The little bean that could.

9 Nov 2022

My first article, yay! And it has (*&$ all to do with engineering... well maybe a little. During the Corona pandemic of 2020-20xx [TODO add end date] - and for those reading this in the far future, this was not a tasty beer pandemic but a nasty virus - I picked up multiple new hobby's. One of which, is making coffee. I started out with a little French press, quickly switching over to a Chemex. Since a few days though, I dove head first in to Espresso machines (I totally blame James Hoffman).

I must offer a word of caution here: don’t invest in an espresso machine at home unless you want a new hobby.
James Hoffmann, The World Atlas of Coffee: From beans to brewing - coffees explored, explained and enjoyed

So what did I get? Stubborn as I am, I thought I could keep it within a budget and since I love tinkering get something simple and robust. I got myself the beautiful Rancilio Silvia. As I was planning on upgrading it and voiding the warranty, a second hand one from 2015.

Stock Rancilio Silvia

My basic Rancilio Silvia (and some foreshadowing on the right for the next big hurdle)

Next up: Installing the first of my planned upgrades, the Auber PID with pre-infusion, shot time and temperature control which I bought from a local reseller; Vitelli Coffee - I wanted warranty and someone to call if I needed support. I totally recommend them for fellow Dutchies as the service is fast and felt very personal.

Rancilio Silvia innards

The insides, the Auber solid state relay with thermal paste (there is a thing as too much paste)

I was really impressed by the build quality of the Silvia, all components were build to last, and installing the PID was rather easy, especially following this tutorial in combination with having the documentation supplied with the PID at the ready.

Auber solid state relay with wires

Almost wired up

After finally installing it all, now was the moment to turn it on...

Powered Rancilio Silvia with Auber PID

Angry pixies flying as they should!

Rancilio Silvia with Auber PID installed

The "end" result.

Next I installed an IMS upgrade kit I got from Van Pommeren and after all that, I was left with the perfect coffee.... NOT. Apparently my trusted filter grinder isn't up to the task (filter vs espresso, the grind is real) and I had to swap it out for a new one. Luckily this gave me a great excuse to actually visit Van Pommeren. They were very helpful and I finally landed on a Eureka Mignon Silenzio.

Multiple espresso machines at Van Pommeren

Van Pommeren aka Valhalla.

A big chunk of a month's salary later, and a proud owner of a modified Rancilio Silvia + a Eureka Mignon Silenzio I am finally able to attempt brewing the perfect espresso. I'll document my the process in my next coffee post. For now, Ill leave you with my complete coffee set up.

Assortment of coffee equipment

Notice the black Coffee Vacs on the right, an amazing gift from my partner.