Rancilio Silvia vs Gaggia Classic

If you are looking for a semi-automatic espresso machine that will give you consistent shots and will look great on your kitchen counter, you probably have in mind the Gaggia Classic and the Silvia from Rancilio. There are other machines within the same price range, however, these two espresso machines are the best rated by customers.

A comparison between Rancilio Silvia and Gaggia Classic two Italian espresso machines. The battle between Silvia at $700 vs Classic at $450 comes down to price, ultimately.

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Should I buy a Rancilio Silvia or the Gaggia Classic?

Let's see what technical aspects of the two machines we can compare: brew group, boiler size, shot consistency, quality, temperature stability, versatility, reliability, and price.
How do the to competitors compare for the above factors, and what is their perceived value from the customers' point of view? Read on.

Rancilio HSD-SILVIA Silvia

With a sturdy stainless steel casing and brass components, Rancilio Silvia is one of the most popular machines on the market. Simple, powerful and reliable, Rancilio Silvia espresso machines have been the choice of many home baristas for a long time.

Pros

  • Rancilio Silvia is one of the most reliable semiautomatic espresso machines for home use.
  • It has a large boiler, which allows you to pull more than two shots at a time.
  • Silvia looks stunning in any kitchen; the minimalist design, with stainless steel side panels, is just great.
  • The iron frame gives the machine stability and reduces the vibrations.

Cons

  • It is a bit "temperamental", the brewing temperature can fluctuate quite consistently, and that's going to affect your shot.
  • Single boiler, dual use, however, because the boiler is so big is less of a problem than with Gaggia.
Rancilio HSD-Silvia

Photo credit Amazon

Conclusion

The reliability and sturdiness of this machine make it unique. The decision to not include a PID might be seen as a bad decision, and many espresso enthusiasts critique it. However it is this simplicity that makes the machine so reliable.

Some Silvia owners modified their machine to include a PID, in order to improve the  temperature control. Others, prefer to stick to simplicity, and a technique called "temperature surfing" when pulling shot. The technique is very popular among Silvia owners, (and Gaggia for that matter).

The portafilter and the 58mm filter basket amazing. You can also buy an aftermarket naked portafilter for you Silvia, but this is later on, when you would have perfected your technique.

Check the video below for a detailed "How To Temperature Surfing on Rancilio Silvia".

Rancilio Silvia - Temperature Surfing

Gaggia Classic Vs Rancilio Silvia

Source: visual.ly

Rancilio Silvia vs Gaggia Classic – Side by Side Comparison

Here is a side by side comparison of the Rancilio Silvia vs Gaggia Classic:

  • Price: Gaggia is the clear winner at .
  • Aesthetics and Design: I personally like Silvia more, but this is a subjective aspect, so we can't point a clear winner.
  • Water reservoir: Gaggia Classic.
  • Boiler: the clear winner is Rancilio's machine with a larger boiler, (12 oz.), made of brass, compared to the one from Gaggia, made from aluminum with a 3.5 oz. capacity.
  • Heating element: 1370 Watts for the Gaggia Classic, and 952 for the Rancilio Silvia 
  • Temperature stability: no clear winner.
  • Robustness: Silvia is the more robust of the two machines.
  • Steam wand: Gaggia Classic has a very cheap steam wand, whereas Rancilio Silvia has a commercial style frothing wand, made from stainless steel.
  • Heat up time: Gaggia is warming up faster because of the smaller boiler, but you have to wait between shots.
  • Portafilter: Both machines have great commercial grade portafilters, with 58mm filter baskets.
  • Filter Basket: Both come with a single and a double filter basket. Gaggia has in addition to those, a pressurised basket set, and on for the ESE pods.
  • 3-way Solenoid Valve: Both machines are equipped with a 3-way solenoid valve.
  • Ae: Bot

Yes, there is a price difference between the two. Some consider that difference the most important factor when deciding. However, consider that you are going to pull numerous espresso shots with this machine. You want to be comfortable using it.

Gaggia Classic Espresso Machine

The Gaggia Classic is the best entry espresso machine. Gaggia Classic is been around for a long, time and is got some fixes to address some of the feedback on the market. If this is your target price range, you can't go wrong with it.

Pros

  • It is very elegant, and it fits in any modern kitchen easily.
  • Can be used with ESE pods. 
  • It comes with a pressurized portafilter, which will help you pull nice looking shots.
  • It is very affordable, compared to Rancilio is about 50% less expensive
  • The semi-automatics from Gaggia are insanely reliable. 

Cons

  • The milk frother is not that good, many people just change it with a Rancilio frother.
  • The boiler is small, that means more waiting between pulling shots.
  • Single boiler dual use, but this is normal for this price range.
  • As with Silvia, temperature surfing is needed.

Conclusion and an Update

The boiler is a bit smaller than the Silvia's and that makes the Classic ideal for day to day espresso pulling, but it's not ideal if you have guests. 

The pressurised baskets might seem like a deal, however, I strongly suggest you to avoid them. The regular filter baskets pull far better shots, if you master the technique. The ESE pods are a nice touch, although I don’t care much about this feature for a semi-automatic.

The temperature surfing is annoying, but it's something you get used to after using the machine for a while.

The filter baskets are 58mm which is great for pulling great shots. In my experience, the narrower the baskets, the harder to find the perfect grind size. 

In an economy where everything is made to last as little as possible, you wonder how come Gaggia and Rancilio didn’t change yet. 

The updated model, Gaggia Classic Pro