It’s all too easy to mindlessly spend more than you need in pursuit of the perfect home espresso. If you don’t have thousands of dollars to burn, then the Quick Mill Silvano will do the trick at a fraction of the cost.
With a sticker price of $1,070, the Silvano costs hundreds more than the popular Rancilio Silvia, a machine that looks similar to the Silvano, but for a premium semi-automatic espresso machine the Silvano is a steal.
Both the Silvano and the Silvia are designed with the highest level of detail in Italy, where coffee has been a key feature since time immemorial. But when push comes to shove, we can’t justify the purchase of the cheaper Silvia when we compare it with the Silvano.
We incorporate the Silvia into this review not just because of its resemblance to the Silvano, but also because the machines share other characteristics—being single-boiler machines chief among them. That’s important because neither the Silvano nor the Silvia are heat exchangers, which means they might not appeal to everyone.
When brewing, you have to keep boiler temperature below the steaming temperature (there’s a 40°F difference). If you don’t, you’ll burn your espresso. It’s not a big of a deal with the Silvano since it mimics a dual boiler design with a dedicated 600 watt brew boiler and a separate 1000 watt thermoblock for steaming. This means you can steam and pull shot almost simultaneously. If a second’s wait is acceptable to you, the Silvano will reward you with tasty lattes and delicious cappuccinos every time.
The Silvia, on the other hand, requires that you wait half a minute or more after you brew, bleed off the wet steam from the wand, and then wait again before steaming.
In our opinion, that’s a significant difference in the machines.
Beyond that, and while both machines are influenced by a modern stainless design, we prefer the Silvano’s copper boiler to the Silvia’s brass boiler.
Heated water is the primary composition in an espresso, and copper is better than brass at conducting and retaining heat. Because copper is more expensive than brass, having a copper boiler contributes to the Silvano’s higher price. That said, a copper boiler combined with other commercial-grade components, and a PID control feature that is seldom found on home espresso machines including the Silvia, in our opinion make the Silvano the most bank for the buck you are going to find in a home espresso machine.
Measuring 16 inches tall by 11 inches wide and stretching 13 inches deep, the Silvano is not what you would call a compact countertop appliance. In fact, the Silvano occupies as much space as two ordinary drip coffee makers standing side by side. Yet it’s so durable that it will last up to a decade—and that’s longer than most jobs.
Positioned on the right side of the Silvano are three control switches so you can easily turn the machine off, run the pump, or run the pump and boiler together. Running along the upper left edge of the top of the machine is the PID display, which is preset at 200°F. Even a 0.02°F change in the boiler will cause the PID controller to take notice. To us, having a PID controller is a big deal.
Although it’s considered an entry-level espresso machine, the Silvano makes the most favorable espresso we’ve tasted from a home machine in its price class and costs far less than some automatic models that aren’t nearly as good. While the 24-ounce boiler is not large enough to handle the needs of a coffee shop, it’s double the size of the Silvia boiler.
Solidly built and weighing around 35 pounds, the Silvano features a commercial-grade 58mm chrome-plated portafilter and comes with two stainless steel filter baskets, one for single shots and one for double shots.
Like the Silvia, the Silvano does not integrate a frothing aid on the steam wand. This will delight home baristas who enjoys making super rich froth and foam the traditional way—with a single nozzle steam wand.
But there’s another way Silvano looks and acts like the amazing machine it is. Its valve system relieves built-up steam pressure between espresso shots. This means you can remove the portafilter right away for easy cleanup—something you definitely want in a home espresso machine.
Along with a removable water tank that holds 67 ounces (we recommend filtered water), the Silvano includes a removable drip tray and cup tray, also removable, making everything easy to clean. And there’s a cup warmer built into the top of the machine. Quick Mill claims the warmer will heat coffee cups correctly in order to bring out maximum flavor. Actually, we find it more effective to put a little boiling water in our cup and then toss it out before extracting our espresso. It’s faster and the cup gets hotter. But that’s us. You might like the cup warmer.
And don’t worry if you’re in a hurry in the morning. The Silvano won’t hold you back. Some say it heats up in between 5 and 7 minutes. That’s not the case in our testing. For us it took closer to 10 minutes. But that’s still fast for an espresso machine. And it beats waiting in line at Starbucks.
It’s worth mentioning that we really like that the Silvano comes with an adjustable expansion valve that’s easily accessible. By maintaining 15-bar pressure, you always have enough to force water through coffee grounds in a manner that promises full flavor. And since the boiler is copper, it distributes heat evenly, with thermostats monitoring what’s going on to prevent overheating.
But there’s always a downside, and in the case of the Silvano, that’s the absence of a grinder. If you don’t have one already, then the Baratza Sette 270 Grinder is worth checking out.
While the Quick Mill Silvano will set you back a cool grand, when all is said and done, it’s is the only espresso machine you’ll need for years to come. It’s not a robotic barista (what we call the super-automatic machines), but a relatively compact and comparatively affordable semi-automatic machine that’s easy to use (thanks to the PID) and keep clean.
With an attractive brushed stainless steel casing, copper boiler, and a commercial-grade portafilter, the Silvano semi-automatic espresso machine has the power to quickly steam and froth your milk, and produces excellent espresso for coffeehouse quality beverages right out of the box.
Of course a semi-automatic machine like this isn’t for everyone since it requires some effort and patience to operate. For those who demand their caffeine fix with a minimum of fuss—and are willing to pay for it—the $2,399 Saeco Gran Baristo Avanti and the $1,999 Breville Oracle Touch might be more your speed.