If you are interested in a Rancilio Silvia or just a newbie who is looking for a great in home espresso machine, you’ve come to the right place! Buying your first espresso machine can feel intimidating and you may be wondering if the Rancilio Silvia is worth the investment. In my review below I will discuss the cost effectiveness of an in home espresso machine as well as the basics of the Rancilio Silvia.
Let me start by saying I never worked at Starbucks or operated an espresso machine before purchasing one for in home. So if you are a total novice who is interested in getting more versed with espresso, trust me when I say if I can use this Rancilio Silvia espresso machine, you can too! When I found out I was pregnant with my first I had been flirting with the idea of purchasing an espresso machine for a while but thinking ahead to sleepless nights and needed midday pick-me-ups, I decided it was now a necessity. I reached out to two friends in the coffee business and both of them recommended the Rancilio Silvia espresso machine over other in home models. After perusing reviews, it seems the internet agrees: the Rancilio Silvia is consistently ranked in the top home espresso machines under $1,000.
Now that I found the right machine, I had to wonder: is it really cost effective or is this just an expensive machine taking up my precious counter space? I love a morning latte, an afternoon cortado, and the occasional espresso from time to time- but is this upfront cost the right way to keep up my caffeine habit without breaking the bank?
Lets just zero in on one espresso drink in the morning- my coveted latte. On average, a medium size (12 oz) latte will cost $5 without adding in a tip or any other extras like flavoring or alternate milks. That comes out to $1,825 a year – which is no small chunk of change. Some may argue that the Nespresso machines are a worthy opponent, but the pods are only 5g of caffeine which equates to $51 per pound of coffee. That is actually ludacris. Now in contrast, I source my beans from Chris’s Coffee, a friend’s family owned coffee company in Upstate NY. I love the luminoso espresso beans which runs $13.95 for a one pound bag, or sixteen ounces of beans. If you are accurately measuring your espresso (22 grams of espresso per double shot), that will yield about 20 double espresso shots in one bag. Combine that with a couple of cartons of an alternative milk (say at average $3) and you are looking at $19.95 for 20 12-ounce lattes, which equates to less than a dollar ($0.99) for your daily latte. That comes out to $361, or a savings of $1,463 a year. That outright pays for the Rancilio Silvia espresso machine and then some!
Okay, great! This is obviously a smart financial move from a cost perspective. But as I said before, I was a total newbie and really didn’t know much of anything about how to operate the machine I am looking to buy. So, how do I go about using this thing?
Ease of Use
I am so thankful to be alive during the years of YouTube because honestly you can find out how to do anything with a simple search. The Rancilio Silvia has a bunch of videos (I like this informative video) dedicated to first time users because it is such a popular machine among entry level home baristas. Pictured above is my complete set up including my grinder, tamper, knockbox, and frothing pitcher. I will note that you only get the machine and the 58mm portafilter with two baskets (single and double) with initial purchase so it is extremely important to also get the correct grinder (I have the Rocky Doserless Grinder) to accompany your new machine, because the grind truly matters. It is the difference between a superb and subpar extraction. In truth, the machine is the easy part of the equation!
The Rancilio Silvia produces a consistent brew each time without fault. It’s the little factors (grind, amount, tamping) that will cause inconsistencies with use. In the beginning, I would weigh out my grinds and count run time to make sure I had enough to produce a great double shot. Once I had that mastered, everything else became a little bit of trial and error until you dialed in on the right grind and the right tamp pressure to produce the perfect shot. Although they do make neat tools to make life a little easier; like this new calibrated tamper I am eyeing that clicks audibly when the perfect pressure is achieved. Now that I have had the machine for almost 2 years I have learned how to temperature surf (to achieve the perfect extraction temperature) and am working on my foam art, which as anyone who follows me on Instagram can say – is still a work in progress!
Size & Construction
Now that we have established the Rancilio Silvia espresso machine is both cost effective and first time user friendly, how will it measure up on the counter? Unlike a toaster, blender or other appliance you can simply put away when not in use, you are going to have this gorgeous lady on your countertops at all times. Luckily, the Rancilio Silvia is created with commercial grade components and modeled after some of the most iconic machines to grace a countertop. Plus it packs a vintage charm, durability, and reliability into a about the size of a sheet of paper (9″w x 13.5″h x 10.7d) . The casing is brushed stainless steel with a exposed black powdercoat frame which blends well in modern kitchens. The boiler is is made of marine grade brass and is the largest volume out of any home machine within its class. Additionally, the size of the portafilter is the same size as commercial machines which helps water distribute evenly over a wide surface area. The revolving steaming wand was recently updated and chrome plated – just don’t forget to purge and wipe after each use! There is no doubt this machine is built with quality parts and has a boastful status of the premier entry level machine for home espresso enthusiasts. Just look up the reviews on this thing- some have had their Rancilio Silvia for over 25 years!
Overall the Rancilio Silvia is like a professional level espresso machine right in your home. Now you can be your own barista! While it is friendly to beginners there is still a bit of skill required but it is nothing a few YouTube videos can’t solve. It is extremely cost effective and brews excellent and consistent extractions with the proper equipment. As a beginner who is looking to start leaping into the world of espresso, the Rancilio Silvia is an excellent choice for both taste and aroma. But you won’t believe it until you experience it! Trust me, you’ll never go back to ordinary coffee in home again.
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