It is hard to say enough good things about this machine. Well done Rancilio!
Positive Product Points
Excellent Materials ie. brass boiler, copper lines Design is well thought out and practical Boiler size is just right for home use
Negative Product Points
I honestly can't think of any. They really have done their homework on this one which is why machine is so universally highly regarded (read my review on the Gaggia Classic)
I retired my Gaggia Classic after three years of ownership. It made great espressos but had a number of design flaws.
How does it compare? Well for a start. Easy to remove water tank to clean Much better steaming capacity which is consistent Steam nozzle is superior in every way to a plastic frother Excellent design for venting steam directly into drip tray and drip tray is better designed
I have had a wonderful week introduction to this machine. I was up and running right away with it as I had previous hours logged flying single engine espresso machines. OK this one was a high performance unit with a variable speed prop and retractable undercarriage but they are all very similar.
The only learning curve was on using the steamer which requires some expertise versus the Gaggia which has a frother which basically as long as you remember to stick the pointy black end into the milk would do a good job of frothing. It took me a few goes to get the frothing right and can now do meringue or nice microfoam quite well. I mean more practice will improve it more but it is quite straightforward but requires the correct technique.
The quality of the espresso is excellent although the Gaggia was no slouch producing quality espressos either. I did notice that the 'puck' is always well formed with this machine. I'm not sure why this is but I would attribute it probably to better water distribution and possibly a better group/basket design. Certainly the baskets on the Silvia are not as deep as on the Gaggia.
Last night I did two cappuccinos and a frothy cocoa milk drink for some friends. It did 400ml of milk in a 600ml jug and it all turned out just great although the double espresso shot just about blew their heads off. I think like most people they are used to very soft milky cappuccinos so next time I would just give them one shot. I joked that if they were to sleep at all that night I would feel offended. Seriously they probably didn't sleep!
Peter at Supreme Coffee Machines here in Perth, Australia was excellent. Very helpful and knowledgeable. He runs a great business and when I needed help with my Gaggia MDF I got help right away from one of his technicians. They have an excellent choice of great machines too as well as accessories and good coffee.