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If you are willing to experiment with your coffee and be your own barista, the Rancilio Silvia is a machine that will be an ultimate choice for you, so keep reading our in depth review.
This espresso maker is a professional-grade, semi-automatic machine, perfect for coffee lovers who’d like brew their own coffee at home on a regular basis. It is not your average espresso machine, rather comes with fine bells and whistles, suited to wide range of users.
But the real question is: does it live up to your expectations? What all features has it got?
That’s exactly what we are going to elucidate in this detailed Rancilio Silvia review.
Let’s see what are the main features offered in the Silvia model and whether it will be suitable for you or not:
The brand ‘Rancilio’ is renowned to manufacture reliable, premium quality and durable coffee machines.
Design of the Silvia is kept modern and sleek, so it can effortlessly blend with any type of kitchen decor. Its industrial-grade handsome look is the first thing that will strike your eyes at a glance.
Housing and control panel of the Rancilio Silvia is made from brushed stainless steel, which makes it look very elegant. And, the supporting structure equips black-painted steel for durability.
On the inner side, there’s a brewing unit integrated along with a high thermal accumulation boiler, both made from special lead-free alloy.
Even though it looks tough, it only measures around 9.2”W x 11.4”D x 13.4”H. Hence, Silvia is ideal to use at home for brewing necessities.
And, it weighs around 30.9 lb. (14 kg), which is quite heavy, so it is better to find a permanent place for it at your kitchen countertop.
The unit is not too bulky or tall, so it will easily go onto any kitchen countertop.
Silvia is equipped with an insulated chrome-plated brass boiler, inheriting its build from traditional boiler designs. Most coffee machines in the market today feature aluminum boiler with stainless steel lining. But, Silvia comes with a brass boiler and stainless steel inner lining which has unique properties of rapid heating and even heat distribution.
The 15-bar pressure system creates good steaming power and has an impressive recovery time in between your coffee shots.
But the downside about the boiler is that you cannot control or set the boiler temperature.
Also, since it is a single boiler unit, you can only perform one function at a time- either steaming or brewing.
Rancilio Silvia features a special 0.3 liters boiler wrapped by foam thermal insulator- which is capable of absorbing high amount of heat. This is turn saves a considerable amount of energy when the unit is ON.
Another good thing is that the internal parts of the unit do not release toxic components into the water to ruin the taste. This maintains the quality of your coffee, shots after shots.
So to summarize, thermal heat retention and reliability are two main highlights about Silvia’s boiler.
New commercial-grade articulating ‘Steam Wand’ is one of the best features provided in Rancilio Silvia. It helps you make thick and creamy steamed milk with luscious foam and rich crème on top.
Despite this, newbies might feel a little overwhelmed to use it at first. It will require time and practice to master and use the steam wand well.
People who are experienced in the field of specialty coffee are going to love this feature.
Make sure you do not overheat the milk, which is quite likely to happen with this unit. You can regulate the steaming pressure with the help of ‘steam knob’ provided.
Rancilio Silvia has been equipped with a commercial-grade 58mm portafilter featuring ergonomic design. It is integrated with a professional-grade brass grouphead for premium extraction and exceptional heat stability. Such superior build quality is what makes it stand out from its competition.
Silvia can be used with special adaptors and filter holders, so as to accommodate a variety of pods and cups available in the market. But, you need to buy the adapter kit separately.
Such system will retain the fresh aromas of ground coffee, so your espresso is always made to perfection.
Reservoir size is a key feature to consider if you are a coffee fanatic, or have a big family of coffee lovers.
Only drawback is that the reservoir is not visible.
Another important thing to note here is that the tank does not include a water filter, nor does it work with the same. So to avoid frequent descaling, it is recommended to use distilled water or filtered water with Silvia.
Silvia Espresso machine has a 3-way solenoid valve. It works by reducing the excess pressure and moisture off, right after you’ve pulled your shot. This will help in getting dry coffee puck in the portafilter, making cleaning easier.
Not just that, it also helps in reducing stress off other mechanical components of the unit.
The solenoid valve is located right underneath the drip tray.
Rancilio Silvia comes with a cup warming tray on the top of the machine. It is one of the key features to have in a coffee machine, as it prevents undesirable heat loss.
Pouring your brewed shot in a cold cup can considerably reduce its temperature, whereas a warm cup will efficiently minimize such heat loss and deliver hot cup of coffee every single time.
The top tray can accommodate up to 6 espresso cups.
Rancilio provides you with a PID Retrofit Kit with Silvia Espresso Machine at additional cost. You can outfit the PID kit on the front panel and then easily control the boiler temperature as per your brewing requirements.
Removable drip tray at the bottom of the machine is made from polished stainless steel.
Out of the box, the machine comes with a laser film on top of this metal, which you need to peel off.
With this machine, you will get a portafilter and two brew baskets. One of them holds 7 grams of coffee for single shot and the other one holds 14 grams of coffee for double shot. These baskets fit precisely into the portafilter and then locks into the grouphead. There’s also a plastic tamper and a black rubber plug provided for easy backflushing.
Many users might not like the plastic tamper provided with Silvia model. Thus, we would recommend you to go for a premium quality tamper instead for better results.
Unless you have integrated the PID retrokit on the front, the control panel is minimalistic and quite easy to operate. The front panel comes with a ‘Main Power Switch’ which powers the whole unit. Once you press the main power button, the light indicator will signal that the boiler is heating. If the light turns off, the machine is ready to use.
Besides the main power switch, there are 3 buttons for ‘Brew’, ‘Hot Water’ and ‘Steam’.
The Silvia is not extremely easy to use, especially for people who are new to the specialty coffee brewing experience. The learning curve with this unit is so steep that beginners are likely to get a bit frustrated. The control buttons only have symbols on them with no labels. And, there’s no pressure gauge to help you figure out whether the tamping pressure and grind size is right.
All these facts again indicate that using this machine requires skill. But with time, the results are going to be excellent.
While the control panel is simple and easy to use, brewing your perfect cup of espresso is a learning curve in itself. That is because you cannot really control the temperature of the boiler here. But with time and experimentation, you will be able to know your unit better and pull a decent shot.
Warm up takes nearly 3 minutes, which is good seeing its single boiler system.
In our Rancilio Silvia review we found it is able to produce best espresso shots with great flavor extraction and rich, full-bodied taste. This strong taste is accompanied by a tad bit of sweetness, adding to its impressive flavor.
The quality of coffee produced is almost similar to those produced in coffee shops. Steam wand further adds to the richness with nicely steamed and frothed milk.
The coffee is brewed at an optimal temperature, so you won’t get a burnt taste in your espressos.
Water reservoir is removable, so you can easily take it out for quick fill ups or cleaning.
There’s a 3-way valve which will reduce excess pressure and moisture once you’ve pulled a shot. Due to this, the portafilter will have a dry coffee puck, allowing for easy clean up.
Generally, the grinder used with Silvia is the Rancilio brand’s Rocky Grinder, which is again of premium quality (not included with the product).
As mentioned above, the design of Silvia is not much user-friendly. Which is why, it is one of the best espresso machines for experienced baristas.
Beginners might get a bit frustrated with its brewing operation, since there is no brew temperature adjustment, no pre-infusion function and no steam pressure control.
That concludes our Rancilio Silvia Machine review. An exceptional piece of equipment for pro baristas, but we think it falls short in its user-friendliness. Hence, we would only recommend Silvia model to people who have skill and finesse to brew perfect espressos.
Still, it is one of the best semi-automatic espresso machines in the specialty coffee history.
Hope this detailed review helps you weigh its pros and cons, so you’ll know whether it’s the right machine for you or not!