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Good machine for around £400: Silvia, Piccino, Oscar

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Hi all, another one of those threads asking for advice on machines... sorry...!

 

I'll try to be concise. My original budget was around £400. I mostly drink espresso, but milk drinks will be required less frequently for my other half/guests/myself. I am totally done with temperature surfing...! And we don't have a lot of space, max size 400x450x500 (WxDxH) but ideally 100 less in each dimension (particularly width).

 

So I came into this endeavour fully aware that a Classic or (ideally) a Silvia with a PID were my only two options. I have been watching eBay for about a year for these machines, I see them come and go, and now I actually have the money, it's just a waiting game. I would love to just buy them new, but the cost of importing the Auber PID kit is extortionate compared to the used machines which already have them installed, and too many times I have come home to a note from Royal Mail telling me there's an extra customs charge waiting for me. I don't know of any other PID available in the UK other than sourcing the parts myself, and I am not an electrician nor do I want to learn...!

 

I started looking around for other second hand markets for these machines (including here!), and in doing so, I found myself tempted by the Fracino Piccino and the Nuova Simonelli Oscar instead. It looked like I could get either machine new and shipped for £560. I can just about justify the extra £160 of leeway on my budget for the fact that they will be new, and that they will be able to do milk at the same time as the espresso. I was feeling pretty good about these machines, my only concern was that I would be trading some espresso making ability; I would be happy with £400 worth of espresso making power with £160 worth of steam, but if they lack in the espresso department I will be disappointed. I started trying to find out how stable the temperature would be; like I said, I'm done with temperature surfing.

 

Then it turned out that my sources, myespresso and coffeeitalia, are both loathed suppliers around these parts. Plus I couldn't get any good information either way on the stability or the adjustability of the temperature of the machines for espresso. I can't even find anywhere reputable in the UK that sells the Oscar, and the Piccinos are all over £600. I was already pushing my budget quite far given that I'll need other accessories too. So now I feel a bit like I'm back to square one! :( Maybe it's just a case of waiting on eBay to deliver. But you know how it is when you get an idea stuck in your head..!

 

Any and all advice very welcome :)

Edited by chinery
browser messed up everything, AGH!

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I know the feeling of trying to find a retailer which doesn't seem to add such a cost.

 

I can't offer any advice but I wanted to ask have you been making espresso already? I was under the assumption that the Silvia without PID was a capable machine. What about the system means a PID is a necessity?

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Well either machine should knock spots off a Classic or Silvia even ones with a PID, a company called Elektros.it are based in Italy and are reputable suppliers of Nuova Simonelli machines, a few forum mebers have bought from them with great satisfaction. Unfortunately Fracino prices rose quite heavily at the end of March. Do you have an espresso capable grinder? if not you will need to budget for this, as well as the ancillaries like, tamper, jewellers scales, milk jug, cleaning products, cups etc.


Common sense is not a gift, it's a punishment. Because you have to deal with everyone that doesn't have it !!!

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elektros.it is the main place for Oscars but it's not UK based.

 

What will you be grinding with?

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Thanks for the replies :) I'll be checking out elektros...

 

I have a Mahlkonig Vario for grinding.

 

I do own an espresso machine for a very loose definition of the phrase...! It's a Delonghi Cafe Treviso, which we got for free. To be honest, I prefer the results I get to anything from Starbucks/Costa/etc, because I can use good beans. But it's not consistent from shot to shot, and the basket doesn't hold more than 10g comfortably, so it's hard to experiment with.

 

Constantly temperature surfing takes so long, especially if I'm making several to try to dial in my recipe. It means that the whole thing is a chore, so I just don't make espresso day to day. I'm sure a stock Silvia would still have much better temperature stability, but if nothing else it would just constantly bother me that I wouldn't be using a consistent temperature from shot to shot, and I'm just fed up of temperature surfing from my current machine. Hence the PID requirement.

Edited by chinery

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I feel like I'm starting to settle on the Oscar, the price on Elektro's might be doable, if I can get it as a part gift for my upcoming birthday (still got my fingers crossed for some used machine for slightly less though!).

 

They seem to offer a lot of customisation options...

1. OPV + anti-vac valve €55

2. Sirai pressurestat €75 (or both this and above for €115)

3. Gigleurs €10

4. 4-hole 1mm steam tip €15

 

I'd be pretty tempted to just go for all of them (well, maybe not the steam tip) if I bought new. But are they worth it? The translation from Italian on what they actually do is a bit mixed. Also the OPV is set to 10 bar, any reason for that rather than 9?

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How much does your fully pimped Oscar come to?

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€700 for the machine + about €30 for the postage to the UK. So pretty much dead on £600 with a good exchange rate.

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Just as I'm coming to terms with this decision, a PID modified Silvia pops up on eBay. Which I would've just bought outright a week or so ago...!

 

 

Here's my last reservation: is there any chance a modified Silvia would be better than the Oscar at just making espresso? I feel like the temperature consistency between shots would be more easy to control with the PID. I know you can control it on the HX through careful timing of the cooling flush and recovery time, and it seems like if you do this repeatedly it's very stable. But the PID seems easier, at least to start the shot. However, might it drop in the duration of the shot due to the small boiler in the Silvia? Or is there another factor that might mean the Oscar can deliver better straight espresso? That's a loaded question trying to justify the purchase I know...! But seriously, I think it's worth the price difference to get the steam power, I just don't want to be moving downwards in espresso power since that's 66-75% of what it'll be used for.

 

Really appreciate all the advice :)

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  • Buy in the UK, much easier if you get any problems
  • Money burning hole in pocket, put flameproof lining in pocket
  • Esrpesso machines have been made for many years and they won't suddenly stop making them (so you got time)
  • Buy in haste, repent at leisure

 

Just take a little time, think about what's important...why the big problem with a cooling flush, why do you think a PID Silvia will be so fantastic, you quote the price of a lot of coponents, do you really know what they do or why you want them. There is an awful lot of marketing crap about. the grinder also has to be budgeted for unless you got a decent one. do you want to upgrade again in 5 years, do you have high expectations. I've done loads of reviews on the bella barista site...go read them, it will teach you a lot about these machines and what all the bits inside do. you don't have to buy your machine from them to read the reviews and learn.

 

Go read the coffeetime Wiki

 

Then when you have that broader perspective, decide how best to spend the money and whether you need to spend more...or less. At the moment I get the impression you're just itching to buy something. make your decision with the head first, then out of the suitable stuff the head comes up with, then let the heart decide.


ACS Vesuvius DBPP, Izzo Duetto DB, Minima DB, Lelit Bianca Prototype DB (paddle flow control) BTC Machines: Roasters: Amazon Dalian 1kg Drum Roaster, other failed roasters: Grinders: Ceado E92, Niche US and UK: 145kg assorted greens: My reviews at https://coffeeequipmentreviews.wordpress.com/

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Great advice by Dave, he certainly knows what he's talking about. Take his advice.


Espresso: Quick Mill Verona

Grinder: Mythos and loving it

Tampers: Reg Barber flat 58.35

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  • Buy in the UK, much easier if you get any problems
  • Money burning hole in pocket, put flameproof lining in pocket
  • Esrpesso machines have been made for many years and they won't suddenly stop making them (so you got time)
  • Buy in haste, repent at leisure

 

Just take a little time, think about what's important...why the big problem with a cooling flush, why do you think a PID Silvia will be so fantastic, you quote the price of a lot of coponents, do you really know what they do or why you want them. There is an awful lot of marketing crap about. the grinder also has to be budgeted for unless you got a decent one. do you want to upgrade again in 5 years, do you have high expectations. I've done loads of reviews on the bella barista site...go read them, it will teach you a lot about these machines and what all the bits inside do. you don't have to buy your machine from them to read the reviews and learn.

 

Go read the coffeetime Wiki

 

Then when you have that broader perspective, decide how best to spend the money and whether you need to spend more...or less. At the moment I get the impression you're just itching to buy something. make your decision with the head first, then out of the suitable stuff the head comes up with, then let the heart decide.

 

Hi Dave, I appreciate the advice, but I fear my comments on this one thread don't portray a very good picture of my actual investigation into this.

 

I have been looking for a new machine for just over a year now, reading up on the different variations between models. I do not believe an expensive espresso machine makes good espresso, it enables consistency. Consistency is a requirement for technique and recipe refinement. There is no point in seeking the correct recipe making 0.5g adjustments to your dose if the temperature of the water hitting the coffee is 93 degrees on one shot and 89 degrees on the next, unbeknownst to the barista. (I know I'm preaching to the choir, just trying to demonstrate my mindset.)

 

That said, for someone who wants to make such precise tests, I do not have a high budget. I have accepted that espresso machines aren't cheap, however, under the £500 mark you have exactly two choices: the Classic and the Silvia. Both of these have the temperature problem I noted before, hence usual ways of dealing with that (inaccurate and boring surfing or accurate PID). They also can't steam and brew at the same time and generally lack steam power. The idea of being able to make latte art is definitely going to get my other half on board with the big machine in our small kitchen. So I came to the realisation that maybe my budget could be stretched as part of my birthday present, and it would give me many more options to play with. I admit I am being somewhat hasty as this is the point at which I feel I have the funds to buy the machine, but it's after a year of trying to justify it to myself. If I can't get it used, the prices aren't going to go down.

 

- Buy in the UK

That's all very well in theory, however I've found this extremely hard to put into practice. I don't have this option with the Silvia, because I want a PID. I was considering importing just the PID, but this brings it up to the price of much better machines. My top choice then, is the Oscar, which is not sold in the UK to the best of my searching (UK based websites will import it for you, but what's the difference?). My other options: the Fracino Piccino, the Quick Mill Silvano, the Isomac Zaffiro, are only available at too high a price.

 

- Why the big problem with a cooling flush

Not necessarily a problem, but it's a source of inconsistency. I'm sure you have read this thread before: http://www.home-barista.com/espresso-machines/nuova-simonelli-oscar-temperature-stability-testing-t26490.html. It shows the Oscar delivers consistency between shots with the same routine, but that the routine can affect it wildly. I hope it doesn't seem drastic to dream of a world where I can just set the temperature that I want, and get that temperature delivered to the coffee. Not so that I can change it, 93-94 is fine. But so that it's consistent.

 

- Why do you think a PID Silvia will be so fantastic

Well, I don't necessarily... you're right that I should look up more on specifically why the Silvia is loved (that was really what I was asking). But I am comparing the Oscar to the Silvia because it is the only cheaper machine worth considering (other than the Classic). That, and one just popped up for sale...!

 

- Quoting the price of a lot of components

I do know vaguely what they all do yes, it is mostly to regulate the pressure coming from the pump. I am even less interested in having to factor pressure into my espresso making calculations than temperature. I'd like to get several years of use out of this machine without having to open the case, I'm not really interested in modifying it as soon as I've got it, especially since it'll be brand new. So if they'll include it for not much more cost, I'm inclined to go with it. Although I was asking what the general consensus on these parts would be, it's all very well me knowing what they do, but I don't actually have the hands-on knowledge to know whether I really need them.

 

That's to address a few points specifically. You're right that I shouldn't be hasty, and I appreciate the reality check. My asking about the Silvia is the non-hasty part of me talking, and while I have tried to do as much research as I can (I admit I have not come across the coffeetime wiki), a lot of the information I find is people talking on forums. This presents problems of not addressing the question at hand directly, or the huge risk of being out of date, the coffee world moves at such a speed (I spent ages reading a 2007 article about how extraction was based on puck depth, only to find the author had retracted his claims a few months later without the original being updated to reflect this). Which is why I decided to just ask the question on here, hoping for more direct specific advice from anyone who knew :).

 

I will also go look at the bella barista reviews, I admit I only saw the sales side of the site when I visited. Thanks!

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Just read through this thread - really impressed with the thought and attention you're putting into it. Please keep us posted.


Londinium-R - EKS43 running SSP Silver Knight burrs

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Hi Chinery,

 

If I had your budget I would think about having another look at the Piccino from Myespresso. Whilst it is true there have been some very negative experiences here mainly concerning after sales, there have been other who have had him deal with them very well. It may be worth shooting them an email with a question before hand seeing what their response is like.

 

You are still going to be doing flushes with the Oscar, as it is a HX machine, but they are just to cool the water stored in the HX pipes (20 or so sec flush each time its been sitting for a while)

 

If I could afford to get a HX or DB machine I would not even consider the Silvia or Classic. They are hamstrung by a small boiler that pulls cold water in as it goes, this cause a rapid decline in temperature, with a PID the temperature will be stable enough to get maybe a double espresso, but if you want to make several drinks you will struggle, and going between steam and brew is a pain that will eventually niggle you.

 

HX/DB is a major step up over this system, I have a Expobar Pulsar (£400 S/H on here) which was recently at work with me knocking out shot after shot (at one point 12 in a row) with excellent consistency, the Silvia would dream of doing this.

 

It may also be worth emailing Bella Barista to see if they have any ex-demo in your price range.

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Just read through this thread - really impressed with the thought and attention you're putting into it. Please keep us posted.

 

Thank you :) I will! Dave is right to call me up on the hastiness, if we all added £200 to our budgets every time we felt like there were no good options, we'd all be very poor. But I'm content with saying £400 used/just for espresso, up to £600 for new/steam ability!

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Hi Chinery,

 

If I had your budget I would think about having another look at the Piccino from Myespresso. Whilst it is true there have been some very negative experiences here mainly concerning after sales, there have been other who have had him deal with them very well. It may be worth shooting them an email with a question before hand seeing what their response is like.

 

You are still going to be doing flushes with the Oscar, as it is a HX machine, but they are just to cool the water stored in the HX pipes (20 or so sec flush each time its been sitting for a while)

 

If I could afford to get a HX or DB machine I would not even consider the Silvia or Classic. They are hamstrung by a small boiler that pulls cold water in as it goes, this cause a rapid decline in temperature, with a PID the temperature will be stable enough to get maybe a double espresso, but if you want to make several drinks you will struggle, and going between steam and brew is a pain that will eventually niggle you.

 

HX/DB is a major step up over this system, I have a Expobar Pulsar (£400 S/H on here) which was recently at work with me knocking out shot after shot (at one point 12 in a row) with excellent consistency, the Silvia would dream of doing this.

 

It may also be worth emailing Bella Barista to see if they have any ex-demo in your price range.

 

Thanks for the advice! I will take another look at the Piccino. Unfortunately the model on myespresso went up by over £100 a few days after I posted my original question :(. It's now a bit too high. Plus I was put off by the relatively small boilers, albeit having two of them. The Piccino has two ~330ml boilers, which is about the same size as the Silvia. So I thought there might be the same issue with the cold water causing instability. Of course that is unsubstantiated, I should go find some more hands-on reviews.

 

Glad you share my concerns with the Silvia. I also can't help but feel that I would just be waiting for the next upgrade, especially when it came to steaming.

 

I will get in touch with Bella Barista, good suggestion :).

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Elektros.it will supply you with a Black Oscar with all the extras fitted and a full warranty for 690 Euros and 27 Euros Carriage fee so just under £600 landed I believe that Ferraris based in Wales will act as a service agent in case of any problems so that would negate having to send it back to Italy. An Oscar is in a class well above either a Silvia or a Classic and has a Thermosyphon group to help temperature stability, they are also relatively small as well. I believe some people on the forum have bought from Gianni at Elektros and had an excellent experience, I am currently talking to him to try and find a price on the Mythos One hopper which is much smaller than the standard 3kg one, I emailed him late-ish yesterday and had a reply 1st thing this morning.


Common sense is not a gift, it's a punishment. Because you have to deal with everyone that doesn't have it !!!

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May be worth making an offer on the la spaz s1 in the FS section.

 

It might just fit your dimesions

Height 15.00 inches \ 38.1 centimeters

Width 16.50 inches \ 41.9 centimeters

Depth 16.50 inches \ 41.9 centimeters

 

Edit, also another supplier option for your Piccino here

Edited by Dylan

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If you the seller can provide some more info and pics of the la spaz , then it could for your bill. Currently not a lot to go re it's condition etc


I write a blog, it's nothing to do with coffee ...

https://rjwinc.wordpress.com

Instagram - rjw_inc

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If you the seller can provide some more info and pics of the la spaz , then it could for your bill. Currently not a lot to go re it's condition etc


I write a blog, it's nothing to do with coffee ...

https://rjwinc.wordpress.com

Instagram - rjw_inc

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Wow lots to look over. Thanks for everyone's input! Let's see...

 

The La Spaziale looks amazing, the kind of thing I want in my kitchen when we've bought a place/got somewhere bigger. Unfortunately the width of the machine is the issue on my little counter, and while 415mm might be just about doable, there would be barely any space left for the grinder, and certainly no space to put a bottle of water/pump to use a mains-connected machine. If it were the hand-filled version I would be seriously considering it!

 

As for the Piccino, I've tried to do a bit more research, I think I've read every result for Fracino Piccino Review on the first page of Google! But hands-on reviews are lacking, and I can't find any sort of data from thorough temperature tests, like I can for the Oscar. Maybe it's fine, but the espresso boiler is the same size as a Silvia's, and without some test results I would be suspect of temperature variations. That doesn't entirely put me off, the Oscar will require learning how to use to keep stable too. But what with the recent price hike on the Piccino, plus the extra modifications to the Oscar being included at that price point (I can't find anything on the internals of the Piccino, no mention of OPV etc), I feel like the Oscar is the better choice.

 

Like Charlie I have also had very quick responses from Gianni at Elektro's when I emailed to ask about setting the OPV to 9 bar rather than 10 (he said they can set it at whatever I like!). If it's true that Ferrari's in Wales can act as a service agent then that's great. I may email to ask. Ultimately, even if something goes wrong that requires sending it back to Italy, it would be in the region of £20-30 to do so. Not ideal, but compared to the cost of the machine, not the end of the world.

 

I have sent an email to Bella Barista just in case they have something ex-demo. If not, then I think I will place an order on Elektro's. (Although I am still happy to receive extra advice to consider :))

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Well Chinery,

 

Prior to my getting the opportunity to buy the Sage Dual Boiler I had for reviewing at a price that only an utter moron would have turned down, I had been looking at my upgrade options. I knew that at the beginning of April I would have some spare money so that was my intended upgrade time and I, like you, had spent quite a while looking at my options with a similar budget to yours and came to the conclusion that in terms of new machines the fully modded Oscar was my best option, unless a decent machine that fit my size and price criteria came up on the forum. So I would suggest if it is brand new you want go ahead and order the Oscar as from my research I am led to believe that with all the mods done (the Sirai P stat helps with temp stability) it is easily capable of pulling shots to the same standard as the Musica which is a £1k+ machine.


Common sense is not a gift, it's a punishment. Because you have to deal with everyone that doesn't have it !!!

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Glad you came to the same conclusion Charlie!

 

Right, I've just placed the order for the Oscar :). I'll update here when it arrives. I got in touch with Gianni about a service centre in the UK, and he said unfortunately Nuova Simonelli don't have any service centres outside of Italy. But he says if anything goes wrong he will try to guide me through fixing it myself (this is actually reassuring to me, as opposed to companies that will tell you you've invalidated your warranty as soon as you open the box), shipping out spare parts if necessary for free. He says that in 7 years of selling the Oscar he's only had to have a few sent back.

 

Thanks for all the advice and I will keep you posted.

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