Espresso Machine Advice


New member
Jan 2, 2006
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We grew up in Miami drinking Cuban coffee. It is a thick strong but sweet brew with a dense layer of crema across the top of the demitasse. We want to regain this flavor from our youth in our home kitchen, but after looking at sales sites we are thoroughly confused. We don't need a milk frother, but a good crema producer. Foolproof would be nice, as we have lives outside our kitchen. Semi-auto or Super-auto? Best brand at a value price?


Jan 22, 2006
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Looking for killer crema?

Sounds like you lean towards espresso purism. Milk iz vor bebies :)

I've got a Rancilio Silvia. The machine is a semi automatic single boiler, non heat exchanger brass tank. It has one boiler and two thermostats: one for espresso and one for steam, so you can neither make espresso and froth at the same time and you have to drop the boiler water temp. after frothing in order to pull espressos. For latte/cap lovers it's a hassle. Also, if you have a lot of company she's slow to work with.

The Silvia is a solid but stripped down machine. She's got no frothing assists (she doesn't need it-she's a great frother), no pressurized portafilter, she doesn't take pods. What she does have is a commercial grade and size portafilter, lots of heat retaining brass, and power.

She offers no apologies and gives no help to the operator when pulling espressos. You have to be very careful to control and track all the variables necessary for making good espresso with her but, if you don't mind putting time into developing barista skills and learning how she works and even modifying her here and there (she's very tolerant to being taken apart and tinkered with),the Silvia will reward you with incredible espresso for much less than a more expensive machine and, IMHO, definitely blows away the machines around and under her price range.

A good fresh beans, a good tamper and a good grinder are essential as well not just for the Silvia but for any good espresso machine.