In corner number one we have the Rancilio Silvia. An iconic single boiler machine, ready to brew up anything you throw at it.
In corner number two we have the Breville Barista Express. With it’s built in grinder and optional pressurized portafilters, brewing up great espresso has never been so simple.
Ring the bell referee, its the Silvia vs Barista Express!
The Rancilio Silvia is a single boiler espresso machine. The boiler is built out of brass and has a removable heating element, which makes repairs much cheaper if the heating element ever burns out. The case material on the Rancilio Silvia is stainless steel, so you know this machine is built to last! Our comparison showed that the steam pressure is better on the Silvia, which is to be expected given the design differences between these two espresso machines. At just 9.5 inches wide and 11 inches deep, the Silvia has the smaller footprint- but don’t forget about your grinder!
The Breville Barista Express has a stainless steel boiler with a thermocoil design. What’s a thermocoil? A thermocoil or thermoblock takes water from the reservoir in an espresso machine and heats it on the fly, versus heating up a full boiler of water. The benefit is a shorter wait time for the water to come to temperature, but it is not as consistent. The Barista Express has a built in burr grinder, so for someone on a budget or with limited counter space this would be an excellent option. The Breville has several programming options, something the Silvia does not have.
Time and temperature. If you break down the essentials of a good cup of coffee/shot of espresso you will arrive at two variables: time and temperature.
It doesn’t matter how fresh your coffee is or how expertly roasted it was. If your brewing time and temperature are not correct, you end up with something you don’t want to drink. So what’s the best way to control those two variables? With a PID of course.
Especially on a single boiler machine, where the boiler temperature will fluctuate between brew temp and steam temp, a PID will help you dial in a delicious shot of espresso, every time.
In the Morning Maintenance video below Gail will show you how to program your PID on the Rancilio Silvia. The PID’s we install on the Silvia will allow you to control the brew temperature, pre-infusuion time, pre-infusion wait time, and brew time.
Once you know how to program your machine, it’s fun to experiment with different temperatures and times for the same coffee. Each variable will bring out different flavors in your cup! Yum!
Next, you want to backflush your machine. When you backflush, you are forcing a cleaning solution up into the brew screen and back down the solenoid valve. Coffee is oily stuff! Using a product like Cafiza will help break down those oils, which can cause clogs if left uncleaned.
Finally, give your machine a wipe down. When espresso shots are being pulled, or milk is being frothed, things can get a bit messy! Keeping the exterior clean is just the right thing to do
If you own an espresso machine you have probably heard that you
need to descale your machine. But what is descaling and how do you do it?
Descaling is the process of removing deposit build up from the inside of your espresso machine. This deposit build up is caused by minerals in your water supply. All water has tiny amounts of minerals and over time they attach and build up. Much like cholesterol plaques build up inside arteries!
So the first step to descaling begins before the scale can build up! Using filtered water in your espresso machine is key, as you don’t want to be descaling all the time. But when the time comes, following the steps demonstrated by Gail will have your machine up and running in no time.
Watch the full Morning Maintenance video below to find out how to descale your Rancilio Silvia.
We always get asked if there is a Rancilio Silvia V4. And if we were to get technical, there wasn’t even a V3, V2, or V1!
I know what you are thinking, “I read online about the Rancilio Silvia V4 with the new screw in the boiler element that is more durable and easier to replace!” And you are right! But Rancilio never formally changed the names or version numbers.
So yes, the latest version on the Rancilio Silvia has the upgraded boiler. Which, in the event of a burn out, can be replaced much easier (and cheaper!).
Watch the Ask Gail below to get the full scoop! Thanks for watching!
Update! Update! We all love updates! That’s right folks, we are here to talk all about the updated version of the Rancilio Silvia. Some people call this the V4, but Rancilio just calls it the Silvia. It doesn’t really matter what you call it, as long as it brews up tasty espresso…am I right?
So what is new in the latest version of the Rancilio Silvia? The boiler of course! A boiler is the heart of an espresso machine, so any updates to one makes us giddy! The boiler itself is still brass but what Rancilio has changed is the heating element and how it is connected. The heating element on the new Rancilio Silvia is stainless steel, which is a little more resistant to burning out if you did run the boiler dry. But we never do that right…right??
But in the event that the boiler does burn out, the new design makes fixing it much easier (and cheaper!). In the past you had to replace the whole boiler, but this new version allows you to remove just the heating element. Not having to replace the brass boiler makes for a much easier fix.
We love this machine. Watch as Gail takes an in-depth look into this machine and brews up a cappuccino complete with some beautiful latte art Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel as well!
While we were “working” in Portland Gail wanted to show you all the insides of the Rancilio Silvia with PID. The Rancilio Silvia is a simple, reliable and powerful espresso machine. It will produce excellent espresso and silky microfoam milk for your lattes and cappuccinos, and look pretty great doing it as well!
With it’s 67 oz Water Tank, 12 oz Brass Boiler and 15 BAR pump this little guy is ready for anything! And the Rancilio Silvia also has the option to add an optional PID. The optional PID is something that our tech team here at Seattle Coffee Gear installs and gives you precise temperature control.
Watch the video below as Gail walks you through the differences and opens up the Silvia with a PID installed!
When pulling espresso there are 4 things that should be on the front of your mind. The beans, the grind, the tamp and the timing. We are going to focus on the grind right now because it can be one of the more difficult things to really nail. Your grind consistency is going to effected by the bean you are using, how fresh that bean is, the humidly in the room, heck, even your mood! So dialing in your grinder so you can pull your shot in the appropriate amount of time is essential!
Let me start out with a word of warning: dialing in a grinder will use up a lot of coffee, especially if your machine is new. So be prepared to grind up to a pound of coffee!
The trick to dialing in a grinder is keeping all your other variables consistent. So your dose, grind distribution and tamp pressure should be exactly the same every time. That way you know that it is just the texture of the grind that is affecting your timing.
Speaking on timing, this is how you will know which direction to adjust your grinder. The goal is to pull a double shot of two ounces in 25-30 seconds. If your shot reaches two ounces in, say, 15 seconds then you know your grind is way too course. A finer grind will slow your extraction time. On the other end, if it takes 35 seconds to reach that two ounce mark, your espresso will be over extracted. Adjusting the grinder to be more course will fix this.
Remember, when adjusting your grinder you should be making small adjustments. Sometimes one step is all it will take! Also be sure to grind at least a double portafilter worth of beans after each adjustment and throw that out. Otherwise you will have grounds from the previous setting muddling up your shot.
Grinders, grinders, grinders! So many coffee grinders, but which to choose? Well, we asked Gail if she would be so kind and review a few side by side. We decided the best place to start would be taking some grinders that are all in the same price range and see how they match up. In this coffee grinder comparison we took a closer look at the Rancillio Rocky, the Baratza Virtuoso, the Baratza Preciso and the latest from Breville- the Smart Grinder Pro.
We were very pleased with the quality of all 4 coffee grinders. Hands down the construction of all 4 was nothing short of excellent. They all had a nice design and produced a good quality grind. Gail took each grinder down to it’s finest setting to see which would take the cake. In results we got, it was clear that the Rocky Rancillio will give you the finest grind. So, if you are looking for a grind that feels like a fine talc powder, you will want to go with the Rocky Rancillio. The other three grinders all delivered a grind that was consistent and worthy of espresso.
We also took a closer look into the burrs of each grinder. The Baratza Virtuoso and the Baratza Preciso both have 40mm stainless steel conical burrs. The Rocky Rancillio has 50mm steel flat burrs and the Breville Smart Grinder Pro has stainless steel conical burrs. We are in the process of finding out the exact size of the burrs on the new Breville machine (yes, it is that new!).
Overall each grinder will get the job done, but some are better suited for different environments. Watch this Coffee Grinder Comparison Crew Review to see them side by side and for Gail’s take on where each will be best suited!
When we think of reliable and hardworking, we think of the Rancilio Rocky grinder. Is that weird? We don’t think so…
The Rocky is available in a doser version, for those that go through a decent amount of coffee and/or rarely change their grind, or a doserless version, which grinds directly into your portafilter. Each one gives you a sturdy build and 55 different grind settings, so you can go from espresso to drip (and back again) with ease.
Given that the Rocky is the apple of our eye, we decided it was time for an updated Crew Review. Check it out below and watch as Gail and Brendan walk us through features, dialing in the grind and removing the burrs for maintenance!