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Will a rancilio Silvia suit me?`

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  • Will a rancilio Silvia suit me?`


    I've been using a Sunbeam EM3800 now for about 4 or 5 years. Last year I splurged out and bought a EM0480 grinder. I've been pretty happy with the results, but understand that the espresso machine is very basic and the crema I get is mostly due to the pressurised basket. Recently the power button on the EM3800 has broken and I have had to sticky tape it in the on position and the button no longer lights up to indicate that the machine is on.

    This and a nice on-call period has made me seriously consider upgrading my machine. A workmate has reccomended a Rancilio Silvia as a great step up. I do have some questions however and wonder if a Silvia will work for me.

    My partner and myself usually drink short black esspersso's in the morning and may go for a latte or flat whit on a weekend. We generally don't use the steamer as we have a EM0180 frother. I'll also admit that I'll often just nuke some milk in the microwave and pull a shot into that. We tend to buy beans every two weeks and will get them either from my local Cibo espresso bar or from the Adelaide Markets.

    The EM3800 is pretty much foolproof to pull a half decent coffee. Is the Silvia the same or is it much easier to pull a bad shot?

    How long does the Silvia take to warm up to a temperature that will give good results? I have seen a thread on here discussing using a timer to power the machine on ahead of time. Does it take that long to warm up to make that a requirement?

    Do I have to be really fiddly with the grind to get OK results. I don't often adjust the grind setting on the EM0480 now. Will this have to change, or will I still pull acceptable shots with a grind somewhere near where it should be? Is the EM0480 good enough for use with the Silvia

    Does anyone know of anywhere in Adelaide I can do a hands on look at one in store? I'd like to get a feel for the machine. I'll probably order it from Coffee-A-Roma as it seems they have the best price.

    Is the PID really worth the investment?

    Any other comments or advice anyone would like to offer to help me decide wether I should spend the $700 over another $130 EM3800

    Edit: Sorry, meant to post this in the $500-1000 section. Can a mod move it?
    Last edited by mentasm; 11 September 2012, 12:36 PM. Reason: see edit:

  • #2
    I upgraded from an EM3600 to a Silvia and the coffee is *far* and away superior. It does take a bit longer to use though. It also took a few weeks to get used to the grind setting and dosing, but it's pretty consistent now (doesn't need adjusting too often). It is not foolproof though, with practice you get more and more reliable at using it, and in this sense it is a rewarding machine, but it is easier to pull a bad shot.

    The PID makes a big difference, I bought mine from another CS member who already had a PID so I've never used it without one. Time-wise, a lot of the slow down is the result of changing from espresso to milk steaming temperature and back.

    Ideally it should be left on for say, 15 minutes at espresso temperature. But if all you wanted was two espressos from a cold machine ASAP with no PID, one option is to turn the machine on, make sure the boiler is full, and turn the steam switch on. Wait until the unit is at max temperature, and then purge it through the group handle into your cups. I think this would be only about 5 mins after turning it on. Then grind, dose, and the machine should be at the peak of its thermal cycle for making espresso. 30 second shot and you're done. It biggest slowdown is if you want to make say, 4 milk coffees. But this is the case for any machine that isn't a dual boiler or HX.


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply.
      Would be nice to have a PID, but I can't see me investing in one straight away, or buying a pre-modded silvia second hand. Guess I'll have to make do with temp surfing.
      Saw the tip elsewhere of using the steam mode to speedup heating.

      What grinder do you use? I'm slightly concerned that the EM0480 might not grind fine enough for an unpressurised basket.


      • #4
        Originally posted by mentasm View Post
        Thanks for the reply.
        Would be nice to have a PID, but I can't see me investing in one straight away, or buying a pre-modded silvia second hand. Guess I'll have to make do with temp surfing.
        Saw the tip elsewhere of using the steam mode to speedup heating.

        What grinder do you use? I'm slightly concerned that the EM0480 might not grind fine enough for an unpressurised basket.
        Don't worry about no PID mentasm, I owned and used a standard Silvia for almost 10 years, never saw the need to PID it and we got along just fine.


        • #5
          I use a em0480 with a silvia and I use it between setting 12-14 so there is still plenty if room to grind finer, I've choked my machine using this grinder before!


          • #6
            Great news. I tend to use the grinder on roughly that setting range with my EM3600 as well. Looks like my On-call pay got stuffed up this fortnight so I might have to wait a bit. So tempted to use the old credit card!


            • #7
              Purchase made via coffee-a-roma.



              • #8
                Awesome! Most people agree that temperature surfing and a PID give pretty much the same results, you just need to pay more attention to it I'm using a smart grinder but the EM0480 should be alright, you can always put some shims on it if it's not going fine enough


                • #9
                  Hey Meta,

                  Silvia 101.

                  Before you turn the machine on always make sure there's water in the tank, and the hose line is not cramped.

                  For your water get one of these as a an alternative already
                  Bombora Coffee & Water Supplies :: WATER FILTRATION :: COFFEE & ICE FILTERS :: Coffee Machine Replacement Water Filter, In-Tank, Resin

                  Second whenever you turn on the machine run the brew switch a small amount to prime the pump.

                  Third dialing in the grind. Grind a small amount into your palm and press it with your index finger should be fine enough to hold the shape but not take your print. Next place coffee in portafilter and a 5 cent piece in top try to lock it in. Dry shower screen beforehand with a towel. If you find it hard/stiff to lock in there's to much remove portafilter the 5cent should only be slightly disturbed. So repeat process until you get the right result.

                  Thirdly get yourself a stainless tamper the plastic one is a piece of sh#$.

                  Lastly never run the pump for more than 35 seconds as a rule of thumb.


                  • #10
                    Another golden rule imo. After steaming run the hot water button with steam tap open until you hear the pump kicks in and fills the boiler. Helps prevent burning out the element. Just remember to point the steam wand into a container as it will spit out water.


                    • #11
                      I believe my Silvia is in the building. Might get to play with it tonight!

                      Got the stainless tamper for $1 with Coffee A Roma.

                      Do you think I need the filter if I use a puratap for filling my tank?

                      Thanks for the other tips. I'll be back with questions later


                      • #12
                        You won't be sorry. I've had mine for a couple of years now, make anywhere between 2 and 4 coffee's a day with it using my Rocky. It gets used A LOT. Descale/back-flush it occasionally and it'll stay as good as new. I've never used a filter when filling the tank, though I do occasionally take it out and give it a good clean as even with city tap water there can be a build up of grime after long enough. The steaming might take some getting used to though, but I guess that goes for any new machine! I can honestly say that my machine has well earned what I paid for it. Excellent purchase. Warming up seems to take around a minute for me (maybe I am just occupied with other things). I usually turn the machine on, start up my computer and login... By that time it's ready to go. Though I guess I usually wait around five minutes. If I use steam I always do what another member suggested, I run the water pump until it's full again.

                        Enjoy, and post some pics if you can


                        • #13
                          I've got the machine here now. Impressed with the build quality. Little surprised that I will have to unscrew and remove the top of the machine just to remove the antiscratch film.

                          Ordered a couple of the filters linked by InTheCup. Cheap add-on that will ensure long life.

                          Don't normally drink much coffee after around 2pm, but I guess I'll be trying some tonight when I get home. Best buy some fresh beans today.

                          Thanks for the comments snobs!


                          • #14
                            pretty happy so far. Was impressed that even from my first shot I was popping out solid pucks. Little bit of adjustment and I was pulling 25 second 30ml shots.

                            Must say, dosing the 7gram basket compared to the 18g is much harder. Few practices gave me a decent result.

                            The EM0480 seems to grind well for the Silvia, unfortunately though, it's very much designed for the Sunbeam's smaller group head. Had to remove the plastic guide, and find that the coffee is not delivered to the centre of the basket, so some shaking and scraping is required at times to get the coffee where you need it. I'm now looking at Rocky somewhere down the road.

                            I am assuming the portafilter loosens up a little eventually? I find at the moment I really have to hold the whole unit in place while locking in and unlocking the portafilter, unfortunately this introduces fingerprints on the nice shiny casing.
                            Attached Files


                            • #15
                              Nice. So new looking.

                              The portafilter does indeed loosen up a little. Mine I can do pretty easily... I think the little spring object is pretty tight when it's new.