The Rancilio Silvia has long been considered the quintessential espresso machine for the hobbyist barista. Twenty years on, Rancilio finally brought out a new rendition; the Rancilio Silvia Pro. The Silvia Pro came with some much-needed improvements to combat the shortcomings of the original Silvia. A dual boiler, PID temperature control, and an LED display, to name a few. The Rancilio Silvia Pro X is the latest edition replacing the Silvia Pro model. We will look at the Rancilio Silvia Pro X to see what it offers and how it compares to other espresso machines in this price bracket.
Rancilio Silvia Pro X
The Rancilio Silvia Pro X is an iconic espresso machine that offers a simple design, dual boilers, a superb build, and the ability to create cafe-quality espresso in your home. What the Silvia Pro X lacks in features it makes up for in reliability and serviceability. This espresso machine will serve you well for many years should you choose to invest in it.
Rancilio has been in the game for almost 100 years and have well and truly earned their reputation of producing quality and reliable espresso machines. The original Rancilio Silvia was introduced in 1997 and became an icon in home espresso setups worldwide. Users loved the simple, solid design and commercial-style features it offered. Twenty years on, the Rancilio Silvia Pro was the first significant upgrade to be introduced, and now the Rancilio Silvia Pro X has just been released in response to customers’ feedback. So let’s dig into it!
Rancilio Silvia Pro X Espresso Machine Review
Like it or lump it, the Rancilio Silvia Pro X has retained the same look as the Silvia. Some would call it outdated, but we like to think of it as a classic. Rancilio has recently added extra color options to the lineup for a more modern look. The Silvia Pro X is now available in the standard stainless steel or a powder coat of matte black, white, or pink (shock horror!).
The Silvia Pro X has a paired back design, with only a handful of switches and the PID controller on the face of the machine. On the front you have four buttons; the power switch, steam switch, hot water switch, and the brew switch. There is also a new LED screen displaying the boiler temperatures, which doubles as a shot timer when brewing. Finally, there is the steam knob.
This restrained design flows through to the functionality of the machine. The Silvia Pro X has no presets or automation. You can set the temperature in each boiler, a pre-infusion timer, an auto-off time, and that’s about it. The devotees will see the beauty in simplicity, while this may be the sticking point for others.
Given the dual boilers, the Silvia Pro X has a slightly larger footprint than its predecessor. It has a height of 15.3 inches, a width of 9.8 inches, and a depth of 16.5 inches. Despite this, it is still a compact espresso machine with a slim build to fit on a small countertop. It weighs a hefty 20kg.
The Silvia Pro X comes with a handful of accessories. A solid 58mm commercial portafilter is included with both a single basket (8g) and a double basket (18g). The basket size has been updated to fit a standard espresso dose. There is also a coffee measuring plastic spoon. In addition to this, there are the usual cleaning supplies; a group head brush, rubber backflush disk, and cleaning tablets. Finally, the most notable accessory is the quality tamper, complete with a stainless steel flat base and black wood handle.
The Rancilio Silvia Pro X flaunts the quality artistry we have come to expect with Italian-made espresso machines. The machine is cased in a thick layer of stainless steel. Inside, the different components have been arranged so they can be easily accessed and repaired should anything go wrong. This espresso machine has been built with longevity in mind. So let’s take a look under the case.
The Rancilio Silvia Pro X is a dual boiler espresso machine, so it can pull a shot and steam milk simultaneously. Inside is a 300ml brass brew boiler and a 1 L stainless steel steam boiler. Both the boilers are insulated for energy conservation. Stainless steel is generally considered the superior material, known to last longer and retain heat for longer.
One other helpful feature of the boilers is that the steam boiler can be shut off if you are not intending on steaming milk. This cuts down the warmup time and conserves power. The machine stores the ON/OFF status of the boilers in the memory after the machine is switched off.
PID Temperature Control
Temperature stability (or the lack thereof) was the Achilles heel of the Rancilio Silvia. In the Silvia Pro X, this issue has well and truly been resolved. Both the brew and steam boilers are PID controlled, offering extremely accurate temperature control, down to plus or minus 1 degree. This puts the Silvia Pro X in a league with commercial espresso machines. The brew boiler can be set to any temperature between 185 and 212F. Likewise, the steam boiler can be set to anywhere between 248-247 F.
Dual Vibratory Pumps
The Rancilio Silvia Pro X has dual vibratory pumps, so the steam boiler is entirely independent from the brew boiler. The steam boiler pump has been improved to run quieter.
Boiler Pressure Gauge
The latest update has included a boiler pressure gauge to show the pressure in the brew boiler. This is a helpful addition to ensure the espresso is extracted at the desired 9 bars of pressure.
Variable Soft Infusion
The other main update to the Silvia Pro X is a pre-infusion function. The pre-infusion gently soaks the coffee in the portafilter before the full pressure extraction begins. This function reduces channeling and allows for an even flow rate and extraction. The pre-infusion on the Silvia Pro X is customizable to your desired time.
The Rancilio Silvia Pro X also sports a digital display. This acts as a temperature indicator, shot timer, and low water alert. We have outlined the different programs available below:
Ease of Use
The Rancilio Silvia Pro X is straightforward to use if you have some prior experience with espresso machines. If not, you will find it has a steep learning curve. The espresso machine takes around 15 minutes to heat up once you turn the power on. From there, you fill the portafilter with ground coffee and tamp. Lock the portafilter into place and switch the coffee button on to start brewing. A shot timer will be displayed on the screen to indicate the brew time. The machine will start with a soft pre-infusion before ramping up to full pressure; you turn the coffee button off when you want to stop brewing.
The quality of espresso you achieve will be determined by your grind size and tamp. Once you have mastered the art of using the machine, you will find it delivers excellent espresso on a par with some of the most expensive espresso machines.
The Silvia Pro X includes some user-friendly features. The cup tray can be adjusted to three different heights, 3 inches, 3.5 inches, or 4 inches, to fit with your espresso setup. The water reservoir has a sensor to notify you if the water level is running low. If it needs to be refilled, “H2O” will be displayed on the digital display. Although this is rather rudimentary, the Silvia Pro X also has a wake-up function. It is a single-use function where you set the number of hours in the future for it to turn on. Additionally, there is a programmable auto-off where you can set a time in minutes, after which the espresso machine will turn off.
The Rancilio Silvia Pro X is fitted with a stainless steel commercial steam wand. The steam tip has four holes to deliver excellent steam power. When you turn the steam button on, a small light above the steam tap blinks while heating up and then turns steady when ready. The steam wand is easily maneuverable and delivers a decent steam pressure making it easy to produce polished, microfoam milk.
The only complaint users have had is that the steam wand is uninsulated, so it does get very hot, even with the silicone sleeve.
In addition to a steam wand, the Silvia pro has a dedicated hot water spout (rather than one that doubles as the steam wand). The water is drawn from the steam boiler (rather than the brew boiler), which is extra hot. Because of this, the hot water function is only available after the espresso machine has warmed up. There is also a delay if you switch between hot water and steam.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Like all espresso machines, the Rancilio Silvia Pro X requires regular cleaning and maintenance to keep it performing at its best. As is standard, you will need to flush and wipe both the group head and steam wand after brewing. Once the shot is finished, the Silvia Pro X has a three-way solenoid valve that shuts off water flow to the puck. This leaves the puck dry and easy to knock out.
Unfortunately, the drip tray for the Silvia Pro X is small and does not have a marker to notify you when it is full. You need to check and empty it regularly to prevent overflow.
In terms of maintenance, there are backflushing and descaling cycles that need to be run regularly. The Silvia Pro comes with a blank disc and cleaning tablets for the backflush to get you started. The machine has a 3-step cleaning program to simplify the process. You insert the disc and tablet, then start the cycle. You will have to remove the backflush disc for part of the cycle and then reinsert it further on- so you will need to be present during the whole process. Note you will need another container to collect the water when backflushing.
In terms of descaling, how often this is required depends on the water you are using. If you are using filtered water, this won’t have to be performed as often. The machine has programs to empty both the steam and brew boilers, which is helpful for descaling. However, descaling should only be attempted if you know what you are doing; if you are unsure how to descale an espresso machine, we recommend getting your machine serviced by professionals.
Who Is The Rancilio Silvia Pro For?
The Rancilio Silvia Pro X is a timeless machine aimed at the espresso enthusiast. As a dual boiler machine, it comes with a hefty price tag, so it is aimed at someone already invested in espresso. What the Silvia Pro X offers is a rock-solid machine capable of producing superb espresso. It has a simple design, aimed to be easily serviced with few bells and whistles.
The Rancilio Silvia Pro X is up against some tough competition in this price bracket.
Breville Dual Boiler
The Breville Dual Boiler has become a favorite among espresso aficionados. It has a modern design and is simple to use. But where the Dual Boiler really shines is in the high level of control it offers. This espresso machine is packed full of features allowing you to alter pre-infusion time and pressure, extraction temperature, and steam wand temperature. For the experts out there, it also can be modified. And we would be remiss if we failed to mention that the dual boiler does produce a delicious espresso. If you are looking for more bang for your buck, you might want to consider the Breville Dual Boiler.
If you are after a beautiful, highly polished espresso machine, you might want to consider the Rocket Appartamento. This espresso machine has an E61 group head with excellent temperature stability to produce consistently good espresso. The Appartamento is a heat exchange machine, so like the others, it can steam and pull a shot simultaneously. It is exceptionally well built and has a small footprint. This is a stunning espresso machine that will shine on any benchtop.
Final Verdict- Rancilio Silvia Pro X
The Rancilio Silvia Pro X is an exceptional prosumer espresso machine. It has superb temperature stability giving it the ability to make consistently good espresso. While it may not have the features or beauty of other machines in this price bracket, what it does have going for it is outstanding build quality and the ability to be serviced easily. If you are looking for an espresso machine to stand the test of time, the Rancilio Silvia Pro X is it.