Very disappointed. Inconsistent performance and sour/bitter coffee.
Positive Product Points
Stainless Steel is nice and heavy
Negative Product Points
Inconsistent performance, poor quality coffee
I was very disappointed in the Rancilio Silvia. I had heard so many good things, so bought it on the reccommendation of many in alt. coffee.
The fit and finish of the machine was awful when it arrived - had scratches, fingerprints all over it, marks on the plastic water container cover, and just very icky in general. After I got past all of that, I tried it out. After hearing all the hoopla about the machine, I was very excited to see how the shots were. After very consistently grinding fresh beans (tried 3 different kinds with my conical Solis grinder), tamping the same amount etc., I found the shots to be inconsistent, thin and some lacking in crema. The taste was sour and very bitter. I timed them at about 25-30 sec. The coffee didn't flow evenly between both sides of the portafilter. Also, the grinds are not always very dry after removing the portafilter. Even though my tamp is always the same, the dryness or lack of is always different.
When you turn it on and the light goes off (ready) the machine still is not fully heated up. The steaming want needs to be bled before steaming which is ok, but if you wait even a few seconds before steaming, water builds up again. Even with the quick bleed, the steam is uneven (coming in bursts) and is not as dry as it should be. My steaming technique is correct, but the milk does not fully foam by the time the temp. reaches 160. I must go to 180 and even then it still isn't perfect. Trying to clean off 180 degree milk welded onto that steaming wand is almost impossible.
After using the steamer, you have to turn off the steaming switch and when you turn on the coffee switch you have to bleed off tons of steam coming out under the filter screen before the flow is correct again - even then the flow totally shuts off before regaining the strength to drop the 5 or so steady streams. Only then can I load to pull the next shot. It seems like a lot to go through for a sour/bitter shot.
Is this company always so careless about the condition they pack the machines in as far as the fit and finish? The Ital-English translation of the manual is riduculous as is the tamper included.
I have been told by the place I bought it at that "this is just the way the SIlvia is".