- Updated Mar 26, 2020
- Writen by Robert Smith
Gaggia Classic vs. Rancilio Silvia: Which One is Better?
- Updated Nov 13, 2019
- Writen by Robert Smith
A semi-automatic machine gives you more control over the espresso-making process while also allowing you to enjoy various automatic features to ensure you get the best of both worlds.
For the espresso lovers on the hunt for a top-quality Italian style semi-automatic espresso machine that provides a perfect balance of automation and control, the Gaggia Classic and Rancilio Silvia are some of the best options you can get currently on the market.
These two coffee machines also come in a pleasant classic design, and with commercial-grade components for long service life.
But, despite their many obvious similarities, these two are still quite different machines, and each has its good traits. To help you decide which one to buy, here we highlight their key differences but first, check out our overview of the two amazing espresso machines.
Gaggia Classic Overview
Gaggia has been making coffee makers and related components since the late 1940s, and this shows they have more than enough experience and expertise to produce some of the finest quality products on the market.
Their Classic semi-automatic espresso machine is one of their most successful and popular products, and it has been around for quite some time. The fact that it is still in use many years after its debut with the ever-increasing competition shows that it is a highly reliable machine.
Over the years, this coffee maker has received many updates aimed to make it even more efficient. Some of the key things that make it stand out will include the larger water reservoir and rugged stainless steel construction that guarantees many years of service.
This machine also has commercial-style components such as the 3-way solenoid valve, brew group, and portafilter which means besides regular home users, it will also appeal to many professional baristas. And it will also come with an easy-to-use frother to cater for the milk-based beverage lovers.
Unlike the Rancilio Silvia, it will also work with both pods and pre-ground coffee without requiring any attachment and hence making it more popular. And this is also a relatively more affordable espresso machine.
However, when compared to the Silvia, it will have a significantly smaller boiler, and its milk frother is also not as good as what you get on the latter.
Rancilio Silvia Overview
Since the 1960s, Rancilio has been churning some of the finest quality coffee machines. And they are one of the most popular brands especially with the professional baristas as they make some top quality machines that can withstand the pressure that comes with commercial use.
The Silvia semi-automatic espresso machine is one of the best-selling models from Rancilio, and this has been the case for quite some time. This coffee maker is popular with different kinds of coffee lovers, and it is the kind that will be in your kitchen counter for a long time thanks to the highly durable construction and components.
It boasts of a larger boiler that is more than triple the size of what you get on the Gaggia Classic, but it still comes in a sleek and compact design that ensures it takes up as little room as possible.
And for those that love cappuccinos and lattes, this will be a perfect coffee maker as it will come with a flexible stainless steel wand that will deliver some of the finest and creamiest milk froth with some amazing microfoam.
But, despite these and many other impressive features, this espresso machine still falls behind a little when it comes to the water reservoir as it has a relatively smaller one than the Gaggia Classic. Also, the drip tray is smaller and shallower, which means it will need more frequent emptying.
Pods and ground coffee
Pre-ground coffee only
Hot Water Dispenser
9.5” x 8” x 14.2”
9.2” x 11.4” x 13.3”
Regular coffee drinkers shopping on a budget
More experienced users
Gaggia Classic vs. Rancilio Silvia
The choice between the Gaggia Classic and Rancilio Silvia will require you to have adequate information, but it is a good one to make as you can be confident of getting a top-quality espresso machine regardless of which model you buy. But, here are a few points that will make your pick easier.
1. Pump Pressure
With espresso machines, the pump pressure is one of the key determinants of the quality of shots that you get, and hence also the overall efficiency of the machine. Hence, this should be one of the first factors to watch out for when picking between two models.
Here the Gaggia Classic takes the day as it comes with a 17.5 bar pump which provides relatively more pressure than the 15-bar pump you get on Silvia.
But, with that said, it is also worth mentioning that espresso extraction only requires 9 bars to ensure efficient and maximum flavor extraction. And so the extra 2.5 bars on the Gaggia machine might not make much difference.
2. Water Reservoir
Espresso will not use up as much water during brewing as other coffee types such as drip coffee. However, you still need to make sure that the machine you buy has a large enough water reservoir to minimize the frequency of refills.
The good news is that these two semi-automatic espresso machines have some of the largest water reservoirs in their class. And even the heavy espresso drinkers will not have to refill very often.
However, the Gaggia Classic has a relatively larger water reservoir. It uses a 72-ounce water tank that is a few ounces larger than the 67-ounce tank on the Silvia. In many instances, 4 ounces will not make a huge difference, and hence Silvia is not disadvantaged at all.
Boilers also play a vital role in espresso machines and should also be one of the key elements you consider when deciding which machine to buy.
For the boilers, you will need to consider various things such as the material, number of boilers and most importantly the capacity.
Gaggia Classic has a smaller 3.5-ounce boiler which ensures it will heat up relatively faster as there is no much liquid to heat. However, this smaller boiler will mean that you have to wait before making another shot.
With the Rancilio Silver, you get a larger 12-ounce boiler which might have a longer initial heat-up time but comes with the advantage of allowing you to make shot after shot with little to no wait in between.
4. Coffee Used
While these coffee makers will both make some fine quality espressos, they will differ a little when it comes to the coffee type they will use to achieve this.
To start with, the Gaggia Classic is built for versatility, and so besides being able to brew with different kinds of pods from different brands, you can also use pre-ground coffee thanks to the 58mm portafilter. This gives you more brewing options, which makes this a more versatile machine.
The Rancilio espresso machine also comes with a 58mm portafilter to allow you to brew with your favorite coffee grounds. However, it is not pod compatible which restricts you to using pre-ground coffee only. But, the good news is that with some of the modern versions of this machine, you can get an attachment that makes it possible to brew using ESE pods.
5. Hot Water Dispenser
Gaggia makes this coffee maker for more than just regular espresso or cappuccino lovers because it will also include a hot water dispenser to allow you to get hot water on demand for other uses or making different beverages.
With the hot water dispenser, you can get some hot water for your Americano or for making tea which makes this an even more versatile coffee machine. And because it has a larger water reservoir, you will not need to worry about running out of water.
Unfortunately, Rancilio Silva does not have this feature which for some users might be a huge drawback. But, this should not be your deal-breaker because the chances are that you already have an appliance that can deliver hot water on demand at home.
These are large capacity coffee makers mostly made with some commercial-grade materials, and so you should not expect them to be as lightweight as the cheap single-serve machines.
But, the weight difference between the two is quite significant. While the Rancilio Silva weighs in at 30 pounds, the Gaggia Classic is around 20 pounds.
If you are planning to be carrying your coffee maker around for use in different places, the 10-pound weight differences can be quite significant, and so the lighter Gaggia coffee maker will be the more portable of the two.
If you have an unlimited kitchen counter space, this part might not be significant to you, but if you are like many home users for whom every inch of kitchen counter space is precious, the dimensions of the espresso machine will matter a lot.
Because the Gaggia machine has a relatively larger water tank, it might seem that it will also come with a larger footprint when compared to the Rancilio model, but this is not necessarily the case. Its dimensions are 9.5 x 8 x 14.2 inches, which means it will only be a little taller.
The dimensions for the Rancilio model are 9.2 x 11.4 x 13.3 inches, which means it will be slightly shorter and will hence fit under most cabinets. But, judging from their dimensions, both coffee machines will have a small enough footprint.
8. Best For
Given the differences in various aspects from the water reservoir and boiler capacity to the coffee that these coffee machines use, they will be ideal for different kinds of users.
For the coffee drinkers looking to upgrade their old espresso machine by investing in something more efficient but do not want to spend a lot of money, the Gaggia Classic is a fantastic choice. This coffee maker will also be perfect for those that want a machine that delivers good shots consistently and requires little maintenance.
Rancilio Silvia, on the other hand, will be a more appropriate coffee machine for the more experienced users that want to have more control over their espresso shots and also have a bigger budget.
Price is another crucial factor for most coffee lovers because you can only buy a coffee maker that you can afford. Hence when deciding between these two, you also need to consider their price.
But, here the choice should be an easy one because despite both being commercial-style coffee machines, they have a huge price difference with the Rancilio machine being the more expensive of the two espresso makers.
At the time of writing this piece, the Rancilio Silvia was around $300 more expensive than the Gaggia Classic. And while the price depends on where you are buying, the Rancilio espresso maker is generally still more expensive.
Because both the Gaggia Classic and Rancilio Silvia have some amazing features, are well-built and will make some of the richest espressos, you will never go wrong regardless of which model you opt for.
But, when it comes to deciding between them, you will need to keep the differences highlighted above. These differences range from the water reservoir and boiler to the weight, price and the best uses for each coffee maker.
And using these differences highlighted above, it is clear that the Gaggia Classic will be perfect for home users shopping on a budget. The Rancilio Silvia, on the other hand, will work best for both home users and professionals looking for something more efficient and do not mind spending more money.