So, you’ve decided to become your own barista at home. Or, you have been making coffee amateurishly long enough that now you’re confident enough to take your espresso game next level. Obviously, you need a machine to experiment but at the same time that will produce coffee and steam milk with greater consistent quality.
Well, you sir/ma’am are in luck because Rancilio Silvia promises that. A professional-grade semi-automatic espresso machine perfect for home use and avid coffee enthusiasts.
But of course, wait a bit. We’re not telling you to make the decision already. To give its full nook and cranny here’s our Rancilio Silvia review.
The Silvia Versions
Before we dive in, let’s clear some confusion. The Rancilio Silvia has had many models over the years with minimal updates. It basically started from V1 to now currently at V6. The higher the number — the newer the model is for Rancilio. A visible distinction between the V3 and V4 models is that the heating element is screwed into the boiler rather than welded.
Does it change anything for you? Nope! In plain words, you don’t have to get the latest version. If you can find any version of Silvia with a suitable deal, just go for it!
Rancilio Silvia Review: Key Features
Design And Appearance
The first impression about this espresso machine is that it has that complete professional outlook. Rancilio has been successfully manufacturing this traditional style of semi-automatic espresso makers to last at least a decade. Its strong housing is constructed of an iron frame. The side panels of this machine are made of stainless steel. Rancilio’s commercial grade group head carries excellent heat stability as well as premium extraction.
Rancilio implements commercial-grade high-quality parts for all of their machines. This means their espresso makers are as close to real professional equipment as they could be. It isn’t too bulky or tall. Meaning, you can easily fit it into pretty much any kitchen cabinet. The front panel has 3 control buttons and a steam knob. A drawback is the markings on the control buttons don’t have words on them. Which can make things confusing for first-time users.
The Portafilter And The Steam Wand
The portafilter has a large black handle. It’s a patented ergonomic 58mm portafilter from Rancilio for superb extraction. Note, Rancilio uses the same portafilters for their commercial machines too! It has an ergonomic shape, which makes it quite easy to hold in the hands as well as operate when tamping coffee ground.
The stainless steel steaming wand also fits in aesthetically and functionally. It comes with a special movable design. It allows for a complete range of motion for steaming perfect latte quality milk for you every single time. The wand is chrome-plated and commercial-grade, with a single hole. It works with both milk and water suitable for different beverages, such as cappuccinos and diluted Americanos.
One of the coolest aspects of the Silvia is its own cup warming tray on top of the machine. We all coffee lovers know how awesome a cup of coffee tastes when served in a warm, pre-heated cup/mug. Also, it gives the complete professional Barista house look that we’ve talked about forever with this machine. The warming tray can accommodate up to 6 espresso cups.
Powerful Single Boiler
Now, moving on to the internal design, Silvia uses a commercial-grade single boiler that is internally heated and made of brass. This 12-ounce boiler powers the steaming wand as well. It also has a three-way valve. Reducing the moisture and extra pressure after a shot of espresso. This do make the cleaning process way easier. Additionally, it reduces the stress on the other parts of the brewing unit, helping to prolong its lifespan overall.
Performance And Functionality
The next thing we want to mention in our Rancilio Silvia espresso machine review is its performance. Designed for home usage, this model is a smooth and relatively user-friendly operator that will manage to meet most of your expectations.
To warm up the water, it takes around 3 minutes. That’s a very good result keeping its boiler’s size and material into consideration. Because there are 3 separate thermostats. Ensuring each espresso shot is hot and smooth and without any burnt flavor. The thermostats regulate the different heat levels quite effectively. In terms of functionality, the Rancilio Silvia has a lot to offer, and tried to keep it close to its traditional looks. But those may not be enough for some users. It implements a 15-bar pressure system, which is absolutely perfect for making great espressos.
If you are as much passionate about coffee as us, let us give you the news straight away – The Rancilio Silvia makes a great cup of coffee or, well, a great shot of espresso, to be more precise.
It’s indeed the most interesting part about the Rancilio Silvia espresso machine review and to the machine itself! Because the best feature of the Silvia is its internal build. And the quality of its build is definitely worth every single penny. If you use only fresh coffee and practice with this machine, you will end up with a rich, full-bodied aromatic beverage every time. It brews espressos at the optimal temperature. Meaning, coffee won’t have the burnt taste and will be able to reveal its flavor to the fullest.
Greater Than Its Price
The Rancilio Silvia is a surprisingly solid unit of an espresso machine for its price. If well-taken care of, it will serve you for years or even decades. Plus, its single-boiler unit comes wrapped up in a steel casing.
Pros And Cons
- Automatic shut-off feature.
- Minimalistic but compact espresso machine.
- Makes great milk foam with a flexible steam wand.
- Excellent level of workmanship goes behind this machine.
- Easily available parts with simple construction enables easy DIY.
- Powerful boiler helps make excellent, rich, full-bodied espressos.
- Large 2 liter (67 oz.) water reservoir and warming tray on the top.
- 58 mm portafilter supports different adaptors and is easy to clean.
- Maintains temperature stability with 3 thermostats for espresso output.
- No front panel user display.
- No pre-infusion and coffee volume controls.
- Drip tray is small against a large water reservoir.
- Milk frothing is a learning curve with this machine.
- No brew temperature and steam temperature controls.
- Ergonomic porta filter handle same as 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.
Silvia’s classic linear design fits most decors and its brushed steel tone body was the perfect epitome for that purpose. For better tamping and extraction, you will have Silvia’s commercial-grade 58mm portafilter with single and double baskets.
Due to the overall usage of stainless steel, it falls on the heavier side of an appliance. Thus weighs 14 kg. But you can still be storable inside most cabinets and movable due to its manageable 290 x 235 x 340 mm (L x W X H) dimension.
This powerful single boiler machine has a moderate noise level of <70 DB while running on 1000 W (120V) – 1150 W (230V). It has one the biggest water reservoir amongst all of the semi-automatic espresso machines out there capable of holding 2 liters of water. The boiler itself can hold 0.3 liters at once. And to have fast served delicious cups of espresso you can keep warm 6 espresso cups over the cup warming tray on top of the machine.
Bonus accessories included in the pack are backflushing disc, a user manual, a brand new Rancilio tamper, and both the optional pod and capsule adaptor kit.
How To Use Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine
Setting Up The Machine
Always place the machine on a level and stable surface. Also do not forget to leave enough free space around it.
- Fill water the tank with clean fresh water.
- Insert both water tank hoses into the water reservoir. Then close the lid and open up the tap.
- Switch on the main switch and then the coffee switch.
- Connect the espresso machine to the main power.
- Close the tap as soon as the water comes out of its steam wand.
- Pour 0.5-liter water out of the group head.
- Once done, switch off the coffee switch.
- Finally, empty out the drip tray.
- Fill the water tank with only clean and fresh water.
- Insert both the water hoses into the water reservoir. Then close the lid.
- Switch on the main switch on the front panel.
- Remove the filter holder 1st, then knock it out. Careful not to damage the filter.
- Lock the filter holder again and finally, switch off the main switch.
Frequently check the water level inside the tank. Refill only when it’s necessary! Wait for the indicator light of the “Boiler Heating” to switch off. Please be careful to avoid all the hot surfaces on the machine.
- Use a single or double filter basket as required.
- Fill the portafilter with coffee powder and tamp it properly. Note: Remove the leftovers from the rim of the portafilter.
- Lock the filter into the holder of the group head.
- Put your cup(s) under the coffee spout.
- Start the brewing by pressing the coffee switch. To stop brewing, press the coffee switch again.
- Remove the filter holder once done making coffee. Knock out the residuals and lock it in again. Note: Do not damage the filter during any stage.
Cleaning And Maintenance
Do not use any abrasive sponges and solvents! Rancilio user manual has all the detailed information; so make sure you give them a read first. Avoid immersing the machine in the water!
- Clean the exterior housing with a soft damp fabric first. Always follow the grain of the satin finish on stainless steel parts for the best outcome.
- Clean the steam wand / hot water spout after each use. Do not forget to clean off the encrusted nozzles.
- You can remove and unlock the filter holder for cleaning.
- Brush off the dust and residuals from the outlet and the seal under the group head.
- Brush / clean both the filter and its holder.
- Rinse with hot water to dissolve any residue (i.e. coffee bean oil).
There is one thing that will not be able to find in abundance (on the internet) about Rancilio Silvia is its descaling process. So, here we’re telling you in our Silvia review.
- Silvia’s descaling frequency depends on how hard the mineral content of your tap water is.
- Harder water causes more mineral deposits. So, you need more frequent descaling. How often you’ll be using the Rancilio espresso machine is also another factor you need to take into account.
- We recommend descaling Silvia at least once a year.
- Also there’s no need to use harsh chemicals. A Citric acid solution will do the trick.
- Give it the longest possible soaking time. In this way, the nasty white deposits can break down fully.
- It’s also a good practice to backflush this machine with water as often as possible.
- Once a month, apply a coffee oil detergent also (the tip of a teaspoon is enough).
Important note: You should only descale the espresso machine when it has completely cooled down.
- Fill up the water tank with fresh clean water.
- Put descaling powder/agent into the water tank. Stir the solution with a plastic spoon until everything has dissolved fully. Do not use metal or silver spoons for the stirring. Alternatively, you can also use a fluid citric acid-based descaler.
- Turn on the machine now. Immediately, draw water from the brewing head immediately and later through the water lance. Draw until ¼ of the tank is empty.
- Turn off the machine immediately after this drawing. Let it rest for 20 minutes so the descaler can do its job.
- After 20 minutes, turn on your machine again.
- Repeat the 2 – 5 steps again. You will only keep repeating until the water tank gets empty.
- Now flush the water tank properly. It cleans the remnants of the descaler.
- Fill it with fresh clean water. Run the freshwater through the machine until the tank becomes fully empty.
- Rinse the brewing head and the water lance.
- Repeat steps 7 – 9 until you there are no remnants of the descaler left in the machine.
Storing The Silvia
- Empty out the water tank first.
- Empty out the remaining water and stop immediately when out of it.
- Turn off the main switch.
- Wipe the machine with a clean cloth and then unplug the machine.
- Cover the machine and put it inside a dry room (not exposed to environmental elements).
Reasons To Buy…
- Being a single-boiler espresso machine won’t slow you down. It does a fairly fast brewing while maintaining high-quality extraction.
- If you’re aiming to hone your espresso-making skills (including milk-steaming) with manual control, this machine is the best companion you’re looking for.
- Ensure a decade of service with proper care. It’s amazingly well built with hardened steel chassis, housed in a stainless steel body.
- Silvia’s commercial-grade 58mm group head, portafilter, and basket ensure good quality espresso at your home. You can add separate adapters for pods and pre-grounds too.
- It’s super simple to use with just 3 buttons for power, brewing, and steaming / hot water function.
- If you like to have an espresso machine being able to produce high-quality steam milk / micro-foam then Silvia is right up in your ally. Its dual-walled steam wand lets you hold the wand safely in position while steaming milk without ever burning your hands.
Reasons Not To Buy…
- If you’re a total beginner and you’re thinking to make it your 1st espresso machine; we’d say, this may be a bit tough for you to handle. This machine requires a bit an experience, manual labor, and a degree of control to get the best out of it.
- Rancilio Silvia is already a substantial investment. But it doesn’t come with a built-in grinder. So, it’s completely understandable if you do not want to spend good money on an espresso machine that doesn’t even come with a grinder.
- If you like more automated control for your daily cup of espresso you won’t be happy with this machine. Silvia lacks temperature and brew strength controls. A lot of top-tier semi-automatic machines (also in the same price range as Silvia) provide these and more automation.
- If speed is an issue for your brew time you can do better than the Silvia. Don’t get it twisted though, it doesn’t mean Silvia is a weak machine. It only takes time because it has a single boiler. Its powerful single boiler works with 3 valves and 3 separate thermostats to help you extract quality espresso.
- Plug and Play.
- Brew Group.
- Auto-off Function Option.
- 15 Bar Heavy Duty Pump.
- Budget Espresso Machine.
Comparing With Silvia’s Close Competitors…
Rancilio Silvia VS Rancilio Silvia Pro
|Dimension (L x W X H)||290 x 235 x 340 mm||420 x 250 x 390 mm|
|Weight||14.1 kg||20 kg|
|Drip Tray Height||80 mm||80 – 100 mm|
|Power On Timer||No||Yes|
|Brew Temperature Control||Thermostat||2 PID|
- The Rancilio Silvia Pro is a slightly larger machine. Also, it weighs more too! Silvia Pro comes with a weight of 20 kg (6 kilograms more weighty than Silvia).
- Reason for this extra weight is its 2 independent brass boilers and dual PID control. But with these additions, users waiting time for the machine’s heating up period between pulling a shot of espresso and milk steaming have significantly shortened.
- To provide precise temperature control, there’s also thermal stability technology present in Silvia Pro. Along with that, users will have an interactive digital display on the front panel to monitor the water temperature and a shot timer.
- The best feature in our opinion, is the addition of the new wake-up function. Users can use this function to program the Silvia Pro to wake up and start heating up the machine at a pre-determined time. So, in the morning, your machine is already ready for you to pull an espresso shot without any delay. Definitively a smart addition by the Rancilio.
- The downside of this espresso machine is the price tag. The Rancilio Silvia Pro is going to cost you around $1700. This is twice the price of its predecessor single boiler Rancilio Silvia.
How Long Does A Rancilio Silvia Pro Espresso Machine Take To Heat Up?
Silvia Pro is the successor to the Silvia model. Since the Pro model has 2 boilers and PID control, it takes about 3 minutes for its 0.3L coffee boiler to heat up. And for the 1.0-liter steam boiler, it takes 10 minutes to heat up.
How Many Bars Is The Rancilio Silvia?
Rancilio Silvia works with the ideal 15-bar pressure for its coffee extraction. This 15 bar of pressure helps it to produce a café quality espresso with a thick, rich crema on top every time.
Where Are Rancilio Coffee Machines Made?
Rancilio coffee machines are made in their Milan-based factory in Italy before shipping them around the world.
How Can I Tell What Version Of Rancilio Silvia I Have?
For any of the newer Rancilio machines, you have to look at the top surface of the bottom plate. Once you remove the dripping tray, you would be able to read a number. In the last row of the label, the manufacture’s date of Silvia is printed. If it says something like 0506, it means that the machine was made in May 2006.
Is Rancilio Silvia A Good Machine?
Best sub-$1000 price range espresso machine for any home setup, period. In the sub-$1000 price range, the Rancilio Silvia should be your only choice for superior espresso quality making machine in your kitchen.
Is Rancilio A Good Brand?
Rancilio is one of the historical espresso-making brands in the world hailed in 1926, Italy. Throughout the decades, it has become a synonymous brand for high-volume cafes that are seeking an innovative, yet dependable espresso maker for their establishments. Though most of their machines look pretty simple with a low-profile aesthetic, their service quality is unmatched.
From our Rancilio Silvia espresso machine review, you can take without any hesitation that it is an extremely solid and sturdy espresso machine that achieved cult status for being a semi-automatic modern machine that requires good old fashion on hand care behind each espresso shot. The only downside is that it has a relatively longer heat-up time. We recommend you just turn the machine on 20 minutes beforehand. Overall, this model will serve you good espresso for a decade provided you take care of the machine. It’s an awesomely powerful commercial-grade espresso machine that’s made suitable for a home setup.