Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine Review

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Bottom Line

Reviewers say the Rancilio Silvia espresso maker offers the best combination of durability, espresso quality, and ease of use, with many saying it's the best machine available for less than $1,000. It's great for newbies, most reviewers say, but experienced users love it as well

Pros
  • Attractive
  • Many commercial-grade components
  • Extremely durable
  • Small footprint
Cons
  • Learning curve to get best results
  • Need a high-quality grinder

Breaking it down

Performance

Coffee shop-quality espresso. The Rancilio Silvia is a semi-automatic espresso machine that reviewers say delivers exceptional espresso and experts agree: in testing at TheSweethome.com, it made the best cup of espresso, although, since that's a roundup aimed at beginners, the Silvia wasn't the overall recommended machine. The Silvia has some commercial-grade elements that help filter and distribute the water more evenly while providing maximum heat stability. The 12-ounce boiler is one of the largest in any entry-level espresso machine. It takes about 20 minutes for the Silvia to warm up, and for best results, some users suggest running warm water through the machine to warm up the pipes and portafilter. The vast majority of experts and owners say that purchasing a high-quality burr coffee grinder is an absolute must to accommodate this machine's precision requirements.

Ease of use

Easy to use; needs some fiddling for "perfection." The actual operation of the Rancilio Silvia is fairly simple and straightforward -- push the right buttons to turn it on and off and to start and stop the brewing process. It also features a fully articulating steam wand, making it simple to control. However users must experiment to find the right espresso grind and tamping pressure. Most espresso enthusiasts say they enjoy this process, but other machines offer simpler operation and coffee forums are teeming with questions from frustrated newbies who can't figure out why their espresso doesn't taste quite right. The Silvia can be adapted to use ESE (Easy Serve Espresso) pods with an optional Pod Adaptor Kit (Est. $120), but attaching and removing the adapter can be tricky -- and you can't brew from grounds with the adapter attached. The 67 ounce water reservoir is removable for easy re-filling.

Appearance/durability

Built like a tank. Reviewers praise the Rancilio Silvia's design, saying it's a sturdy, high-quality machine. All parts are commercial or semi-commercial grade and are constructed primarily with stainless steel and cast iron, two materials known for long-term durability. Owner feedback at Amazon.com indicate the Rancilio Silvia a nice-looking kitchen appliance, but owners also say it won't win any awards for being especially modern or retro. That said, its stainless-steel housing fits in with most décor. It's a heavy machine at just more than 30 pounds, so it's best left sitting on a countertop -- but be sure you have the space -- at 9.2 by 11.4 by 13.4 inches it's smaller than some espresso machines, but will still take up a fair amount of real estate in your kitchen.

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Rancilio Silvia Espresso Coffee Pod Kit | Adaptor - Conversion - Modification
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Our Sources

1. TheSweethome.com

The Best Espresso Machine, Grinder, and Accessories for Beginners, Cale Guthrie Weissman, May 6, 2016

Since this is a guide for beginners, the Rancilio Silvia is not the top pick, that honor goes to the easier to use Breville BES840 XL, but the Silvia is the espresso machine that delivered the best cup of espresso overall. Cale Guthrie Weissman says, "we had a few truly barista-quality shots from the Silvia," and notes that it can even be used in small professional settings.

2. Home-Barista.com

Rancilio Silvia Review, Dan Kehn, Not Dated

This is an update to a review that Dan Kehn originally wrote for Home-Barista.com in 2003. He notes improvements Rancilio has made to the Silvia that makes it easier for newbies to use, but also notes that it's less forgiving than even pricier, commercial-quality machines. In conclusion, he gives it an overall score of 3 stars of 5, which he notes is still "quite respectable."

3. Whole Latte Love

Rancilio Silvia M Espresso Machine, Contributors to WholeLatteLove.com, As of January 2017

The Rancilio Silvia earns a perfect 5-star rating in just under 350 reviews. Owners say it makes wonderful espresso, but most warn that you must use a high-quality grinder to get top results. Quite a few of these reviewers have owned their Rancilio for a year or more.

4. CoffeeGeek.com

Consumer Espresso: Rancilio Silvia, Contributors to CoffeeGeek.com, As of December 2015

The Rancilio Silvia is highly rated at CoffeeGeek.com, an online community for coffee connoisseurs. Most owners who post reviews are delighted with it, calling it a great starter machine and a consistent, rewarding device. Overall, about 230 users give it a score of 8.5 out of 10.

5. Amazon.com

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine, Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of January 2017

Nearly 300 owners give the Rancilio Silvia an overall rating of 4 stars out of 5. Most love it and say it's easy to use and makes a mean cup of espresso. Some complain about the learning curve, and say they struggle with making a good espresso shot.

6. SeriousEats.com

Serious Espresso At Home: Finding the Right Machine, Erin Meister, June 13, 2011

This is an older review, but still relevant as the Rancilio hasn't changed significantly since it was posted. Erin Meister, an experienced barista, discusses the best espresso machines for home use at different price points. She calls the Silvia "incredibly user-friendly" and says it "even offers the option for geek-leaning coffee people to add features.

7. SeattleCoffeeGear.com

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine, Gail Williams, As of January 2017

There are no customer reviews of the Rancilio Silvia, but it is a staff pick. Coffee expert Gail also Williams gives it a thorough video review, and the accompanying write-up includes pros and cons.