So, the Rancilio Silvia seems to have fallen out of favor?

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
robin

#1: Post by robin »

Hi!
First "real" post here, so I'm going to thank everyone for contributing to this awesome forum, I've spent some time enjoying your posts :-)

I've been wanting a proper espresso machine for some time now, and it would seem that I should be able to stretch my budget in order to accommodate one mid-january. As a student, this kind of money doesnt come easy...

I had basically decided that i wanted a Macap m4 and a silvia. But both here and on CG ive read a lot of posts stating that the silvia might not be the best machine available at that price point. Some of these post have hinted that there really isnt that much of a big step up pricewise to a HX, but I'm already stretching it with the silvia and around $200 is a big step for me.

Here in Norway, i can get the silvia for a whopping $920, and online i can get it for around $600. At this price point i could go for the Gaggia Classic, Isomac Venus, FF x1 and almost a Gaggia Achille or Vibiemme Domobar (but these are probably too expensive... :-( ). There are probably more too...

So, tell me, if the Silvia isnt the better alternative, what is? Are there other machines i should be looking into?

I feel like I'm getting more and more lost the more i research.

robin

#2: Post by robin »

Sorry for replying to my own post, but I thought i should add that i appreciate both espresso and cappas, so I'm looking for a machine that has good steaming performance as well, without the espressos suffering too much... I'm very intrigued by achieving good microfoam, but since I've only played around with a commercial faema machine, I really dont know what to expect from a home model.

User avatar
Kristi

#3: Post by Kristi »

Go with Venus - brass boiler almost on top of the group. The Silvia, with it's seriously offset boiler, required 2 separate PIDs and a head rope heater before it became "acceptable" for me. The Macap would be superb.

User avatar
mrgnomer

#4: Post by mrgnomer »

I had a Silvia and never used a Gaggia machine so I'm biased. Good things are written about Gaggia machines for espresso quality relative to price of the machine and I think that's maybe why the Silvia's either being over looked or overshadowed. The Silvia is in a kind of vacuum zone: a little too expensive for the I don't want to spend much for good espresso entry level buyers and not enough of a machine for the espresso obsessed who know you get what you pay for and are looking for higher end machines. Now that her price is up after being fitted with an adjustable OPV and redesigned a bit she's getting close to the e61 group machines which puts her a little more out of range of entry level buyers.

Still, she's a tank and pulls excellent espresso if you know what you're doing. She's finicky but extremely hardy and capable. The Silvia's resale value is higher, I believe, than a Gaggia's and that is a reflection of her quality and durability. Still both machines are capable of good espresso and if price is very important to you, the Gaggia machines appear to be the best immediate value. The Silvia is an excellent steamer and as good as or possibly better than some higher priced HX machines.

User avatar
jesawdy

#5: Post by jesawdy »

Not knowing prices in Norway, if you can save some money (and need to), you might consider a Gaggia or the Isomac, I think I would avoid the Francis Francis. If you can afford it, and a lever (heat ex no less, standard 58mm portafilter) attracts you, the Gaggia Achille looks wonderful.

Silvia can do a great job, especially with that Macap.
Jeff Sawdy

User avatar
HB
Admin

#6: Post by HB »

robin wrote:I'm looking for a machine that has good steaming performance as well, without the espressos suffering too much... I'm very intrigued by achieving good microfoam, but since I've only played around with a commercial faema machine, I really dont know what to expect from a home model.
The steaming power of prosumer / semi-commercials isn't in the same league as the multi-liter commercial espresso machines, but you can still microfoam nicely, albeit at a slower pace (30-40 seconds) and quantity (6-10 ounces). Returning to your original question, I wouldn't say that Silvia has fallen out of favor per se, rather other options that were too expensive at the peak of Silvia's popularity are now more competitively priced. For the long version, see my mini-rant on the subject.
Dan Kehn

robin

#7: Post by robin » replying to HB »

I read your mini-rant and it was one of the reasons why I created this post. I totally agree that bad equipment/usability does not equal good learning, or time well invested. And while I do understand the reasons for going with an $800 HX, I'm not sure it's a viable option for me.

I've used the Gaggia Classic once or twice, and while it is possible to get good coffee from it, I've never seen it produce good foam, and as far as I've read, the silvia has more steaming power. If I were to go for the Venus, I feel like i might as well go for an Achille, or similar as the Venus is over a hundred dollars more.

So, if you were to recommend the best machine for every hundred dollars spent from $400 to $1000, how would it look?

2xlp

#8: Post by 2xlp »

I own a venus and am rather displeased.

The thermoclicks are worthless (i have the old version, but the new ones only upgraded the steam to my knowledge).
The overpressure system is located after the boiler - Isomac decided to save $5 by integrating the steam & water overpressure system.
The lights are cheap - entirely made of plastic, including the metal-looking wells they're in.

A few months after picking it up, I bought an expobar, which I like a lot more.

Right now , my venus is in pieces on a workbench. I've picked up a new pressure regulator - the Andreja one from Chris Coffee - and have a PID. This weekend both should be installed... and next week I'll be installing silicon insulation on the boiler.

I'm fairly sure that the new pressure regulator will address the bulk of my concerns. If not, the PID and insulation should :)

If you can wait 2 weeks, I can give you an update on my satisfaction with a heavily modded Venus. The OPV mod cost about $50 US. The PID $200 US, and the silicon insulation will likely cost $20. The PID is overkill, but in terms of temp stability and energy efficiency, i think $70 for the OPV and silicon will be more than worth it.

User avatar
HB
Admin

#9: Post by HB »

robin wrote:So, if you were to recommend the best machine for every hundred dollars spent from $400 to $1000, how would it look?
I wouldn't recommend "the best" for various price points because buyer's interests vary so much. One of the reasons the Buyer's Guides are lengthy is because they try to convey the machine's strengths and weaknesses on many fronts (I resisted any semblance of a scoring system, but it's expected these days).

More to your question, I informally think of espresso machines divided into different tiers: entry level, high entry level, prosumer / semi-commercial, commercial. Most of the angst around a purchase decision occurs when the price point of a machine straddles two tiers. Silvia is the case in point: At the peak of its popularity, there was a $400+ spread between its tier (high end entry) and the next tier, prosumer / semi-commercial. Now that spread has narrowed to $250-300. The aggravation of temperature surfing prompts Silvia owners to add a PID, pushing the price within $100 of an HX machine.

That's why I say Silvia hasn't really fallen out of favor, rather others have come into favor. I don't delve into specific comparisons of entry and high entry level equipment (Krups XP4020, Rancilio Silvia, Gaggia Classic / Coffee, Isomac Venus, etc.) simply because my knowledge of them is limited; instead, this site focuses on the prosumer / semi-commercial tier with occasional dabbling in the commercial tier.
Dan Kehn

User avatar
jesawdy

#10: Post by jesawdy »

robin wrote:I've used the Gaggia Classic once or twice, and while it is possible to get good coffee from it, I've never seen it produce good foam, and as far as I've read, the silvia has more steaming power. If I were to go for the Venus, I feel like i might as well go for an Achille, or similar as the Venus is over a hundred dollars more.
I feel pretty certain that with a good grinder, beans and practice, the Gaggia Classic can make an espresso and crema as good as most other machines.

I am curious, what would the Achille cost you over there? It is $1300 here in the US.
Jeff Sawdy