Beautiful, delicious shots for a grand - and a footprint that goes anywhere.
Positive Product Points
Magnificent shots. Well built. Easy to use. Smallish footprint. Large drip tray. Reasonably priced.
Negative Product Points
Water reservoir is too small. Steam pressure is not variable. Portafilter handle insulation is too short which can result in burns.
I need to preface my comments by saying that the Silvano is the best machine I have ever owned or operated. My previous machine was a PID equipped Rancilio Silvia. Nonetheless, after two weeks of operation my basic shots are 98% (+/-, folks) as good as any I've ever had from a profession barista on a La Marzocco.
It was my intention to buy a more expensive machine, a Duetto or a Vivaldi, for example, but when I finally got around to measuring they were just way too large for my kitchen. The Silvano has a small footprint (though larger than the Silvia) and seemed like the best higher end solution for me. I have zero regrets about this compromise. This machine makes killer shots.
The Silvano is easy to use. I pre-heat it 15 minutes and hammer away at it. Temperature stability is good and recovery time is fairly short. Steam is abundant. The drip tray is voluminous. The transparent side-entry reservoir is easy to monitor and easy to refill which is very convenient when the machine is tucked under your kitchen cabinets.
Like other reviewers on this site it took me a while to master the steam as it's an all-or-nothing proposition. I would prefer a valve. This is my only major quarrel with the machine. Foam, once mastered, is excellent and produced very quickly (which is part of the problem for beginners).
Minor issues are:
1) the reservoir is too small 2) the insulated handle of the OEM portafilter is too short making it easy to burn the inside of your index finger.
Some have found the machine to be finicky about grind. I have a Macap M4 grinder and the two machines seem to get along quite well.
Killer shots. Killer shots. Killer shots. As other reviewers have said, I don't think for another grand or even two you'd get a discernibly better cuppa joe.
Generally good. Chris' folks are helpful and knowledgeable and available and want to sell you the right machine.
Three Month Followup
Three months in and Silvio has been a very busy boy. My opinion hasn't changed too much. The shots are excellent and you can hammer away endlessly at this thing. Recovery is very speedy. The small reservoir size is annoying. I've managed to master steaming though a small (14oz.) pitcher continues to be a problem for me. I also swapped out the portafilter for a La Marzocco (which required some filing) as I found the insulation on the handle of the OEM portfilter was too short and I was constantly burning my forefinger.
My "negatives" are little details that could stand improvement. None of them are deal killers. For $1,000 it's an amazing machine and I've yet to see a machine (I keep looking, just for sport) at its price point or in its small footprint that comes anywhere close. Save yourself $500 - 1,000 and some counterspace and spend the savings on dinners in some good Italian restaurants.
One Year Followup
I really can't say enough good things about this machine. It's not just unbeatable for the price - nothing in my experience even comes close - but I feel it holds its own against any machine. When I'm out an about I often drink the same coffees made on La Marzocco commercial machines and can't find an appreciable difference. Texture, color, flavor, crema: it's all there. Any shot or drink I make with this machine compares with a good shot made with good beans in a good shop on a good machine by an (okay - that's me) barista. It makes me want to drink more coffee. Simple as that.