Sorry for YARSPR (Yet Another Rancilio Silvia Product Review) but I just had a cup that was so incredible - almost therapeutic - I had to share my feelings about this product for the archives.
Aside from the beautiful, minimal industrial design, quality commercial-grade parts etc. the Silvia can produce a horrible draw if you are not someone who can pay attention to the details. If however, you can handle the variables of roast, bean, age, grind, humidity, tamp, amount, etc. this machine can produce results that may forever change the way you think about espresso and coffee.
It's that good. Really.
I just made a cup from beans provided by a local coffee house and ground them in my Rocky. The first draw was undrinkable, bitter and the grounds were soupy in the filter. Realizing that the humidity was low, I notched my Rocky down two clicks to a 6 and tried again.
A perfect (for my tastes) lingering, 24 second draw. The complexity of the aroma as I was standing next to the machine was noticeable. As I pulled the cup away from the Silvia to enjoy, I inspected the crema and found that it was dense, thick and infused with two small deeper almost dark brown swirl-lets. I like a light teaspoon of sugar in my espresso, but almost always sample it raw first. Folks, not to lament on this too much, but espresso can be religious for some of us and I must say that even without sugar this cup was rich, complex, smooth, bitter-less and just plain delicious beyond what my brain was prepared for. You see, I have been very busy lately and been getting my coffee elsewhere. I've been the victim of some vapid cups of mall-goers offering, and had forgotten about how even TWO CLICKS on a burr grinder can make THIS KIND OF DIFFERENCE.
I added my teaspoon, gently stirred the bottom so as to not disturb the crema and enjoyed an almost 'tribal' cup of ground bean product - if that makes any sense. The crema was so dense it clung to the sides of the cup. Absolutely no bitterness almost Guiness-like but more full bodied. The Silvia seems to impart this characteristic on almost any decent bean/roast/grind.
The moral of the story is: Don't settle for a mediocre cup. Get it right. Figure it out. Don't be afraid to throw it out. Once you have it calibrated it will be probably be good for several days unless there is a major shift in humidity/temperature.
The Silvia gives you the flexibility to pay attention to the details and the potential results are absolutely superlative.
I'm off to make a second cup.