If you’re like me, few things in this world compare to a good cup of espresso. The brewing method brings out the rich aroma of the coffee and eliminates the bitterness that is associated with most other brews.
If you haven’t been properly introduced to the ‘espresso world’, it’s a whole new coffee drinking experience that you won’t want to pass up on. After you’re hooked on the stuff, you might even want to consider making your espresso at home.
Depending on how authentic and pure you want your espresso to taste like, you should expect to pay for decent machine. Sure, there are options for even as low as $100 or less. But if you want a superb quality, you should consider increasing your price range (don’t worry, even some top of the line machines aren’t that expensive!).
Furthermore, you should think about the amount of countertop space you have for an espresso machine. Also, there’s the matter of the interface. You can find both simple and hi-tech espresso machines out there, so make sure to assess whether you’re looking for one that gives you a more straightforward approach to making espresso or one with more sophisticated features you may be interested in utilizing in the future.
sophisticated features on parallel with its elegance
the price fairly matches its reputation in the industry
our rating, based on our sound and impartial assessment
Today, we’re going to look at one of the biggest names in home espresso machines: the Rancilio Silvia M. Let’s examine its features so you can decide if this machine is the one for you.
This version of the Rancilio Silvia looks sleek at first glance. The appearance itself should give you a hint as to how easy it is to use. The portafilter is chrome-plated but made of brass, which is the signature mark of all commercial-grade portafilters from Rancilio.
There are four switches and a knob in front, with icons that are pretty self-explanatory. This machine looks pretty similar to the ones you’ll find in some coffee shops. There are two baskets, one for single shots and another for double shots.
The steam wand and steam knob are both optimized, so you’ll be able to control the steam pressure with accuracy and ease.
This semi-automatic espresso machine is quite fun to operate. The Silvia doesn’t require much effort to brew a double shot. The boiler can carry up to 12 ounces, which is great for home use, and you can also easily refill it while in use. The water bin can hold up to 67 ounces and you can also refill it anytime.
Personally, I really like the warming surface on top that keeps your cups warm so that they’re preheated when you pour espresso into them. It’s a simple, but thoughtful feature.
One thing I did notice is that the drip tray is a bit smaller than I would’ve preferred. It’s not really something that’s too much of a hassle, but I understand that since Rancilio designed this to be a compact machine, it doesn’t really make sense to have a bigger drip tray that would just end up taking more space.
The tamper that’s included is made of plastic, and wasn’t too much of a fan of it. I had to put that aside and use a more durable one.
Another great feature of the Silvia M is its multi-directional steam wand. The older model had a steam wand that only move in a linear, left-to-right direction But now, the steam wand can rotate. It makes mobility a breeze, thanks to the ball joint that it’s attached to.
It’s worth noting that this machine uses a 3-way solenoid valve. Basically, it improves the release of pressure so your portafilter is filled with a puck of coffee that you can pop right off.
The Silvia M also uses a copper heating element for its boiler. This is ideal for steaming drinks that are milk-based like cappuccino and latte. The boiler itself is stainless steel, unlike the espresso machines that came before.
I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this because, after all, the Silvia M is on the pricier side. Remember how I mentioned that I like inviting friends over for some coffee instead of constantly going to a coffee shop? It’s because of machines like this.
If you love going out for a double shot because commercial-grade coffee tastes great, then getting an espresso machine will undoubtedly be a great investment. For its price, you’re saving hundreds of dollars (or in my case, thousands!) per year buying from coffee shop.
What’s more is that the durability of the Rancilio Silvia is top-notch. Would you rather get a $200 machine that’ll need to be replaced every couple of years or a more expensive machine that you can use for a well over a decade? All parts can be replaced and it can be repaired, so you’re not really throwing your money away if you’re looking for a life-long espresso commitment.
Going head to head with the Silvia M is its biggest competition, the Gaggia Classic. Both machines share quite a few similarities, one of which is the fact that they are both Italian-made single boilers. Just looking at them will also tell you how closely alike they are in size.
When it comes to water capacity, they’re pretty much alike, but the Gaggia Classic has a water level indicator, something that’s missing in the Rancilio Silvia M.
If you are concerned about your budget, then you’ll like the fact that the Gaggia Classic costs about half as much as the Silvia M. I’ve mentioned previously that you would need a nice, well-performing burr grinder to use with an espresso machine. Well, with the price difference, you can get a Gaggia Classic AND a more-than-decent burr grinder for the price of one Rancilio Silvia M unit.
When it comes to heating, the Gaggia Classic’s 1370-watt power beats the Silvia M’s 952-watt power. What it means is that the Classic can recover much faster and become brew ready sooner than the Silvia M. It might be an important factor for you to consider if you’re making cup after cup of espresso or latte. But when it comes to steaming power, the Silvia M wins hands down.
The Breville Infuser is another cheaper counterpart to the Silvia M. Both the Infuser and Silvia M are semi-automatic espresso machines, but I commend the Infuser for being the more user-friendly option. It has programmable presets that you can use if you’ve only just begun the journey of making espresso.
I think the Infuser would appeal more to novice because of it’s simple and straightforward operation. The Rancilio Silvia M has a lot of ‘bell and whistles’ -- which is a something I personally like -- but I understand that others may be turned off by that.
I do like that the Infuser has a PID. With the Silvia M, if you go decide to get a PID kit added on, that might require an additional $200 (Ouch!).
On the other hand, the Infuser has nothing on the Rancilio Silvia M when it comes to heating and steaming power. It’s just built for it. Meanwhile, the Infuser has relatively unimpressive steaming capabilities.
Overall, the Infuser is something I’d recommend to someone who’s a beginner at making espresso, someone who’s trying to figure out the ropes. If you’re looking for more of an upgrade, however, you’ll appreciate the power of the Rancilio Silvia M.
The Silvia has been around for a very long time, and it has earned a reputation among espresso enthusiasts around the globe for it's superior performance. Rancilio is also looking for ways to improve their machines and grinders, and the fact that the Silvia M is still a highly sought after machine after all of these years speaks volumes to it's performance and quality.