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Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch
|Price:||$715.00 & FREE Shipping|
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- Ergonomic porta filter handle same as the proven design of Rancilio commercial machines
- Commercial grade group head for superb heat stability and extraction quality
- Articulating steam wand offers complete range of motion and professional steaming knob precisely controls steaming pressure
- Classic linear design fits most decors
- Optional pod and capsule adaptor kit available
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This popular traditional style semi-automatic espresso machine is built to last. Its strong linear designed housing is constructed of an iron frame and stainless steel side panels. Built with Rancilio's commercial grade group head for excellent heat stability and premium extraction quality. Features a patented ergonomic 58mm porta filter for superb extraction. These are the same porta filters used on Rancilio commercial machines. The single boiler of the Silvia has the largest volume capacity of any home machine in its class. Holding 0.3 liters (12oz) this chrome plated brass boiler produces outstanding steaming power and remarkable recovery time between shots. The two quart water reservoir can be removed or filled from the top at anytime during the operation. The Rancilio Silvia features an articulating stainless steel steam wand that allows for a complete range of motion for steaming perfect latte quality milk. Control steaming power with the commercially designed steam knob. This Silvia comes with a 7 gram coffee scoop, a plastic tamper and two filter baskets (single and double). This is the most current version of the Silvia available direct from the factory.
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So in all fairness, there are plenty of GREAT things about this machine; It is good-looking (but design-wise it fails to make any statement, it is neither modern nor retro, doesn't look commercial but also doesn't look like a home machine). Great construction too (though slightly crude). It has features galore; brass boiler and brew group, large tank, ample steaming pressure etc. It is famously reliable and been made with little change for over a decade. On paper it seems to have it all, and it is the only machine of its class at this price point. The question is however, "can it pull a decent shot of espresso?" The short answer for it is, yes, it certainly can - but not straight out of the box on its own. It will require additional equipment, time and investment.
- First, spend at least a $350 on a burr grinder. Yes, you've heard this before and refused to believe it. It's true. This machine is so picky about grind that it will change on you with the room temperature and humidity. Be prepared to dump lots of shots to the garbage on a regular basis while re-adjusting. Let's assume your tamping technique is perfect, (and that you are using a good tamper -not the wrong-size plastic joke that comes with this machine, frankly an insult, don't even try it). With that in mind, some of the finest grinds from top-of-the-line grinders will yield extraction faster than the speed of light (double shot in 8 seconds), producing sour shot with poor crema. Grind just 0.1 point too fine and you will get a slow burnt, bitter drizzle from even the sweetest roast. Adding the minimal capable burr grinder realistically means that you should be willing to spend $1000 for the entire experience, so don't let the $650 price tag fool you. There is also $25-$80 you need to spend on a tamper. This is a must. In short, comparison-shop the Silvia against $1000 machines that need no grinder like the Expobar Office Pulser, Pasquini Livietta or La Pavoni PC-16 -not against the Francis-Francis X1 or the Baby Gaggia which may not seem to be at the same class at all but will give you much better shots with far less overall investment.
- Secondly, be prepared to learn to temperature-surf. Temperature swings are a major issue with this machine, so even with the perfect grind and tamping; your shot can still easily burn or come out weak and sour. Temperature surfing is acceptable when you try to improve a really great shot to Godliness, but if you can't achieve merely a consistent basic decent shot without surfing, you will quickly find it to be time-consuming and laborious; an annoyance that is not much of a joy as a morning routine.
Now there are hundreds of guides and videos all over the internet on how to temperature surf the Rancilio Silvia online (I especially liked "Cheating Mrs. Silvia"). There is even an entire aftermarket dedicated to digital temperature controllers for this machine. Wait, wait, can someone please stop the madness? Common sense... Doesn't the fact that this machine cannot brew espresso straight out of the box without all this nonsense raise some red flags to you? Shouldn't you expect a $650 machine to -at the very least give you some basic version of espresso without turning you into a hacker?
I can understand Rancilio not wanting to fix the brew group. After all, this grind-fussiness sells them thousands of their Rocky model grinders every year. I do however find it BAFFLING that after 10+ years and 3 versions of this machine, the temperature control issue had not been addressed. Thermocouples and PIDs are cheap and reliable, and so are dial thermometers and pressure gauges -which could be a lifesaver for users of this machine. In fact, these are standard features on far cheaper machines. What gives?
So like you, I too thought I would get over the learning curve and can win this machine over in spite of reviews and warnings. I am an ex-barista who had the pleasure to work on anything from La Pavoni, Gaggia, Expobar, Brasillia, Pasquini and Elektra to Francis-Francis and Ascado, using some of the world's finest beans and pro-grinders like Mazzer. I am embarrassed to admit that I spent the past week tossing about 400 shots to the trash before coming to terms with the fact that this machine is not reasonably designed to deliver a decent shot on a regular basis without extreme fuss and expensive grinder, which I have no space for in my Manhattan kitchen. (I also don't believe that my wife or guests would be able to operate it). At this price point I would take a La Pavoni or Expobar machine any day over this. And if you really only have $650 to spend, then get a Francis-Francis X1 or Gaggia Classic or even the super-automatic Gaggia Brera. You WILL get consistently far better shots and be able to use a wider range of grinds (even ESE pods) and some cash in your pocket too. The Rancilio Silvia has so much potential but I am sadly sending it back and getting a more capable machine. My recommendation: don't be tempted.
The "warranty" requires the customer to ship, at the customer's expense, the defective machine back to the seller's repairer, Whole Latte Love, and the repair will take 3-4 weeks! The customer is required to get full insurance on the defective machine when shipping it. Also, the customer has to pay, at a minimum, another $29 to have it returned from the seller after repair. The biggest joke is that after you do all the work, spend your time and money to get it to the repairer, they may determine that your defective machine is not eligible for this "warranty" even though the defective machine is still under "warranty" and not working!
I would have dated this crap a zero but that was not an option. Grr.
So, 4 years later (hat tip to the the DeLonghi for still going strong in 2018 btw!) I felt it was time to invest in something a little better. With an upper limit budget of $1000 and a LOT of research, I settled on the Rancilio Silvia. I understood the learning curve was steep but I wanted good coffee, darnit, and I was willing to work for it.
Well, I've had the Silvia for a little bit over a month now, and I couldn't be more pleased. I purchased both the Silvia and Rocky doserless grinder at the same time from Cerini Coffee and Gifts in the Bronx (great seller!) and it arrived promptly and excellently packaged with a bonus lb of beans to get started! I now buy my beans from a local coffee roaster, and the Rocky grinder allows me to grind the freshest beans which I'm sure play greatly into the taste of the coffee. It took me some time to figure out the correct grinder setting that would get me the 2oz shot in 20-30 seconds with the right flavor, but once I got it 'dialed in' (coffee aficionado lingo for finding the right settings) it makes amazing coffee. My microfoam steaming skills are still under development, but I can make some great, thick cappuccino-style foam, which I generally dump on top of the finished product to generally delicious effect.
Initially I considered getting the PID add-on for the machine, but honestly, after following the temperature surfing guidelines and paying attention to the lights, I've got it down to a pretty good system. Yes, the PID would probably satisfy my latent perfectionism, but I'm honestly getting a great cup of coffee without it. I just try to be as consistent as possible in terms of dosing, tamping and brew time and found this is a good combination. So, my vote is that the PID add-on is optional, a convenience but not essential.
Note: For all you non-dairy drinkers out there, there's an additional learning curve to master: steaming non-dairy milk! Yay! But hang in there. After repeated practice, I find that I can get pretty good results with soy milk and most almond milks. Oat continues to be a challenge but one I'm committed to mastering because have you ever tried oat milk in a latte? (hint: it's delicious) For those who do prefer dairy, I've gotten the best results with cold 2% milk; however whole milk works too.
Since this is already a significant financial investment in the machine, I would suggest also purchasing both a heavy tamper and a stainless steel milk foaming cup to complement your purchase. The tamp provided by Rancilio is plastic, and doesn't give the adequate pressure needed. The milk foaming pitcher helps you properly measure out and steam the right quantity of milk.
In conclusion, I'm really happy with this machine. I only visit the coffee shop now to buy beans, and I enjoy making coffee for family and friends too! Yes, the initial outlay is expensive, but at $5-6 at the coffee shop, this is an investment that will pay for itself over time.
Final note: For those on the fence about spending this money with no prior experience in coffee making - let me suggest starting with a lower-priced machine like a DeLonghi or similar and then getting a really good grinder. As a fun experiment, I made a latte on my old machine using the Rocky grinder, and it was pretty tasty! So, if you're not sure about spending a bunch of money on a machine, start with the grinder along with a lower-priced machine. The fresh-ground beans really make all the difference on any equipment.
Most recent customer reviews
Disappointed by the knob for the steamer, it is made of what seams to be cheap plastic material which...Read more