Rancilio Silvia Pro X is the dream of any home barista that aims for perfection. It is rather a prosumer espresso machine, and the price tag on the unit makes it accessible for those with a generous budget.
Silvia Pro X is an upgrade of the Rancilio’s domestic espresso machine Silvia, so if you know the old and debated Silvia, the look and the technology are familiar to you, but make no mistake, Silvia Pro X is a beast, in comparison.
We will show you in this review why Silvia Pro is so much better than its predecessor, and what do the hardware upgrades fix from a barista perspective.
We said it before, buying an espresso machine is a personal choice. You can end up paying too much for features that you don’t use, or you can end up resenting your choice, when you realize there are missing features, and you could afford to pay a bit more, if you were more informed.
Let’s see what features brings Silvia Pro X, and understand if the extra $1000 is worth the spend.
- A Bit of History
- Rancilio Silvia Pro X Features Review
- Brewing Features and Other Strengths
- What We Liked
- What We Didn’t Like
- Where to Buy the Rancilio Silvia?
- Final Thoughts
A Bit of History
Historically, Rancilio did not intend to sell domestic espresso machines. Their target market was the commercial sector, and Silvia, was initially conceived more as promotional machine. Rancilio gave that machine to it distributors. As such, it was built with the same commercial grade materials and pieces as all of the commercial machines.
When the management at Rancilio realized the machine’s potential, they started to sell it for domestic use.
The increased interest in prosumer espresso machines made the company re-evaluate their initial refuse to invest time and work in a domestic espresso machine. This is how Silvia Pro was born.
Rancilio Silvia Pro X Features Review
We have an extensive review of the Rancilio Silvia, and we rated the machine very high, because we love it. However, in the review, we pointed out that the single boiler technology, and the lack of a PID, made the machine unpredictable in terms of brewing temperature consistency. And we also pointed out that the single boiler technology was resulting in long waiting times between espresso brewing and milk steaming.
Silvia Pro fixed these issues, and this machine is the dream of any espresso enthusiast, who is chasing the God Shot.
Silvia Pro is aiming the prosumer market, and this is apparent not only from the price, but also from the many features that you typically find in commercial espresso machines.
Let’s see how Rancilio fixed the issues above, and what other features they included in the newer member of their home brewing espresso machine line.
We are going to focus on emphasizing what’s new on the machine, and how are these differences going to help you pull espresso shop quality shots.
The Older Silvia Model
A brief review of what we discussed on the original Silvia article:
“A solidly built machine, made with a heavy steel frame and a stainless steel casing, with a large brass boiler, 58 mm portafilter, and brass group head. All of these, and a bit more, give Silvia a great reliability and durability, and allow the home barista to pull great shots. Too bad the machine had only one boiler, and did not have a PID.”
The old Silvia model is still a great choice for those with a tight budget. The machine is still built the same, if anything, the customers’ complaints where addressed in every new version of the machine. However, if you can spend a little more, either of the Silvia models is going to last you decades, so it’s worth buying the fully featured one. It’s not a purchase that you make every year, so pick the better machine.
With that said, let’s see what makes the Pro X so much better.
The New Silvia Pro X
The features that make this machine worth your attention are the dual boiler and the PID. These two features only make the machine worth the expense, and this is what the old Silvia was missing. The electronic controls and the digital display should help convince you and seal the deal.
The new Silvia borrowed the stainless steel body and the heavy frame, for durability. The overall classic design of the Silvia was maintained, and you’d almost think it’s the same machine, if it weren’t for a few details such as the digital display, the pressure gauge, and the black accents. (There is a choice of accents, if you want other colors, including pink.)
Double Boiler PID Controlled
The new unit comes equipped with a dual boiler, PID controlled.
Two independent boilers means you can pull espresso shots and steam milk at the same time. I am not that multitasking, so I do that in sequence, but either way, you have a PID for the steam boiler, and another one for the coffee boiler. You can set the temperature for both milk steaming and coffee brewing with the help of the display buttons.
They could have cut costs and used one PID and one thermostat, but they didn’t. This shows their commitment to make this machine a hit.
No more waiting between milk steaming and espresso brewing, perfect temperature consistency, and boilers large enough for a few milk based coffees back to back. The steam boiler is a 1 liter, (34 oz.), and the brew boiler is a 10.14 oz. This is plenty of cappuccinos and lattes, for a domestic setting. When you compare it to the one 12 oz boiler of the classic Silvia, things are a bit clearer.
The two boilers are insulated for thermal stability and energy efficiency.
These two features only make the machine worth the price. I know, some of you will compare it to the Breville Oracle, because they have about the same price. I’ll talk about this in a bit, and I’ll show you why I think Silvia is the better option in my eyes.
Let’s see if the other features on the list will make you forget about the Oracle.
Digital Display and Control Panel
The machine has a small digital display that also serves as a control panel. The programmable functions are limited, but you have everything you need for shot tweaking. The display has a shot timer, a temperature indicator, and a water tank level alert.
The control panel allows you to change the brewing temperature, program auto-on and off, program the pre infusion, and more.
Here is the list of programmable functions on the Silvia Pro X:
From the temperature display mode
- Press the + or – buttons to change the set brew temperature.
Access the extended programmable functions by pressing the “+” and “-” buttons at the same time for 3 seconds
- F01:Group head clean/backflush
- F02: Automatic Start/Wake Up
- F03: Coffee boiler drain
- F04: Steam boiler drain
- F05: Automatic shutdown
- F06: Temperature Unit – Fahrenheit/Celsius
- F07: Operating Voltage – 230 or 110 V
- F08: Soft Infusion settings
- T2: Steam boiler temperature
The unit has a pressure gauge on the brew circuit. This will let you read the pressure during sot pulling, so you know if you need to tweak your grind size. As a side note, the gauge reads the pressure in the boiler, so you might have to adjust to this reading method.
The pre-infusion feature is a nice touch, allowing you to saturate the grounds with water at low pressure. This in turn will result in a better extraction, and lower chances of channeling. Pre-infusion can also help you extract more of the subtle flavors from origin coffees.
Pre-infusion is programmable via the control panel 2-6 seconds soft infusion, or you can turn it off, if you don’t need it.
The large ergonomic portafilter can fit triple shot baskets, which means you don’t need to spend on a bottomless portafilter, unless you want to. The 58 mm baskets are my favorites, as I explained in a few other articles.
The portafilter has an angled handle, so you don’t need a tamping station when you tamp.
Adjustable Drip tray Height
The drip tray has an adjustable height so you can fit larger cups and mugs under the spout. This is a bit manual, so don’t be disappointed, but it is great to have the option.
Large Water Reservoir
The water reservoir is large with 2 Liters capacity, (about 68 fl. oz.), which is a nice touch. If you need to keep the machine under your kitchen cabinets, be warned that the water tank is at the back of the machine and you have to access it from the top.
I fixed that in my setup using a glass microwave tray under the machine. I pull the glass tray from under the cabinets, and the whole setup slides out nicely.
The water tank being placed at the back, it would be easy to forget to refill. This was fixed by the designing team with a water alert on the digital display.Milk Steaming and Frothing
As we said, the milk steaming has its own independent 1L boiler. The boiler doesn’t automatically turn on when you start the machine, to save energy for those who don’t need textured milk. If you know you’ll make a cappuccino, just flick the steam switch, and the boiler will start heating up.
The PID can be programmed to heat the water in the boiler between 248 °F and 257 and 205°F, depending on your preference.
The professional stainless steel steam wand is not a panarello, so you need a bit of practice to get the milk steaming right.
The large boiler provides ample steam pressure and you can make cappuccinos and lattes back-to-back without losing steam power. The large steam boiler is probably the third most important upgrade from the old classic Silvia. With the old Silvia your shot would get cold before you had the chance to get your steamed milk ready.
The double boiler technology, combined with the generous size of the steam boiler, gives you the coffee shop barista feel, since you can prepare coffee drinks back to back.
Brewing Features and Other Strengths
We talked about the features of the Silvia X Pro, and they are impressive. The machine is clearly aimed at the prosumer market. However, if you are new to buying espresso equipment, you probably didn’t fully get why I get all excited about it. Let’s see how these features help you make better espresso.
First of all, the boiler system, with a large boiler for steaming and a smaller one for brewing makes this machine capable of serving a little party. Back to back espresso and milk texturing without interruption.
The PID will make brewing as precise as possible. Rancilio claims the set temperature is accurate within one degree. This is fantastic, as it helps us produce predictable results every time. If your temperature is all over the place, the extraction will be different. The precise brewing temperature will allow you to aim for the perfect shot.
It only makes sense to equip this machine with a professional grade 58 mm portafilter. The portafilter has an ergonomic shape, and comes with two filter baskets: a 8 gram basket for single shots, and a 18 grams filter basket for double shots.
Silvia Pro X targets the prosumer market, with features that espresso aficionados certainly appreciate. The price tag positions it close to the Breville Oracle, a machine with similar features which has a built in grinder. At the end of the day, Silvia Pro X is more expensive than the Oracle, since you will need to buy a grinder as well.
However, in terms of components’ quality and materials used, the Silvia Pro X is head an shoulders above the Oracle. All of these quality components will enhance the thermal stability and the reliability of the machine.
Where Oracle wins, is the aesthetics. Their design style has been copied by other manufacturers, just because they look better. The minimalistic, retro, style of the Silvia is probably what’s holding back most people who opt for other machines. I said it before, I personally love this design, but to each their own.
Accessories Included with the Rancilio Silvia Pro X:
- Double spouted portafilter
- Single basket (9g)
- Double basket (17g)
- Group head brush
- Backflush rubber insert
- Black wood-handled tamper
What We Liked
My overall view on this unit is that it’s almost a commercial machine at an affordable price.
The dual boiler with one large boiler for steaming is a great selling point, and it is what brings it closer to commercial equipment.
Multiple functions to tweak your espresso shots to perfection, and control all extraction variables.
Simple rocker switches that keep it simple, sturdy and reliable. I know, I am old school…
Made with commercial components. The materials and the design are meant to make this machine as reliable and durable as possible:
- Brass coffee boiler,
- Brass brewing unit,
- Large 2 liter reservoir with water level alert,
- Pre infusion function with adjustable duration,
- Pt1000 temperature probe for temperature precision and stability.
What We Didn’t Like
There aren’t many things to complain about, but if we are forced to, here it is:
- Very heavy, hence not too easy to move around in your kitchen. In my eyes this is an advantage, because it reduces vibrations and makes more quiet.
- The drip tray has to be lifted a bit in order to be removed.
- The steam wand is not a “no-burn” style.
- I love the look of the Silvia, but other machines in the same class have a more modern look.
Where to Buy the Rancilio Silvia?
It looks like nobody is selling the Silvia Pro X on Amazon, but you can buy it from reputable coffee shops such as Whole Latte Love and Prima Coffee. Here are the links:
If you had a Silvia before and considered upgrading, the Rancilio Silvia Pro X is the logical step up. It is as solidly built as its predecessor, it fixes many of the complaints about the Silvia, like temperature stability and it improves many aspects that you didn’t know needed a fix.
If you didn’t own a Silvia before, they are workhorses, sturdy and reliable, and if you purchase one is going to last you for a long time.