Rancilio Silvia V3 Espresso Machine Review

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rancilio-silvia-espresso-machine

Introduction

If you are looking for an espresso machine that’s exceptionally made for the money and enables you to enjoy the process as well as the outcome of making espresso, Rancilio Silvia 3 would fit the bill.

Perhaps there is no other espresso maker than the Silvia that has been subjected to so much debate and many expert reviews. Designed and manufactured in Italy by Rancilio, this machine has been through three major upgrades and perfection for over a decade.

That’s why so many espresso connoisseurs call it “Miss Silvia” as a way to express their amore and appreciation. Let’s see if Miss Silvia has lived up to the expectations.

 Table of Contents
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1. Introduction
2. Features & Benefits
3. Brewing
4. Steaming
5. Display & Control
6. Additional Features
7. How to Clean
8. Accessories
9. Power & Cord
10. Dimensions & Weight
11. Warranty
12. Pros & Cons
13. Consumer Reviews
14. Price
15. Summary

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Features & Benefits of Rancilio Silvia V3

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  • Brass Portafilter and Group Head: Made of chrome-plated brass, the 58mm commercial-grade portafilter provides a large surface for the hot water to penetrate through the coffee ground resulting maximum extraction.

    The brass group head carries on the same mission with a superior brewing temperature. Did I mention that brass is a highly sought-after material because it resists erosion and prevents mineral buildup for longer and lasting life of the machine?

  • 12 Oz Single Boiler: The Silvia’s boiler is made of marine-grade brass for optimal heat conductivity. The large boiler size enables the user to make multiple espressos with quick recycle time, more steaming power and temperature stability.
  • 2 Thermostats and 1 Overheat Switch: There is a thermostat for brewing and another for steaming. A safety switch is built in to prevent the boiler from overheating due to malfunction.
  • 3-Way Solenoid Valve: This allows immediate release of the pump pressure resulting in drier puck for easy cleaning and less need to rinse the portafilter in case more shots are to be pulled. More stable brewing temperature, better espresso and less wait time.
  • 67 Fl. Oz Water Reservoir: This is a medium-sized water reservoir to be refilled from the top. If you are concerned about scale build up, you may add a water filter to the reservoir as an option or use filtered/bottled water.
  • Durable Housing Materials: Made of hefty iron in the frame, the exterior casing, the drip tray and pan are all made of stainless steel that’s durable, easy to clean and can easily fit into a high-end kitchen décor.

Brewing

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Like many household appliances, start with reading the User Manual word by word to make sure you understand the machine on paper. Occasionally you might detect traces of coffee in the machine due to testing during the manufacturing process.

The Rancilio Silvia is not equipped with auto-fill function for the boiler. That means you’ll have to fill the boiler manually. This is what you need to do:

  1. Fill the water reservoir
  2. Put a cup under the steam wand
  3. Turn the Power On button
  4. Open the steam wand knob and press the “Hot Water” switch on the left
  5. The boiler will fill out and hot water will run out of the steam wand. Let the water run for at least half a reservoir to flush out the debris and dust.
  6. Turn off the steam wand knob and the “Hot Water” button.

Repeat the same flush cycle for the grouphead:

  1. Fill the water reservoir
  2. Place a large container/bowl under the portafilter
  3. Turn on the “Brew” button on the top left to run approximately 1 liter worth of water through the grouphead. Some suggested doubling or tripling the amount of water to ensure the proper brewing temperature before pulling a shot. This step may take quite a while to complete. One shortcut is to run enough hot water through the steam wand and the grouphead with the portafilter attached to trick the boiler to cycle a couple of times. This shortcut will cut down the warm up time significantly.

The Silvia is somewhat finicky with the coarseness of the espresso coffee. Getting the right temperature poses another challenge for many. The temperature range for this machine is from 195F to 212F. The optimal temperature is around 199F for pulling great shots. One method of temp-surfing on this machine is to watch the boiler indicator light status.

Follow the flush cycle steps and let the machine warm up to the proper temperature. Allow the boiler to cycle and run water through the grouphead for a few seconds. Attach the filled portafilter and pull the shot.

Steaming

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Due to the single boiler, there is some wait time for the machine to switch from brewing to steaming as steaming requires higher temperature than brewing. Turn on the “Steam” switch and wait for a few seconds. Open the steam tap to release any condensed water and close the tap.

Wait for another 30 seconds and insert the wand into the milk pitcher. Open the steam tap to heat up the milk to the desired temperature. Close the tap and remove the wand from the pitcher.

As usual, knock the pitcher on the counter to reduce the air bubbles and swirl the container to create a creamy texture. Pour appropriate amount into the espresso to make your drink. Learn a bit about espresso art to add some visual interest.

Display & Control

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Four rocker switches are used for turning on and off. Comparing to the push-buttons , the rocker style is more durable and less prone to problems. From left to right and top to bottom, there are “Brew”, “Hot Water”, “Steam” and Indicator Light. Right above the steam wand, a knob can be turned on or off for steaming and dispensing hot water.

Additional Features of Silvia V3

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  1. Cup Warming Tray: A cup warming tray is located on the top of the machine allowing 6 espresso-sized cup or 12 if stacked up. The warming tray is passively heated. It’s wise to warm up the cup in hot water before each shot.
  2. Drip Tray: The drip tray is small and shallow. You might have to empty it quite often to avoid overflowing.
  3. Rubber Vibration-Supressing Feet: Miss Silvia comes with rubber feet to reduce any vibration generated from the pump. The noise level generally doesn’t exceed 70dB during operation.

How to Clean

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The daily cleaning includes:

  • Clean the exterior of the machine, the steam wand and the grouphead.
  • Rinse portafilter with hot water and dry it with a kitchen towel.

Periodically, you need to clean the following:

  • Place the filter baskets and the portafilter into hot water to dissolve the coffee oil and debris and dry with a clean kitchen towel.
  • Clean the water tank to remove any mineral deposit from tap water.
  • Descale: Once in a great while, descale the machine using the manufacturer recommended cleaning products.

Accessories

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Included Accessories

Two filter baskets for single and double shot, a plastic coffee tamper and a coffee measuring scoop.

Optional Accessories

ranchilio-rocky-dosreless-coffee-grinder

ranchilio-rocky-dosreless-coffee-grinder

It’s highly recommended getting a quality metal tamper as the included one is worthless per customer reviews.

Another hefty investment is to consider a good coffee grinder as it’s so essential to the success or failure of your shots. Rancilio has its own grinder with two different models (doser or doserless) that works perfectly with the Silvia.

Power & Cord

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  • Input Power (W): 1100
  • Voltage/Frequency (V-Hz): 110/60

Dimensions & Weight

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  • Dimensions (W x D x H inches): 9.2 x 11.2 x 13.2
  • Weight (lbs): 30

Warranty

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2-year limited on parts and labor

Pros & Cons

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Pros

  • It has the largest boiler size in its class of 12 oz. that ensures quick heat up time and stable brewing temperature for best extraction.
  • The boiler and the grouphead are made of marine-grade brass for efficient heat distribution and stability while resisting to pitting and warping.
  • The commercial-sized portafilter of 58mm in diameter provides an ample surface for water distribution and maximum extraction.
  • The steam wand is the same as the commercial kind to ensure efficient steaming with a wide range of motions.
  • The high limit switch is designed to prevent overheating of the boiler and prolong the life expectancy of the same.
  • The rocker switches are durable and easy to operate.
  • Iron framed and stainless steel cased, the machine is built like a tank and offers many years of enjoyment.
  • With the solenoid valve, the puck comes out dry and easy to knock off.

Cons

  • The Silvia is very fussy about the coarseness of the coffee ground and the shots may vary hugely due to this factor.
  • There is a considerable learning curve to get familiar with the machine and mastery takes time and lots of patience.
  • Surfing for the ideal brewing temperature takes some trials and errors.
  • No auto-fill feature for the boiler which translates to responsibility on the user’s part to cycle the boiler for brewing.

Consumer Reviews

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4.3 out of 5.0

Since it was first introduced to the North America, Rancilio Silvia has become one of the most popular espresso machines in the price range adored by many espresso enthusiasts. Many people appreciate the quality in the design and construction. Better yet, they are very pleased with the outcome of the espressos. 84% of the Amazon reviewers have given it a thumb-up of 4-5 stars. The rest are less enchanted with the Silvia for being so fussy and finicky to operate.

Price

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Rancilio Silvia Version 3 is priced under $700 which many users think of it as good value for the functionality and quality.

Summary

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The great espresso doesn’t come without paying a price in learning and practicing. A longer “courtship” is required to achieve the right balance of the ground size, tamping pressure, right brewing temperature and pressure to yield the ultimate sensory delight to start your day.

If you were hoping for a great deal of automation and prefer the “bam-thank-you-ma’am” style, the Silvia is not for you.

On the other hand, if you enjoy the ritual and long-term “romance” and the journey, the Rancilio Silvia espresso maker is worth every bit of time, frustration and commitment. It will become your dream machine with solid performance.

 

For current price information, click on the button below.

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