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  1. #11
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    I agree with Shadow about the PID. But as i have stated above, if you want to make 20 cups of espresso, you will need PID but if you are making few cups at a time, I don't really think you need to have PID installed. Also, this is very bias opinion. I love Silvia for its durability and proven liability. Of course there are many other espresso machines out there that can be very reasonably priced and does great job.

  2. #12
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    Shadow745 and CoffeeJunky, I'd really like to hear about other possible machines that you all might recommend as the Silvia is quite a bit higher than what I really wanted to spend. I'm just not very keen on a used machine, either.

    Perhaps you could give some pros and cons of each?

    I was browsing Amazon the other day and saw a machine that seemed to be getting some really good reviews until I got to a review that said it came with an envelope that strongly warned about lead poisoning! Yikes!

    Thank you so much!

  3. #13
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    Bumping this, hoping to get a response as to specific machine recommendations. Key points:
    5-6 shots for one drink - one drink per day (maybe two drinks on tough days! )
    Budget less than $400.
    No milk involved (that is, milk frother not a concern at all.)

    As a secondary matter, it would be really nice to know WHY you are recommending a particular machine, but it is just frustrating to see people say there are good machines out there that make good espresso, but not mention any specific brands/models.

    Thank you!
    Becky

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadow745 View Post
    IMBHO there are better home machines for less $ than the Silvia. The Achilles heel with it is the offset boiler/group, which causes temperature fluctuation that can be difficult to master for many.
    Preach on, brother. I hate Silvia with a passion, for the reason stated. She's a cold hearted, temperamental hussy who will rake you over the coals without compunction.

    Think I'm kidding? I owned one for 4 years, and hated every minute of it. I, too, bought it because the coffee geeks said I should, but oh how they were wrong. My recommendation? The cheapest gaggia you can find for around d $200, the Gaggia color or pure. Why? It's better designed and easier to work with and learn on.

    Something I haven't seen mentioned in this thread is grinders. I'd much rather see you buy a cheap gaggia and better grinder, than some half-assed excuse for an espresso machine like Silvia. The cheapest option is a baratza virtuoso. Baratza is an outstanding company with excellent company service, and great grinders. If you can step up to the preciso, you won't need another grinder for a very long time. The regular season virtuoso is just fine though. The difference is the preciso has virtually unlimited adjustment capability, whereas the virtuoso has fewer 'steps'. Why is e grinder so important? Because espresso requires a uniform grind, and ability to adjust in the smallest increments possible. The more expensive the grinder, the more tight the tolerances, the more uniform the grind. This equals less fines and better extraction with better flavors and less bitters.

    Anyway, the virtuoso and gaggia combo at whole latte love would do you great, for just a bit over your $400 budget.

  5. #15
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    By the way, Becky, there is a wide range of espresso machines, from a $50 Krups to a $10k speedster. Imo, and in my (pretty vast) experience, the only machine to start with is a gaggia. The next step up from the Gaggia is a $1200 astra pro (and I have very specific reasons for saying this). And beyond that would be one of the $2k dual boilers, like the izzo or Vivaldi, and beyond that the gs3, then speedster. In between all those is a bunch of white noise, very little worth looking at.

  6. #16
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    You actually think Gaggia is better over Silvia? Oh boy where do you get that. lol. If you think 200 dollar Gaggia is better then Silvia, you must be smoking something. Go and read reviews on their machine priced under 400 dollars, they are all chinese made crap. They are under powered, very dull and fragile machine. I also owned Silvia for 5 + years and I love the espresso it brings to me til this date. I also own 4 different commercial machine that cost over 8k and I still like my Silvia.
    Yes there are many different machines out there that is cheap, decent, and pretty espresso machines are out there but IMHO most of them are Cheaply made including cheaper version of Gaggia, Krup, and other plastic constructed machines. Their durability is always an issue.

    Like you said, you owned it for 4 years. If you hated it with all your might, why did you keep it for 4 years? And most of the damn cheaper espresso machine won't last that long.

    I have list few of the machine I thought would be good for the price.
    I do not think they are better then Silvia but they are worth looking at.

    New Breville 800ESXL Commercial 15 Bar Triple Priming Die Cast Espresso Machine 021614037343 | eBay

    DeLonghi Esclusivo Espresso Maker Cappuccino Latte Frother Machine 15 Bar Pump | eBay

    Easy to Use High Quality DeLonghi ECO310BK 15 Bar Pump Espresso Machine Piano B 044387203104 | eBay

    One thing I would agree with Poison is to invest more on good grinder. Don't buy 20 dollar grinder and think that is good enough but invest more on grinder. If you search on this forum, you will find great grinder recommendation.

    Good Luck

  7. #17
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    I kept Silvia for 4 years because $650 was a lot of money to me at the time, aNd I couldn't afford to go crazy flipping machines. I also upgraded grinders several times, and attempted to upgrade myself as well (barista skills). Nothing helped. Here's why:

    An espresso machines job is to provide properly heated water to the group head at the proper pressure. Silvia does neither. It brews too hot, and at too high pressure from the factory. People recommend silvia, then drop another couple hundred bucks to mod it and overcome the built in shortcomings. It's stupid, and extremely frustrating.

    Nowhere did I say the Gaggia is of a higher quality build. Who cares though, if silvia feels solid, but reproduction of the random god shot you just pulled is not reproducible out of the box? Many, many people get suckered in to buying a silvia, and upgrade sometime thereafter. Why? Because temp stability sucks, and you just can't reproduce excellence at will. A gaggia is far more consistent. And I would rather have someone spend $200 to learn to brew on a much easier machine, and then decide to upgrade to a real machine, like an e61/hx, over buying a $700 silvia then having to upgrade.

    At least a couple of the machines you recommend above use thermoblock heating elements to provide pressure. I'll assume you don't know why that's bad, but it's inexcusable, and one of the main reasons why a gaggia is the only cheap option. Using steam to provide pressure means pressure will not be stable, and the machine will be too hot. You must have a pump to drive pressure independent heat.

    The Silvia can produce a better shot than a gaggia, it is got shot capable. But the hitch is you simply can't replicate that god shot again, at will. A Gaggia may not match that god shot, but it'll replicate 80-90% of it all day long, with far less frustration.

    I have made incremental upgrades through the full spectrum of consumer machines, I am a coffee roaster, and this is my business. I have sold nearly 100 machines to people...by telling them what to buy from vendors. I do not sell machines myself. I recommend what is good, what works, and what I use.
    Last edited by poison; 07-03-2013 at 08:10 AM. Reason: Typos galore, I posted it from my phone.

  8. #18
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    Skill and fresh coffee trump all else regardless of how much is spent on equipment. I've had espresso from $10K+ setups operated by wannabes and the taste was on par with the $50 steam machine I started with. Good espresso doesn't have to be super expensive to obtain consistently.

  9. #19
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    CJ, FWIW I've owned and used some really good espresso machines/grinders, home and commercial. My current setup is a KitchenAid Pro Line, which was made by Gaggia and a Baratza Vario grinder. The espresso I extract from this setup is definitely on par with anything I've used yet. I say this after consuming thousands of double shots. Unlike many shop owners, I actually consumed what I created.

  10. #20
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    Agreed. A $200 gaggia and baratza virtuoso, total $400, will have you beating nearly any cafe which might be in your area.

 

 
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