Posted on 01 June 2011 by Nate
An In-Depth Look at the Newest Rancilio Silvia Model
List Price: $649.99
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Availability: Click here for availability
I finally had a chance to sit down and conduct a thorough review of the current incarnation of the Rancilio Silvia home espresso machine, the V3. I have been using the Rancilio Silvia for over five years now, so when I sat down with the V3, or version 3, I primarily focused on the recent design changes to the machine over past versions.
As you’re likely aware, the Miss Silvia model has been a very good seller for Rancilio over the years since its first release and it has been a tremendously successful addition to the company’s product lineup. While many of their machines are commercial-grade, the Rancilio Silvia filled a very hot niche for the company. The machine blends many no-nonsense commercial features with the size, affordability, and user friendliness that so many home espresso enthusiasts demand.
What’s So Great About the Rancilio Silvia V3?
For starters, the machine is widely considered the absolute best in class for home espresso machines under $1,000. It comes housed in a no-frills stainless steel case which gives the machine a commercial look and feel.
The machine hits the scales at around 35 pounds which is primarily due to a solid internal steel frame and a heavy duty brass boiler. The boiler in the Rancilio Silvia places it squarely head and shoulders above other units in this price range. Additionally, the pump within the current V3 is extremely durable and should require no maintenance over the long haul.
The Rancilio Silvia is a very straightforward machine. Its focus on quality espresso extraction over bells and whistles eliminates many components which require replacement and maintenance. Most repairs, when and if necessary, can be carried out at home for those with a little mechanical inclination, but if you’re not handy with a screwdriver and light electronics there are authorized repair facilities throughout the country.
With the latest version of the machine, Rancilio made three primary changes: an enhanced ergonomic steam knob, a redesigned ergonomic portafilter handle, as well as a commercial-style articulating steam wand. Having used the V3 as well as the model produced prior to it, I can say that the articulating steam wand is by far the most valuable upgrade. The ability to shape the wand to fit frothing pitchers of various shapes and sizes is tremendously helpful when producing milk-based drinks. While the new portafilter handle and steam knob are visually pleasing and a nice touch when the unit is on your kitchen counter, they don’t add much functionality to the unit.
In terms of size, for a unit which produces coffee house quality espresso (or better depending on the coffee house), the Rancilio Silvia is a very space effective machine. After measuring the machine, dimensions are approximately 13.5 inches high, 9.5 inches wide, and 14 inches deep.
What’s Not So Great?
First, if you’re interested in a “pretty” machine with lots of chrome to impress your friends, the Rancilio Silvia isn’t for you. This unit focuses on producing great espresso and keeping the bells and whistles (and thus the price tag) to a minimum. Additionally, for a machine without lots of features, Miss Silvia does have a learning curve and takes some time to get used to. Our site is full of helpful tips and guides on using the machine and will hopefully help you to reduce this learning curve somewhat.
Also, because the Rancilio Silvia incorporates a heavy duty brass boiler and group head, it does take some time to warm up. Don’t expect to flip the power switch and have crema-rich espresso within five minutes. It is advisable to give the machine 20 to 30 minutes to properly warm. One way around this is to use a simple outlet timer and set it to power the machine on about 30 minutes before you plan to use it. NOTE: If you decide to use an outlet timer, ALWAYS make sure that only the power switch is activated and not the brew or steam switches. If your timer goes on and you’ve accidentally activated both the power and brew switches, your machine will turn on along with the pump and it will run dry.
- Commercial quality for under $1,000
- Heavy duty brass boiler
- Powerful pump unit
- Stainless steel construction
- Very durable
- No-frills look
- Takes time to warm properly
- Requires time to learn to use properly
A Recent Review of the Rancilio Silvia on Amazon:
“I’ve now had the RS for two days, and my wife and I are in love with it. I did a lot of research into espresso makers before deciding on this one. What caught my attention were comments from people who had owned the unit for many trouble-free years. Previously we tried different semi-automatic makers and got good coffee but found the units to be unreliable (notably the Cappresso Ultima). This time, we wanted barebones simplicity and reliability. So far, we feel we’ve got that with this maker.”
Housing: Stainless steel
Drip Tray: Stainless steel
Boiler material: Brass
Boiler type: Vibratory
Boiler Wattage: 952 watts
Boiler Volume: 12 ounces
Brew Group Material: Brass
Burn Out Protection: High limit switch
Portafilter Style: Commercial
Portafilter Material: Chrome plated brass
Basket Diameter: 58mm
Filter Baskets Included: Single and double
Water Reservoir: Removable 2 quart