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Gaggia v. Rancilio Silvia

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  • Gaggia v. Rancilio Silvia

    we have a Gaggia Expresso Deluxe purchased just over 12 months ago. At a local wine & food week I had the opportunity to take part in an abbreviated barista course which blew me away! We thought we were making reasonable caps until now! They used a commercial machine and an ECM Giotto both outside of our budget but we were all making great caps & lattes by the end of the session. Like the other views expressed in this forum, there is obvioulsy a lot to learn about grinding and tamping etc before even getting to the froth stage. As our Gaggia is starting to play up (probably needs a service) and I cant get the milk to swirl like we did at the course, we are thinking of getting a better machine without breaking the bank. Have had a look at many machines on the internet and one that seems to stand out is the Rancilio Silvia for around $750.
    What do other members think about this machine and to someone who owns one, can you advise if it has enough grunt to make the milk swirl etc to get that nice thick froth?
    Apart from the poor steam pressure, the angle of the Gaggia spout makes it very difficult to position it so that the milk does swirl. I was also advised to remove the plastic tubing on the spout.
    To service or upgrade is the question!

  • #2
    Re: Gaggia v. Rancilio Silvia

    Good choice, Ramon. The Silvia has more than enough grunt to steam, swirl, microfroth, burn, scald or whatever else you desire to do to milk.

    Steaming from the 300 ml boiler is one of its many strong points.

    Having done your course you dont need to go through all the agony of experimenting, either.

    Google comes up with 150,000 entries for "Rancilio silvia" -- testimony to its world-wide popularity, so theres much to read about it.

    Robusto

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Gaggia v. Rancilio Silvia

      Ramon,

      There are HEAPS of reviews out there on the Silvia. Search this site, CoffeeGeek or just Google it and lots of info will turn up. I havent seen one post yet where somebody wanted to return one because they were disappointed. Regarding steam pressure - yes there is enough to get a good swirl going and produce great microfoam but like all single boiler machines you have to wait 20-30 secs after brewing to get the best pressure. Its great for 1-2 maybe up to 4 cups at one sitting but wont really handle big orders as it will run out of steam and you will need to wait for water to heat up again.

      Best bet is to do lots of research, match it with a good grinder (lots of discussions here about that too) and try and get a demo before you buy. And of course feel free to ask as many questions as you like - lots of Silvia owners lurk here  

      Cheers,

      Matt

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Gaggia v. Rancilio Silvia

        Hi Ramon,
        Have a look at
        http://www.coffeeco.com.au/articles/comparison.html
        This is what convinced me to upgrade.
        Bruce

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Gaggia v. Rancilio Silvia

          Gday Ramon and welcome to CoffeeSnobs.
          To answer your question about whether to service or upgrade, IMHO (H for humble in this case) I dont think that the Silvia is an upgrade from the Gaggia, more of a sideways move. If you decide that your needs fall outside of the capabilities of the Gaggia, then by all means, upgrade, bearing in mind that youll need some serious $$$. Id never stand in the way of progress though .

          As our Gaggia is starting to play up (probably needs a service) and I cant get the milk to swirl like we did at the course, we are thinking of getting a better machine without breaking the bank.
          How do you mean that the machine is playing up? What symptoms is the machine exhibiting that have brought you to this conclusion?
          If these are recent things, it may be a matter that some basic maintenance is required to bring the machine back to tip top condition.
          Check this link out, it has some helpful hints.
          http://www.coffeeco.com.au/articles/august2002.html

          You wont be able to get the milk to swirl like on the course with the Gaggia (or the Silvia for that matter) as they are vastly different machines to their commercial cousins, with a huge difference in steaming power.

          In relation to the plastic froth aid, you should be able to just ditch it and use the bare wand.
          If you want to have a play with the machine and utilise a different steam wand, heres is a link which shows you how to change it for a Silvia steam wand.
          http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1126833848/11#11
          That way you may not have Silvia, but youll have a part of her to play with .

          Theres quite a few members here that have a Gaggia and from all accounts are happy with it. There are also quite a few members that have a Silvia (me included) and are happy with it also.
          My only other suggestion would be is to practice, practice, practice. If you need some help or advice along the way, feel free to ask here, theres heaps of people to help.
          As a wise man once said, "Theres no such thing as a dumb question."
          Hope this helps,
          Steve.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Gaggia v. Rancilio Silvia

            Im kinda in agreement with Lovey. We can do the whole silvia vs gaggia thing ad infinitum, but, in your position I would guess that you would get more bang for your buck by fixing your gaggia, seeing as you already have it. But what, exactly, is wrong with it?

            Regarding milk, if you have not removed the so-called "froth aider" (ie. good milk hinderer), doing that should be the first thing that you try. Dont try to steam using anything larger than a 350ml jug. If you still find it difficult, bend the steam wand out on a bit of an angle. If it is still problematic, go and buy a silvia steam wand for $20 or so, bend that and replace the gaggia wand with it.

            One of the huge problems with most machines in this class is that the temperature is controlled by on/off thermostats. The idea of the steam thermostat is particularly bad. On most machines, you switch to steam mode and wait for the light to go on/off to indicate that it is ready to steam, which is to say that it has reached a temperature where the steam thermostat turns off the heating element. As soon as you open the steam wand, you get heaps of steam and the pressure drops rapidly because the element isnt on to create steam to replace what is exiting the boiler. This happens until the thermostat turns the element back on. Problem is that the pressure drop makes it very difficult to keep the milk rolling. The solution to this is to start steaming slightly before your machine indicates that it is ready, so that the boiler temperature never gets high enough to turn the element off and, so, is constantly replenishing the steam that exits the boiler. Using this technique, I am able to get steam on my Silvia that is the equal of any small domestic heat exchanger machine. The attached photo is something that I poured last week.

            If you are only going to make milk-based drinks, the solis sl-70 might be worth looking into. Its basically a gaggia with a really nice steam wand and the designers were clever enough to make it turn the heating element on when you open the steam valve. Just make sure to buy the unpressurised double basket.

            Ill just re-iterate what has no doubt been said to you a million times in your barista course - make sure you have a good grinder and fresh beans.

            Hope that helps,

            Luca

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            • #7
              Re: Gaggia v. Rancilio Silvia

              NICE art Luca!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Gaggia v. Rancilio Silvia

                Thank you all for the very helpful advice - you have given plenty to think about and I certainly was interested in the idea of chaning the gaggia wand for a silvia.  I think the main problem with our machine is that it needs a good service as the steam output is poor.  Will keep you posted. RamonT

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Gaggia v. Rancilio Silvia

                  Perhaps it just needs a good descale.

                  Robusto

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Gaggia v. Rancilio Silvia

                    you know what, I had a gaggia espresso deluxe that all of a sudden went "off the boil" so to speak. That was before Id ditched the plastic "tip" of the frothing device. After a phonecall to Gaggia, it turned out that the insert in the plastic "tip" had moved, and so the venturi effect its attempting to create wasnt happening. So After I relocated and fixed this, it came back to what it was before. But, the best results I found was that by frothing directly with the "pointy" part of the wand I got instantly better results. The tip here is to partially straighten the wand so you can get enough length to submerse it in the milk. The bad thing was that the plastic threads and bits are pretty ugly to clean with all that milk everywhere

                    Oh, if your machine is the same as mine, you may have trouble attempting to cobble a sylvia wand onto it, the nuts are different sizes and wont fit. I found out only after pulling mine apart, and accidentally breaking the plastic nut. Apparently works well on "classic" and other models, just not espresso deluxe.

                    With the wand youre given, make sure you use the process Luca says, and start frothing while the element is still on so you maximise steam pressure.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Gaggia v. Rancilio Silvia

                      The Gaggia CAN make good microfoam - but the first thing to do is to get rid of the crappy wand. I posted about this - "Replace steam wand" search should find it.

                      After you replace the wand - you can also customise the tip - but Ive been hella busy at work and not posted about this yet. I simply brought a set of screws from Mitre 10, then drilled .01 holes through them, then screwed them into the Rancillio wand. This gave a much easier to control steam, and enabled me to do microfoam every time now.

                      If you want help with tweaking your Gaggia- email me, Im too busy with work atm, but I still look at the email.

                      The proof is, of course, in the pudding:

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Gaggia v. Rancilio Silvia

                        Thanks Andy for that but what about the comments by Poundy above your response? He seems to think there would be problems changing the wand in a Gaggia Expresso Deluxe rather than the Classic that you refer to with the good colour pics etc.
                        Must say as a new member I am most impressed with the helpfulness of all the responses.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Gaggia v. Rancilio Silvia

                          Hhhhhmmm? Sorry - didnt ready the whole post - was in a rush, and just skimming. Poundy does know his stuff, but that seems odd to me without more explanation??

                          Can you take the top off the Espresso Delux and take a couple of pictures of its internals - try to get the wand attachment to the boiler into the pictures, and also, importantly - take a picture of where the wand leaves the caseing. I dont know the baby.

                          Where the stainless part of the baby wand connects to the brass part of the wand inside the housing- is that right inside the housing, or close to the outside? Does it look similar to this connection - not necessaraly the whole wand, just he brass/stainless connection. (the Carezza Wand)


                          Lets investigate. (Plus the Rancillio Wand from MocoPan in preston is only $21!)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Gaggia v. Rancilio Silvia

                            Poundy may know some stuff, but who *really* knows what he knows and what he says he knows

                            Anyway, I did pull the sucker apart, it was a LONG time ago now.

                            I think that the fitting on my gaggia was more like the disconnected end of your picture above, not the end near the wand. It had a nut that went over the external part of the wand, and screwed onto an exposed screw thread, rather than what yours looks like, being an internal threaded nut?

                            So RamonT, be careful when you do any of this, but try pulling it apart and checking what it looks like, but dont bend the arm or anything until you can confirm itll hang together (I bent mine and in the process broke the plastic nut on the wand tip when I was careless trying to get the locknut off)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Gaggia v. Rancilio Silvia

                              OK have taken some pics of my set-up of the Gaggia Expresso Deluxe showing the inside and the wand.  The total wand has to be unscrewed from the boiler to separate the two pieces.  The join is concealed in the upper housing.  The chrome part inserts with two O rings to facilitate the removal of the lower water tank.
                              PS Cant seem to attach two pics so just showing the wand.

                              Comment

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