What a wonderful purchase! I am thrilled that I finally have an amazing espresso machine at home. I went through four espresso machines, from fully automated like Saeco Digital, DeLonghi Magnifica and Solis Master 5000, to Saeco (Starbucks) Barista. They all had one weakness or the other. Of course, I wanted to go the easy way with the Super Automatic, thinking that, no matter how much you love coffee, you cannot just put some ground coffee in some machine and make a good tasting espresso.
Well, just by going from one machine to the other, I realized that I could use that time instead to learn a little about making espresso manually. It was the best investment I ever made as far as coffee is concerned.
Silvia is fantastic! Of course, if you want to get results, you have to get a good grinder. I got the Rancilio Rocky doserless and they perform wonderfully together. The machine is easy to use, and, well, easy to clean as well (this was NOT the most important factor in making my choice, but you have to admit that it makes a difference in the long run).
Anyhow, just last night my wife made a cappuccino. I think this was her third time using the machine. I was trying to show her as much as possible how to use it as I didn't want her to mess up my beautiful machine! Well, she made an incredible espresso and the milk froth actually managed to embarasse me (as I actually spent time "honing" my frothing skills...).
I think that whomever gets this machine will not regret it. I lived in Italy for 5 years, and my parents still do, hence I go there several times a year. I can tell you that this machine is capable of matching and even EXCEEDING the quality of espresso you can get in an average Italian bar. Italians like to say that to make a good espresso, you need the four M's: macinatura, macchina, macinadosatore e mano. This means the grind, the machine, the right dosage and the hand. With Silvia you can be SURE of at least one thing: the machine. If you get a good grinder, you are half way there. If you try it out a little, you will start getting the hang of it and realize why this machine is one of the best, if not the best, in it's class.
Also, you will notice one detail: the simplicity of instructions. I have read several comments about the instructions for this machine, judging it to be too simple and insufficient. Well, all I can say is that it was meant to be simple because a shot of espresso should be simple. In fact, I don't know anyone in Italy that is puzzled every time they have coffee, thinking that they are enjoying some sort of misterious drink impossible to reproduce by mere mortals.
There are a few tips I would like to share here. I will repeat again: get a great grinder. It will save you a lot of guesswork. Get a good tamper. The one that comes with Silvia is too light. Also, after each use it would be useful to fill up the water tank as it could damage the machine if it goes completely empty.