Rancilio Silvia Coffee Maker Review & Comparisons
Rancilio is a renowned Italian coffee machine manufacturer that supplies commercial equipment for cafes and coffee shops around the world. Their Homeline range might not be as broad as other brands, but what few models they offer have already turned legendary. Silvia is among them, having entered the market nearly two decades ago, this model remains a favorite among espresso aficionados. Is it right for your coffee needs? Find out in this Rancilio Silvia espresso machine review.
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine
Read this Rancilio Silvia review before purchase. Learn all the pros and cons of a manual coffee maker or find an alternative that suits you better.
- Commercial-grade 58 mm brass portafilter. This ensures stable heating and outstanding quality of extraction and translates into delicious espresso. The coffee maker comes with a matching professional 58 mm stainless steel tamper with a wooden handle. You will feel like a real barista in the comfort of your kitchen.
- The largest boiler in its class (12 oz). The single brass boiler ensures remarkable recovery time between brewings if you do not go between brewing and steaming temperatures too many times.
- Swiveling stainless steel steam wand. Rancilio Silvia offers unparalleled mobility, facilitating foaming, cleaning, and maintenance. It might take a few tries to get used to manual foaming, but the results will be amazing once you do.
- Classic clean look coupled with a stainless steel cover. This model can fit smoothly into any kitchen style, and it has a surprisingly small countertop footprint at 9.2 inches by 11.4 inches for a home coffee maker on par with professional models you find at cafes.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of Rancilio Silvia is its barista-like experience. With a commercial-level portafilter (bottomless, non-pressurized) and tamper, you will transform your morning coffee into a ritual. Filter baskets hold 7 or 14 grams of coffee for a one or two shots of coffee. You can also choose to include an optional pods and capsules adaptor kit if you cannot afford a grinder or don’t want to mess with grinding.
While the manufacturer claims Silvia’s single boiler boasts the largest volume in its class, it holds merely 12 oz of water for both brewing and foaming, even if the water reservoir holds 67 oz. This translates into two cups of coffee at best if you are in a hurry. If you are entertaining guests, they might have to wait longer for their espressos.
The brew time is three and a half minutes, while it takes the boiler two minutes to get ready for steaming. With one boiler, you need to think carefully about making latte and espresso in one go if you don’t have much time. You should also pay close attention to the temperature fluctuations, as they might be unpredictable and could ruin your drink.
Another point in favor of the latest version is its compliance with European Commission Ecodesign Directive. In standby mode, the espresso machine consumes no more than 0.5 Wh and turns off within 30 minutes of inactivity. At least, that’s true for models sold within the EU marked with the letter “E”. If you’re outside the EU, Rancilio Silvia M is the most likely version you might find. Unlike the one made for the European market, it does not turn off automatically, making it ideal for you if you enjoy getting a few caffeine boosts throughout the day.
Silvia Pro hasn’t hit the market yet, but we expect it to launch by the end of 2020. The new model will get a wider variety of automatic features, such as a PID controller, a shot timer, a wake-up mode, and more. In good news for cappuccino and latte aficionados, the Pro version will gain a secondary steam boiler (0.22 gal) that will make the brewing faster.
There is no denying Rancilio Silvia makes a mean cup of espresso or cappuccino. Once you master the steam wand and controls, you will get barista-grade coffee without leaving your house. For milk drinks, we suggest brewing after steaming for delicious results.
Aesthetics and build quality
There is no denying Silvia is a beauty. It is built with the same care, and precision Rancilio coffee masters use for their commercial lineup. The body is solid stainless steel through and through, while the crucial parts, such as boiler and portafilter, are marine-grade brass. Unlike cheaper models that use aluminum alloys, Silvia relies on brass to heat up quickly and even out the temperature for every brew.
According to some Rancilio Silvia V4 coffee machine and earlier model reviews, rust might be an issue. The drip tray is powder-coated, and this coating may lose integrity over time. As a result, parts of the machine get rusted, ruining the otherwise sleek look. You could avoid rust by carefully drying and maintaining the integrity of the powder coat. If you happen upon Rancilio Silvia V3 or other versions of the espresso machine before V6, you may struggle with the same issues. Whether the latest edition is susceptible to rust problems remains to be seen.
Ease of use
Considering the espresso machine is semi-automatic, you won’t find many automated features. There are only four buttons to control your brew, including the power switch. The controls might seem simplistic at first, but they are more than enough to brew a picture-perfect espresso or cappuccino. However, if you have never relied on a steam wand to build a delicious milk microfoam, you might need some practice. On the upside, the wand is articulated, meaning you can use it comfortably wherever your coffee maker is in the kitchen.
Rancilio Silvia’s minimalist design comes with pros and cons in equal share. On the one hand, most parts, including water reservoir, cup tray, and drip tray, are removable, making for quick and easy cleanup and maintenance. Additionally, a solenoid block releases the pressure after you are finished brewing, preventing drip and purging the system of the leftover water and steam.
On the other hand, the one boiler that accommodates both steam and brewing temperatures leaves no room for a hot water tank vital to Americano or tea lovers. Without a PID controller, the espresso machine suffers significant temperature swings that can make it unwieldy for a first-time home barista.
Rancilio Silvia comes without a water filter. Unless you are a fan of regular descaling or are fortunate enough to live in an area with soft water, do not use tap water. Filter it before filling the water reservoir, and you will need less time for cleanup and maintenance.
Money for the value
Is Rancilio Silvia worth the money? That’s a million-dollar question, or in this case, a 700-dollar question (plus or minus $100). It is definitely a reliable option for true espresso enthusiasts who are willing to learn to operate a steam wand and wait a few minutes for their coffee to brew. Considering its commercial-grade features and sleek stainless steel look, Silvia can be an excellent addition to your home cafe.
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However, the machine might seem a bit overpriced for those who wish their morning cuppa to be ready and waiting by the time they get out of the shower. If you prefer a fully-automated espresso experience and are prepared to pay extra, consider the options we discuss below.
For all its advantages, Silvia is not one of its kind. If you are looking for a reliable coffee maker in the same price range, we have three more options for you to consider. For more details on each of these, check out individual in-depth reviews.
If you are not a fan of manual brewing and careful steam wand work, consider an automated machine instead. Delonghi Magnifica is within the same price range, though it comes with an all-plastic cover and is a bit bulkier. Using an intuitive menu, you will be able to make a perfect cuppa without worrying about foam quality and multiple settings.
Jura D6 is another reliable automatic option for espresso lovers. While this model is on the pricey side of the spectrum, the brand is well-known for its durability, easy maintenance, and unparalleled brew quality. The automatic milk frother is much easier to operate than a steam wand, so cappuccino lovers should pay attention to this machine.
Finally, if you prefer a coffee maker that does all the hard work with none of the fuss, consider Saeco Picobaristo. It is a superautomatic model, meaning all you need to do is fill it with water, milk, and coffee and press the button. Picobaristo will handle milk frothing, grinding, tamping, and create a perfect shot of latte, cappuccino, or espresso. The in-built Aquaclean filter will remove the need for descaling or make it less frequent. This model is more expensive than the two we’ve mentioned before, but it might be worth the extra expenses if you deal with hard water and have no desire to figure out the intricacies of steam wand.
For an espresso machine that has been around for over two decades, Silvia boasts an outstanding reputation and a massive following. Reasonable pricing, coupled with commercial-grade features, makes it unbeatable among semi-automatic machines without all the automatic bells and whistles.
You might stumble upon Silvia E crafted specifically for the European market that is outfitted with additional heat insulation and automatic shut-off, but buying Silvia M is much more likely if you are in the US. Some vendors supplement Rancilio Silvia with a PID controller for a much more comfortable experience for novice home baristas as it mitigates the uncontrollable temperature swings caused by a single boiler. Consider investing in a model with an added PID controller if you are new to brewing and foaming or can not afford the time to hone your skills.
Finally, you could wait for Silvia Pro to hit the market in September to enjoy the benefits of partial automation and a second boiler. While the Pro version goes on sale in September, the prices are yet to be confirmed. Some vendors expect it to be at least twice the price tag of Silvia V6. Is it worth an extra $1,000? That’s for you to decide, but we highly doubt it. There are plenty of superautomatic options with outstanding reviews if you have that much money to invest in an espresso machine.
Founder and owner of Lion Coffee and 3ChampsRoastery, 1st place winner of Ukrainian Barista Championship 2017. Interested in travelling, football and Formula-1 (besides coffee, of course).