If you're willing to practice; Miss Silvia will AMAZE you with the quaity of your espresso.
Positive Product Points
Beautiful to look at. Wait - is this machine leaking testosterone!? ;-) Powerful steam, large boiler, it just reeks of robust build quality.
Negative Product Points
Silvia could really benefit from a water level indicator. It would also be nice to not have to slide the machine out from under my cabinets to fill it (minor annoyance only).
Me being the research-happy nerd that I am - I decided to upgrade to this machine from a Gaggia Coffee. I had recently purchased a Rancilio Rocky grinder, and I suppose that one was just getting lonely for the other...
I was able to make decent, consistent espresso and caps with my Gaggia. Almost to the point of auto-pilot. I held out on the upgrade for a while, until some extra cash happened to come along unexpectedly. Far be it from me to resist any temptation where espresso and coffee toys are involved... Hellooooo Silvia!
The best way to characterize this machine is that it is capable of making an AWESOME shot of espresso. I mean as good or better than the best commercial establishments (in my area, anyhow). The only 'issue' here is: you have to be willing to practice and learn the machine. Yes, it's true - the Silvia rewards good technique with 'nectar of the gods' espresso but will make some downright swill if you do a few things incorrectly. It is just not forgiving in this way. Others have said it better than I, but espresso does not demand much - just that basic requirements are met in a certain way. The same holds true for this unit
It is a great machine for those of us that revel in tweaking bean blends and tamp pressure and grind consistency (remember, I said I was a nerd). If this is you - then THIS IS YOUR BABY! If you are not quite so willing to put in the time to really get a feel for Sivlia and all of her quirks, there are many other good machines out there. That's the best way I can think to put this...
The overall quality of the machine just feels, well, serious. The rocker switches make a purposeful 'snap' when you activate them. The steam power (esp. compared to my old Gaggia - which I though was good) is just incredible. I was not ready for it the first time I tried frothing and literally blew milk all over the side of our refridgerator! Once you get a feel for all of this, though - it becomes somewhat intoxicating. I find that I am ALWAYS trying to make just one more change to elevate my shot quality just a bit more. I love it.
That said, the first few weeks with this machine where quite frustrating, though, and it took me a while to get my 'sea legs.' Paired up with the Rocky grinder I really don't think upgrading machines would actually improve my shots much (if at all). Of course, I still love gadgets so I can't guarantee anything... ;-) However, like any worthwhile pursuit, it's all about the journey as well as the destination.
I bought this machine new from a private Rancilio dealer. Easy transaction with no hiccups whatsoever.