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Thread: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

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    Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi All,

    My Krups died on me and looking around on the net, I saw that the Silvia Rancilio was head and shoulders above the rest of the home machines (well most anyhow, dont want to offend anyone in my ignorance) so I took a deep breath and shelled out the cash for one of these beauties and it has just arrived.

    The thing is, my grinder is a Starbucks Barista (Solis 166), and I am hesitant to have to sheel out more clams for a new grinder as well. AAny chance of getting it to work half-way decently - I know it wont be ideal. Would the tweak to make it grind finer help? Maybe if I tamp extra hard? Any other tricks that might help?

    Thanks,
    Julio

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Hi robodoc and welcome to CS

    Solis 166 AKA Delonghi KG100 AKA Starbucks Barista....

    In a word No! :(

    You can tweak the grind settings to make it finer.... but there is little or no point in trying that.

    The problem is the location of the two burrs is not very stable.... doesnt cause a problem with plunger coffee etc... but when you go fine enough for expresso.... you get grinds and lots of dust!!! :(

    The dust will block up the spaces between grinds in the basket so when you try to tamp it will choke your machine....

    less tamp pressure as a solution or coarser grinds - fast flow resulting in bitter coffee! (and even some of the dust will find its way into the cup)...

    Mine is relegated to a plunger grinder - which it does excellently...

    But espresso.... build quality just isnt good enough. :(


    And a Silvia needs - and deserves- a FAR better grinder than the 166

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    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Julio,

    I basically agree with JavaB.

    However, if you want to read about the tweak
    http://www.kwilson.fsnet.co.uk/grinder_tweaks.htm
    3rd on the list. Standard warnings apply: This will void your warrantee, dont kill yourself doing it, dont eat Mexican food and stand near a naked flame etc.

    I owned the Delonghi badged version of this grinder when I got my Silvia and Rocky.
    Out of interest, I did a few shots using the old grinder and couldnt really get close to good results. I never tried the tweak (as I had the Rocky right there) so I cannot speak for or against it.

    Youve jumped in with the Silvia. I thoroughly recommend jumping in with a good grinder too. Perhaps contact site sponsors Di Bartoli to discuss.

    By all means, try things with the Solis, but youll be struggling to get consistantly good results.

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Quote Originally Posted by fatboy link=1161753481/0#2 date=1161755316
    However, if you want to read about the tweak
    http://www.kwilson.fsnet.co.uk/grinder_tweaks.htm
    3rd on the list. Standard warnings apply: This will void your warrantee, dont kill yourself doing it, dont eat Mexican food and stand near a naked flame etc.
    Yep, did that and the mod works quite well..... you get about 3 steps finer....

    So instead of grounds varying a bit at the smallest "normal" setting.... and only causing slight problems....

    When you set it finer the little bit becomes variation from dust to the size grinds you need!

    You can test it (without subjecting your Silvia to abuse :D) by rubbing some of the grounds in the palm of your hand and looking at the size of the pieces..... a good grinder you will have what appears to be grains of salt.... all the same size bits.

    The 166 you will have everything from fine powder (the size of talc...) bits like pepper grains all the way through to the grain of salt size you are looking for..... And that combination will choke poor Miss Silvia!

    You have yourself a very good machine. The order of importance for good coffee is

    barista skills (you can develop these)
    Beans - fresh quality beans
    Grinder - able to produce consistent size grounds and easily adjustable by small amounts to get the grind right.
    machine !

    yep.... the machine is the least important.... and you have a very good unit - so you really need to "bite the bullet" and get a matching quality grinder. ;)

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Thanks for the replies. Thats what I was afraid of. So is a Rocky the way to go, or is there a less expensive option that also works well? I realise that this is something I will be using every day for many a year, so I am willing to bite the bullet, but would rather it be a .32 than a .44 *[smiley=undecided.gif]

    What about this new Sunbeam that is being discussed? Any point in waiting for the reviews on that one?

    Cheers,
    Julio

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1110157172
    Id get an Iberital Challenge.
    It costs more than what you are willing to pay (~$250) but offers stepless grind adjustment. Long term goodness.

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Quote Originally Posted by robodoc link=1161753481/0#4 date=1161756717
    so I am willing to bite the bullet, but would rather it be a .32 than a .44 [smiley=undecided.gif]
    Julio,

    A .22 cal bullet is even better :D ;D

    What about this new Sunbeam that is being discussed? Any point in waiting for the reviews on that one?
    Well it sounds like it would be quite good... people have been having some reliability issues with the Sunbeam grinders (many have had to be replaced - but except for the pain of sending it back their customer service is very good)...

    So that ia a possibility.

    There is also a Nemox Lux or the existing Sunbeam EM0480 (both about the same quality and similar cost.... ) but of the lower priced units Id probably go for the iberital challenge.....

    A really good grinder will cost a bit more but will last you a lifetime (and give zero problems in that time - other than replacing the burrs from time to time). It will also make a huge difference in espresso quality :)

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Julio,

    The EM0480 will do you fine... I use this grinder and for the money its untouchable.. having said that, the steps are quite dramatic however adjusting your dosing can counteract this....

    If I had a budget of max $300, then the iberital challenge would be my choice...


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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Yes the 166 is quite usable for the cheaper end espresso machines but is not really suitable for use with silvia....not for any other reason but that silvia requires a much finer grind and the 166 doesnt really allow proper adjustment to that extent.

    Re EMO480, there are other topics here and elsewhere that *discuss this grinder and its apparent shortfalls so my advice would be to weigh up the pros and cons between what at first look seems to be a very "good" price, to what you eventually get for your money.

    If you go down that road (emo480) and end up replacing it, then what started out as a low price may turn out to be a very False Economy? Spose it depends on the individual.

    Regardz,
    FC. *

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Hi All,

    Thanks a lot for all the excellent advice. Great to have found this community of coffee aficionados here in Oz! Youve saved me many a frustrated day of trying to pull a good shot with a Solis grinder thats not up to the task.

    It does sound like the Iberital is the way to go for me, and .250 or so is definitely a smaller bullet to bite than .400. I never heard of the Iberital before, but then a few weeks ago I had never heard of Rancilio, so Im definitely on a steeplearning curve here!

    I was surprised at how readily my Chief Financial Officer at home agreed to buying the Silvia, and once she tastes the finished product with a proper grinder Im sure shell agree both items are a wise investment. I like a quote in the Iberital review thread, "Quality still remains long after the price is forgotten".

    So Ill start price hunting now. Any suggestions of where to buy in Sydney or on the net would be most welcome.

    Cheers,
    Julio

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Julio...

    Good choice! :)

    I know Fresh Coffee (in Canberra) sell them... not sure about the others.

    Why not send them a PM and see what they will do for you!

    If you go with a site sponsor you know you will get great service.

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    I ordered my Challenge from Chris at Talk Coffee (2muchcoffeeman). He is out of town until the 31st. So there are a few sponsors that have them. In Sydney Di Bartoli are a sponsor but I am unsure if they have the Challenge, but worth a phone call or a visit to find out all the same. I dont have my grinder yet, will get it at the end of next week. So if you cant find one in Sydney but you want to check mine out let me know.

    Brett

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Quote Originally Posted by robodoc link=1161753481/0#9 date=1161914740
    Hi All,
    I was surprised at how readily my Chief Financial Officer at home agreed to buying the Silvia, and once she tastes the finished product with a proper grinder Im sure shell agree both items are a wise investment. I like a quote in the Iberital review thread, "Quality still remains long after the price is forgotten".
    Once youve got a perfectly matched grinder, youll never look back! We originally started with pre ground coffee (years ago!) and then once we bought ourselves the Delonghi grinder to match our little Sunbeam, we were staggered at just how much difference using freshly ground coffee made! Now we have the Silvia and Rocky combo and my friends are hard pressed to pick the difference between what I make at home and what I make at work. Sometimes I think I actually do better at home but a lot of that has to do with the beans I purchase for there.

    Also, have a look up in our Coffee Hardware for Sale threads, Julio, you never know you might find a very good one there for a reasonable price and yes, check out Di Bartoli and Cosmorex Coffee. I mean really, I cant be biased between any of our sponsors here as they are all worth dealing with and distance is no problem in this modern world of freight transport! I have certainly put Aussie Post to good use over the years and even having lived out in the bush the longest it has taken for domestic mail to reach us is four days from a major centre! Which is not too shabby.

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    if youre in Sydney, go to di Bartoli at Bondi Junction
    They have Iberital Challenge on stock, and they are very friendly.
    I just picked up one on the weekend, but I havent give it a go yet.
    If you mention youre from Coffeesnobs, you get a discount too ;-)

    PS: I had/have exactly the same setup as you, Sylvia and delonghi grinder
    Ill let you know how I go with the new Iberital.
    Next on the list - a new tamper

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Quote Originally Posted by st33p link=1161753481/0#13 date=1162161792
    if youre in Sydney, go to di Bartoli at Bondi Junction
    They have Iberital Challenge on stock, and they are very friendly.
    I just picked up one on the weekend, but I havent give it a go yet.
    If you mention youre from Coffeesnobs, you get a discount too ;-)
    Ive seen Bartoli mentioned in these fora and thought I might head over there one of these days to check it out. I might enroll in one of their training courses as well, if its worth it...

    So what price did they give you for the Iberital? (PM me if you dont want to say publicly.)

    PS: I had/have exactly the same setup as you, Sylvia and delonghi grinder
    Ill let you know how I go with the new Iberital.
    Next on the list - a new tamper
    Great, we can compare notes as we try to tame the beast! ;D
    I just got some Lavazza pre-ground (horror! :o) coffee, just to have something to experiment with for now. No luck so far - I got a little bit of crema, but the shot ran through in just a few seconds, so I suppose its still not fine enough.
    Also, as you know, the tamper that comes with the Silvia is crap, not only is it too small, but it has pretty significant curvature so that theres a big concavity in the middle of the coffee in the filter. Ive been trying to get a 58mm SS tamper for a decent price on eBay without success, so I think Ill just go ahead and buy one from my local roaster (Caffe Bianchi), and see if that makes the difference. I may also ask them to grind some coffee for me on their finest setting and see what that does (or would that choke Signorina Silvia?)

    Cheers,
    Julio


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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Their finest may be suitable for Turkish style coffee.

    Id emphasise you need it for espresso.

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Quote Originally Posted by robodoc link=1161753481/0#14 date=1162173496
    Ive seen Bartoli mentioned in these fora and thought I might head over there one of these days to check it out. I might enroll in one of their training courses as well, if its worth it...
    I have no experience with Di Bartoli whatsoever, but I understand that at least some of their training is done by Hazel de los Reyes, who I can thoroughly recommend. Not only is she one of the nicest people on the face of the planet, but she knows her stuff - she won last years Australian Barista Championship and this years NSW Barista Championship.

    Quote Originally Posted by robodoc link=1161753481/0#14 date=1162173496
    Ive been trying to get a 58mm SS tamper for a decent price on eBay without success, so I think Ill just go ahead and buy one from my local roaster (Caffe Bianchi), and see if that makes the difference.
    My advice would be to try before you buy if at all possible. The most important thing with regards to tampers, IMHO, is ergonomics, and this isnt something that youre going to be able to find out anything about by looking at photos or ebay descriptions. Most tamper reviews dont even offer comparisons against other tampers. Perhaps one of the most useful web resources is the Home Barista.com tamper roadshow, but even then it still shows that different people will prefer different shapes ... and many of the tampers arent easily available here.

    I guess that the one point that you might take comfort in is that if its for home use, youre not going to notice the effects of an uncomfortable tamper anywhere near as much as if you were making a thousand coffees a day with one!

    Quote Originally Posted by robodoc link=1161753481/0#14 date=1162173496
    I may also ask them to grind some coffee for me on their finest setting and see what that does (or would that choke Signorina Silvia?)
    Yes, that would probably choke your machine. Its a popular misconception that quality of grind is all about how fine the particles are. In fact, its about how even the particles are. Most grinders, including blade grinders, can grind fine enough to choke a silvia. Good grinders will (a) have a regular distribution of particle sizes at a given setting and (b) allow very fine adjustments of that particle size.

    Hope all that is of some help; youre going to fall off your seat when you try grinding your own fresh coffee!

    Luca

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Quote Originally Posted by luca link=1161753481/15#16 date=1162183559
    Yes, that would probably choke your machine. Its a popular misconception that quality of grind is all about how fine the particles are. In fact, its about how even the particles are. Most grinders, including blade grinders, can grind fine enough to choke a silvia. Good grinders will (a) have a regular distribution of particle sizes at a given setting and (b) allow very fine adjustments of that particle size.

    Luca
    Yep, this is correct.. I did a grind fineness comparison between my Delonghi KG100 (Solis166) and my Sunbeam EM0480 and the Sunbeam I have set it grind Courser than the Delonghi... I have very little "Dust" with the Sunbeam compared to the Delonghi. Its quality of Grind, not fineness that will give you a quality shot...

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    The Solis Maestro Plus offers greater grind range than its little brother the Solis 166 (Solis Scala), and also you are able to grind direct into the handle with the front micro switch, a much heavier and robust grinder I have found it to be.

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Welcome to CoffeeSnobs Metreo.

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thundergod link=1161753481/15#19 date=1162300981
    Welcome to CoffeeSnobs Metreo.

    Not sure whats happened but I have been posting since early this year but my post count has been re-set back to 1. Havent posted a huge amount (probably 20 or 30) but definitely more than 1. :-?

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Quote Originally Posted by Metreo link=1161753481/15#20 date=1162378757
    Not sure whats happened but I have been posting since early this year but my post count has been re-set back to 1. Havent posted a huge amount (probably 20 or 30) but definitely more than 1. :-?
    Interesting Metreo. A quick use of the search function on here shows youve made a minimum of 15 posts. A quick perusal through a goggle search shows your post count appears to have been reset multiple times. On 8 April of this year you showed 15 posts. On 23 October you showed as having 4 posts. Today it was 1 post. Looking at goggles cached pages your post count has varied all over the place.

    Ill make sure Andy knows of this and well see if we cant figure out whats going on.


    Java "Scratching his head in puzzlement" phile

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Off Topic Reply -

    Fixed (I think)
    Very strange though

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    back to original topic - I managed to dial in the Iberital Challenge yesterday afternoon to work with double basket for Sylvia. (LM double basket actually)

    Warning: prepare a lot of beans before attempting to dial the grinder.
    Because the adjustment is so fine (one full turn of the adjusment knob will only make a tiny different in grind size)
    I used almost 0.5 kg to find the correct grind.
    And, be brave to make the adjustment when you find the grind is to coarse/fine (like 10+ turns or so)

    heres my pro and cons of the Iberital (vs Solis vs Rocky (not that I own Rocky but I played with it at di Bartoli).

    Pro:
    - infinite adjustment because of the stepless adjustment (a win against Rocky?)
    - grind quality is a lot more consistent compared to Solis, even when I grind it too fine
    - less static compared to Solis


    Cons:
    - noisy compared to Rocky; a bit less noisy under load compared to Solis, but when the hopper is empty its noisier
    - a lot of grind left in the chute/burr (?) after you stop the machine; needs to shake it or even poke it with chopstick :(
    - slow in grinding compared to Rocky
    - the button at the front pops out quite easily :( (I have been warned about this before I bought it)
    - the writing/print on the adjustment knob has gone/rubbed off even only after a few use


    I know there are quite a lot of cons listed above, but I chose Iberital (vs Rocky) because:
    - cant justify the $100+ just to get a quiter grinder (a bit less than $300 compared to a bit more than $400)
    - more control on grind fineness (? does this define grind quality?)

    Now come to the quality in the cup - made a cup for a friend yesterday, and he said the improvement over Solis is quite a lot.
    I can see the colour and the crema to be better as well.
    But my taste bud hasnt develop to the stage yet, so apart from saying theres an improvement, I cant tell whether its huge improvement or not.
    I just like that I can grind the beans now without having to hold the hopper (to get the "in between" settings)

    Harry

  25. #25
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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Ive been having trubs getting good shots out my Bezzera BZ02 P with the Solis 166 - maybe that may be my problem??

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Quote Originally Posted by 49425C0E0 link=1161753481/24#24 date=1233812301
    Ive been having trubs getting good shots out my Bezzera BZ02 P with the Solis 166 - maybe that may be my problem??

    fraid so...Youre running the ferrari on diesel!

    You do need something better...

    As a minimum, the Ascaso i-mini or Iberital Challenge. A modified Rocky is good (and will last) and then you get into the good stuff at Compak K3T level and above....

    I predict imminent upgadeitis ;)

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    Re: Solis 166 usable at all for espresso?

    Must be old threads week ;)

    You will find more talk about this grinder on US sites but basically start saving your pennies for a better toy. Grind consistancy is most likely your problem, my shots improved a good lot when I upgraded my grinder and the grinds looked and tamped differently as well.



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