Rancilio Silvia Pro » CoffeeGeek

An icon in the home coffee market. That’s the Rancilio Silvia espresso machine. First introduced in late 1997, the Silvia was not intended for retail sale initially; instead, it was a unique sales incentive gift for Rancilio’s Commercial Resellers market globally. Very quickly, the company was convinced to manufacture the machine regularly for sale to the consumer public, and did so starting in 1998. By 2012, they were manufacturing upwards of 25,000 units per year. In more recent times, the numbers have dropped but the machine remains an iconic standards-bearer in the home espresso market.

In 1998, the Silvia was indeed cutting edge and presented something entirely different to the home consumer espresso market. In an era of plasticy lightweight espresso machines from the likes of Krups and Saeco, the Silvia, with its commercial-rated 58mm portafilter, marine brass boiler, commercial wiring and hookups, and all steel and metal construction, really stood out. Even if the boiler was tiny (300ml, or 10fl.oz), even if transitioning from brew temperatures to steam temperatures took some time, and even though steam power was pretty anemic, the Rancilio Silvia was still class leading, for its time. Most importantly, the machine could be easily serviced… and modified.

In fact, the reason why we have super stable temperature control today in many home and commercial espresso machines via PID controls is because two geeks named Andy Schecter and Greg Scace independently modified their Rancilio Silvias back in the early 2000s to include a PID control, thus delivering rock-stable brewing temperatures in this little home machine. That alone cemented the Rancilio Silvia’s place in espresso machine history.

As the last twenty years rolled on and home espresso took off, unfortunately, the Rancilio Silvia stood mostly still. What was cutting edge in 1998 was passe by 2005, and outdated by 2010. In 2010, you could buy a full double boiler home espresso machine with PID controls and a wack of advanced features for only a few hundred dollars more than the Silvia.

That’s always been a problem with Rancilio and the Rancilio Silvia: the machine had its place and definitely had a healthy market share, but as better and more advanced technologies and machine designs came onto the espresso market, super loyal Rancilio Silvia owners had no upgrade path with the company they were so loyal to. Rancilio had the Silvia… and that was it. If you wanted dual boilers, built in PID controls, advanced electronics, shot timers, filtration systems, etc etc, you had to buy another brand.

This changed in the past year when Rancilio announced the new Rancilio Silvia Pro espresso machine. Many of the long demanded features people have made of Rancilio were present or at least designed into the new machine: dual boiler design; digital temperature controls via PID; shot timers; advanced hot water options; stability and reliability. And it all comes in a box that look just like the original Rancilio Silvia: just bigger and sitting deeper on the counter.

We had a long time with a prototype version of this machine, and are now actively testing a production model. This First Look is mainly based on our experience with the production model, though we have the benefit of using a pre-production unit for over six months, under an NDA.

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