Description and Review
Rancilio Silvia Review
Choosing between style and performance is not the case with Rancilio Silvia. The Italian manufacturer, famous for its professional line of espresso machines, has managed to combine durability and flair for home use. Built in a stainless steel rugged housing and drip tray features three way solenoid valves, which release pressure from the brew water at the end of extraction. This way internal pressure on other parts is reduced and increases reliability.
A brass made thermal insulated boiler of 12 oz, using internal heater, ensures significant energy saving. Meanwhile an auto power off function reduces even more the already low standby consumption.A commercial grade brass head increases thermal stability and accepts a 58mm professional type portafilter. The latter is made of chrome plated brass and comes with a single and double shot basket.
At the front left are housed three switches. The first is for brewing while the second for dispensing hot water out of the steam arm. The third one is a bit tricky though. You can press it when you want the boiler to reach steam temperature. Because this machine has only one boiler you can’t do simultaneously brewing and steaming as they should be at different temperatures (around 200 F° for brewing and 280 F° for steaming).
Last but not least the rubber wrapped knob at right in conjuction with the commercial steel wand at side, serves as a froth regulator. This is very practical for professional steaming but keep in mind that needs a lot of practice to have a proper result.
After grinding our beans with our favorite Baratza Sette 270W we were ready for setting up. Pressing the steam button we prepared the boiler for steamed output. Initially you should release the trapped water in tube by turning the knob for a moment in another cup. Very powerful at steaming it enables you to prepare the milk pretty fast. When ready just press the steaming switch off and move to coffee department.
Now because the boiler water is very hot (~280 F°) you should first cool it down for brewing (~200 F°). There are two ways to achieve this. You can simply wait for it or force it by using the steamer. This way the hot water will get out much faster and cool water from tank will enter. Just put a cup under the steamer hand again. At first you it will enter steam and then water will follow. Continue until the thermostat indicator turns on and then turn off the steam switch. This way you can also clean the arm and warm the cup for a better cup of coffee. When the thermostat goes off again you are ready to brew.
Inserting the portafilter in place has an absolute professional feeling giving a firmy grip. We brewed 2.5 oz. of coffee in about 25 seconds. The coffee starts pouring into the cup steady and quietly. When finished we simply added our premade milk and did some kind of art. The result was delicious with a full of body taste without any chemical aftertaste like many other lower priced models. Making a cappuccino could not be any better!
The industrial quality of Silvia alone is a great indicator of the expected result, which did not dissapointed at all. On the contrary we felt the authentic sense of making an espresso in a professional manner. Of course the high power steaming will be in favor of those who produce many milk based drinks and not such a big hit for non milk lovers.
The only aspect that you may find frustrating as a beginner, is the lack of a second boiler which makes things a bit complicated. Our advice is to give it a shot and just practice. Overtime you will have the mastery of it and could open the way for your barista career!
- Single Boiler