I rarely do anything half way. I am a coffee snob but have never been too into espresso, other than the occasional Americano at my favorite shops. I continued to be this way, especially since my girlfriends espresso machine was a $90 Krups.... Well, it finally burned up and I decided to take the opportunity to upgrade to something befitting our (mostly mine) snobbery....
The Silvia is supposed to be the best home espresso machine under $700.. They are widely sold, which means there are parts, upgrades and accessories easily available.. I don't depend on what everyone is buying to make my purchasing decisions, but for this purchase, being a total "Newb", I decided to go with it..
I knew this would be a challenge. Learning espresso and a learning it with a machine that really is not geared towards a laymen. I don't mean this as an insult but this machine has rarely been recommended to someone totally new to brewing espresso. This, I find, was a truth. The Silvia is cut and dry, easy to use.. The controls are intuitive and easy to use and understand. The portafilter and filters all work well but since these are not pressurized filters or steam enhancing machines, you really have to work with it.. I went through a pound of coffee before I realized that my grinder was not getting the coffee fine enough.... Providing shots that gushed out at 7 to 10 seconds.... Try compensating with more coffee and more tamping and you just choke it up....... So, I learned that lesson the hard way.. You need a good grinder.. I put off buying one for a week or two, so, I am stuck with having a barista grind it for me... But once I got a good grind, the shots were nice. Lots of caramel color, crema and really good flavor. I have been drinking shots at all the local shops for a comparison and you know, although I may not be producing the best shot ever, they are tasting better than half of the shots I had at the shops..... Makes me very happy.
The Silvia looks great in my modern-ish kitchen.. People just get totally wide eyed when they see it.. Ex-barista friends of mine were amazed at the quality of the shot and the steaming.. I was happy with it too, but with no past experience, nothing to really compare it too. Easy to fill. Easy to work and since there is a lot of Silvia users, there are lots of write ups and tips to be had.
I would recommend this machine to anyone... If someone was not as picky as me, they probably would go with something at a lower price anyway but so far, its been a great experience.