A common question that I often hear is what grinder will work well with my Rancilio Silvia? Or Do I need a grinder? In this video i will show you several different shots pulled from the Rancilio Silva. You will see an under extracted, over extracted, and a nice shot.
I had the opportunity to attend the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) show in Houston this year. It was a great show and seemed to be very well attended. I really like going to these trade shows and have actually been attending them on and off for about 15 years. It was nice to see all the people I know in the industry and to also check out some new products.
The seminars are the biggest highlights for me, as they are very informative. One of the seminars I attended consisted of a roundtable discussion with café owners. Everyone really wanted to focus on quality as well as brand building in this competitive environment. The café owners voiced a lot of concerns regarding rising green coffee bean costs and how it affects drink prices, café operators, as well as roasters and their relationships.
I also took a seminar with green-bean coffee buyers. I found this seminar interesting as well as thought provoking. It is amazing how much work it takes to purchase, process, and ship coffee. I listened intently as the buyers talked about purchasing direct trade and how changing prices shortened the lengths of buying agreements from three years or more to one year or less. The buyers also discussed how organic coffee is no longer thought of as second grade, as it was a long time ago. It is now highly sought after because of the increased quality.
Along with all of the coffee talk, I also got a chance to catch up with our commercial vendors and get a sneak peek at their new products. Here are a few highlights of the new products and industry developments that were on display at the SCAA show:
Rancilio debut its new Egro super-automatic espresso machines, which were well designed and very functional. A new Rancilio system will purportedly cut down on the amount of preventative maintenance visits the Ergo requires, which will in turn reduce the long-term costs of ownership. The technicians I spoke with, who have worked on the Rancilio Ergo machines, really seem to like this new technology.
Additionally, Rancilio introduced a new traditional machine named Xcelsius, which has some unique brewing qualities. It can produce repeated shots at the same temperature. The Xcelsius maintains exact temperature using a double-phase heating technology. It also incorporates some new brew group technology and controls. This unique machine can also begin brewing at a cooler temperature and gradually get hotter as the shot is being made. Vice-versa, the Xcelsius can start hot, and gradually cool down as the brewing process progresses. This is a unique feature not found in any other espresso machine. Rancilio currently has two international patents associated with the Xcelsius.
The Xcelsius was developed in conjunction with Polytechnic, a leading technology school in Turin, Italy. There some well-known baristas and industry people helping to test and review the new Rancilio machines. The feedback from everyone has been very positive. The process of changing the shot temperature during the brewing process is, according to many, an eye opener. The technique produced very different results using the same coffee. As you can imagine, this groundbreaking technology has the potential to change the industry.
Along with Rancilio, I also got a chance to catch up with La Marzocco. The company was very proud to introduce the Strada, a multi-boiler machine. The unique thing about the Strada is its ability to offer programmable variable brew pressure during espresso extraction. Combine this with the machine’s ability to brew specific shots at different temperatures, and you have the ability to really dial-in your shots. A lot of the baristas believe that the Strada will offer a great way to brew single-origin espresso and to really highlight the unique flavors found in a particular coffee. The machine is not only technologically innovative but it is also really beautiful. Whole Latte Love will be adding this machine to our site shortly.
I hope you enjoyed my insider’s look at the SCAA show. Along with these exciting commercial machines, I also got to see many products that are more suited to the home market, which I will go over my next blog. If you have any questions about the show or machines, please feel free to leave a comment.
Commercial Sales Department
In this video, Randy and I answer a question we hear from our customers often: what's the difference between a semi-automatic and a super-automatic espresso machine? We cover general differences and also similarities between the two types of machines. I hope you'll enjoy this video and if you have any more questions, please feel free to ask.
Two great machines unite—the Rancilio Silvia and the Baratza Virtuoso Preciso. These machines have been paired together to offer excellent value and superior results. In our video, Mark and I will give you an overview of the components and capabilities of this grinder and semi-automatic espresso machine combo. We’ll also brew a shot of espresso and give you a look at the final product, so you can see exactly what this package is capable of…Enjoy!
Watch my video featuring the Rancilio Silvia Redesigned V3 Espresso Machine. In this video, I’ll give you a quick overview of the machine as well as explain some important features including the housing and internal components . Enjoy!
There are only a few days left before October 31 and our 5th Annual Halloween Contest is in full swing. This year, coffee lovers have to guess how much candy corn we have stashed in the bean hoppers of five different grinders: the Gaggia MDF, Rancilio Rocky, Baratza Vario, and Ceado E7. The Whole Latte Love member with a guess closest to the actual count will take home the Gaggia MDF. The second-place prize is a $100 Whole Latte Love Gift Certificate.
If you’re serious about winning one of these great prizes, I’ve got a few tips to help you out. First, a little research goes a long way. Check out our product descriptions for these grinders, chances are you’ll be able to find the bean hopper capacity of each model. Determine the total capacity and you’ll have a rough idea of how much volume we’re working with. Also, keep in mind that candy corn is bigger and denser than coffee beans. For example, if a hopper can hold 500 beans, it won’t be able to hold nearly as much candy corn. Last but not least, make sure you watch Tracy and Darren’s video. It will give you a live-action visual of what we’re talking about and may be able to help you eyeball the count.
Remember, you have to be a Whole Latte Love member, 18+ and located in the continental US to win. Good luck and Happy Halloween!
One of my Favorite Machines for the Money
Whenever I get a call from someone looking for a machine that performs well and is cost effective, I often will point them in the direction of the Rancilio Epoca 1 group professional machine. It is a versatile machine that will perform in a variety of situations.
This machine is manufactured by Rancilio in Italy. Rancilio has long been associated with quality; and for good reason. Its machines have always stood up to heavy use, and sometimes, people who have purchased a Rancilio commercial machine will insist on nothing else as they grow or expand.
Easy to use
For someone who possesses basic drink making knowledge, this is a fun machine to use. The Epoca 1 group is very sturdy weighing in at close to 75 pounds. The design has easy- to- read displays, as well as a nice ergonomic approach to all the important features.
We once had a customer with a catering business; his machine was on a cart. They were rolling the machine in to do a job when the cart hit a hole that capsized the machine, causing it to hit the ground from about three feet up. They panicked, got the machine to the location, and plugged it in, and still it worked flawlessly. While this is an extreme example, it goes to show how durable the Epoca can be. They have even purchased a few more as their businesses have grown.
Large BoilerA large 3.9 –liter boiler (a little over a gallon) is one of the main highlights of the Rancilio Epoca. With the price of the semi-automatic Epoca at $1950, is it hard to find something to compare it too. It has great steaming capabilities and is meant to serve a busy café, or catering business.
Who this machine makes sense for :
The Epoca 1 group is an impressive looking commercial machine that does not have a lot of utility requirements. It can be used as a pour over when purchased in the semi-automatic version. If purchased in the plumbed programmable version, we recommend you hook up the machine to a pressurized water line.
Home users, who wanted great tasting espresso, have purchased this machine and loved it. For those concerned with quality, the Epoca 1 Group is ideal, as it has a great track record for durability.
Of course, the boiler as we have discussed. But, there are also some other great features such as:
Clever Steam Wand- It can be locked in place in the “on” position to promote hands free steaming. It can be used in a traditional manner as well.
Large Drip Tray- A large capacity means that drip tray does not need to be emptied very often.
Completely portable – perfect for a business on the move.
The machine is well suited for individuals or businesses wishing to integrate great coffee and a durable machine into their routines.
In the sales department, we get calls from customers who are researching machines, Most people have usually narrowed it down to a few machines that fit their needs. Those with budgets in the $1000 range for a machine, they inevitably consider the Rancilio Silvia and the Gaggia Classic.
I love getting these calls, because whichever way the customer goes, I know they will be satisfied with the machine, whichever one they choose. Each machine has reasons it would be a slightly better fit for a particular customer, and I regularly talk to customers who have had either one of these models for 10 years plus. So what are the pros and cons of each machine, and which one fits you best?
Gaggia Classic: Pros and Cons
Let’s start off with the Gaggia Classic. It is a proven model that has been around for over 25 years. The Classic can compete with a number of machines, not just the Silvia.
Pro- Small volumetric boiler – Gives you a quick heat up time. The machine will give you a ready light in about three minutes but it is really ready to rumble in about five minutes.
Pro- All stainless housing, rocker switches, 3 way solenoid valve – All great features that really make the unit stand out. Striking looks with the stainless housing, durable rocker switches that almost never wear out, and the three way solenoid that makes for easy clean up and adds to the machine’s life-span.
Pro- Includes pod, pressurized and non-pressurized baskets all in a commercial portafilter – The Classic is one of the most versatile machine that we sell. It can brew pods, pre-ground with the pressurized baskets or for the ultimate control, non-pressurized baskets. The chrome-plated brass portafilter also lends to a stable brew temp across the machine.
Con- Small boiler – The double-edged sword of the smaller boiler is that if you need to steam a lot of milk, over 10 ounces, you will notice the machine’s boiler size, and inherent lack of ‘steam stamina’.
Con- Aluminum boiler – This is a non-issue to some people. Others don’t like aluminum being the primary component of the boiler’s alloy. It’s actually because of the aluminum boiler that it is able to heat up so quickly.
Con- Water reservoir placement – While refilling it is easy due to a funnel through the middle of the machine. But removing the reservoir for cleaning does require that you first remove the drip tray. Not a huge con, but it can become a nuisance.
Rancilio Silvia: Pros and Cons
The Rancilio is another proven machine that has been on the market for about 12 years and has a near cult following. So loved, this machine has a number of after market modifications for it, and we’ve heard back from people that they have had the housing anodized with other metals to completely “trick” their machine out.
Pro- All stainless housing, rocker switches, 3 way solenoid valve – Like the Classic above, the Silvia also sports a stainless steel housing, with a nice black accent down the middle. The rocker switches are nice and durable. Silvia has the ever-important three-way solenoid valve. (check out my blog ‘A Three Way Solenoid? What is That?’ for a better understanding of this feature).
Pro- Large 12 ounce boiler – The Silvia sports a beefier 12 ounce boiler, made out of brass. The Silvia benefits better ‘steam stamina’ from the larger boiler size.
Pro- Commercial portafilter with non-pressurized baskets, and pod adaptability – The Silvia’s commercial portafilter made of chrome plated brass and works extremely well with the non-pressurized baskets, gives you great control over the shot with your grind and tamp techniques. And if you wish, there is a pod adaptor kit that is sold separately and allows you to brew pods.
Con- Finicky of the grind – The Silvia is very particular of the grind fineness and consistency. You will need to buy a Gaggia MDF or Rancilio Rocky to brew at it’s best.
Con- Larger 12 ounce boiler – Requires a longer warm-up time. About five minutes for the ready light to come on, but really ready to rumble in about seven minutes.
Con- Pod adaptability – While pod capable with the adaptor, the machine is a one or the other machine. With the pod kit actually changing the group head, you cannot do ground on a pod-kitted Silvia and vice-versa.
Both are Winners…
If you need a machine that heats up quick, can brew out 2-3 long shots to fill your travel mug as you run out the door, the Classic may be more suitable. If you’re looking to have a latte for you and each of your family every night as you wind down for a moment together, the Silvia would fit better for you.
But the floor is open to debate. Which machine do you have, and why does it fit you better?
Ok so you just received your new semi-automatic machine and are getting ready to make a nice cappuccino. You have watched the local Barista, done your online research and have quickly come to the conclusion that you are getting conflicting information on how to properly make a cappuccino or latte with your new machine. In some instances, you may have seen the drinks being made by brewing your espresso and then steaming and frothing your milk. Likewise, you may have also watched videos that show a latte being made in a glass cup where the espresso is being poured into the steamed milk. So which is it you might ask. "Do I brew first or do I steam first"?
The consensus with our team here is that it is better to steam/froth your milk first and then brew your espresso. This especially holds true when using a single boiler espresso machine like the Gaggia Classic or Rancilio Silvia. This serves three main purposes:
First, it is much more fast to make a latte or cappuccino by cooling the machine to brew after steaming then to wait for the machine to heat to steam after brewing. You can very quickly have the machine ready to brew simply by switching to the brew button and running hot water through the steam arm. The wand will change from producing steam to producing hot water very fast. Once you have hot water instead of steam you are ready to brew. This should take mere seconds with most mid level semis like the Gaggia machines.
Second, it is better for the machine and its internal components to be at the cooler brew temperature then the hotter steam temperature. In fact, Rancilio states in their manual that the steps mentioned in point one is necessary in the normal operation to prevent the machine from burning out heating elements and boilers.
Third, performing step one with the mid level semi-automatic machines is a great way to maintain a relatively consistent temperature when brewing. If you start brewing at about the same time after the steam turns to hot water you can maintain a consistent brew temperature with every shot. This is something known as temperature surfing which is a topic all of its own.