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After 3 years, what do I think about my Silvia?

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  • After 3 years, what do I think about my Silvia?

    Hi All

    Just contributing back to this forum since its been such a useful resource for me.
    I wanted to post my thoughts on the Silvia and also link some videos for those who might be new to the machine.

    I had my Silvia for about 3 years now and it has never missed a beat.
    It was a pre owned machine which was not used frequently.
    I paired it with a Compaq K3T and it has been making great coffee since.

    Initially, I temp surfed and made all my coffees in that way for months.
    It wasn't difficult and it was something as an art form.
    Eventually I added an Auber PID to make things a bit more predictable.
    It made the Silvia so much more easy to operate.

    Like everyone else, I played around with tamping, distribution, timing etc
    If you do the 'best method' of wdt, tamping, levelling etc it would take you about 15min to make one!
    I didn't like that as it took away the whole point of a home espresso, which is the coffee itself.
    I even watched some of the WBC competitors and noticed that home baristas fiddle a lot more than they do.
    So I just stripped it down to a few elements which has worked well for me.
    I use the 'chicago chop' because I seem to be more consistent with it, but Ill work it out of my process at some point in the future.

    So my thoughts on the Silvia after these years are:
    -PID helps greatly but you can live without it
    -The Silvia can be unforgiving. I see some grinds and tamps which come out perfect on an e61 but I know will be a watery mess with the Silvia. At least it teaches discipline and good technique.
    -Makes a really good espresso. Little miss silvia can churn out some outstanding shots. On average, it will push out shots that are on par as most decent cafes. Dedicated espresso bars still produce shots with better clarity of flavours, but the Silvia with fresh beans is better than all the franchise chains and most cafes where the coffee is an added service, not the main highlight.
    -Built tough. I think Ive sat on the machine before and it did not bend at all.
    -Steaming is great. Really powerful. Although the power of the steam wavers a bit.
    -Making 2 lattes is very quick. 4 is doable if you make 4 double shots first. But any more and you will be hampered by boiler temperatures.
    -I wish the internals were larger. Larger tank reservoir, larger boiler, larger drip tray
    -Switches on the Silvia are indestructible. They give a very satisfying click when using them.
    -Not a Sunbeam or Breville

    So if you cant decide on a Silvia, just go for it. You wont be disappointed.
    Once you learn the machine, it wont get in the way of the beans youre trying to experience.
    Here's some vids I made today with it. By no means 'god shots', but this is the everyday achievable type of shot.
    They tasted great, and if I wasn't trying to video everything, you could do it in about half the time. My milk texturing technique could use some work though lol
    Anyway, hope this post helps for those who are thinking or maybe recently bought a Silvia.

    Silvia making a latte


    Silvia making Espresso

  • #2
    Well done, great summary and echoes my experience of owing a Silvia for about 3 years.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks

      Thanks great to see this baby in action as I am thinking of getting a new one unless I can get a really
      good used one. I was thinking of a Gaggia Classic but this seems to be very robust & has parts available and the PID option.
      I wont be able to afford the K3T just yet unless I forget to pay my current power bill which is not a bad idea.

      Will have to get by with the Sunbeam EM480 grinder which I have read is the bare minimum.

      Well the coffee you have made looks a bit better than my Sunbeam produces.

      Did you get the PID with the steam control as well & is this really necessary?

      Thanks





      Originally posted by locosam View Post
      Hi All

      Just contributing back to this forum since its been such a useful resource for me.
      I wanted to post my thoughts on the Silvia and also link some videos for those who might be new to the machine.

      I had my Silvia for about 3 years now and it has never missed a beat.
      It was a pre owned machine which was not used frequently.
      I paired it with a Compaq K3T and it has been making great coffee since.

      Initially, I temp surfed and made all my coffees in that way for months.
      It wasn't difficult and it was something as an art form.
      Eventually I added an Auber PID to make things a bit more predictable.
      It made the Silvia so much more easy to operate.

      Like everyone else, I played around with tamping, distribution, timing etc
      If you do the 'best method' of wdt, tamping, levelling etc it would take you about 15min to make one!
      I didn't like that as it took away the whole point of a home espresso, which is the coffee itself.
      I even watched some of the WBC competitors and noticed that home baristas fiddle a lot more than they do.
      So I just stripped it down to a few elements which has worked well for me.
      I use the 'chicago chop' because I seem to be more consistent with it, but Ill work it out of my process at some point in the future.

      So my thoughts on the Silvia after these years are:
      -PID helps greatly but you can live without it
      -The Silvia can be unforgiving. I see some grinds and tamps which come out perfect on an e61 but I know will be a watery mess with the Silvia. At least it teaches discipline and good technique.
      -Makes a really good espresso. Little miss silvia can churn out some outstanding shots. On average, it will push out shots that are on par as most decent cafes. Dedicated espresso bars still produce shots with better clarity of flavours, but the Silvia with fresh beans is better than all the franchise chains and most cafes where the coffee is an added service, not the main highlight.
      -Built tough. I think Ive sat on the machine before and it did not bend at all.
      -Steaming is great. Really powerful. Although the power of the steam wavers a bit.
      -Making 2 lattes is very quick. 4 is doable if you make 4 double shots first. But any more and you will be hampered by boiler temperatures.
      -I wish the internals were larger. Larger tank reservoir, larger boiler, larger drip tray
      -Switches on the Silvia are indestructible. They give a very satisfying click when using them.
      -Not a Sunbeam or Breville

      So if you cant decide on a Silvia, just go for it. You wont be disappointed.
      Once you learn the machine, it wont get in the way of the beans youre trying to experience.
      Here's some vids I made today with it. By no means 'god shots', but this is the everyday achievable type of shot.
      They tasted great, and if I wasn't trying to video everything, you could do it in about half the time. My milk texturing technique could use some work though lol
      Anyway, hope this post helps for those who are thinking or maybe recently bought a Silvia.

      Silvia making a latte


      Silvia making Espresso

      Comment


      • #4
        Great review, thanks for that! We just lost our Em6910 and I was tossing up between the EM7000 and the Sylvia. I know my wife would like the ease of the 7000, but to be honest, we're just OVER Sunbeam products and their crappy build quality. So based on your review and others like it, I've ordered the Sylvia.

        Comment


        • #5
          Muso44,
          The PID I have only controls the brew temp. I dont think its really necessary but I think that it would really help in steaming to its fullest capacity. Its pretty easy to use without it though.
          I do a quick purge when the temp at the boiler gets to about 116c then I wait till around 125-130c, purge then begin steaming.
          The hardest part of the steaming is that because the power goes from strong to super powerful, it takes a bit of practice to get it right. But once you got it down pat, you wont think about it anymore.
          The steaming is really powerful though. Heats things up in no time.

          I wouldnt worry too much about the EM480. Minimum standards here on coffeesnobs still means that you will get a pretty decent coffee.

          KaiserSoze,
          I think you're right with the ease of use of the Sunbeam with the volumetric dosing and the thermoblocks, you dont have to worry about the boiler being full and what not, but there is definitely something to be said to good old fashioned build quality.
          On a side note, my steam iron is not working well after only a year or so. It happens to be made by sunbeam
          Of course, It was only $40 job from BigW so I wasnt expecting much.

          One of the best things I bought for the Silvia was a ridgeless basket and spring. It made it easier to be consistent and the pucks came out cleaner.

          Ok now to some other news.
          So I feel like Im betraying the Silvia club after raving on about it and making some videos....but a couple of days ago I went into Jetblack to 'have a look'... and walked out with an ECM Mechanika IV.
          It was something that Ive been thinking about on and off for the last few months, its a pretty big jump (mentally and financially) to spend that much money on a machine!
          Just could never pull the trigger. Plus the Silvia is also pretty capable of making some damn nice coffee which would always delay the decision.

          Some things that Ive noticed so far compared to the Silvia
          -The Silvia steams around the same if not a fraction faster (but the ECM has more consistent steam so its a little easier to get velvety milk). I think the tip on the ECM can be changed to something with more power.
          -Faster to make lattes. Obvious I know. In my short time with it, the most Ive made is 4 caps at a time which was also quite doable on the Silvia, but to know I can do 6 is easily is a load off my mind.
          -Forgiving. Im still trying new things on it and its been pretty forgiving with dosing and what not.
          -The drip tray can actually hold drippings
          -More watery puck (using same filter basket and dosing as I was using on the Silvia)
          -Shiny
          -I actually miss the industrial Silvia switches. I mean, a little lever is nice and all, but its really satisfying to feel that really solid 'clack' when turning on the brew or steam button.
          -I prefer the steam wand on the right hand side like the Silvia
          -Ball jointed steam arm since my Silvia without one

          Comment


          • #6
            Great post, good on you for sharing back!

            I've also had 2.5 years of trouble free operation from my Silvia (did the Auber PID thing about 6 months ago), sadly this morning woke up to no heat (i fire her up with a timer before I get up so she is all fired up and ready to go).

            No problem I thought, let's just take the top off and press the thermo reset button on the boiler....oh no I gasp as I notice it hasn't popped out (yet I still try to push it back in).

            Turn on with fingers crossed (and starting to panic that I can't get my caffination for the morning), sadly no heat. Test steam head, nope........boiler light doesn't want to play at all.

            Reading the manual for the PID tonight, has some troubleshooting tips, sadly no help so far.

            Might need to take her in for a service somewhere, not as simple as I would like in Melbourne, but have a few ideas. Hoping to go somewhere where a PID isn't "news".

            In the interim any pointers or tips would be welcome.

            Comment


            • #7
              Oh a quick question back to any Silvia owners, when you are pulling a shot, how much water feeds back into your tank. I've noticed quite a bit, and more recently my Silvia has become very very very specific about grind.....have done pressure tests (timed flow method, not with a pressure gauge) and it seems ok. Just wondering if the constant flow of water back to the main tank is normal.

              Comment


              • #8
                Yeap. It's normal.
                The OPV is set to a certain pressure and the excess water feeds back to the reservoir.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ozsmac View Post
                  Great post, good on you for sharing back!

                  I've also had 2.5 years of trouble free operation from my Silvia (did the Auber PID thing about 6 months ago), sadly this morning woke up to no heat (i fire her up with a timer before I get up so she is all fired up and ready to go).

                  No problem I thought, let's just take the top off and press the thermo reset button on the boiler....oh no I gasp as I notice it hasn't popped out (yet I still try to push it back in).

                  Turn on with fingers crossed (and starting to panic that I can't get my caffination for the morning), sadly no heat. Test steam head, nope........boiler light doesn't want to play at all.

                  Reading the manual for the PID tonight, has some troubleshooting tips, sadly no help so far.

                  Might need to take her in for a service somewhere, not as simple as I would like in Melbourne, but have a few ideas. Hoping to go somewhere where a PID isn't "news".

                  In the interim any pointers or tips would be welcome.
                  Is your PID powering up? If not, check power to the PID. If it is I'd be considering a dead heating element.

                  Comment

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