Pimping Miss Silvia with an Auber PID

I’ve recently started to drink a lot more espresso than milk drinks and this change really made me appreciate better shots over imperfect ones. With milk drinks imperfections are smoothed out to some degree and I started to realise I wanted better control over temperature, as surfing temperatures [1] is a hassle.

So I decided to give Miss Silvia some love. I considered buying a newer more advanced machine but decided that I would have to spend quite a bit of money to get an improvement so I decided that fitting a PID (proportional–integral–derivative) Controller would be better value for money. The PID works by allowing the user to set a temperature of the boiler and the pid will control the boiler to maintain the temperature to that setting.

I ended up going for the Pre-infusion/Steam Control kit from Auber as the kit is one of the least expensive compared to other suppliers but has plenty of good reviews. The pre-infusion mechanism pumps a little water onto the grounds prior to brewing to prevent tracking through the grounds which causes poor extraction. On the whole it seems to work well, but I’ve not yet tried doing any A/B comparisons. The steam controller kicks in earlier than the stock thermostat and I noticed using it there seems to be bags more steam than before.

Fitting the kit was fairly straight forward and took about 2 hours overall - I took plenty of time over it and took lots of photos along the way.

During the pid installation

Having the temperature control has eliminated the need for temperature surfing completely and I’m getting nice shots with more consistency. It’s also allowing me to focus much more on consistent tamping and grinding (after-all barista skills can always be improved :))

Service has been excellent, the first controller I installed had an issue with it that prevented the steam control switching off when it reached the set temperature. After a series of emails back and forth with instructions for measuring the voltages across the relay and other tests, a diagnosis was confirmed and Auber promptly sent out a replacement controller which took about 10mins to fit and has subsequently fixed the problem. So I’m very happy on that front.

After the install

So on the whole, I’d definitely recommend fitting one of these kits. They’re relatively in-expensive, easy to fit (the instructions are clear and detailed) and service from the supplier has been first class with dealing with a problem. Best of all you can forget temperature surfing and you’ll get better shots.

[1] Temp Surf or Time Surf?

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