs from the steam arm. Thanks, The Big Bean."
        Silly I know but better than the cost and recriminations of a burnt out boiler!
        By the way, a Silvia (a little like my Botticelli) with PID kit makes a lot of sense and would be great.
        Brett

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        • #5
          Re: Taking the plunge......(please help!)

          you can also cheat the warm up times on a silvia by running hot water through the group a few times. takes about 10 minutes to get up to temp this way. obviously not as accurate but the coffee doesnt taste grassy which is the main thing.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Taking the plunge......(please help!)

            Thats really useful to know - certainly helps absolve my worries about morning coffee. The timer idea sounds great - but Im still not sure whether to go for the Brasilia Club or the Silvia. The thought of saving $800 seems fairly significant!

            However, Id pay that much more for good coffee if its what it takes - any advice towards the decision would be greatfully appreciated!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Taking the plunge......(please help!)

              BOTICELLI PID?

              did you do this yourself?

              If so, do you have any online guides or pics of the install?

              I installed a pid on my gaggia espresso from way back..auberins type.

              I think the boticellieeiii..soundszzz..better in build then the silvia with nickel plated

              boiler which is slightly larger and sitting directly on top of the group.similar to gaggias.

              peace.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Taking the plunge......(please help!)

                Originally posted by pravspresso link=1181409118/0#6 date=1181495254
                BOTICELLI PID?

                did you do this yourself?

                If so, do you have any online guides or pics of the install?

                I installed a pid on my gaggia espresso from way back..auberins type.

                I think the boticellieeiii..soundszzz..better in build then the silvia with nickel plated

                boiler which is slightly larger and sitting directly on top of the group.similar to gaggias.

                peace.

                Yes I did the PID using one of Jims kits- Watlow 43.
                The results are amazing compared to the cal controls one I put in the quaha. The quaha stays at temp brilliantly but loves to stay well over temp even after a massive cool down flush post steaming- even after auto tune and my own tinkering with settings- also doesnt love repeated shots.
                The Bott with Jims Silvia settings on it flushes to near the set point and gently drops to it and stays there. It also allows repeated espresso shots and is back to set point in the time it takes to grind for the next one. Havent tried further but found this great up to 4 doubles- I imagine this would only be a problem until the pump needed a rest.
                Also huge amount of steam, but loves the small conical coffeeparts 2 hole tip.
                Brett

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