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Rancilio Silvia - Thomas Gauperaa's Review
Posted: July 19, 2002, 3:39pm
review rating: 7.0
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
Rancilio Silvia
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More About This Product
Arrow The Rancilio Silvia has 231 Reviews
Arrow The Rancilio Silvia has been rated 8.54 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow Rancilio Silvia reviews have been viewed 1,719,049 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Chris Clark 9.13
Ed Lawless 9.00
Joe DP 8.88
Dave Borton 8.67
Eric Larson 8.62

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 9.2
Manufacturer: Rancilio Quality: 10
Average Price: $629.00 Usability: 8
Price Paid: $340.00 Cost vs. Value 9
Where Bought: Oslo (second hand) Aesthetics 9
Owned for: 3 months Overall 10
Writer's Expertise: I live coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: Gaggia Coffee
Bottom Line: The best single boiler machine you'll get in the 400 dollar range.
Positive Product Points

The most solid home machine I've ever encountered. Everything about this machine oozes quality. Excellent espresso, AWESOME steam. Large and hot (but not hot enough) cup warmer. Long steam wand that is easy to work with. Buttons from the commercial machines. Solid brass group, very good portafilter. Big brass boiler. Possibility of using La Marzocco filters and portafilters from the rancilio pro range. The list goes on and on.

Negative Product Points

Drip tray is a bit small, needs to be emptied after each session. Portafilter in most cases need to be tightened really hard to prevent leaks. Silvia like other single boiler machines tends to run pretty hot if left on for some time - temperature surfing is required for consistent results. Bolt like end on steam wand that makes cleaning a little bit harder. Ugly sticker on the newest models.

May be a bit to challenging for some people, but will reward the patient home barista and interested ones *greatly*.

Detailed Commentary

I decided to switch to Silvia when I got a good offer on a second (actually third hand) one. My Gaggia Coffee was doing great, I made both good espresso and cappas with it, but I wanted the 3-way valve, the bigger steam capacity and to be a part of the big Silvia community on alt.coffee.

I was really impressed when I placed her on the counter beside the Gaggia Coffee, and I promptly wrote a post on alt.coffee. I think it's worth reposting so here it is:


Hi all

I got my silvia yesterday. Well, it's not exactly mine yet because i have
just borrowed it to play with it for some days before making the decision to
buy it second hand. It's about three years old, but seems to be in good
order. I'm currently using a gaggia coffee so I thought it would be cool to
post some pictures to compare the two.

The first tries with silvia just put drek in my cup. I tried different
dosing and grind, but i was all the time troubled with leaks. I've taken out
the gasket to replace with a stiffer, professional one. So until i get the
gasket i won't say anything about shot quality. :)

Old gasket:

I really hope the new gasket will stop the leaking. I've never had leaks
with gaggia coffee so i will disappointed if this is a recurring problem
with silvia. I read one of mark's old posts on the subject yesterday and he
appearantly didn't have any problems, though posts from others showed some
problems, but most were ok after some shots.

First impressions of silvia:

Wow, this machine is in another league when it comes to apperances and
sturdiness, and shes a huge and heavy motha. I had to carry her all the way
home because i don't have a car and i couldn't find a cab. That's like a 15
minute walk. I didn't have to go to the gym that day. Silvia looks so
professional and sturdy that i'm proud everytime i look at her.

Silvia and gaggia coffee side by side:

Drip tray:
The drip tray on silvia is bigger and the group is on the left which gives
more workspace. The only bad thing is that it's kind of low so when it's
full you really have to do some clever balancing to keep from spilling water
on the floor when removing it. The gaggia tray is deeper and easier to take
out, but smaller and made up of plastic (not the lid).


Cup warmer:
The cup warmer area gets hotter on silvia and is a lot bigger. I really can
put a lot of cups up there.


Water tank:
Not much to say about the tank really, just that it's easier to remove on
the siliva, but it lacks a water level indicator. Coffee's tank is a bit
more cumbersome to pull out, but you can always see the water level as it is
visible in the front.



The gaggia double actually is a bit bigger than silvias and the filter
holder is heavier. Guess i'll buy the extra big rancilio filter or the la
marzocco one (without the ridge).

http://home.chello.no/~gauperaa/handles.jpg (closest one is gaggia)
http://home.chello.no/~gauperaa/handles2.jpg (closest one is gaggia)

Steam and wand:
Yup, the steam is definitely more powerful on siliva, but it really is
satisfactory on the gaggia. The higher power of the silvia makes the milk
rotate more in the pitcher which will aid in splitting those big bubbles
into microbubbles. I got perfect, velvety latte art foam in my first try. I
have however made this kind of foam regulary on the gaggia coffee too, and
have made some nices rosettas with it
(http://home.chello.no/~gauperaa/cappa23a.jpg). It's just that silvia is
quicker and will probably make the milk and litte bit smoother and with less
bubbles. Time will show.

I really like the size of the silvia wand. Gaggia's wand is a bit to short.

Well, that's about it for now. I'll post some more impressions and images
when i start pumping out shots.


Since then I've become quite comfortable with her. My espresso is definitely better than what I could produce with my gaggia coffee. The steam capacity is way better, but that doesn't make my cappas or latte art that much better. It just means that I can steam larger volumes and do it quicker.

Cleaning is easy by doing the portafilter waltz after each session. Every two weeks I also backflush with rancilio espresso detergent (powder).

I feel I've come a long way in the last three months, but I still think that I can improve on my shots and foam. That's what I love about her - it just gets better and better. If she's replaced then it is because I want to be able to steam and brew at the same time, and be able to skip temp surfing. A HE machine with the E61 group would solve this.

Buying Experience

Bought second hand.

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review rating: 7.0
Posted: July 19, 2002, 3:39pm
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
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