The Silvano sets the bar for making real espresso and capuccino at home without fuss
Positive Product Points
First class espresso. Good steaming capability. Straightforward use.
Negative Product Points
Hot water feature on the original Silvano is fierce. It's been dropped from version 2.
Have had a Silvano for 8 months from Chris Coffee's first batch. In summary it produces excellent espresso and foamed milk on the scale necessary for home use. It will do this with the expected attention to the ingredients, grind and simple consistent technique. It requires no particularly geeky arts and does not turn making excellent coffee drinks into an event.
Previous machines were a Krups Espresso Maximo and Novo 3000 pump machines. Both lasted a few years, before giving out. Familiar with what you get in that kind of price range I decided to look at the next step up. Turned to Coffeegeek and Home-Barista for research. Learnt about the compromises in machine design at an affordable price, temperature surfing etc.
Which led to some criteria. This is not a hobby for me - the machine is in the kitchen to do a job and get us out of the house in the morning. A great cup of coffee helps make that routine a pleasure. Mastery of a skill like temperature surfing is undoubtedly satisfying but was not in my priority list. We make both espresso and cappuccino. So on the basis of this research the Silvano seemed a good option. Also knew I had to upgrade our grinder from a Braun so invested in a Vario which arrived with the Silvano.
After 8 months of use we are definitely into routine mode which is an espresso and a cappucino in the morning and more usage at weekends. The Silvano does a great job without any particular fuss.
Worked out the variables in the grind and tamp fairly quickly and get excellent crema headed espresso. Learnt how to make microfoam pretty quickly. In fact I discovered what it is by having made it. Of course I had seen it before in coffee shops - just not given it that technical name.
Have used various beans and worked out how to adjust to their characteristics. As far as steaming goes the Silvano is not fussy about the type of milk you use - we get good results with everything from skim to full milk. The machine brings 6oz of cold milk up to 150f in around 30s - quite acceptable.
Got most of my advice from Coffeegeek and Home-Barista. Chris Coffee helped me validate my choices, provided a good price and good service.