Silvia is "da bomb". Beautiful machine makes beautiful cappuccinos!
Positive Product Points
Beautiful, solid construction Heavy professional portafilter Brass boiler! Great steam!
Negative Product Points
Wait time between brew & steam is longer than I'd like
I decided to wait until I'd had Silvia for at least a couple of months before reviewing. However, I'll say at this point that I am 100% happy with Silvia and would buy her again. After reviewing the different options in the $600 and under category, the Silvia sounded best to me for a number of reasons including the full size professional portafilter (this thing must weigh a pound!) and the brass components, which I decided were a "must have" after reading about that aspect of construction.
I have not found Silvia to be as fussy as many have claimed. When I bought Silvia, the folks at Daily Grind assured me that my Capresso Infinity conical burr grinder would work just fine with Silvia, and they were right--I've had no trouble at all with grind adjustments. Silvia's steaming abliity is absolutely superb and I've never run out of steam....since I'm a cappuccino drinker the ability to make great microfoam was important to me. I did not want a machine with either a pressurized portafilter or lackluster steaming capability, and I just wanted a traditional steam wand, so Silvia ended up being a logical choice.
I didn't find the learning curve to be in the least bit difficult....after making just a few cappuccinos I pretty much had it all dialed in and my cappuccinos have been extremely consistent over the last 2 months, not a rotten egg in the bunch! This machine was a bit bigger than I expected...compared to my previous Krups machine it looked gigantic. However, now I'm used to it and it's actually a lot more compact than many other machines out there. It doesn't have the flashy, dazzling chrome beauty of the showstopping high end machines, but Silvia is still a beautiful piece of machinery. Probably my only complaint would be the lag time between brewing and steaming, which is sometimes a couple of minutes, which can be annoying. However, I can live with that! I do the espresso first, then the milk, so even though the espresso may have cooled down a bit, the steamed milk heats it right back up again and it's not really an issue. Silvia does use rather a lot of water, though....I'm always topping off the storage tank (which actually holds a lot of water).
Cleaning is easy. I use bottled type water only, so hopefully Silvia won't gunk up as it might if I were using my well water. The screen is easy to remove and clean, as is the drip tray.
Bought a "buyer's remorse" Silvia from Daily Grind. They were absolutely great people to buy from and spent a LOT of time explaining things to me over several very lengthy conversations. The machine arrived in about 5 days and was packed well. It has the full one-year warranty despite its reduced price. The machine itself was brand new looking, as were all the items in the package (still sealed up). Daily Grind claimed this Silvia had been returned by a panicked, remorseful buyer and had not been used. That looked to be the case as far as I could tell.
Three Month Followup
At this point (Jan. 1st, 2006) I've owned Silvia for 5 months, and I couldn't be happier. I guess it might be nice to have a plumbed in machine with 2 boilers, but because of lousy well water I couldn't have a plumbed machine anyway. Silvia has given me no problems at all, and continues to produces fantastic cappuccinos. I've completely mastered the microfoam technique, and Silvia's steaming capability is incredible, I'm totally satisfied with that. I wish the lag time between brewing and steaming could be shortened a bit, but I can still live with it the way it is. I also got a bit frustrated at Xmas trying to do lots of cappuccinos for everyone....but that situation is rare for me, actually. Usually it's just doing two a day. If I had to do a lot all the time, I'd definitely want a more capable machine in terms of doing rapid succession drinks.