A work of art: The look and feel and the end result - espresso!!
Positive Product Points
Solid Heavy Classic Solid buttons, knobs Very nice steam - heats milk quickly and makes perfect froth w/ no gadgets
Negative Product Points
takes some getting used to... all machines are that way I suppose Longer warm up time (than my old Krups... but it makes WAY better espresso!) Instruction booklet wasn't very good. Not translated well, and many typos
This is a very fine machine. The look & build are top notch. I am a happy home barista... for finally working my way up the ladder.
My first machine was a Braun, steam pressure, then to a Krups Vivo. I wasn't getting very good crema, or taste. I used freshly roasted beans from local sources (Whole Foods), Peets, Coffee Fool, but just wasn't getting a good cup. The frothing was really noisy and watered down the milk, so I decided to look for a step up. I considered the Gaggia (coffee and baby models). My brother and law has a Gaggia, and it makes great drinks and is solid as well. I read through these forums for about a month and decided on the Ranchilio Silvia, due to it having a brass tank / components.
I bought the "Starter Package" from Aabree, which consisted of the espresso maker, grinder, tamp box, a really nice ranchilio tamp (rosewood / steel w/ lono at top), 4 cups/saucer, brush, cleaner, froth & pitcher.
The machine was well packaged w/ sturdy cardboard. The machine is very heavy, due to it's all metal and brass construction. It was a bit taller than I expected, and don't have room on my kitchen counter top for it... that is, if I want to heat my cups... which I do.
I also bought a Ranchilio Rocky grinder. I didn't want to make any mistakes... after reading reviews, some people wished they had bought a "set" or same brand... really makes sense, as they would have tested it, and built it to compliment their own products. The grinder is another story... but in a nutshell, I am very happy w/ it, really nice fine, even grind!! (I bought the doserless model to accomidate a cup for collecting grinds for my coffee maker too.
Back to the espresso machine... The directions weren't all that easy to get through, not the best English translation, you'd think they would hire a pro to do that. I actually got some very good step by step instructions from sweetmarias.com, and this website.
My first espresso, was great! Quite nice for a first try I must say... actually better than my subsequent attemps. I may be tamping too hard. It will take some getting used to. The frothing, though, is just excellent and effortless. Perfect foam.
I am very happy w/ this fine italian machine - it's highly recommended... even thought I have only had it for a week, it has had use multiple times each day, and the results have been much better than my old machines.
I will certainly leave my follow up review in 3 months.
Very happy people at Aabree. They had a nice starter pkg, with all these extras (see above) to sweeten the deal, plus free shipping.
It all arrived in a very large box, which was actually falling apart at the bottom. Styrofoam peanuts were discovered all over the office halls later that day. They only included one cup/saucer, it was supposed to be a set of 4. I called and they sent it out right away. The tamp box was on back order, but received that within 3 days.
This is all minor, as the most important thing is the grinder and espresso machine, which where fine, and packed well... however, if the large box bottom fell out, that may have been a diff. story.
I would recommend Aabree.
Three Month Followup
In short: This is a fine, but particular machine! I am very happy w/ the quality of the espresso, crema, and it froths SO easily and quickly.
It took me a good month of making espresso, caps and lattes to get it to the point of really understanding the timing, tamping, etc. It is worth it though. I suppose it would be the same w/ most espresso machines.
As others state, you MUST have a good grinder. I have Silvia's companion - Rocky. It took me a while to find the correct grind for my french roast (fresh roast from whole foods). Then I tried an italian roast, which took a different grind. I have been taking mental notes as to which bean needs what particular grind. I have experimented w/ 20/30/40 sec. pulls, and have found ~30 sec. to be the best tasting.
Frothing is fabulous and easy. I use 2% or whole (organic). Within 20-30 sec or so I can get a nice velvet like froth - much better than any cafe... then again, a cafe is usually working on several at a time.
The froth nozzle seems to drip if you don't have it extreemly tighted... tightened till it can't go clockwise any more. I've had several pools of water on the counter due to it dripping. The steam is nice and "dry".
I used to go to a cafe once or twice a week to get a latte. I haven't gone in 3 mos!!! If you are thinking the Silvia is expensive (er... which it is), think of all the $ you may save by making your own at home. $3.50 x 2 = $7 x 52 weeks yr. = $364. Ok, I'm stretching it a bit... so I didn't add in the $ you would have to put in for your beans, milk, time :)
Cleaning is fairly easy. I have cleaned it twice in the past 3 mos.
Generally, I let it warm up for at least 20 min. but 30 min. seems to be best.
I am very happy with this espresso machine and would highly recommend it.