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Rancilio Silvia - Jim Benenson's Review
Posted: December 19, 2006, 3:54pm
review rating: 5.6
feedback: (1) comments | read | write
Rancilio Silvia
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More About This Product
Arrow The Rancilio Silvia has 230 Reviews
Arrow The Rancilio Silvia has been rated 8.55 overall by our member reviewers
Arrow This product has been in our review database since November 30, 2001.
Arrow Rancilio Silvia reviews have been viewed 1,677,221 times (updated hourly).

Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Chris Clark 9.13
Ed Lawless 9.00
Joe DP 8.88
Dave Borton 8.67
Eric Larson 8.62

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 9.8
Manufacturer: Rancilio Quality: 10
Average Price: $629.00 Usability: 9
Price Paid: $395.00 Cost vs. Value 10
Where Bought: Whole Latte Love Aesthetics 10
Owned for: 2 years Overall 10
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: Saeco Magic, etc.
Bottom Line: The Rancilio Silvia makes as great an espresso as you can find anywhere -- including Italy
Positive Product Points

Extremely well built for a home machine
Produces the best espresso shot available
Looks impressive in the kitchen

Negative Product Points

No water reserve indicator
The grind and tamp must be just right

Detailed Commentary

I have owned a number of home espresso machines; the Rancilio is hands-down the best.  It is expensive and a little bit tricky to use, but once I bit the price bullet I have never looked back.  It is absolutely necessary to have a good burr grinder to use with the Silvia, as the grind must be exact or you can easily get thin or over-extracted shots.  I bought the Silvio Rocky grinder at the same time as the Silvia (and have never looked back).

The machine is formidable as far as home machines go, and is a handsome stainless steel box.  At first I wondered why I needed such a large machine (and I still wonder sometimes), but I trust that the heavy-duty components require a substantial housing.  The water tank is plastic and does the job, but I'm glad that it's hidden -- it's industrial ugly.  The water is cycled by two plastic hoses that rub against the water tank upon its removal and insertion, but after many fills there has been no wear.  I don't think that I will ever have to replace them, but if I do I doubt it will be difficult.  The head and portafilter are well made and easy to clean.  I have the early model portafilter which is coated brass.  Over time there has been slight wear of the coating and I wish that Rancilio had chosen a color other than brown, since judging the cleanliness is difficult.  The steam wand is just that: a wand.  No gadgets or frills, and with the high pressure the results are excellent.  The bottom grill and tray are both stainless so cleaning is easy.  The Silvia is a no-nonsense work horse that I expect to have around for a long time.

My daughter lived in Florence for seven years, so I had the experience of drinking many shots right in the land of espresso.  All were good, but some were exceptional -- those were the ones I wanted to emulate.  Using home-roasted beans and being careful with grinding (15-16 setting on the Rocky) and tamping (about 30 lbs.), the Rancilio can produce as fine a shot of espresso as I could find anywhere in Italy.  (I always use the "double" filter basket and never use the silly plastic tamper that cfame with the machine.)  I use glass cups so I can watch the crema build:  I usually get 1/2 to 3/4 inch per shot.  Regardless of how attentive I am to the grind, a few fines always get through into the cup, but I don't care about that at all.  In fact it seems to add to the autheticity of drinking pure, unprocessed, unfiltered coffee.  I have not paid any attention to the steam and extraction temperatures; I just turn on the machine and let it warm up for fifteen minutes or so.  When I make a (rare) cappucino, I steam the milk first then pull the shot.  I get a little delay before the shot starts flowing but it hasn't affected the taste.  I always run a blind shot before the first cup of the day to warm the portafilter, but that's the extent of any extra work I do (I'm lazy).

I have not had any regrets about the Silvia or the Rocky once I learned the parameters of creating the shot.

Buying Experience

I bought this machine from Whole Latte Love.  They have always been a great vendor.

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review rating: 5.6
Posted: December 19, 2006, 3:54pm
feedback: (1) comments | read | write
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