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Rancilio Silvia Review

A great machine for experienced baristas, but it will leave most newcomers frustrated
Rancilio Silvia
Credit: Rancilio
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Price:   $775 List | $775.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Great taste, allows for endless experimentation
Cons:  Expensive, requires skill to use effectively, no built-in grinder
Manufacturer:   Rancilio
By Max Mutter and Steven Tata  ⋅  Jun 24, 2021
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 16
  • Taste - 40% 9
  • Ease of Use - 30% 4
  • Ease of Cleaning - 15% 4
  • Milk Steaming - 15% 9

Our Verdict

The Rancilio Silvia is very much like a professional-level espresso machine, both in terms of its quality and the amount of skill that is required to use it effectively. It allows you, and in most instances forces you, to customize every aspect of the espresso-making process, from grind size to shot length. This customization is great if you've already pulled hundreds of shots and want to tinker around to try and find the best flavor, and for that application, this is one of our top recommendations. However, this model may overwhelm a newcomer and could sour your espresso experience.

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Price $775 List
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Pros Great taste, allows for endless experimentationExcellent espresso, can achieve near-perfect microfoam, relatively easy to use for a semi-automatic machineGreat taste, cafe quality lattes and cappuccinosGreat espresso, impressive milk steaming performance, compact designGood espresso and milk steaming, quite inexpensive
Cons Expensive, requires skill to use effectively, no built-in grinderPricey, requires more effort/practice than fully-automatic machinesOn the pricier side, requires some effort and a learning curveNo built-in grinderDoesn't quite achieve cafe quality results, somewhat slow, no built-in grinder
Bottom Line A great machine for experienced baristas, but it will leave most newcomers frustratedA cafe-quality machine that manages to still be friendly towards beginner baristasA perfect choice for those that don't mind putting in a little work to get the best tasting shotOne of the smallest machines we've found that can achieve cafe-quality resultsOffers good taste and overall quality at a far below average price
Rating Categories Rancilio Silvia Calphalon Temp IQ Breville Barista Ex... Breville Bambino Gevi
Taste (40%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Ease Of Use (30%)
4.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Ease Of Cleaning (15%)
4.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Milk Steaming (15%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
10.0
8.0
Specs Rancilio Silvia Calphalon Temp IQ Breville Barista Ex... Breville Bambino Gevi
Dimensions 9.2" x 11.4" x 13.4" 5.6" x 14.5" x 17.3" 13.2" x 12.5" x 16" 7.7" x 12.6" x 12.2" 13" x 10" x 16"
Milk Frother Steam Wand Steam Wand Steam Wand Steam Wand Steam Wand
Water Tank Capacity 68 oz 94 oz 67 oz 47 oz 42 oz
Cost per Shot $0.49 $0.45 $0.47 $0.45 $0.45
Lifetime Cost per Shot $0.81 $0.70 $0.76 $0.58 $0.50
Number of Cafe Replacement Shots to Make Up List Price 309 235 277 118 51
Number of Cafe Replacement Lattes to Make Up List Price 183 141 165 70 30

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Rancilio Silvia is among our top choices for experienced baristas, as it puts a great amount of control in the user's hands. However, the lack of user-friendliness for those that are new to the nuances of espresso is something to consider and the main reason this machine didn't score higher overall. The Silvia also does not include a grinder, so you'll have to contend with that before you're able to make drinks. Generic coffee grinders generally cannot produce a fine enough grind for espresso, so you'll have to get a grinder that is meant for making espresso.

Performance Comparison


If you're comfortable with your latte game and want a huge amount of...
If you're comfortable with your latte game and want a huge amount of control when making drinks, this is a good machine to seriously consider.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Taste


The Silvia produced some of the best espresso in our testing, equaling the quality of some of our award winners. When used by one of our experienced testers it produced a rich, strong shot with great flavor and just a hint of sweetness. If you tasted a shot from this machine and a shot from a coffee shop side by side, we doubt you'd be able to tell the difference. The steam wand is also high quality and makes great-tasting steamed and frothed milk.

The Silvia pulls an exceptional shot.
The Silvia pulls an exceptional shot.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Ease of Use


The Silvia was the least user-friendly model we tested. We definitely would not recommend this machine to beginners, as the learning curve will likely be steep enough to cause a good amount of frustration unless you have a patient coffee pro buddy that's willing to teach you. The controls all have somewhat arcane symbols instead of clear labels, and there is no pressure gauge to give you an idea if your grind size and tamping pressure are on target. That's not to say it's unusable, it just requires a good amount of skill to operate effectively. That said, when used well, the results are spectacular.

The Silivia's controls and general usability are not catered towards...
The Silivia's controls and general usability are not catered towards beginners.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

If you're using the Silvia to pull a shot and steam some milk, make sure you pull the shot first. If you do the milk first it will end up shooting steam through the portafilter and making a mess, we know from experience.

Ease of Cleaning


The Silvia was also one of our least favorite models to clean. You must clean out the portafilter and wipe off the steam wand after every use, like all semi-automatic machines. Where it gets a bit more annoying is the drip tray. It is quite shallow and offers no indication of when it is full, which can result in some surprise flooding. We ended up emptying the tray after almost every shot just to avoid any mess. The descaling process also took a full hour, which was much longer than any other machine. Plus, there were no included descaling instructions, so we had to find a tutorial online.

Milk Steaming


The steam wand on the Silvia is professional grade. It can make thick, luscious foam and creamy, microfoamed steamed milk. Though it takes a bit of practice it can make a latte that will make a trip to the coffee shop unnecessary.

The Silvia's steam wand is one of our favorites.
The Silvia's steam wand is one of our favorites.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Value


The Silvia is pricey and you'll also need to buy a separate espresso grinder. Because of this, it is only a good value if you want the ability to control shot length and pump pressure, two things that will likely only matter to those who are already practiced baristas. If you're coming from that world, this machine is almost a steal.

Conclusion


The Rancilio Silvia is a great machine for a very specific user: one who already has experience pulling espresso shots and wants to be able to experiment with their technique at home. If you're a newcomer to espresso and want the great taste of a quality semi-automatic machine, or even if you're a beginner that wants to learn to pull a shot like a pro, we would suggest starting with something a bit easier to use.

Max Mutter and Steven Tata