Wow I'm so glad I bought the Rancilio Silvia because it's making awesome espresso & americano coffees with a gorgous crema right from the get-go.
Positive Product Points
I've found the Rancilio Silvia to be well built quality machine. I like being able to attach and remove the coffee ground holder thingie (sorry) with the machine staying put and not scooting around the counter. Machine seems to heat up fast enough. Flip it on and it's ready to go in a couple minutes. Clean up is easy. I find the Silvia to be straightforward and easy to use. Plus it sure has great ratings from others.
Negative Product Points
The crema seems to disappear faster than what we experienced in Europe. And I'd like the Americano coffee hotter too. I'm experimenting with the various 'temperature surfing' techniques. I wouldn't mind having a water gauge visible from the front to let me know how much water is in the container.
Wow the Silvia is a great machine! We fell in love with Americano coffee on a recent European vacation. We investigated espresso machines online, here and elsewhere to gain some knowledge before purchasing. We went to the Kitchen Window in Minneapolis where there were maybe 15 machines setup for use. The clerk was experiened and knowledgeable in the ways of espresso and Americano. After browsing the machines and trying several, we focused on the Silvia. The clerk helped us select a good bean, showed the right grind, walked us through the process, the tamp, the time, the mix ratio. That salesclerk knew his stuff and the opportunity to try out so many machines was priceless.
At home our first Americano attempt was was fair but way to watery due to weak tamping and water/espresso ratio problems. 2nd attempt yielded a perfect Americano. First espresso attempt after that was wonderful. The taste was vibrant and the crema was gorgous. Most of the Americano's and espressos have been wonderful since then. The only problems I had was variability in the tamp pressure and grind when I got the coffee from another store. It was a more Turkish grind than Miss Silvia wanted. Both my wife and I are getting great results from the Silvia.
I think my first homemade Americano and espresso exeperience was great because of the training from store where we bought the machine. I now go there to buy my coffee.
While the Silvia was pretty pricey compared to other cheaper machines, and less expensive then the really expensive machines. When we tried out or played with the other more and less expensive machines, it was obvious why the Silvia was a better deal for us. I felt there was alot more quality there making it worth the extra money. My goal wasn't to get a cheapest machine possible but to get the most long term value and best espresso & americano coffee experience.
I can highly recommend the Rancilio Silvia based on my experience with ours.
Wow, what more can I say about the Kitchen Window in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. The had a ton of espresso machines, maybe 15 or more from many vendors all setup and ready for use. I can only read so much and then have to actually try out the machines and see the differences in person. The sales staff are knowledgeable and able to talk the talk and guide us through the selection, purchase, and instruction.
Three Month Followup
Still a good experience. Still trying to get a consistent tamp and pull. My wife bought a cheapy grinder and it doesn't grind the beans fine enough. I have been getting my beans from a local coffee shop and having them grind it, but jeez the grind is different each time. Sometimes the grind is too course, and sometimes too fine. I'm getting tired of the variety of grind and would like to get my own grinder.
Miss Silvia has been working fine.
One Year Followup
After 1 year I can report that I love my Rancilio Silvia just as much as when I first bought it. I use it every week day morning for a wonderful cup of Americano espresso which I enjoy while practicing piano before work. On the weekends I make 2 or 3 cups each day. The Americano I make is 3 oz of hot water (from Miss Silvia) and a double shot espresso of decaffinated coffee beans ground in my new Rancilio Rocky. I can only drink decaf these days. Honest to goodness, the combination of Miss Silvia and fresh ground decaf beans makes the best decaf I've ever had, and as you know, decaf usually tastes like crapola. This decaf is fabulous.
Miss Silvia has performed flawlessly with no problems. I've descaled her once so far just as a good practice. I should probably do it more often but I do use filtered water for her.
When I turn Miss Silvia on, I wait for the heating cycle to end, then I run some hot water from the frother and portafilter into a coffee cup to pre-warm the cup, plus it sets up Miss Silvia for temperature surfing. When the heating cycle is complete, I dump the cup out and then add 3 oz of super hot water from the frother.
Since my Americano uses so much hot water, I can get 3 oz into the cup before the heater turns on. At that point I put the saucer on top of the cup to hold the heat while the heating cycle finishes. As soon as the heating cycle finishes, I remove the saucer and start the pull. It's a little putzy but I like the Americano as hot a possible so it remains hot for as long as I'm sipping. I guess I'm a sipper rather than a gulper of this fine brew.
Sometimes I'll make a near espresso with 1.5 oz of water and the decaf. Wow, what a fabulous drink. Even decaf can make your hair stand up. One of the big things that helped with the consistency was buying a Rancilio Rocky grinder and grinding a fresh bean for each drink. I'll post my comments on the Rocky.
Yes I would buy the Rancilio Silvia again, and I would recommend it to a friend with no reservations.