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Is a Silvia the best choice?

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  • Is a Silvia the best choice?

    Firstly I will say this is a fantastic site. I found the site today and have been on here researching for about 5 hours and think I have made a decision.

    My husband decided to try his hand at making coffee about 12 months ago after experimenting with one of the stove top caffeterias. When he maintained the interest (he goes through phases) I purchased a bottom of the range sunbeam (EM3600) and grinder (EM0430) to see whether the passion stayed true.
    Now after 6 months of endless coffee making the machine is building up pressure and popping off the pf (I think thats what it is called) so I have decided to invest in something better, possibly the Silvia.

    I was tossing up between the silvia and sunbeam 6910 (although have been reading the reviews of this and some are not too complimetary). Another factor is that we live quite remote and it would have to be a very reliable machine. My husband also does not like the Gaggia machines and therefore that rules out that option.

    I understand that the silvia and sunbeam use two different methods also. Will it be difficult to go from the pressurised to non pressurised pf?

    I am also looking to buy a new grinder (maybe sunbeam EM0480).

    Would these two items be a good combination? Also what price is reasonable for the silvia, I have seen them for $700 - $750?

    With the low quality equipment he has been using, my husband has made fantastic coffee and I would like to get a machine that he can continue to perfect his skills on therefore any advice would be appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: Is a Silvia the best choice?

    Hi Melinda, and welcome to the site,

    Im sure that you are already familiar with the relative merits of the two machines. If you are not, post up and let us know - someone will be able to answer your questions.

    As far as reliability goes, the Silvia is pretty hard to beat. The machine is very simple inside, with only a few components that are all of decent quality. Its also an easy machine to work on if you are the fix-it-yourself type. I guess the things to watch out for are (a) the steam wand starting to leak if you over-tighten it and (b) the element frying itself if you dont refill the boiler manually.

    Personally, I wouldnt want to pair the sunbeam grinder with the silvia. It strikes me that the grind adjustment steps dont really give you enough control, although seeing as I picked one up to grind for french press and syphon recently, I guess that I should really give it a thorough go with the espresso machine for kicks. I think that the cheapest grinder thats worthwhile using is the ascaso i-mini, which Renzo at Di Bartoli has for a reasonable price.

    Hope that helps,



    • #3
      Re: Is a Silvia the best choice?

      Welcome Melinda.

      Contact a few of the site sponsors.
      Theyll look after you and even if they dont have the lowest price by a dollar or two the added benefit of their excellent after sales service will more than make up for it.

      I go through phases too but this coffee one appears to be long term.


      • #4
        Re: Is a Silvia the best choice?

        <<I understand that the silvia and sunbeam use two different methods also.

        Silvia has a real heavy duty boiler  (think steam train).  The pressure to make the expresso comes from a pump and steam for the milk come from the boiler.  It has very few electronics to go wrong.  But it does require recharging the boiler as mentioned above but this is very simple and can be part of the clean up procedure. I have had flawless service from my Sylvia and Rocky combination for over 12 months.

        <<Will it be difficult to go from the pressurised to non pressurised pf?>>
        The only difference you will notice (apart from the taste) is that you have approach the tamping seriously (more pressure) so it is a very good idea to purchase a good, sized if possible, tamper.  This creates the resistance for the water to produce the expresso.  So it is grind and tamp.  Thus a good grinder is important for good coffee

        Hope this helps


        • #5
          Re: Is a Silvia the best choice?

          Thanks for the advice, it is great to get it from unbiased and reliable sources. I have checked out the Di Bartoli site and they have a Silvia and Rocky combination so am going to look into this further.

          Thanks for the information on the systems I was trying to explain to my husband but think I got us both confused so now I will just let him read all of this for himself.


          • #6
            Re: Is a Silvia the best choice?


            We bought our Silvia and Rocky package from Di Bartoli, 10+ months ago and could not be happier. Ofra and Renzo are great and will guide you through the process and demonstrate the equipment, I would highly recommend them.

            The only problems we have experienced is the steam valve is very tight to shut off and recently we have noticed rust in the base. These have been mentioned to Ofra and as soon as I can get down to Bondi Junction will be fixed (live in Mountains, and struggle to live with out it!). The only thing I changed was the basket for a larger unit from coffee parts.




            • #7
              Re: Is a Silvia the best choice?

              Hello Melinda welcome to CS.

              The questions are are asking are simply answered.

              Both the Miss Silvia & the 6910 are nice machines that work extremely well in their market sector (ie best *domestics* under a grand, capable of quasi commercial type espresso, with best "domestic" capacity to entertain eg dinner parties).

              The differences are as follows and only you can make the right choice for you:

              Miss Silvia costs more, but is extremely long lived with virtually no problems, with a known history / proven track record in confirmation of the prior statement. It does not texture milk and brew espresso *at the same time*, however in my own experience, not many people actually do included, and I do have a semi commercial machine at home where I could texture milk and brew espresso at the same time.............

              We have found the Silvia so reliable, that it virtually doesnt require a warranty. Some people say if it is that reliable why doesnt it have a 24 month warranty, and we say it is so reliable it actually doesnt need a warranty...but of course it does carry a 12 month guarantee.

              The price of Miss Silvia WILL get higher. I received notice from Rancilio in November that from January first (14 days ago), the ex factory cost cost was rising by 35 EURO, ie, roughly $60.00 Australian.

              However, please remember that very often what turns out to be the cheapest option, is the one that actually cost more at point of sale so the starting price is not necessarily relevant after you weigh up the various pros and cons for each model you are looking at.

              Hope this helps,
              aka FC, first / original CS Site Sponsor.

              PS, our container of machines will arrive in store tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest, and there will be ample stock of NEWEST import Silvia and Rocky if you would .ike to contact off list.


              • #8
                Re: Is a Silvia the best choice?

                Now I am getting confused with so much information. I was reading another thread where a CS started out wanting to buy the same machine (Silvia) and ended up with a Vibiemme Domobar Levetta. This was partly because it would not require the separate purchase and installation of a PDI.

                Is a PDI and essential tool to have? Is there a link where I could find out details about its role in the coffee making process?

                I have also decided that my budget for a grinder will need to be increased also. I am now thinking of the ECM KS or Compak K3. These have both received excellent reviews.


                • #9
                  Re: Is a Silvia the best choice?

                  I smell the CS-wallet monster lurking around haha, good onya melinda


                  • #10
                    Re: Is a Silvia the best choice?


                    Welcome to the world of information overload.

                    PID refers to temperature control.
                    Many people, especially those who drink espressos, notice distinct changes in taste if the brew temperature is too hot or not hot enough. A PID can control this and stabalise the temperature coming through the brew group.

                    There are a lot of articles on the web and indeed here that go into more specifics.

                    A lot of people believe that the Silvia fluctuates a bit and requires either a PID or temperature surfing to get the best consistent results.

                    Having said that, I owned a Silvia for a couple of years that did not have a PID. We always enjoyed the coffee from it. Personally, no I dont think it is essential.

                    We have since caught the upgrade bug and gone to a Minore II.

                    My personal experience says - A Silvia is a good unit that held its value quite well and found a new home with a fellow snob once we upgraded. Interestingly, I believe it now DOES have a PID (but I daresay the new owner has a better palate than me).

                    The feedback on this site suggests that the Sunbeam EM6910 is also a good unit. Some possible reliability issues, but warranty service appears quite good, at least until recently.

                    The 2 grinders you have shortlisted both appear to be good units.

                    As mentioned by others, seek out one of the sponsors and have a chat. They might be able to give you some more options to mull over as well ;-)

                    Theyll also back up any sales with excellent service! Something you might not get everywhere.


                    • #11
                      Re: Is a Silvia the best choice?

                      Hi Melinda, I purchased my Silvia last July and have nothing but praise for the machine and the espresso that it produces, it takes a little getting used to but once you have the tamp, dose, grind correct the results are great, even not so good shots taste better than most cafes!!
                      I would suggest you get a Pullman tamper and a Synesso double ridgeless basket for Silvia, Greg makes the tamper to fit the basket perfectly enhancing your shot making markedly.
                      I started with a Sunbeam grinder (which I still have in my garage for early morning brews) but now have a doserless Rocky which I am extremely pleased with.
                      Good luck with your decision and purchase and welcome to CS and all its passionate coffee obsessed members!!!


                      • #12
                        Re: Is a Silvia the best choice?

                        Hi Melinda,

                        I inherited Fatboys Silvia and it performed well for the 15 months before the PID came along in the last couple of weeks. I used to just brew without really paying any attention to how far into its heating cycle it was, so good results can certainly be had this way, though consistency is harder to achieve when the temperature is fluctuating by up to 10 degrees. The PID just controls the temperature a lot more closely than the standard thermostats do, which leads to much more consistent results. I havent had enough time to do detailed tests on it yet though. Also, its something that can be added later with minimum fuss so dont think you have to start off with a PIDd Silvia. Theres a couple of hundred dollars difference between a Silvia with PID and a Vibiemme Domobar Levetta; however if cost is an issue you can buy the Silvia now and add the PID later if required, enjoying good coffee in the meantime, whereas you cant buy half a Levetta!

                        I also had a Compak K3 Elite, the dosered version of the K3 Touch and it was a very good grinder. Cant comment on the KS.



                        • #13
                          Re: Is a Silvia the best choice?

                          It seems like now is the time to start calling suppliers. I think I will go back to my original idea of the Silvia (without the PID). We only ever have black coffee as affagattos so I dont think it is vital at the moment.

                          I am leaning towards the Compak K3 Elite grinder.

                          And am going to follow greenmans advice and get a tamper and filter set up from pullman.

                          I think this will be a good starting point.

                          Thanks for all the help I will continue to update.


                          • #14
                            Re: Is a Silvia the best choice?

                            Hi Melinda,

                            I have had a Silvia for about a year and use it 2-3 times per day. I have used a Sunbeam 6900 a few times and had a Sunbeam grinder for a few weeks. IMHO the Silvia is a better buy. The build quality of the Silvia is high - my guess is that its life is 2-3 times that of the Sunbeam. A 4 yo Silvia could be sold easily but Im not so sure about the Sunbeam - it is built like most modern kitchen gadgets with a design life of 5 years or so and then you throw it away and buy the latest version. The Silvia is something your grandkids could still be using. (Of course I cant prove how long the Sunbeams will last but that is my impression).

                            Whatever machine you use you have to learn a routine that suits it. There is a lot on the net making the Silvia routine sound a bit complex but it doesnt have to be so. The way I do it is to warm my cup by running water through the grouphead until the light comes on saying the heating element is now on. By the time I have ground the beans and filled the portafiltrer the light has gone out. The water in the machine will be a bit hot at this point so I open the steam wand and let off all the steam and then pull the shot. I think this produces a similar result to the "temperature surfing" that is so talked about and it is a lot easier.

                            I do think you need a good grinder and I dont think the Sunbeam is up to it. You do need very fine adjustability of the grind and the Sunbeams longevity is suspect.

                            I think that if your passion for coffee is a lasting one you will end up with a $2000+ machine but for most that is too much to justify early on. Adding a PID to a Silvia to me seems to me too expensive an option - if you are that keen sell the Silvia and buy the full monte. I dont think a PIDed Silvia would be as good as a $2000+ machine. That may seem a ridiculous amount to pay for a machine that just makes coffee but if you have a good grinder and a roaster you already have a fair bit invested. I suspect that the prosumer users on this site are enjoying good coffee years after they have forgotten ow much they paid.

                            Just my opinionated 10c.



                            • #15
                              Re: Is a Silvia the best choice?

                              Just to clarify.....

                              Miss Silvia DOES NOT ***NEED*** A PID

                              Melinda you sound like youre on the right track...

                              If you want to talk, give me a call, we have a good range of stuff to go with Miss Silvia including Greg Pullmans top qual tampers, which can go in the box with the machine, and save you from paying for extra cartage buying stuff from different suppliers.....

                              aka FC, first / original CS site sponsor.