The Silvia has earned the right to be the benchmark against which all single boiler espresso makers are compared.
Positive Product Points
High quality parts, high quality construction, all metal.
Negative Product Points
No low water cut-off switch.
I purchased this espresso machine about 1 month ago. To be sure I was a bit apprehensive about producing good shots, but after reading and doing extensive research I wanted an espresso maker that I could control as many variables as possible. Although I enjoy my espresso, my wife and I use the machine for americanos and cappuccinos each day. We truly enjoy our coffee. I roast all of our coffee from single origin beans or from espresso blended green beans.
The quality of the Rancilio Silvia is truly impressive. The quality for this home espresso machine is evident in its construction, it is all metal; steel, stainless steel and brass. For my curiosity I found that you can purchase replacement parts for the entire machine from vendors on the web. Using the information presented by Whole Latte Love I was able to make good shots after I spent an evening dialing in my Solis Maestro Plus grinder. I find that one click finer than the “esp” marking gave me a constant grind that generates good crema without bitterness and I can generate a 1-1.5 oz shot in 25 sec. My skill in tamping was improved with a metal tamper. Although I make some poor shots, the frequency has declined precipitously as I have become familiar with Silvia.
This Siliva model that I purchased is the newest version and it seems to heat up faster than what has been written earlier in these pages. I usually turn the machine on, let warm up for about 10 min while I organize my work in my study. Then I pull a few blank shots into my cups to warm them up. I especially like the ease in filling the machine. I keep a 1L water-filled wine carafe near the machine and I always fill the water tank when I finish. I use filtered water from a large activated carbon filter attached to the water pipe in our basement that leads for our kitchen cold water tap. Our water is very clear and has excellent taste. I usually refill the water tank after 4 shots. After Silvia is warmed up and the portafilter is hot from a couple blank shots, I grind and load. I release water from the frothing wand until the boiler light turns on and then hit the timer set at 1min 10 sec. When the timer reads 25 sec I begin my shot and I stop after 25 sec. Every pull is slightly different but remember I have at any given time 8 coffee varieties that are freshly roasted. Some single origin coffees especially roasted to City or Full City may not be the best for an espresso but they shine for an americano. For good espressos I use an espresso blend that I prepare or purchase from Sweet Marias. For the americanos with milk I add warmed milk and then add the hot water from the frothing wand. A wonderful morning coffee is generated, full flavored, no bitterness, with all of the subtle emerging flavors that only a freshly roasted single origin coffee can provide. This generates a much more satisfying cup of coffee than I can prepare with a French press or drip machine.
On the weekends I make cappuccinos and I am indeed impressed with the milk frothing capacity of the Silvia. After I make the shots, I hit the steam switch, put the cups on the warming tray and get my frothing pitcher from the freezer. I usually cool the frothing pitcher in the freezer for about 5 min, add my milk and a syrup if wanted. I bleed the frothing wand until only steam comes out. Perhaps 1 min elapses since I switched the steam switch. I use the information that I read on this web site to make the steamed and frothed milk. I use cold nonfat milk in my frothing pitcher with a thermometer. I have learned to generate great microfoam. No large bubbles, but easy to pour sweet microfoam. The steamed milk is immediately poured into the cups and great tasting, satisfying cappuccinos is the result. I always remove the portafilter and hit the brew switch to fill the boiler and clean the group head. This machine can make multiple cappuccinos by making multiple shots in a brewing pitcher, and then making multiple pitchers of frothed milk. I usually refill the boiler after the second frothing session. If the boiler is on for 1 min you get all the steam volume and heat that is needed. The Rancilio Silvia can handle these demands with ease.
For cleaning, I always run a blind shot with the portafilter removed to clean the group head. The drip tray and cover are stainless steel and are large enough for a brewing session. It is easy to remove and clean. Once a week I remove the screen from the group head and clean the screw, brass plate screen and portafilter in boiling water and a teaspoon of automatic dishwashing detergent for 1 hour. After a complete rinsing I reassemble the grouphead and the Silvia is ready to go. I use a boiler flush of descaler once a month to keep everything clean and operational.
The machine is a classic. I can easily understand how the Silvia has become the benchmark measure of single boiler home espresso makers. What I cannot understand is why coffeegeek has not chosen the Rancilio Silvia for an in depth review as they have done for other espresso machines.
I purchased the Silvia at Wholelattelove. The shipping was included in the price of the Silvia. Excellent buying experience. Reveived the machine in 3 days. I recommend the vendor.