Almost a brilliant machine - but what a major potiential weakness!! Buy it, but haggle hard as it is not quite as indestructable as the glossy brochures would have you believe.
Positive Product Points
Produces very good espresso coffee. Simple design not too much to go wrong. I'll drive past quite a numbers of Franchise coffee outlets to make my own coffee at home using the Silvia
Negative Product Points
I am utterly disapointed in the poor design which can lead to rusting of the frame. The milk frother is OK but not brilliant.
I am not a coffee expert - but then I have no criticism of the coffee quality of the Silvia. I am a time served electro mechanical service technician with (sadly) decades of experience in customer service, equipment manufacture and service. I believe that I am more than qualified to comment on how the equipment is constructed.
This machine was bought in Perth in April '09 along with a "Rocky" grinder Having operated a commercial machine previously, we very quickly were making excellent coffees at home using the Silvia. I have and still do enjoy the flexibility of the manual machine to make whatever style/strength coffee I feel like on the day. Even in its present poor condition I rate the coffee produced above the other office/domestic machines I have encountered.
After about 1 year rust started to form on the LHS frame alongside the drip tray and I returned to the store. (What with life and everything this was just outside the 1 year mark) This was not covered by warranty so we have persevered with the machine. Occasionally having to clean the rust off, file down the frame so the cup grate would fit back on and treat with rust converter to slow up the rust progression.
3.5 years in and the machine has turned into a rusting hulk, and is now beginning to list to one side - there is extensive rusting on most of the frame and it has most certainly lost its pride of place in the kitchen - it's a complete eyesore. However - it still makes good coffee and while barely hanging together but does remain a fixture in the darker recesses of the kitchen.
While I see some mention of rusting in forums it does not appear to be extensive given the number of these units which must be out there. We selected this unit on the basis that it was top quality- robust and given what we paid, expected years of trouble free performance.
What we have got in my opinion in a machine which has significant design flaws which has in my case impacted each of the above key ratings
1/ The choice of mild steel for the frame in a machine which should be designed to cope with wet conditions. 2/ Poor design on cup grate allowing liquid to leach on the underside of the grate across to the mild steel frame. I believe the louvre style grating allows this to occur
Outside of this single fatal rusting issue I have no issues with the machine, but again this is a terminal condition!
We are now at the point where we need to consider a new machine and despite the quality of the coffee we could not buy another Rancilio, the brand is tarnished, the bubble has burst and we are left with the sad reality that it was almost a brilliant machine. From the perspective of recommending the machine I would say that had we not had the rusting issue I would wholeheartidly support the Rancilio product and I think that the probability is that should any one person buy a Silvia the issue may never occur to them, however to use a famous quote "are you feeling lucky". I don't have any idea what the rate of failure is with this part so I cannot put odd's on the likely hood of it occurring in any one instance - but undoubtable it will occur to some number of machines. I really wish they had used a stainless steel frame, but this obviously incurs additional manufacturing costs and I have enough years working in manufacturing environments to understand the dynamics involved. i.e. what is the cost benefit of using mild steel over stainless and what is the potiential downside to sales. One of these obviously being that you could get reviews like this! I had noted in other reviews that boiler leaks had caused rusting in the back of the frame.
I think the only contributing factor could have been a slight slope in the worktop which was introduced with the weight of the machine and grinder (and poor support under the worktop) but regardless I would not have expected the outcome to be the extensive rusting experienced and slow irreversable self-destruction of the equipment. At no point was water consistently pouring out the side of the drip tray. No question it overflowed occasionally but I don't expect it to be beyond the imagination of a design engineer in a professional espresso manufacturing plant to pre-empt this in the design phase. I suppose I could have replaced the frame earlier and the story may not sound so tragic, but as I was clearly already up for the cost of repair/replacement there didn't appear to a great hurry to do this.
A strong element in my disapointment is that I had rated the Rancilio so highly in the first instance, this was largely based on internet reviews rather than Rancilios own sales efforts and believed that I had bought a top class quality item where in fact I now believe that I simply bought a good item with an inadequotely rated body, which in my opinion is not quite fit for purpose. In short I bought the sizzle and was let down by the sausage. I write this review to balance the argument and provide a "heads up" rather than slam the product and I am not in a position to directly compare it against anything else. Ultimately it is what it is, If this is what you design and produce then these are the outcomes you may encounter. I had put a lot of faith in the simplicity of design.
The sales staff were excellent during the purchase, the deal was not unreasonable for what we thought we were buying. I left buzzing from the number of test coffees I had drunk. On return with the unit 1 year later the service staff were at best indifferent, very defensive, and quite firm in insisting that this was my problem. ( the cost of repair rather than any moral conviction may have been a driver here) They didn't appear interested in chasing a root cause for the rust. They appeared to regard me as just an guy who had done "something" to bring this on himself. Strangely they didn't appear shocked or surprised to see this rust and conceded that they had had instances of rusting before. If the underlying strategy was to retain me as a customer this approach could benefit from a review. I certainly wasn't feeling any "love"