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Date: 28 Dec 2006 17:21:30
From: bardogg
Subject: Silvia (what grinder - PID or not to PID) for happy with mediocre
I know there's tons of advice on this list and the web about the
Silvia, but I have a bit of a specialized query: I'm the kind of
person who generally thinks all things food and drink related can and
should be improved but I'm only willing to go the extra mile to a
point. For example, I homeroast, but I bought the alp b/c I like
figuring out generally what setting works for each bean and then
letting most roasts run on their own rather than fine-tuning each one
individually. (I do insist on brewing with a vac pot at home, which my
wife thinks is extreme, but I find the payoff (and, grudgingly, so does
she) worth the relatively minor extra effort).

So here's my question: I've read that Silvia takes a fair bit of
practice, patience and effort to master. But how much effort does it
take to just get "pretty good" (sacrilegious words here, I'm sure)? To
give a baseline, I currently run a solis master 5000 superautomatic,
which I find is great for cafe crema but pretty useless for decent
espresso (I'm selling this on ebay to raise funds for my switch).
Before that I had a gaggia classic with a gaggia mdf that I was
generally happy with even though I never reached espresso nirvana
(sadly the gaggia died when I stored it while living overseas). If I'm
willing to settle for something less than the perfect shot, can I
become competent on Silvia fairly easily (or is it not worth trying)?

Recognizing that this question may depend on other variables, is the
grinder type and/or addition of a PID a significant factor in making
Silvia easier with less effort? (I'm trying to decide whether I can
make do with a Solis and leave out the PID and also whether one of
these makes more sense than the other - i.e. will I get better results
buying a Solis and putting the extra $ towards the PID or skipping the
PID and getting the Rocky?)

Thanks in advance for any advice on what I recognize is a well-worn
subject.





 
Date: 29 Dec 2006 08:58:19
From: shane
Subject: Re: Silvia (what grinder - PID or not to PID) for happy with mediocre
If you already have a Zass mill, what do you have to lose by giving it
a try?

The issue with a handmill is repetability of grind. On mine the
adjustment nut slipped easily and I was not able to get a repeatable
fine adjustment for espresso.

My observations are this.
1. You need good a good sized burrset.
2. The burrset needs to be held in place with a good degree of
precision.

My handgrinder lacked in being able to precisley return to a given
grind and the burrs are probably dull too.

Having a grinder that is precise, eliminates the variable of ground
size when trying to make espresso.

So, if you have no espresso machine at all and cannot afford both a
grinder and machine at the same time. I think a handgrinder is fine to
get started.

A good grinder will definitley improve the espresso on a lower end
machine.

Shane


bardogg wrote:
> Thanks again to all.
>
> Shane, I recently encountered several posts here and elsewhere
> discussing using hand grinder for espresso. I have a Zass handmill
> that I use when I travel, will this do the trick to get me started?
>
> shane wrote:
> > My 2 cents on the Solis grinder. I had been making do with an antique
> > hand mill for grinding espresso. The time came when I could afford an
> > espresso grinder. To try and save a few dollars I bought the Bartaza
> > Virtuoso, the sucessor to the Solis Maestro grinders.
> > After a month I concluded that, Virtuoso does not do better that my
> > Grandmother's antique grinder for espresso. I think it is the way the
> > burrset is mounted in plastic. I then decided to get a Mazzer Mini,
> > which has greatly improved my espresso and has ended any need to ever
> > upgrade grinders.
> > I am currently using a Starbuck Barista espresso machine, with a
> > Saeco non-pressurised portafilter. I plan to upgrade at some point,
> > but I am trying to hold out until I can get a machine that won't 'need'
> > to be upgraded.
> > The grinder makes the biggest difference in quality of the espresso.
> >
> > Shane
> >
> >
> > bardogg wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > > Why so down on the Solis? Others (including the Schomer review of the
> > > original Maestro) say it will work with Silvia-grade machines.
> > >
> > > > >Thanks in advance for any advice on what I recognize is a well-worn
> > > > >subject.
> > > > >
> > > > It's only been asked about twice a week for the last 6 years I have
> > > > been here, so really, we are just now getting good at answering it...
> > > > ;-P~
> > >
> > > Glad I could keep you from getting rusty . . . Thanks again!



 
Date: 29 Dec 2006 07:11:31
From: bardogg
Subject: Re: Silvia (what grinder - PID or not to PID) for happy with mediocre
Thanks again to all.

Shane, I recently encountered several posts here and elsewhere
discussing using hand grinder for espresso. I have a Zass handmill
that I use when I travel, will this do the trick to get me started?

shane wrote:
> My 2 cents on the Solis grinder. I had been making do with an antique
> hand mill for grinding espresso. The time came when I could afford an
> espresso grinder. To try and save a few dollars I bought the Bartaza
> Virtuoso, the sucessor to the Solis Maestro grinders.
> After a month I concluded that, Virtuoso does not do better that my
> Grandmother's antique grinder for espresso. I think it is the way the
> burrset is mounted in plastic. I then decided to get a Mazzer Mini,
> which has greatly improved my espresso and has ended any need to ever
> upgrade grinders.
> I am currently using a Starbuck Barista espresso machine, with a
> Saeco non-pressurised portafilter. I plan to upgrade at some point,
> but I am trying to hold out until I can get a machine that won't 'need'
> to be upgraded.
> The grinder makes the biggest difference in quality of the espresso.
>
> Shane
>
>
> bardogg wrote:
> >
> >
> > Why so down on the Solis? Others (including the Schomer review of the
> > original Maestro) say it will work with Silvia-grade machines.
> >
> > > >Thanks in advance for any advice on what I recognize is a well-worn
> > > >subject.
> > > >
> > > It's only been asked about twice a week for the last 6 years I have
> > > been here, so really, we are just now getting good at answering it...
> > > ;-P~
> >
> > Glad I could keep you from getting rusty . . . Thanks again!



 
Date: 29 Dec 2006 06:32:38
From: shane
Subject: Re: Silvia (what grinder - PID or not to PID) for happy with mediocre
My 2 cents on the Solis grinder. I had been making do with an antique
hand mill for grinding espresso. The time came when I could afford an
espresso grinder. To try and save a few dollars I bought the Bartaza
Virtuoso, the sucessor to the Solis Maestro grinders.
After a month I concluded that, Virtuoso does not do better that my
Grandmother's antique grinder for espresso. I think it is the way the
burrset is mounted in plastic. I then decided to get a Mazzer Mini,
which has greatly improved my espresso and has ended any need to ever
upgrade grinders.
I am currently using a Starbuck Barista espresso machine, with a
Saeco non-pressurised portafilter. I plan to upgrade at some point,
but I am trying to hold out until I can get a machine that won't 'need'
to be upgraded.
The grinder makes the biggest difference in quality of the espresso.

Shane


bardogg wrote:
>
>
> Why so down on the Solis? Others (including the Schomer review of the
> original Maestro) say it will work with Silvia-grade machines.
>
> > >Thanks in advance for any advice on what I recognize is a well-worn
> > >subject.
> > >
> > It's only been asked about twice a week for the last 6 years I have
> > been here, so really, we are just now getting good at answering it...
> > ;-P~
>
> Glad I could keep you from getting rusty . . . Thanks again!



 
Date: 29 Dec 2006 06:03:08
From:
Subject: Re: Silvia (what grinder - PID or not to PID) for happy with mediocre

bardogg wrote:
> I know there's tons of advice on this list and the web about the
> Silvia, but I have a bit of a specialized query: I'm the kind of
> person who generally thinks all things food and drink related can and
> should be improved but I'm only willing to go the extra mile to a
> point. For example, I homeroast, but I bought the alp b/c I like
> figuring out generally what setting works for each bean and then
> letting most roasts run on their own rather than fine-tuning each one
> individually. (I do insist on brewing with a vac pot at home, which my
> wife thinks is extreme, but I find the payoff (and, grudgingly, so does
> she) worth the relatively minor extra effort).
>
> So here's my question: I've read that Silvia takes a fair bit of
> practice, patience and effort to master. But how much effort does it
> take to just get "pretty good" (sacrilegious words here, I'm sure)? To
> give a baseline, I currently run a solis master 5000 superautomatic,
> which I find is great for cafe crema but pretty useless for decent
> espresso (I'm selling this on ebay to raise funds for my switch).
> Before that I had a gaggia classic with a gaggia mdf that I was
> generally happy with even though I never reached espresso nirvana
> (sadly the gaggia died when I stored it while living overseas). If I'm
> willing to settle for something less than the perfect shot, can I
> become competent on Silvia fairly easily (or is it not worth trying)?
>
> Recognizing that this question may depend on other variables, is the
> grinder type and/or addition of a PID a significant factor in making
> Silvia easier with less effort? (I'm trying to decide whether I can
> make do with a Solis and leave out the PID and also whether one of
> these makes more sense than the other - i.e. will I get better results
> buying a Solis and putting the extra $ towards the PID or skipping the
> PID and getting the Rocky?)
>
> Thanks in advance for any advice on what I recognize is a well-worn
> subject.

A Rocky's capable but a Mazzer mini, Macap M4 stepless or LaCimbali
grinder is better. The Silvia is a finicky machine. The fresher the
roast and better the grind the better the espresso you'll get from her
for sure.

If you want to put time into getting to know a Silvia and into
developing good barista skills I don't think there's a better trainer
than a Silvia. She forces you to be good. I started with a Silvia and
Rocky combo and it took a couple months or practice to get consistently
good. If you've had previous experience with a real machine it
probably won't take long to get good espresso from a Silvia given all
other variables are met.

It's true that machines with capable pumps and commercial grade
groupheads, boilers and essential parts can make good espresso. What
you pay for up and above for a semi automatic is for consistency and
ease of use. The Silvia's boiler temp is a wide band. PIDing her gives
you control of the temperature in the boiler. A PID will hold the temp
in the boiler to what you want making the Silvia faster and easier to
use. You don't need a PID but without one you have to know the boiler
cycle and time your shot when the temp is in the range your looking
for, that is temp surf. Temp surfing takes time and it's an added step
in a process that already has other variables for you to track and
control. You can attach a thermocouple to the top of a Silvia's boiler
to get direct feedback, I did that, but you still have to wait for the
temp to be right in the boiler before pulling a shot. Atleast with a
thermometer you're not totally unware as to the actual temperature in
the boiler.

A machine like the Silvia is in the single boiler, non heat exchanging
class. Typically they are thermostat controlled for brewing and
steaming so the temp in the boiler has to go up or down while you wait
to do either one after another. They typically don't offer adjustable
pumps, although the Silvia now does, no way of controlling boiler temp
unless you modify with a PID add on that could void the warranty if the
manufacterer finds out, have group designs that yes are directly
attached to the boiler for temp stability but no do not offer
preinfusion like an e61 group, use less expensive parts to save on
cost...These machines are designed to be less expensive and appeal to
the ket that wants good espresso but doesn't want to pay $900+US for
it.

Machines that are a joy to use are the home use higher end semi
automatic e61 group heat exchangers or good double boilers. They're
more expensive but are capable of consistently better espresso. The
Silvia used to give me better shots than the really good heat exchanger
I have now but those shots came once in a blue moon. The rest of the
time, because she was so unforgiving and offered no adjustablility or
control of certain essential variables, the shots were o.k. but not
nearly as good as the machine I have now.

Regardless, the machine should be at the end of the list of variables
to satisfy. Fresh roast I'd put first. Good grind I'd put second.
Good hand third and finally the machine. An average machine will
produce much better espresso if all other variables are very good than
a really good machine that's short on any one or more of the key
variables of roast freshness, grind and hand.



 
Date: 28 Dec 2006 20:11:16
From: bardogg
Subject: Re: Silvia (what grinder - PID or not to PID) for happy with mediocre
Thanks, Randy (and Razmoo).

A few quick follow ups:

> Step one is a quality grinder suited for espresso.
> Step two is a decent machine.
> Step three is a quality espresso blend, roasted properly, and fresh.
> Step four is the practice and patience.

Quality beans and roast, I'm pretty confident about (I've been a loyal
customer of sweet ias since back when it was still an actual coffee
shop in Columbus, OH). So step 3 should be fine. And, I assume
getting Silvia takes care of step 2. Step 4 -- well, you said it --
that's up to me.

> Grinder is critical. Once you get proficient with the process you can
> add the PID. The PID does make a difference- read my website for the
> details and links.

I've been spending way too much time on your site; but thanks for the
great info (and the endless distraction)

> >(I'm trying to decide whether I can
> >make do with a Solis
> >
> No.

Why so down on the Solis? Others (including the Schomer review of the
original Maestro) say it will work with Silvia-grade machines.

> >Thanks in advance for any advice on what I recognize is a well-worn
> >subject.
> >
> It's only been asked about twice a week for the last 6 years I have
> been here, so really, we are just now getting good at answering it...
> ;-P~

Glad I could keep you from getting rusty . . . Thanks again!



  
Date: 29 Dec 2006 11:42:09
From: Bill (Adopt)
Subject: Re: Silvia (what grinder - PID or not to PID) for happy with mediocre
In article <1167365476.071421.208000@73g2000cwn.googlegroups.com >,
bardogg <onerobeonebowl@gmail.com > wrote:
> Thanks, Randy (and Razmoo).

[..]
> > Grinder is critical. Once you get proficient with the process you can
> > add the PID. The PID does make a difference- read my website for the
> > details and links.

> I've been spending way too much time on your site; but thanks for the
> great info (and the endless distraction)

> > >(I'm trying to decide whether I can
> > >make do with a Solis

> > No.

> Why so down on the Solis? Others (including the Schomer review of the
> original Maestro) say it will work with Silvia-grade machines.

May I step in (ever so lightly and hopefully politely)
on behalf of quality Grinders everywhere - and Randy!

It's not what is 'suitable' for a machine - as if that
counts somehow. All espresso machines work or should
work to the same parameters ie..

..water pumped, not steam driven, at around an effective
9psi into a nominal 7gm single or 14gm double size puck
and thence, according to puck size, into either a 25ml
shot, or into a double shot, (often a little less than 50ml),
taking a nominal 25 seconds.. or close thereabouts..

Any additional bells and whistles of an espresso machine
might help ..certainly they do with the tinkering 'boy's-toy'
aspect so beloved of any self-respecting males inhabiting a.c.
- but pumped espresso coffee machines do much the same. The
Silvia is therefore not a 'toy' ..but a 'real' machine, well
up to producing the best possible shot.

One way to tell, come to think of it, is the that the
Silvia and others such as Gaggia's 'Coffee', Classic
and beyond, have heavy chromed brass 'commercial' porta
filters. These 'weigh' heftily in your palm and clearly
are not intended for your young child's first toy-town
coffee-shop.

So, regardless of your machine, I would suggest that
you purchase the best possible grinder that you can
afford. It is your single and by far and away your
most important purchase alongside if not before your
first real espresso machine..

Effort and time spent getting a quality grinder, (and
don't necessariyly equate 'quality' with 'expensive'),
will repay you handsomely in the years to come - no
matter the collection of espresso machines you will end
up with.

There are a number of quality grinders, not all them
expensive. Alongside the lighter domestic type grinder,
(often just a description of a lightweight no-hoper)
and the heavier domestic grinder such as Rancilio's
'Rocky', you could perhaps consider a cheaper 'commercial'
machine - such as one of the Cunills - or the name-badged
similars, including light use pre-owned or re-furbished
commercial grinders that have been on a short rental
lease.

Heavier than a domestic, they should last for years in
your kitchen ..giving high quality grind time after time
after time.. :))

Whatever the grinder you are investing in you might care
to...

Look for:

Burrs or grinding plates, (the same thing), as
large as possible ..may dissapate the 'heat'
more equitably when grinding.

Grinding plates, (burrs), set in a solid probably
metal housing that supports them accurately in the
micro adjustments needed for high quality espresso
grind - and helps get rid of excess heat as well.

As many adjustments as possible - or a stepless
grinder - so that you may get the best out of the
combination of humidity, bean-blend, roast and
whatever else that affects your local conditions,
not only each day, but throughout the course of
a day...

Easy access to the chute leading from the chamber
easy to brush out to collect hidden coffee
easy to clean.

Easy access to any other parts that need cleaning.

A reasonably 'clean' doser, if attached, ie one
that doesn't leave a 'floor' with grammes of stale
coffee festering in hidden spots.

Don't worry about:

Doser or non-doser. Each has his/her preference
according to use. Basically, you will rapidly adjust
to either - or to both, if you are that fortunate.
(There's little difference in the price)..

..and remember, not one grinder has every quality, but
some are undoubtedly better than others. Google,
Alta-Vista, Yahoo and above all, alt.coffee are all your
friends.

Then ..when you've got all the above on board, you
can think about your Silvia - or Expobar - or Gaggia
-or PID'd and Poshed '4-Group' house-heater, knowing
that you are going to get the best possible espresso
according to your continually developing skills, not
an espresso limited from the outset by a less than
adequate espresso grind.

hh :))

Bill ZFC

..and very good wishes to you all for every continuing
success in the New Year.. :))

--
Adoption InterLink UK with -=- http://www.billsimpson.com/
Domain Host Orpheus Internet -=- http://www.orpheusinternet.co.uk/


 
Date: 28 Dec 2006 19:30:47
From: Randy G.
Subject: Re: Silvia (what grinder - PID or not to PID) for happy with mediocre
"bardogg" <onerobeonebowl@gmail.com > wrote:

>So here's my question: I've read that Silvia takes a fair bit of
>practice, patience and effort to master.
>
All espresso machines in that range take about the same amount of
time, effort, patience and practice to master.

> But how much effort does it
>take to just get "pretty good" (sacrilegious words here, I'm sure)?
>
Step one is a quality grinder suited for espresso.
Step two is a decent machine.
Step three is a quality espresso blend, roasted properly, and fresh.
Step four is the practice and patience.

> If I'm
>willing to settle for something less than the perfect shot, can I
>become competent on Silvia fairly easily (or is it not worth trying)?
>
Only you can answer that.

>Recognizing that this question may depend on other variables, is the
>grinder type and/or addition of a PID a significant factor in making
>Silvia easier with less effort?
>
Grinder is critical. Once you get proficient with the process you can
add the PID. The PID does make a difference- read my website for the
details and links.

>(I'm trying to decide whether I can
>make do with a Solis
>
No.

>...and leave out the PID and also whether one of
>these makes more sense than the other - i.e. will I get better results
>buying a Solis and putting the extra $ towards the PID or skipping the
>PID and getting the Rocky?)
>
Get a grinder first. Temperature control is important, but it is
fairly worthless without a quality grinder. Your shots will be
inconsistent with an 'economy' grinder.

>Thanks in advance for any advice on what I recognize is a well-worn
>subject.
>
It's only been asked about twice a week for the last 6 years I have
been here, so really, we are just now getting good at answering it...
;-P~


Randy "you can't get there from here" G.
http://www.EspressoMyEspresso.com




 
Date: 28 Dec 2006 18:32:10
From: razmoo
Subject: Re: Silvia (what grinder - PID or not to PID) for happy with mediocre
I have no idea what a Solis grinder is like but I think you should NOT
skip the PID. But its no immediately essential either.

You DO need a good grinder and I've got a rocky (but I dont think its
that great). It grinds ok but I just dont like it for other reasons..
anyways..

With the PID you get consistent shots (if your consistent with method).
Also with the PID you can see the temperature so you can switch from
steaming and then espresso again relatively quickly by releasing steam
(lowering the temp). I think that last bit alone is a reason to get the
PID as before if you did that you probably would get a burnt second
shot.

So you just have to weigh it up.