A great machine to learn espresso, but not if lattes and cappas are your bag, and not if consistently excellent espresso is your expectation.
Positive Product Points
Solid construction, well built No breakdowns in 2 years of daily use Good quality for pricepoint Will give above average espresso and milk drinks to patient users
Negative Product Points
Poor temperature control, but manageable; small boiler Milk drinks take longer for steam pressure and purging of wet steam Having to refill boiler after steaming Drippy steam arm Shallow drain pan No pre-infusion
Coffee fanaticism hit me about 2 years ago when I purchased the Silvia/Rocky combo, along with an Iroast2 from Sweet Marias. I bought it because of the good reviews here and the information on Sweet Marias site. I am now as deeply hooked as ever and a new Quickmill Vetrano is on the way for Christmas. The Silvia is performing today as good as it was out of the box. The only issues that I have had are gasket leaks from the portafilter, replaced twice, and a leaky steam gasket, replaced about 2 months ago.
I learned to get the most out of the Silvia from this site and Home Barista, where there are many topics/threads that are required reading. Temperature surfing is necessary for this machine and, luckily, not too difficult. An Espro clicking tamper and naked portafilter contributed greatly to the quality of my shots. The Rocky grinder is adequate, but a used Super Jolly gave more uniform extractions and less channeling/squirters. This is not a machine for those who expect exceptional or flawless espresso out of the box, but it is an excellent way to test the waters of espresso and learn along the way. I have considered getting a PID for Silvia, but figure the added $$ would be better applied to an upgrade.
There are many user reviews that detail day to day use and it seems that most of those people who learned on this machine as their first serious machine have no regrets. However, knowing now that I make mainly lattes and cappas, I would have started off with an HX machine first for a little more $$. But you are spending almost twice as much for such a machine, a leap few are willing to take.
My espresso shots are sometimes very good to great, but have not hit the consistently excellent level that it seems many have achieved by upgrading. My jump up to the Vetrano will hopefully give me this, and in the least it should cut down greatly on time spent on making two lattes for the wife and me. I am also really looking forward to the quiet rotary pump. The masochist in me won't let me jump to double boiler yet, as I am hoping that the Vetrano on sale and the Eric S. E-61 grouphead thermometer will suffice.
Overall, this is a great machine for someone who can't afford a $1000+ machine, but who still wants a quality product that will last quite long (based on other owners reviews), IF you are patient and do not mainly consume milk based drinks. Right now there are HX machines in the $1000 range that I likely would have been more happy with, such as the entry level Bricoletta or Expobar, or even the Salvatore. Heck, I might have even tried a lever if it weren't for the wife intimidation factor.
No problems from Sweet Maria's and they are still one of the best sources for green coffee.