espresso

Rancillio Silvia Espresso Maker Review!!

Makes great espresso and offers plenty of control over the brewing process.

December 09, 2011
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Performance Overview

Excellent performance overall, producing great espresso with plenty of crema and nicely steamed milk with good foam.

Espresso Speed

The Silvia is a little slower than some other machines: we found that it took about 47 seconds to produce a single or double shot. That includes the time to tamp the coffe grinds, place the portafilter, start the machine and wait for the shot to be produced. More on how we test the brewing process.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Espresso Quality

The Silvia produced excellent espresso from our reference espresso beans, with good color and a nice thick, fine layer of crema on the top. It does require some work to get this quality, though, as the brewing process is very dependent on things like tamping the grinds correctly. The bottom line is that this is an espresso machine that rewards patience and practice, with the best result coming from trying different approaches and determining which works best for you.

We don't judge the taste of the espresso (that depends on the beans and is a matter of persona preference), but we do look at the strength of the shots by testing the percentage of TDS (Total Dissolved Solids). The higher this percentage is, the stronger the shot is, and we score on the range of strengths that each espresso maker can produce. We found that the Silvia was capable of producing a good range of strengths, from a strong 7.1% TDS single shot down to a much weaker large shot with a 3.2% TDS. This means that this machine can produce a good range of strengths of espresso to suit the taste of the user. More on how we test the brewing process.

Espresso Shot Photo
A double shot brewed by the Rancilio Silvia
{{product.attachments['Espresso TDS Graph']}}

Espresso Quantity

Because this is a semi-automatic machine, it can produce any quantity from a single shot to a triple shot. The size of the shot is determined by how quickly your turn off the boiler control, and it will keep going for as long as you want if you leave it turned on. You could even take it further and leave it running to produce up to two liters of espresso, but we wouldn't really recommend it. More on how we test the brewing process.

Milk & Foam

The Silvia includes a steam wand that can be used to steam and foam milk. Unlike most espresso makers, this does not include a foamer (the device on the end of the steam wand that injects air to help create the foam), so you have to use it the way your barista does by using the steam wand on the surface of the milk to get the foam going, then pushing it deeper to create the rolling boil of milk that makes the microfoam (the foam with small bubbles that is needed to make drinks like lattes). This takes some practice, but it produces better results in the long run by producing more consistent microfoam than a foamer. So you can get better foam out of a steam wand like this, but it takes more thought and practice than other models. The dial on the front of the machine allows you to control the amount of steam, from a small gust up to a raging torrent.

There are things that you should watch out for here. Firstly, the steam wand has a tendency to spit out a quantity of hot water when you first turn it on, so you need to be careful and run it for a few seconds before you start using it on the milk. It is also noisy, making a noise rather like a banshee on a battlefield while you are steaming the milk.

Foam Photo
A latte macchiato brewed by the Rancilio Silvia

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Page
  2. Design
  3. Performance
  4. Usability
  5. Gaggia Platinum Vision Comparison
  6. illy Francis Francis X7.1 Comparison
  7. Capresso Café Comparison
  8. Conclusion
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

What's Your Take?

All Comments