Review of the Rancilio Silvia Pro Dual Boiler: Making a Meaningful Espresso
Some people have stories about their first car, a happily remembered bucket of bolts that carried them to high school, across the country to college, and their first job interview. I don’t drive, so I have an espresso machine. I saw him in high school, college, and so on. I also said that he brought me more joy than sorrow, but it was close.
It’s a Starbucks brand single-boiler espresso machine, like this one. It has a simple, straightforward design, but a lot of plastic parts crack as they age. However, the sleek, classic design makes it an excellent choice for home espresso. The Rancilio Silvia Pro is the spirit that will replace that machine. They have much in common, but the Rancilio delivers a professional grade espresso that surpasses some of the most expensive machines on the market.
Ghost in the Machine
When I saw Rancilio Silvia Pro in the background in a YouTube video, my jaw dropped. I stopped the video and scrolled back the years in my photos. There it is. This mysterious machine looks like a modern refreshment to my beloved and long-dead single-boiler espresso machine. It wasn’t until months later, when I opened the box of the Silvia Pro, a dual-boiler machine, that I realized how big the run was in similarity.
To be clear, my old faithful demonstrated a beautiful pattern design and construction for mid to long end espresso machines. It’s far from unique, but it’s a design that has fallen out of style in the last decade or so in favor of broader, multi -style café espresso machines such as Breville Barista Pro.
Nice and narrow profile. It fits well on a small counter in the apartment without taking up much space. Let the feet put marks on my countertop whenever I move it. That’s partly because they slipped and slipped whenever I put the portafilter back in place, unless I hid the machine with my free hand. It’s not a big deal, though, and it’s a problem that the Silvia Pro shares with almost every other espresso machine in this approximate size and weight.
This is an interesting, black and stainless steel espresso machine with a professional grade steam pump. At your counter, it’s understated but powerful. It’s like a panther primed to be pulled-and when you turn it over, it will also moan like it’s soaking up water and heating it up.
The front buttons are all mechanical buttons or switches: an electric switch, a manual brew switch, one for steam heating, and another for hot water. There’s a small LCD display for adjusting the temperature, and that’s it. Silvia Pro takes away everything except the nude essentials, so nothing stands between you and the complete takeover except yourself. It’s scary, in a way. Every time I pull out a water-filled shot, it’s because my recovery or my tamp dead, not because the engine is faulty in some way. That’s true of all manual espresso machines, but here it’s magnified with spartan design and expert engineering.
My old machine taught me a lot about how to make coffee in the face of so many possibilities. Was this shot funny because the grinding was a bit dead, or because I had to focus the rubber sole on the inside AGAIN? Was it burned flavor because of my beans, or because there was something strange going on with the portafilter? Making coffee on the old machine was a bit of a minefield, but it taught me a lot.
That’s why I appreciate the expert engineer at Silvia Pro. I know what it would look like if a machine with this overall design was giving me a hard time, or if it was faulty throws. Early on, I had some bad picks and found out a couple of Silvia riots. The portafilter is a bit shallower than before, so make sure you don’t overflow or overflow. It’s easy to over or tighten the filter if you lock it, so make sure you don’t pull too much. Use just enough force to return the portafilter to its starting position, pointing directly at you-don’t try to push it tight whenever a thin, bitter blow comes.