Posted on September 21st, 2012
Single boiler domestic machine
I bought this little Salda for $10 at a garage sale, knowing it would be a good little machine with a service and a few minor improvements.
As standard, single boiler machines including the Rancilio Silvia, Gaggia Classic, Lelit, Nemox, Imat, Quaha and others are perfectly capable of making good espresso though with a few downsides, one of which is a huge variance in boiler water temperature due to their very simple thermostats. This can be compensated for in a few ways, one popular option being to retrofit a PID controller to help regulate boiler temperature more precisely, which is one key ingredient to making consistently good espresso.
This is a rather expensive and complicated option (although PID hardware itself is not costly these days – it’s the installation and calibration that can be tricky), and a simpler, more cost-effective modification can be to simply fit a digital thermometer to the boiler giving the user a visual indication of the boiler temperature, which can then be used to time the start of the espresso extraction for the best results. This is known as Temperature Surfing.
- Replacing the original Saeco-type pressurised portafilter and group collar with a 57mm non-pressurised Lelit type, with naked conversion
- Brew water pre-heating via a simple tube that wraps around the boiler to improve temperature stability
- Digital temperature display via thermocouple fitted to brass boiler
- Conversion to ball-joint steam wand including custom single-hole steam tip
- Brew pressure gauge fitted between 3-way solenoid and group outlet to read true extraction pressure
- Kill switch fitted to pump to enable low pressure pre-infusion
- Custom aluminium handles for steam valve / portafilter, custom Huon Pine matching tamper
I ended up taking things a bit further than I’d initially planned, but I reckon this is now the best little single boiler machine around, and makes killer shots with a bit of careful attention to the brewing temperature and pressure. As it’s so simple and small, this is the perfect machine to chuck in the boot with a hand grinder for a weekend away.