Coffee Maker/Machine | Gear

Gaggia Classic vs Rancilio Silvia: Which Coffee Machine Is Better?

You might be a budding home barista, and you want to move on from the decent but frankly uninspiring shots from your home espresso machines.

There are plenty of semi-automatic espresso machines in the market, but two coffee machines stand out: the Gaggia Classic Pro and the Rancilio Silvia.

They both have a place on your kitchen counter, but if you had to choose just one, you’ve come to the right place! Let’s dive right into the battle: Gaggia Classic vs Rancilio Silvia!

IMAGE PRODUCT
  • Small and sleek - ideal for kitchen top
  • Easy to use
  • Consistent shots with great texture and quality
VIEW LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON →
  • Easy to use controls and buttons
  • Tastier, complex, and textured shots
  • Commercial-style steam wand
VIEW LATEST PRICE ON 1ST IN COFFEE →VIEW LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON →

Gaggia Classic Vs Rancilio Silvia At a Glance

Gaggia Classic

The Gaggia Classic is every bit as storied as the name suggests. The company has been around since the 1930s, and coffee wouldn’t be the same without this legendary brand.

After all, Gaggia came up with the first espresso machine beyond two bars of pump pressure. In 1947, Achille Gaggia patented the spring-piston lever machine. Nothing’s been the same ever since.

So the hallmarks of contemporary espresso that we know and love today – high pump pressure and textured crema – were all because of Gaggia.

Read below for some basics on the Gaggia Classic Pro:

  • Body Material: Stainless Steel; Brass Portafilter and Brew Group
  • Dimensions: 14.2 x 8 x 9.5 inches
  • Wattage: 1,450 watts; Single-Boiler
  • Pump Pressure: 15 Bar
  • Brew Control Valve: 3-way solenoid valve
  • Milk Frother Type: Commercial Steam Wand
  • Water Reservoir Capacity: 72 oz.
  • Boiler Capacity: 3.5 oz.
  • Temperature Range: 185-2019 Fahrenheit
  • Included Portafilter: 58mm Pressurized Portafilter

Rancilio Silvia

Rancilio is just as established a company as the Gaggia, though it’s lesser-known by non-coffee enthusiasts.

gaggia classic vs rancilio silvia

Founded in 1927 by Roberto Rancilio, they made some impressive strides in coffee making.

The Silvia was made as a thank-you gift, but espresso enthusiasts have Rancilio to thank for the new community of espresso machine modifications.

Here’s what you need to know about the Rancilio Silvia:

  • Body Material: Stainless Steel; Brass Portafilter and Brew Group
  • Dimensions: 9.2 x 11.4 x 13.3 inches
  • Wattage: 1,100 watts; Single-Boiler
  • Pump Pressure: 9 Bars
  • Brew Control Valve: 3-way solenoid valve
  • Milk Frother Type: Commercial Wand
  • Water Reservoir Capacity: 67.6 oz.
  • Boiler Capacity: 12 oz.
  • Temperature Range: 185-2019 Fahrenheit
  • Included Portafilter: 58mm Pressurized Portafilter

Build Quality

Materials

The Rancilio Silvia is built like a tank. It’s known for its durability, and its industrial looks can fit any kitchen without a problem.

Nothing about the Rancilio Silvia looks cheaply made – though for the amount of money you’re paying for this machine, that’s expected – and everything fits perfectly.

The Gaggia Classic isn’t too far behind with build, either. Small yet powerful, the Gaggia withstands the test of time. We’re also huge fans of the brushed stainless steel finish for that timeless look.

You can choose any of these two, and not only would they fit your kitchen, but you’d also be sure that they won’t break on you like, say, a plasticky Keurig or Nespresso machine would.

Controls and Buttons

With the Rancilio Silvia, the attention to detail goes down even to the buttons as well. While the buttons are plastic, they’re molded well against the machine’s industrial stainless steel.

The dial for the steam wand turns well and feels hefty against your hand. With the buttons on the Rancilio, you know where your money’s going.

Gaggia’s switches are also plastic, but though they’re molded well, the click you get from them doesn’t feel as satisfying – or as perfectly fitted – as the Rancilio’s does.

Purely for the feel alone, the Silvia edges out the Classic just a little bit. But you’ll get a commercial-grade machine with both, so it’s no big deal.

Physical Footprint

Espresso machines aren’t small appliances. They take up significant space in your kitchen. The Classic is smaller, at 14.2 x 8 x 9.5 inches, compared to Silvia’s 9.2 x 11.4 x 13.3-inch footprint.

So if you don’t have a lot of space on your kitchen counter, the Classic might be a better fit for you.

Portafilter

Both the Classic and the Silvia use 58mm brass filter baskets. They’re both built very well, though we recommend removing the pressurized filter baskets for the best results.

The Silvia’s portafilter is well-made and fits with the machine so seamlessly, but the Gaggia’s is pretty good, too. It’s no deal-breaker.

Verdict

Both machines are absolute beasts in the prosumer home espresso enthusiast category. You honestly couldn’t go wrong with either of them, and they will definitely last you a lifetime.

But the Silvia edges out the Classic just a little bit because its pieces fit so well together and look every bit as outstanding and durable as commercial espresso machines would.

Performance

Temperature

Temperature is inconsistent with either the Gaggia Classic and the Silvia, so you’ll have to work on temperature surfing with both of them.

Now, temperature influences the quality of your final shot of espresso, so you have to be extra careful when brewing with either of these two coffee machines.

Silvia’s brew temperature is hotter and less consistent than the Gaggia Classic, so you might have to work on temperature surfing with the Silvia. You can fix it with a few modifications, though.

Verdict

So the Gaggia wins over the Silvia purely for the consistency in temperatures – though the control that the Silvia gives you might be more appealing to some enthusiasts.

Extra Features

The Classic has some features if you’re not an espresso-a-day kind of coffee drinker. With its hot water dispenser, you can make tea or add some water to your Americano without using a kettle.

Besides the dispenser, the Classic can brew ESE pods. So if you can’t make your own ground coffee with a grinder, you can buy these 44mm round coffee pods to brew espresso with.

User Experience

Drip Tray

The Classic doesn’t have a float to indicate that the drip tray is full, so you have to watch out and make sure that you don’t make a mess out of overflowing water.

Clearance

The portafilter/shot clearance is more generous in the Silvia vs. Classic, so you can place your shots of espresso right below the portafilter and still comfortably fit a scale below your shot glasses.

Water Tank

The water tank’s capacity plays a role in your experience with both of these machines. A larger water tank means fewer refills, after all.

With a smaller footprint but a bigger water tank, the Classic wins over the Silvia. The Gaggia Classic’s 72-oz. water tank capacity is 5 oz. more than a Rancilio.

And while you might find a 5-oz. difference might be a bit nitpicky, it spells the difference between a single and double shot of coffee. One double-shot of espresso is around 2 ounces of coffee.

Ease of Use

Both these machines are easy enough to use. You really do have to press just a few buttons with a semi-automatic machine.

It’s not much of a learning curve when compared to your typical home espresso machine, for sure. But you may have to experiment with temperature surfing and steam output to get the results you want.

Clean-Up

The two machines use a three-way solenoid valve, which helps immensely with clean-up. Without these valves, you’re left with a coffee mudslide when you clean out the portafilter.

Of course, that’s not the only function of these valves – solenoid valves help your machine last longer – but the added benefit of dryer pucks and less drip means you get to make your next shot more quickly.

The solenoid valves make the Silvia and Classic an instant upgrade over budget home espresso machines.

Taste

Shot Quality

What good is a coffee machine if you don’t consider taste? The coffee shot quality is the biggest reason why you’d get a prosumer coffee machine over an automatic pod espresso machine, after all.

Remember what we said about the temperature problem of the Rancilio Silvia? It’s as frustrating to make a tasty shot with the Silvia as it is to get the right temperature.

As you might know, extraction temperature influences shot quality. So while you can get excellent results with the Silvia, it’s much harder to get there.

The Classic Pro has a great texture and quality, and it’s easier to pull more consistent shots.

But once you have a streamlined process, the Silvia gives a much tastier, complex, and textured shot. The flavors are more nuanced in our Silvia test shots than with the Classic Pro’s shots.

There is a trace of bitterness and harshness with the Classic Pro. Though it’s easy enough to ignore, especially if you opt for better quality coffee freshly ground with your coffee grinder, it’s still disappointing.

Steamed Milk Texture

The Rancilio Silvia has a great steam wand and makes cafe-quality textured milk for your coffee. We tried making lattes, flat whites, and cappuccinos with the Silvia to great results.

You get the same milk quality with the Silvia you would work in commercial-style espresso machines. The steam wand is also easy to clean, so that’s a great bonus.

Meanwhile, the Classic’s steam wand was disappointing. While it makes great textured milk, it takes more time to get your desired texture with the wand.

The steam wand in the Classic is less powerful than in the Silvia. That’s because the Classic has a smaller boiler. It’s not quite commercial-grade due to the fuss.

Price

Price is usually the first thing you consider when you shop for coffee makers. But we thought to put it last, right after you’ve seen all the features, to check which machine is the best value for your money.

The price range for the Classic Pro is around 350 dollars (used) to around 450 dollars brand new. It’s easily one of the cheapest semi-automatic boiler machines you can buy for your money.

Meanwhile, the Rancilio Silvia price range is around 600 dollars (used) to around 755 dollars brand new.

Based purely on price alone, the Gaggia obviously wins.

Rancilio Silvia vs. Gaggia Classic Pro: Which Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine Is Better?

The Silvia is 200 to 300 dollars more expensive than the Classic Pro. So is the price difference really worth it?

It depends on your use case.

Who Should Buy the Rancilio Silvia?

The Rancilio Silvia is meant for a particular category of espresso enthusiasts. It’s for people who like the hobby of tinkering with their machine and adding on modifications.

If that sounds appealing to you, then the Silvia is the better machine. For 200 dollars more, you get a machine that can make the perfect espresso shot.

The Rancilio Silvia is the better coffee maker from build to shot quality. It just makes great single and double espresso shots.

And if you’re not into pure espresso, you can make great espresso-based milk drinks with the Rancilio.

But the Rancilio Silvia isn’t for everyone. If you want great espresso, even with pre-ground coffee or ESE pods, and without the hassle of tinkering with your machine, the Classic Pro is a clear choice.

gaggia classic vs rancilio silvia

Who Should Buy the Gaggia Classic?

The Gaggia Classic Pro is the better value choice with more features. While it won’t give you barista-level milk and commercial-grade shots, the hot water dispenser and pod compatibility is great for the home user.

If you’re a more casual coffee drinker and occasionally want some tea or hot cocoa, the Classic’s hot water dispenser will serve you better as a coffee maker.

It’s also less intimidating to use, so if you came from drip coffee and you’re trying to get your feet wet with single and double espresso shots, the Classic is a good place to start.

Conclusion

The Gaggia Classic and the Rancilio Silvia are two of the best espresso machines for home users in the market today.

While none of them are perfect, they both have very different offers. So try picking one up and seeing for yourself which one fits you!

Similar Posts