The Rancilio Silvia is a popular single boiler home Barista espresso coffee maker machine 2020. For quite some time there wasn’t a great deal of competition when it comes to single boiler machines, other than the Gaggia Classic.
Silvia has usually been regarded by those with experience of both, as having a bit more potential for espresso quality, if paired with a capable enough grinder. The classic has been regarded, generally speaking, as the more reliable of the two over the long term, and with less potential to element burnout due to the fact that the boiler is externally heated.The main con for the Silvia vs the Classic, though, was cost. For a long time, the Silvia was roughly double the cost of the classic.
This is no longer quite the case, the new Gaggia Classic is available from the UK distributor Gaggia Direct, for £399, and the new version of the Rancilio Silvia (Silvia E V6 2020) is available from Bella Barista for £499, so there’s no longer as much in it. In many ways these machines are similar, same size water tank, same size portafilter, both have brass groups, both have a 3 way solenoid valve, neither have a PID (but both can be modded with a PID) and they’re both operated by simple switches.
They look similar too I think. Silvia is a bit more square, and the steam knob on the Silvia is on the front, and on the Classic it’s on the right hand side of the machine.
The biggest difference is the boilers. The Classic has a small 80ml externally heated Alu boiler with a 1370W element. The Silvia has a much bigger 300ml Brass/Chrome alloy boiler, internally heated with a 952W element.
My personal opinion of the Silvia is that it’s a great choice for the beginner home barista, especially if paired with a grinder of the calibre of the Eureka Mignon upwards. You do need to keep on top of descaling with the Silvia though, with the element being inside the boiler, and you need to make sure you keep the steam boiler filled up.