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Just ordered my new Silvia... what next?

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  • Just ordered my new Silvia... what next?

    I'm sitting here a very excited budding CoffeeSnob.

    I've been wanting a new grown-up machine for a few years, but couldn't really justify it while my current automatic machine was still working. Thus, I was almost happy when my old DeLonghi Magnifica finally drew its last breath with a popping noise and a general error light. It had been fixed once before (which set me back several hundred dollars), so there was no way I was going to shell out more money on something I knew was just going to break again some time down the track.

    With a little help from CafeLotta, my attention was drawn to a great deal for a brand new Silvia ($499 from a large coffee retailer). A deal too good to pass up.

    My next step will be to head out and get a grinder this weekend. Budget constraints limit my choices, but I was happy to see that the Breville Smart Grinder is held in high regard and can be had for about $160 with some bargaining.

    So, what else will I need? I have a wish list which includes:
    - 58mm tamper
    - Knock box
    - Group head brush
    - Tamping mat

    Is there anything I've missed? Are there any specific tampers or cleaning fluids that anyone recommends for the Silvia?

    Can't wait for my new baby to arrive... my fiance and I are going through withdrawal every morning and we're ready to throw the jar of instant out the window. It's getting ugly!
    Last edited by MrSnrub; 1 February 2013, 01:41 PM.

  • #2
    Iv never been tempted to buy a tamping mat, usually I just rest the side of the PF against the edge of the table and tamp, you shouldn't need to tamp very hard anyway. You might want to get a good pair of scales like jewelry scales to measure the weight of your dose? As this will help you be consistent when you start getting picky - which will happen. Using a Silvia is a fun journey and I found mine to be fussy with regard to grind and dose. Also get a simple kitchen timer perhaps one with a magnetic backing so you can slap it on your machine. This will help you temperature surf which you'll get into eventually too, also helps you time your shots. Oh and get a measuring shot glass too.

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    • #3
      I too ended up getting a Silvia from them - $1500 more for a HX machine seemed a bridge too far (since I'm pretty sure I want a VBM Domobar Jr now - just need to save the bikkies).

      When I get back to Sydney I'll probably go to my closest sponsor (Di Bartoli) and get:
      - attento click tamping mat
      - naked PF

      I have on order from Pullman:
      - tamper
      - VST baskets x 2

      I have a multimeter with thermocouple (a couple actually) and plan on gronking the silvia before converting to PID. I now have an excess of triple baskets - so one may go toward being modified as a puck temperature monitor basket.

      Where did you see the BCG800 for $160? I'd be very tempted to upgrade my second grinder to that.

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      • #4
        Thanks Wynton, great advice about the timer. I'll likely learn to temp surf first and eventually buy a PID from Auber. Just not sure if I need one with pre-infusion, steam, or the standard one... decisions, decisions. I'll probably end up getting the one with steam control. Any thoughts?

        Hildy, I'll have to do some reading about gronking (as I have no idea what that means yet). What kind of tamper did you get?

        Re: the Smart Grinder - people seem to be able to get it for $160 from Good Guys with some negotiation (though this was back in 2011).

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        • #5
          Originally posted by MrSnrub View Post
          ... I'll have to do some reading about gronking (as I have no idea what that means yet)..
          When reading up about "Gronking" , ( just a digital temperature gauge) ... you may like to read the threads about installing PID's for under $50 complete !
          ..Or even the $20 electronic thermostat with digital readout !

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          • #6
            I highly recommend investing in a flat screen. I ordered one from a guy online in the US and its well worth the few bucks it cost. Found the link in a thread on here. Stops the dumb bolt that comes standard poking into your lovely pucks.

            I also grabbed some in tank filters that were discussed in a thread on here.

            The one other tool I find invaluable is a clip on thermometer for my milk jug. Improved my froth no end.

            I went with a Rocky grinder with doser. Love it.

            Other things:

            Bigger basket,
            Blind filter and some backflushing powder
            Group head brush
            Proper cafe style coffee cups and saucers
            naked PF
            knockbox

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            • #7
              Before I sold my Silvia and bought a cremina I was thinking of spending the cash on PID-ing the Silvia and getting a naked PF so yes that would be a good idea if you wanna start geeking out, you may as well get pre-infusion and steam control all in one, isn't that an option? If you PID then essentially you won't need to upgrade for a long time unless you want instant steaming capability. But I found I stopped drinking milk drinks when my espresso starting getting good. The only thing much better after your PID-ed Silvia that would be a significant improvement to your espresso would be to get pre infusion profiling capabilities eg levers, la maz gm3 et al. So I think you'll have a lot of fun!

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              • #8
                The tamper that comes with the Silvia is rubbish, you will want to replace it straight away. The best things I could recommend would be a naked pf, and good quality baskets (21g synesso ridgless or vst).

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                • #9
                  Just ordered my new Silvia... what next?

                  In order of importance to producing good coffee (ignoring grinder)
                  Depending on where you live, a water filter. (eg Melbourne tap water is generally ok although a filter always helps, Perth tap water is absolutely unusable for coffee without a filter of some kind)
                  Good quality 58mm tamper, as the standard Silvia one is a pure embarrassment
                  Back flush chemical
                  Naked portafilter, to help you diagnose poor shots
                  Digital thermometer, assuming you make milk-based coffees
                  Microfiber cloths to clean the steam wand

                  And watch several hours of YouTube videos!

                  Enjoy the journey with the Silvia, I recently moved to a HX after 3 years with a Silvia and she's a wonderful machine.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks everyone, I now have a good idea of what I'll need to survive. I live in Sydney, and I always used Brita filtered water in my old machine, so I'm hoping that will be good enough for the Silvia. A decent tamper will also be on my list of things to buy next Monday. I'm thinking of getting something cheap to begin with ($25 - $60) and will maybe upgrade to a Pullman tamper at a later date. All of your suggestions sound great!

                    I also picked up a Breville Smart Grinder from The Good Guys today for $160. Very little negotiation required. See pic sitting next to my old machine that I'm disassembling to fix as a spare (maybe give it to my parents).

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                    • #11
                      I tend to agree with most of what others are suggesting, with the exception of the naked PF, had one machined up years ago, novelty value only as far as I'm concerned, it now lives in the drawer full of unused stuff.

                      Learn to use the machine with the PF supplied and you won't go far wrong, would suggest a double 18 gram basket, anything larger may not fit the PF.

                      I owned and enjoyed a Silvia for almost 10 years before selling it for a few dollars less than the original purchase price.

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                      • #12
                        Basic kit for Silvia in my opinion is a decent tamper, Knock box, Rancilio blind filter and backflushing powder such as Cino Cleano. Depending on where you are located, descaling may not be a big issue if water quality is ok. May be something that needs to be done infrequently. Could do more harm than good if tap water is good quality.

                        Which State are you in? Decent tampers can be had at a low cost. PM me if in Melbourne. I'd suggest forget the PID and take the time to learn to temperature surf and save the money.

                        Naked portafilter is a good tool but not essential. Lots of information here on CoffeeSnobs and online in general to help perfect your technique. If in doubt just post a query here and you will be guided in the right direction.

                        Seriously, there is a lot you can learn with the kit suggested without spending heaps more money. I think one of the biggest mistakes a lot of people make is to chase a good brew with cash. You will have a decent machine and with a couple of additions the rest is up to you with practice and technique. Little variations can make a big difference in taste. Perfect a consistent technique and you will be well on your way.

                        Last comment is don't forget to PRIME, PRIME, PRIME the boiler!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CafeLotta View Post
                          Last comment is don't forget to PRIME, PRIME, PRIME the boiler!
                          I owned and used a Silvia daily for many years and never once "primed the boiler" in fact I never heard the subject mentioned until after I sold mine over two years ago, are the newer machines different to the machines made around 2000?

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                          • #14
                            Hi MrSnrub,

                            Sounds like a great deal you've managed to score on both the Silvia and the Smart Grinder! Should both serve you well, and with a bit of practice and perseverance give you much better coffee than what you've had with the DeLonghi auto.

                            Just one more point that I haven't noticed bought up yet (apologies if it has or you are aware), is that you should always use good quality, freshly roasted beans for the Silvia. Some users new to the Silvia use cheap supermarket beans (read STALE) to practice on to get their technique right, but this is probably false economy as fresh beans will behave in quite a different way particularly with your grinder settings. A 'gusher' pour on stale beans at a certain grinder setting may be enough to 'choke' the machine using fresh beans.

                            Good luck with the new machine,

                            Paul

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                            • #15
                              What bing lee store ? I want $160 smart grinder also. Mitchell

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