Saturday, October 21, 2006


say a little prayer, or basic espresso machine repair for girls

oh my italian princess, silvia. i believe that after 6-1/2 years, she finally needs her first repair. and what a minor repair it is!

i mean long-time readers know i've never even had to replace her grouphead gasket. she is one reliable girl.

i woke up this morning, decided to make coffee in silvia (as opposed to my steamy latin guy from wholelattelove, carlos expobar), turned her on, and returned 40 mins. later to make coffee only to discover that while her lights were on, she was cold. cold.

no heat. she had power, she pumped (cold) water, but she didn't heat up.

now, when this happens with silvia, there's a well-known decision tree to follow for troubleshooting:

  1. ensure silvia has water by opening the steam wand to make sure water comes out
  2. if silvia has water, check to see if she has overheated and turned herself off: unplug the machine, remove the 4 little screws that hold on her top, and look inside for the red safety reset switch button; use the flat of a screwdriver to press it and reset silvia and see if she heats
  3. if she still doesn't heat, it may be the little US$12 brew thermostat that has failed; turn on the steam switch and see if silvia heats then
  4. if silvia heats with the steam switch, it's the brew thermostat that needs replacing, which is so simple you can do it yourself without chipping your manicure, if you have a computer screwdriver
  5. if the steam switch doesn't heat silvia, it may be that a power surge or something has blown both the brew and steam thermostats, which are easily and cheaply replaced
  6. if you replace both thermostats and silvia still doesn't heat, your heating element has failed and you probably need a new boiler (about US$250 with shipping both ways), so send it to the espresso shop nearest you

following this tree myself, i discovered that it was my brew thermostat. to replace this you just unplug siliva, take off the top, carefully pull the wire clips off the brew 'stat's funny little "wings," unscrew the 2 tiny computer screws, lift off the little bar that holds the 'stat in place, slide the bad one out, slide the good one in, and put it all back together.

this means that on monday i'll be calling long-time bccy pal terry z. at espressoparts to order this part. of course, i don't suffer because i have carlos to rescue me -- he's my knight in shining stainless steel armor.

however not everyone has another machine. if you are truly desperate to brew with silvia in this case, you can heat the machine in steam mode. once it's hot, blow off a little steam, and then press the brew switch to pump water.

the water's too hot for good espresso, so run off about 2 or 3 oz. then pull a shot.

this will get you coffee in a pinch, but it's not optimal. i don't really recommend this unless you are truly desperate (like being forced to brew a cappuccino at knifepoint).

in the meantime, i'm playing dionne warwick for my ailing beauty. . .tee-hee.

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posted by fortune | 9:28 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 1 comments

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