Rancilio Silvia is the safe reliable choice for those who cannot decide among a plethora of seductive alternatives.
Positive Product Points
See the detailed "review."
Negative Product Points
Small drip tray
Lots of people have written about this machine so I am not going to cover all the things that other people have said better than I could. Instead I want to give my own personal experience... for what it is worth.
Probably we have all agonized when considering which machine to buy. Which feature is important? How important? What is our budget? Maybe we should pay just a little more? Round an round we go.
I had an old Gaggia Coffee for a very long time and for some time considered whether to replace or upgrade to some other machine. I could never make up my mind and so did nothing until the Gaggia finally gave up the ghost. I had to finally commit and buy or be without good coffee! What to do, what to do?
In the end, I decided to go with the Silvia if only because it seemed a safe choice. The machine has been around a good long while... long enough for Rancilio to know and work out any problems. I am VERY HAPPY with the choice.
Silvia may not be the fanciest machine around, but it simply works. One thing I like very much about the Silvia compared to the Gaggia Coffee is that it is easy to clean. It is mostly stainless steel so no rusting problems as I had on the Gaggia. The screen comes out very easily so I do not put off cleaning as much as I did with the Gaggia. Also, the Gaggia always had a thick layer of gunk on top of the screen.... which is not the case with Silvia. In other words, the whole head assembly stays much cleaner than with my old Gaggia.
I was afraid that the stainless steel finish would be hard to maintain, but this has not been the case.... of course I am no fanatic and do not try to keep the machine always looking pristine.
The only thing I am little disappointed about is the size of the drip tray. You really have to be religious about emptying the tray.
So if you are like me... not an absolute fanatic but you want a good machine and just cannot decide which excellent machine you should get..... I would suggest the Rancilio Silvia as a safe reliable choice.
Note: I do not use the steamer function and have no opinion about that feature. I use a separate steamer that I put on the gas stove. I prefer this arrangement because I do not have to worry about heating up, or cooling down the machine. Also, I think that turning any machine to steam function tends to promote mineral deposits in the boiler. Anyway, that is what I do.
Some after thoughts. I have been using an espresso machine for many years now. So, for me, there was nothing particularly difficult about using the Silvia. But if you are all new to the coffee scene, you will probably have to get up to speed on what is involved in making great coffee. You know, the standard things people talk about-- Get fresh beans of good quality, get a good grinder, understand what grind works, understand how tamping interacts with the grind, pre-heat the machine, Maybe you could avoid some learning curve by going with a full auto machine. For me, there is a lot of quality sacrifice in making that choice... for example you are highly limited in which coffee you will use. But if you are not willing to invest some time in learning the art of coffee, then probably the Silvia is not for you.
The one thing I had not quite mastered yet was temperature surfing. I read-- and re-read the surfing instruction, but did not quite get it. Fortunately, there is a brand new detailed review of that machine on the front page. Included in that review is this video that SHOWS how to do the surfing mamba.
Once you watch the video, surfing is not at all hard to do. And I have to say, it has made a VERY BIG difference for resulting coffee quality. I am now thinking to add the PID modification because of what I understand about what a big difference the stable and correct temperature can make.
I bought from 1st line. A decent price, and they included a bottomless porta filter. I like this option VERY much as it makes cleaning so very easy.
By the way, if you are in the market to buy this machine, you will probably be disappointed to find you cannot now buy the machine for the average price that others have paid. I think all machines have gone up because of the falling dollar... and of course, you would be buying the somewhat improved ( and therefore more expensive) Silvia2.