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    These are the stories where I’m feeling oddly dumb as the only thing your learn with computers and a compsci degree is stuff that does not relate to electrical machinery.

    I’m the best, in my virtual world where nothing every interacts with the outside

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      The PID controller temperature problem is why I did mine on the outside. It was a little unwieldy there, but didn’t overheat. (Mine was a late 90s aluminum boiler model.)

      Steaming was improved by attaching a spare steam wand intended for a Rancilio Silvia. I used an auber controller with a second set point for steaming. I don’t think autotune ever worked very well for me.

      Here’s a not-terribly-good video of what mine looked like in action. I’m glad to see people are still doing these same mods.

      That steamer you wound up with looks fancy. Is it larger and more expensive than the classic?

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        It was about £150 from Amazon. Works very well!

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          So you’re getting an experience that approaches a high end double boiler machine with a classic + that beast. Very nicely done!

          (I don’t mean to dismiss a good double boiler setup… there is a lot to be said for one, especially if it’s got a rotary pump and you’re going to connect its feed and drain to your household plumbing, but then you’d be spending around 4x what I’d guess your entire coffee station cost, for what amounts to a very minor step-up in espresso quality plus some nice ergonomics.)

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            Thank you :)

            I do plan on upgrading to a plumbed in, dual boiler machine with rotary pump at some point.

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              As someone who moved from a Silvia with PID and insulation, I disagree with your statement about approaching a high end double boiler. It’s still not as consistent and the steam capabilities of a Gaggia/Silvia are awful when compared with a DB or even HX.

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                I was referring to the OP’s solution with the separate dedicated milk steamer. Even the PID’d gaggia’s steam was a challenge compared to the DB. (I could manage a good macchiato, but it was harrder.)

                I moved from my classic to an Izzo Alex Duetto when I got the opportunity to plumb in, along with the HG-One manual grinder (with Mazzer Robur burrs). Before I passed my modified Classic along, I took the opportunity to do some triangle tests with Klatch’s World’s best blend and the two machines, using the same grinder, with me pulling all the shots, and the same basket for both.

                While the shots were distinguishable on the triangle tests the verdict was distinctly mixed as to which was better. Duetto won, but it was a much closer margin than I’d have guessed.

                That’s why I called the espresso a minor step-up on the higher end machine. The ergonomics were hands down better, of course. But if plumbing wasn’t a possibility and I had a separate milk steamer? Pairing a really good grinder with the low-end machine and a great basket, I’d put the espresso from the well-controlled low-end machine next to the high-end one with confidence as long as I wasn’t catering, running a bar, or engaged in some other high volume activity.

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          I did very similar modifications to my Silvia 6y ago. There’s a lot of information on http://www.pidsilvia.com

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            The machine is the land-rover defender of the coffee-machine world.

            As someone with a La Pavoni Europiccola, I disagree :)

            It’s robust, and spare parts are available for everything inside. It’s repairable, which is an unfortunately rare thing in 2019.

            This is also a reason I went with a Pavoni. I’ve self-serviced mine multiple times, and the tools you need are basically a screwdriver and a soft mallet. The design of the machine hasn’t fundamentally changed in 70 years.

            The learning curve for producing great shots from it is pretty steep, but immensely rewarding when you nail it and can then pull amazing shots from, effectively, muscle memory.

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              And the gaggia can be serviced with some allen keys and a screwdriver. I don’t get why you disagree. Yes, the La Pavoni has fewer moving parts (no pump, etc) but as you say, it’s much harder to master. I like to tinker with espresso but I wouldn’t want to spend a year learning how to use a machine, at some point you just get sick and tired of having bad shots and go back to immersion brewing or other percolation methods.

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                I believe you misunderstood, and also took what was (I thought) a pretty light-hearted jab at Gaggia from a pretty well-known rivalry from lever machine enthusiasts vs. well, non-lever machine enthusiasts.

                I’m also very familiar with the Gaggia and what it can do, having personally refurbished one myself.

                I cheekily disagreed that the Gaggia is the “land-rover defender” of the coffee world, in that it’s “robust, and spare parts are available for everything inside. It’s repairable, which is an unfortunately rare thing[…]”. The Gaggia is all of those things, but the LPE is more robust, and easier to repair.

                I like to tinker with espresso but I wouldn’t want to spend a year learning how to use a machine

                The irony of this comment in light of what the OP did to their Gaggia (which, kudos to OP, is awesome - love the post!) to get, and I quote, “much more consistently good coffee” is almost too much for me to take :p

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                  Installing a PID is relatively little effort compared to learning how to temp surf a La Pavonia or even how to use it properly.