Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine Review

The Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine

The Rancilio Silvia is an espresso machine designed primarily for home use. The Silvia caters to the enthusiast market in it’s extensive offering of features and regularly improved iterations. However if you’re looking for your very first home espresso machine this may be worth considering, especially if you want to skip a few steps and join the big boys league. Rancilio are a longstanding, trusted espresso machine manufacturer, producing machines across the globe.

Rancilio Silvia Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Best Home Espresso Machine?

As far as home espresso machines go the Rancilio Silvia is certainly one of the top contenders. Designed for the serious coffee drinker and home barista the Silvia makes no apologies for it’s simplistic design. You won’t find many quirky design elements when looking at one of these machines and for some, that’s a plus.

The Rancilio Silvia draws attention immediately to it’s features. It’s these simple, yet refined features that make the Silvia the ideal home espresso machine. Features like the incredibly sturdy portafilter, giving a real professional feeling whilst using the machine. Simple rocker switches give the user full control over the grouphead, steam and hot water.

It’s the simple layout of it’s features that gives the Rancilio Silvia superior standing in the home espresso machine market. It can achieve some of the best results in comparison to it’s competitors whilst not appearing too complicated for beginners.

Rancilio Silvia vs Gaggia Classic

It’s commonplace to see the Silvia compared to Gaggia’s most popular home espresso machine, the Gaggia Classic. We feel that this is a fair comparison given that the Gaggia Classic is well established as a fantastic home espresso machine. However, it has to be noted that for the Gaggia Classic to achieve the same results as the Rancilio Silvia some significant modification is required. In many cases owners of the Gaggia are removing the originally supplied steam wand and replacing with the Rancilio Silvia’s.

The Silvia comes out of the box ready to produce high quality espresso in the home. If you aren’t prepared to search for a second hand Gaggia Classic with modifications already taken care of then this likely means purchasing new at a very similar price to the Rancilio Silvia and carrying out the modifications yourself. For some advanced users this may not be an issue whatsoever but for some this may be a challenge in itself that could result in more problems.

Commercial Espresso Machine Pedigree

Not all espresso machines are born equal. This is especially true of espresso machines designed for home use. It’s common to find cheap espresso machines dotted around online shops and department stores. Unfortunately it’s also often only the most expensive espresso machine on offer that will actually produce anything close to espresso.

Fortunately, the Rancilio Silvia, often found at a similar pricepoint to it’s closest competitors in high end home espresso machines has a huge card up it’s sleeve. That is of course that Rancilio have been manufacturing commercial espresso machines for years, many years longer than some other home espresso machine brands have been on the market.

Better still, Rancilio’s commercial espresso machines are found across the globe in cafes, coffee shops and restaraunts. Given that Rancilio have produced an espresso machine for every conceivable use and price point it was only a matter of time before they produced something aimed at the home user.

In doing so, Rancilio have produced an outstanding espresso machine, not only with ease of use in mind for the home espresso machine user but also constructed from robust material and able to stand up to constant use in most environments.

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine Features

The silvia doesn’t fall short on features by any means, despite the simple design elements seen in it’s construction. Here’s a list of some of the more impressive features seen on the Rancilio Silvia.

Fully articulated steam wand with 1 hole tip
58mm brass portafilter
Adjustable expansion valve
2L water reservoir
Full stainless steel construction
Removable stainless steel drip tray

These features seen on the Silvia allow it to perform in a similar range to a commercial espresso machine, yet somehow Rancilio have managed to maintain the affordable price of a home espresso machine.

Using the Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine

We found using the Silvia to be as easy as you could expect for an espresso machine intended for home use. For anyone familiar with an espresso machine this won’t require any adjustment whatsoever. Infact you may notice that using the Rancilio Silvia is a much more pleasant experience than many other home espresso machines given it’s sturdy design. Everything feels snug fitting and polished.

For novice users, using this machine may take a little getting used to. Fortunately, Rancilio provide a detailed user manual that should get you moving along quickly as well as providing some easy to follow tips and tricks for getting the best out of your machine. Better still the Rancilio Silvia, much like it’s main competitor, the Gaggia Classic has a huge following of dedicated users that have resolved problems and even made their own modifications to the machine. So you can rest assured if you do run into any problems using your new machine, there will always be plenty of information available and someone willing to help. This also means that should you ever require replacement parts for repair or modification, there are quite a few on the marketplace at a very affordable price.

Cleaning the Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine

If you’re new to using a home espresso machine it may be advisable to do some reading regarding maintaining and cleaning an espresso machine. Not to worry though, if you aren’t sure where to start not only will Rancilio include a detailed set of instructions for cleaning your new machine but you will also find plenty of support online.

One of the most important parts of cleaning an espresso machine is ensuring that you regularly descale the machine. With the Rancilio Silvia’s easy to access 2L reservoir at the rear of the machine this is a nice and easy task. Simply purchase some descaler, general kitchen use or kettle descaler works perfect for this, although you can buy coffee machine specific descaler. Then place the suggested amount in your reservoir, fill with water and run the entire 2L through the grouphead as you would normally. Then rinse with clean water a final time. We found this nice and easy to get done, much easier than a commercial espresso machine since you have access to a water reservoir that can be refilled and cleaned. Descaler is also very inexpensive and only required in small amounts.

Cleaning the grouphead itself is again very easy. Simply use a blank basket to backflush the machine by running a few cycles, allow a moment for the water to disperse and remove the portafilter. The Silvia has a removable grouphead filter which should be periodically removed and cleaned too. Portafilter baskets are also sprung and easy to remove and clean which should be done as often as possible.

We found that out of the box, this is one of the best equipped coffee machines in terms of accessories provided for cleaning and maintenance, so you don’t have to spend a fortune on extras.

Living with the Rancilio Silvia

We have owned older iterations of the Rancilio Silvia for over 5 years now, whilst we can’t speak confidently on the longevity of the current models we have no doubt that these are only going to prove to be better in time. The Silvia has never let us down in terms of drink quality, ensuring you clean and maintain the espresso machine on a regular basis will mean ensuring you get great espresso consistently.

Like many home espresso machines the Silvia does things it’s own way, this means becoming familiar with a slightly different layout of buttons for your grouphead, hot water and steam, however most people won’t find this an issue at all. Everything is clearly labelled and nothing is out of reach when using the machine.

Overall the machine isn’t an inconvenience to have on any kitchen countertop with a relatively small footprint and no garish design features. It looks good and it performs well. If you need to move the Silvia around you won’t have any problems, it’s relatively light and will fit into most spaces. Given that it has a built in water reservoir you don’t have to worry about any tricky installation or plumbing, just pick up, plug in and go.

Rancilio Silvia Cons

While we don’t have any major concerns about the espresso machine, we would point out that it has a 0.3L internal boiler, this means that if you are making a large number of drinks consecutively you will have to give it some time to rest and refill the boiler.

However, with this being a home espresso machine Rancilio have rightly assumed that most user will only be making 1 or 2 drinks in quick succession. So overall the choice to keep the small boiler has probably kept costs down and made this a more affordable espresso machine without much limitation.

Final Thoughts on the Rancilio Silvia

If you’re thinking about purchasing an espresso machine for the home or office and you’re looking for something easy to use, not too expensive and an all round performer we really don’t think you can go wrong with a Rancilio Silvia.

The machine can produce seriously high quality espresso, steam milk perfectly and almost look after itself right out of the box. While you will certainly be paying more than an entry level espresso machine to own one of these, it will reward you for doing so almost immediately.

For a look at some other home espresso machines, check out our articles on the Sage Barista Express and Sage Duo Temp Pro.

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