Category Archives: Rancilio

Compare: Rancilio Silvia with PID vs. Nuova Simonelli Oscar

While these two machines certainly have some core functional differences, they are often compared by folks because once you retrofit the Silvia with a PID, its price tag is very similar to that of the Nuova Simonelli Oscar. So, is one better than the other? As usual, it’s all a matter of perspective.

Watch Gail discuss the features and functionality of these machines, then demonstrate how they perform in terms of drink quality. She also talks about why you might choose one over the other, so if you’re on the fence regarding these two models, this comparison video was made with you in mind. Cherish it.

Rancilio Silvia with PID: Shot Temp in Cup

If you retrofit a PID on a Rancilio Silvia, how should you calibrate it to ensure you’re getting the ideal shot temperature? How much of an impact does preheating your cup have on the end shot temperature? In this video, Gail measures the temp of extraction with and without preheating the demitasse beforehand.

New! SCG Parts Kits

Since we launched our new website with a selection of external-only parts, we’ve been hard at work building out kits that include parts and instructions for common espresso machine repairs. First to be released are the Tune Up kits for the Ascaso Dream and Rancilio Silvia. We also brought back the ever popular Rancilio Silvia Steam Wand Upgrade Kit for V1 and V2 machines.

The new Tune Up kits include all the parts you’ll need to refresh gaskets, seals, brew head screens and descale your machine — a process we recommend following every six months or so. We’re also including step-by-step instructions to guide you through the process.

The Steam Wand retrofit is a bit more complicated, as you do need to get inside your Silvia in order to upgrade the machine’s steam manifold and install a new steam knob. While we don’t provide specific written instructions for this, we did produce a demonstration video a few years ago that will walk you through the process.

Before picking up any of these kits, definitely read through the instructions (Ascaso Dream | Rancilio Silvia) or watch the video to confirm that you understand what you’re getting yourself into! Personally, we’ve always been able to get things apart … it’s the putting them back together again that’s the challenge.

Grinder Throwdown: Virtuoso vs. Smartgrinder vs. Rocky

Looking for an entry-level espresso-grade grinder and not sure where to start? Well, we like a grudge match around here, so you may have seen the previous stand-offs between the Breville Smart Grinder vs the Rancilio Rocky and the Baratza Virtuoso vs Breville Smart Grinder. Those may have left you wondering: How do all three stack up against each other? Being the mind readers that we are at SCG, Kat and I used a Breville BES900XL and Velton’s Bonsai Blend to put these grinders through the paces.

Let’s compare them side-by-side:

Baratza Virtuoso Breville Smart Grinder Rancilio Rocky
Burr Type Conical steel Conical steel Flat steel
Burr Size 40mm 40mm 55mm
Case Material Plastic Brushed stainless steel Stainless steel
Height 13 inches 14 inches 14 inches
Hopper Capacity 8 oz. 1 lb and hopper is removable! 8 oz.
Weight 16 lbs 5.6 lbs 18 lbs
Programmability None LCD screen lets you set grind (coarse to fine) volume (in cups and shots depending on fineness of grind) and dosage (weak to strong) None
Timer or on/off switch Timer and manual Timer and manual setting Manual only
Time to grind double shot 12 sec 22 sec 20-30 sec
Dosing Only with timer, not by weight/volume Automatically adjusts with grind; from coarser (dose in cups) to fine (dose in shots) Doser avail for +$10, otherwise chute only
Grind consistency (1-5 scale, 5=most consistent) 40 individual step settingsFinest setting: 3

Coarsest setting: 1

25 settingsFinest setting: 4

Coarsest setting: 2

55 settingsFinest setting: 5, like talc

Coarsest setting: 3

Shot performance (scale of 1-5, 5=strongest) 3: Overall, a solid shot, with the depth you’d expect from a fresh grind and proper dial-in. 4: A solid shot with great flavor and slightly more complex notes using the 2nd finest setting. 5: Shot has a great mouth feel, and you can taste more complexity and richness to the shot.
Notes No frills, no fuss, easy to use, it’s a strong performer for espresso and other coffee applications. No electric panel makes trouble shooting a breeze as your grinder ages. The lightest of the pack, this grinder is extremely versatile and a great value. It’s all about the features and accessories: portafilter holders, ground coffee canister, removable hopper to switch out beans. Commercial quality for home use and it shows. Largest footprint of all grinders, a big commitment to your counter top, but with definite benefits in shot quality.

The Rocky is a literal heavyweight coming in at 18 pounds and a hundred dollar heftier price tag, but there’s no doubt that the commercial quality burrs make a difference when it comes to tasting the complexity of your shot. I love the Virtuoso’s ease of use and inherent versatility, so it’s often my go-to for testing espresso, pour overs and french press. But like an ostrich, I am drawn to shiny objects and I wish it had more stainless in the casing. The Smart Grinder fulfills this need, and weighing in under six pounds means it doesn’t need to be a permanent fixture on your countertop – but it could be because it’s great for households with multiple coffee drinkers with different bean preferences. What would you choose?

The Race is On!: Rancilio Silvia vs. Crossland CC1

Time for a side by side grudge match with two of our favorites! We’ve collected some basic feature information on the Rancilio Silvia and Crossland CC1 so you can see how they measure up against each other.

For the Rancilio Silvia, we noted the stock functionality as well as the functionality you’ll gain if you upgrade it with a PID (a roughly $200 additional expense).


Feature Rancilio Silvia Crossland CC1
  • Stock: Semi-Automatic. You’ll need to dial in the grind & tamp, then manually start and stop the shot.
  • With PID Upgrade: You can turn this into an Automatic with the PID by leaving the coffee button on and using the PID to start and then automatically stop the extraction.
  • Automatic
  • You’ll need to dial in the grind & tamp, but you can program shot infusion and duration for three different settings.
  • Single Boiler
  • The 12 oz. brass boiler evenly distributes heat, so it will reach the desired temperature quickly. It will also maintain the temperature throughout multiple extractions and steam wand uses.
  • It has three thermostats to monitor the espresso, steam and boiler heat to maintain the ideal temperature for your caffeinated drinks.
  • Single Boiler + Thermoblock
  • In addition to the stainless steel boiler that is controlled by the PID interface, the CC1 features a thermoblock-enhanced steaming.
  • Rather than wait for the entire boiler to heat up to steam temperature, the thermoblock heats up the boiler water on the fly. This results in nearly endless steam (as long as you have water in your reservoir!) and no need to flush the boiler after you steam and before pulling your shots.
Solenoid Valve
  • Yes
  • The commercial-grade pressure relief system uses the three-way solenoid valve for easier clean up.
  • Yes
  • You won’t get mucky pucks from this machine, as it’s three-way solenoid valve sucks up any extra moisture and leaves you with a dry coffee ground puck every time.
Water Source
  • Reservoir / Internal Tank Only
  • The Silvia cannot be plumbed but has a 67 oz. removable water reservoir. Access is on the top of the machine and you can remove the tank or fill it while still in the Silvia. Without removing the reservoir’s lid, you can’t see how much water is left in there, so you’ll need to remember to check that regularly.
  • Reservoir / Internal Tank Only
  • The CC1 cannot be plumbed but has a 2 liter internal water reservoir. Access is on the front of the machine, as you pull the reservoir out and to the side to refill. This enables you to keep an eye on how much water you have left in the reservoir.
  • Stock: No. The stock Silvia doesn’t have any pre-infusion capability, save for your manual switch on / off of the brew button briefly before beginning your full extraction.
  • With PID Upgrade: Yes. You can program pre-infusion time for one setting.
  • Programmable
  • The CC1 offers programmable pre-infusion and wait time for three different settings. This duration will be included in the overall shot time.
  • Stock: No. The Silvia has a more simple interface controlled by manual switches. It gives you a little less to tinker around with and is fairly easy to use.
  • With PID Upgrade: Yes. You can select the temperature, pre-infusion, wait time and overall extraction time for one setting.
  • Yes
  • The Crossland CC1 integrated programming interface enables you to select temperature, pre-infusion, wait time and overall extraction time for three separate settings.
Digital Interface
  • Stock: No. Plain and simple, the Silvia does not have a digital interface or display and takes you back to it’s roots of relying on the machine itself without you adjusting it to give you your ideal cup o’ joe.
  • With PID Upgrade: Yes. You’ll have a digital read out of the temperature on the outside of the boiler, pre-infusion and shot time.
  • Yes
  • The digital interface displays your machines brew temperature, shot timer, boiler temperature and your programmed settings.
  • Stock: Standard, bi-metal thermostat, which can have up to a 20F degree differential, depending on where it’s at in its heating cycle. To work with this, temperature surfing is essential for brewing your espresso at the ideal temperature.
  • With PID Upgrade: Electronic. This will override the stock thermostat and maintain the boiler at the temperature you have selected in the interface. Note that it reads the outside of the boiler, so the set temperature should be roughly 20 degrees higher than your target shot temperature.
  • Electronic
  • The integrated PID allows you to set the temperature for three different settings. Additionally, it display actual boiler temperature vs. the temperature at the outside of the boiler.

Crew Review: E.S.E Pod Adapter Extravaganza

As a follow-up to our introduction to Easy Serving Espresso (E.S.E.) pods earlier this week, we asked Gail to take us through the pod adapters for a few of the machines that we carry and then we did a taste test comparing them against a machine that comes pod-friendly. This series of videos shows how the adapters are installed and how well they perform, shot-quality-wise.

First up, the Nuova Simonelli Musica pod adapter installation and taste test:

 Next, the La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi pod adapter installation and taste test:

 Now we install the adapter on the Rancilio Silvia and taste some shots:

 Finally, we asked Brandi and Teri to join Gail as she performs a taste test, comparing the three adapted machines with the Saeco Via Venezia, which is a pod-friendly machine without the requirement of an adapter:

Crew Review: Rancilio Bottomless Portafilter

While we have carried a bottomless portafilter for E61 brew heads that also did work fairly well in the Rancilio Silvia’s brew head, it didn’t seal quite as we might like and so there was often a little bit of water leakage over the top that really was just gauche.

Rancilio released their own version for their commercial machines that fits the Silvia, so we gave it a test drive. We did notice a bit of water leaking over the top, but nothing like the former model. And the spurting/spraying/mini-geysers? There were a few present in Gail’s extraction — more of a fine mist — but that’s just a result of channeling, baby.

Wanna see it in action? Watch Gail demonstrate it on our store’s PID-enhanced Silvia.

SCG Tech Tips: Espresso Machine Maintenance & Care

So you’ve finally pulled together the courage to add up how much you’ve been spending on all those lattes, macchiatos and cappuccinos you’ve consumed at your local cafe everyday. After looking at the grand total you think, ‘Wow, I could’ve set up my own espresso shop!’

When considering their purchase, folks often think about the kind of coffee they want to make and how easy it will be to use — generally, how much work they’re willing to do to craft their favorite drink every day. They also consider the initial monetary investment when purchasing the machine, but we rarely have folks thinking about the overall care and feeding of their new gear: How much work will it take to maintain and keep these machines running well? What kind of life expectancy might a specific machine have? Are there any known issues they should be aware of and prepare for?

To answer these questions, we’ve delved into the tech nitty gritty: From entry-level single boilers to high end ‘prosumer’ semi-automatics to mini caffeine robots (also known as superautomatics), we’ve got the 411 on the general longevity, maintenance and care of different machines. We couldn’t hit all of them, of course, but hopefully there’s enough info here to help you while considering which machine is right for you.

SCG’s Most Popular Coffee Gear – 2011

Not that we’re encouraging you to keep up with the Joneses, but if you’re in the market for a new espresso machine, we thought it might be helpful to share which models sold the best over the last year. Broken down by budget, here is what other folks have chosen for their home espresso setup, so definitely worth considering for yours.

Under $500
#1: Saeco Aroma Black – $249.95 Stainless Steel – $288.00
With its compact size and sturdy demeanor, this machine packs more punch than the average eye can see. With the ability to use a non-pressurized portafilter and pressurized portafilter, customers have come to adore both options. As the pressurized simplifies the process of espresso with no need to be particular with its grind, it’s still able to extract an ideal shot. However, many of our customer have also upgraded to the non-pressurized portafilter, giving them the ability to work on their grind and tamping skills — just like real baristas!

#2: Saeco Via Venezia Black – $299.99
For all you Starbucks Barista owners, you may recognize this machine since it’s the same model made by the same manufacturers that created the Barista for Starbucks. A bit bigger than the Aroma, the Venezia’s insides are almost identical with the Aroma and functions the same way. But it does have a few more upgrades such as a bigger water tank (98 oz. vs. 80 oz.), steam wand that swivels and a little more clearance between the brew head and drip tray.

#3: Technivorm Moccamaster Thermo Coffee Brewer (KBT741) – Polished Silver – $279.00
Heating up one of the hottest cups of coffee that we’ve tested out (200 degrees F), the Technivorm KBT741 definitely made it on our list of hot items of 2011. It may look old school, but its coffee definitely isn’t of the cowboy variety! Customers have grown to love this Dutch-made machine because it incorporates the ideal way to brew and keep a piping cup of coffee hot without ever changing its formula. It may be a bit pricier than your average coffee maker, but coffee lovers who’ve invested in it understand this coffee maker’s worth.

Under $1,000
#1: Rancilio Silvia – $629.00
The bottom rung and most reasonably priced of our higher end espresso machines, the Silvia has made a name for itself. With a stainless steel case, brass single boiler and upgraded commercial-grade steam wand, once coffee lovers want to make a move from their entry level machines to the big guns, the Silvia is usually first on the list. A bit particular about the grind, pairing it up with a higher end grinder such as the Rancilio Rocky, Baratza Vario or any of our commercial-grade grinders will allow you to extract a velvety shot every time. With an added upgrade option to install a PID, coffee connoisseurs will be able to set the temperature of their boiler to their liking, giving them more control of how they extract that ideal shot.

#2: Jura Capresso ENA 4 Automatic Coffee Center  – Ristretto Black – $699.00
Customers have always loved the modern, clean cut lines of Jura’s line of superautomatic machines. But with the Jura Ena 4 customers have become even bigger fans since it not only offers the ideal look but also a smaller footprint with many bells and whistles. Programmable settings, professional grinder, maintenance notifications and a water filtration system, you’d think the machine had a mind of its own. And while it (and other Jura’s) are known for making the best shots on a superauto, the steam wand design is not our favorite, so if you love lattes and cappuccinos, you probably want to look at a different machine.

#3: Breville Barista Express – Programmable Espresso Machine with Grinder 860 XL – $599.99
With some of the programmable functions of a superautomatic but giving you the capability to control more elements like a semi-automatic, it could be said that the Breville Barista Express is the best of both worlds. With a stainless steel casing, built in conical burr grinder with measured dosage and programmable double & single shot buttons, you’ll still have the ability to control the tamp and pour of your shots. While it’s the hottest of Breville’s single boiler models, it still uses dual thermoblocks so temp consistency isn’t ideal.

Under $1,500
#1: Delonghi Magnifica ECAM 23210B Compact Superautomatic Espresso Machine – $999.00
How can such a tiny machine offer so much?! With the ability to adjust the size and strength of your espresso preference, this machine’s interface is straightforward, easy to use and offers programmable buttons speeding up your drink making process. Easy clean up and no mess to fuss about, it also brews some of the hottest coffee from a superauto.

#2: Saeco Talea Touch – $999.00
Call it your very own R2D2 — the Saeco Talea Touch will leave you sitting back and relaxing as it whips up your favorite drinks for you! As the number of fans for superautomatic espresso machines have been growing, the Talea Touch gives you one more thing to love with its touch-screen interface,  which makes choosing the strength, size and choice of espresso drink even easier. It also possesses notifications that will remind you to give it a good cleaning or when it’s time to fill-up on beans.

#3: Quick Mill Alexia Semi Automatic Espresso Machine – $1,195.00
Bring the cafe into the comfort of your own home with the Quick Mill Alexia. A single boiler machine featuring a commercial-grade stainless steel casing, professional E-61 brew head and the ability to control your machine’s boiler temperature with the optional PID, you’ll reach barista status in no time. Even with a learning curve of dialing in that exact grind and finding what 30 lbs. of pressure feels like when tamping, customers love the look and the quality of shots and frothy milk this machine allows them to create.

Under $2,000
#1: Rocket Cellini Premium Plus – $1,699.00 Rocket Giotto Premium Plus – $1,799.00
As customers walk through our store, the sparkle of the polished stainless steel Rocket Espresso machines are certainly eye-catching. But once they taste the smooth espresso shot it produces, it definitely seals the deal. Encompassing a tank for water accessibility, a heat-exchanger boiler that gives you a faster turn around time to produce your favorite shots and the ability to steam and brew at the same time, both the Cellini and Giotto have become the dream machine for coffee lovers. The only difference between the two are the sleek lines of the Cellini and the angular sides on the Giotto.

#2: Jura Capresso Impressa C9 One Touch Automatic Coffee Center – $1,899.00
Even with a small kitchen you can get the full cafe experience with the Impressa C9. Giving you the ability to see what functions your machine is accessing with the LED interface, you can program your drink’s temperature preference, volume and strength at a spin and push of the knob. Customers enjoy the fact that they have accessibility to use the automatic cappuccino system, where they can froth milk, brew coffee and have it poured all in one cup without lifting more than one finger. Who want’s to do that?!

#3: La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi I Espresso Machine – $1,995.00
Moving up to the big leagues, this double boiler gives you the ability to make drink after drink for parties or expertly feed your espresso craving in the comfort of home! With a professional-grade design and NSF rating, the Vivaldi also offers programmable dosage, easy temperature management, large water tank and an improved steam wand.

No Limits
#1: Rocket Espresso Cellini Evoluzione Espresso Machine – $2,099.00 Rocket Espresso Giotto Evoluzione Espresso Machine – $2,199.00
Why choose? For those who can’t decide whether they want a reservoir or plumbed-in machine, Rocket has a convertible option! With the capability to use the internal water reservoir or plumbing right into a water source, you’ll never debate on whether you made the right decision. Encompassed by polished stainless steel case, you’ll be able to monitor your boiler and brew head pressure with the dual gauge reading and extract ideal shots out of the commercial E-61 brew group.

#2: Saeco Xelsis SS One Touch Superautomatic Espresso Machine – $2,339.00
At the price you’ll be paying, we can vouch that this is one of the best superautomatic machines we’ve tested and seen yet. Unlike most superautomatics that are made of all plastic, folks love this machine because of its stainless steel casing. Its one-touch features are top notch because not only will it froth, brew and pour, but it will also make sure to clean your frother so there’s no milk residue build-up when you use it the next time around. Yummy!

#3: Izzo Alex Duetto II Semi Automatic Espresso Machine – $2,395.00
Doubling the power up, the Alex Duetto encompasses all the favorite features customers love and look for in their high end machines: brass-copper double boiler, stainless steel casing, commercial E-61 brew group, no-burn steam & hot water wands and a multi functional PID to control temperature, amps, degrees, and steam boiler pressure. Control freaks, dig this!