Rancilio Silvia Pro X Review
Updated: Apr 27, 2022
The Silvia Pro X is the newest little one group espresso machine from Rancilio and I had the chance to test it.
Let's start with the looks.
As this is the first thing people see, I feel like it’s a very overlooked criteria when someone wants to review an espresso machine.
The classic design is pure Silvia nostalgia. What I love is how narrow it is. With 25cm width, 42cm depth and 39cm height it fits very well in a lot of smaller places.
The body is brushed stainless steel and I love it. If you have ever had an espresso machine in your kitchen that is chrome or polished steel, it really is a nightmare to clean. You see every splash, every drop of moisture and are more concerned with polishing than with making espresso. That brings me to the next difference, the layout.
The Silvia Pro X has a total of 4 buttons, one PID display and a steam knob. The brass group head is covered by a plastic layer to protect the user from getting burned and all in all it is just so easy to clean this machine. No tricky levers, no parts that you can't access, it is a timeless beauty that makes it easy to keep clean, which is exactly what I want at home.
The machine comes in 4 colours: steel, black or white and the best - pink!
Design wise, I love its iconic understatement, how it fits in any kitchen without being overly dramatic and, interprets a kind of Bauhaus chic.
Dual Boiler system
2 independent boilers, insulated for maximum heat efficiency.
If we have a look inside the Silvia Pro X we will find a 0.3L insulated brass boiler for our brewing water. Because this boiler works independently and is quite small, it is ready to go and be used in within 4 minutes. I was absolutely astonished when I realised that I can already make myself an espresso and still let the 1L steam boiler heat up. The brewing boiler also has a very sensitive Pt1000 thermometer for maximum thermal stability and accuracy.
To create enough pressure, Rancilio has used vibration pumps to go up to 9 bar for a perfect extraction, visible at the small manometer at the bottom left.
If you feel like you don’t need the steam boiler today, you can also turn it off with the middle button on the left side of the machine. A very handy feature to save energy.
Other technical details
The Machine has a water reservoir that can hold quite a lot of water. When it is down to 2L the system will give a warning to fill up water and to protect itself from overheating without water, the machine can not be operated when the water warning is on.
The brewing unit is made from brass as the thermic properties of this material are highly heat retaining.
To control water waste, the machine has a special flushing setting. If you push the brewing button in the centre of the machine for 2 seconds, the display will show F which means flush.
The setting of an automatic flush makes your espresso routine so much easier and also cleaner.
The porter filters are the next surprise. They are the same as on a professional 2 or 3 group machine. The ergonomic handle makes even tamping and handling much easier and the standard size of 58mm ensures easy upgrading to different basket sizes. The baskets that come with the machine are 8 and 18g.
The steam wand is also made from stainless steel and comes with a professional 3 hole tip for professional steaming.
Also, the drip tray can be adjusted in height which I find phenomenal! I personally have quite small cups and have adjusted the tray to be closer to the spouts for less splashing and reducing heat loss in my beverage.
I think these are the main, very easy to understand features. Let’s dive a little bit deeper and explore the PID and the menu of this machine.
What is a PID?
PID stands for Proportional Integral Derivative.
Well but what does that mean?
For us it means that there are little thermostats in the boilers that help monitoring the temperatures and if the temperatures are slightly off, it will make adjustments to reach the desired and programmed temperature. Without a PID a lot of machines are more like a temperature surfing experience.
The desired Temperature can be chosen very easily by pushing the plus and minus buttons next to the display.
The display also works as a timer ( I looooove that!)
It makes it so much easier to control my extraction and dial in my coffee! But it also has one more feature: you can enter a very elaborate menu that I will explain to you now.
Push the plus and the minus button simultaneously for 2 seconds and you will enter the menu.
T2 - the steam boiler temperature
The steam boiler comes pre-set with maximum power, if you feel insecure about your steaming technique you can lower the steam pressure here and take it easy. With less pressure you have more time to learn the technique but be aware that too little pressure will make your steam very watery.
F.01 - cleaning program
Yes! Like any professional espresso machine in the modern times, the Silvia Pro X is equipped with a cleaning program that will automatically disperse intervals of water. All you have to do is insert the blind filter with cleaning products and start the program. Don't forget to let the program run twice, once with cleaning products and once just with water to rinse the group.
F.02 - adjustable starting time
One of the most requested options from homeusers is an automatic start time so the machine is hot and ready when the home barista wants to drink a coffee after getting up in the morning. A very handy feature for latte lovers as the heat up time can be up to maximum 15 minutes for the steam.
F.03 - empting the coffee boiler
OK WOW! This is so cool! A lot of people don’t know that coffee machines should be used daily to ensure the water in the machine is being moved. But what if you aren’t at home? What if you are at the Amalfi coast sipping aperols? You can empty the 300ml from the coffee boiler easily and your machine will not get damaged from old water.
F.04 - emptying the steam boiler
As we have 2 separate boilers we shouldn’t forget to empty the steam boiler as well. When I used this setting I just had to make sure to provide enough bowl for the water, but you will not get more than 600ml out of both boilers combined.
F.05 - sleep time
To minimise energy waste you can set a sleep timer for the machine so it doesn’t heat constantly. The pre-set sleep timer is 30 minutes.
F.06 - Fahrenheit or Celsius
As this machine is available in the States and Europe, Rancilio is giving the option to quickly change the temperature units.
F.07 - Voltage
This option is also because of the different voltages in the US and Europe. You can choose between 120 or 230 Volt. Very handy if you want to move overseas one day.
F.08 - Soft infusion
Let’s save the best for last.
What is soft infusion?
Normal espresso machines operate with a steady pressure of 9 bar. The Silvia Pro X also comes with this basic setting as this is how the world has learndéd how to make coffee. BUT, as we learn more about coffee, varieties, roast styles and extraction, we have to admit that not all coffees perform at their best when they are extracted with this much pressure.
Imagine that you have a coffee with a very light roast. This light roast has less developed oils but amazing acids. The lack of oils might course channelling in the puck if it gets hit with 9 bars straight. The result is a super sour and watery and sharp espresso. However, if we saturate the puck with water, using nearly no pressure, the coffee can expand and “bloom”, like when we prepare a filter coffee. The excess CO2 can get released and after a couple of seconds, we can hit the expanded coffee bed with 9 Bars and extract body and sweetness.
I have tried soft-infusion many times now with this machine and it doesn’t just make my coffees way less sharp, it also makes them so round and soft and smooth. It also allows me to be a bit off with my grind size, it is way more forgiving and for home baristas that is a great success.
In this setting you can choose between 0 and 6 seconds of soft infusion. A good place to start is probably 3 but I have been extracting all my espressos with 6 seconds soft infusion lately and I love it. I do however use quite fruity and light espressos.
The soft infusion variable gives us a fun tool to rediscover our coffee, to extract new flavours and to learn more about extraction.
As you can tell, I am definitely a fan.
The price! It is insane how fair and affordable this little masterpiece is - it differs depending on where you purchase it from, but it will always come in under 2000 euros, which can´t be said for many other quality machines.
Especially the soft infusion and PID have absolutely convinced me and I am having the best time at home, trying new coffees, profiling flavours for companies, testing roast profiles for befriended roasters and even training for competitions.
What would I change?
I do have to say the drip tray is a bit of a challenge. It is very small and as I am using the Silvia Pro X excessively every day, one of my main jobs is emptying the drip tray.
But this is a small sacrifice for such a great piece of professional espresso equipment.
I feel very happy and confident to recommend this little powerhouse of an espresso machine.
With its timeless looks and its performance, with its features and affordability Rancilio has released a machine that improves home coffee, can be used in offices, food trucks, small restaurants and is a great event machine.
If you want to know more about the machine, prizes or just have general feedback, feel free to leave a message or send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, the German office of Rancilio.
All photos provided by Rancilio Group