Beginners guide to Rancilio Silvia


The following is based on, what we did when we first got the machine. The basic advice is: Make some coffee and make your own experiences. A few hints may speed the the learning process.

It’s very simple to start: fill the machine with water, turn it on, wait to the lamp indicates it’s warm, put coffee in the portafilter, tamp it; and on you go

But of cause; when you have invested a considerable amount of money you want to be sure doing it right.

Rancilio’s own video: “How to use your Silvia” gives a simple and very good introduction. There’s a lot of videos on youtube etc. BUT Rancilio does it simple, understandable and down to earth.

The basic understanding

If you buy an automatic machine, you get more or less the same result every time – it might be good or bad. But Rancilio is not automatic – its manual. So you can choose to brew the coffee like YOU like – and what suits the specific coffee beans best.

With ms Silvia you choose how hard you tamp the coffee, and you choose how long you want to brew.  And Ms Silva give you hard response: changes in these two parameters gives immediate changes in taste and structure.

And if you do these two things in the same way every time: Ms Silvia gives you the same result every time! After a few shots you understand the parameters, and get the feeling.

Tamping cofffe beans


25 seconds

This is the guide: Brew in 25 seconds; perhaps 20 seconds and perhaps 30 seconds. Under 20 seconds: no taste; over 30 seconds: too bitter.

If the coffee runs to quickly through the portafilter: Tamp it harder next time.

If the coffee runs to slowly through the portafilter: Tamp it more loose next time.

But remember: you are in charge, and your tastes and preferences are the right ones.

Grinding level

I started using grinding level 10 on the Rancilio Rocky, as recommended in the shop. After I had tried the above ajustments, I went on adjusting the grinding. And again the time it takes brewing a cup of espresso is the basic guide.

If it takes under 20 seconds and/or there is no taste: Grind it finer. Try to set grinder at 8.

If it takes more than 30 seconds and/or the taste is too bitter: Try to set the grinder at 12.

If these adjustments aren’t enough: increase or decrease in small steps, as you like.

The coffee beans

It feels good, when you have found out, how to use the Rancilio Silvia, with the first bag of coffee beans. When you buy the next coffee beans, you find out that you have to start all over again: New Beans: slightly different way to get the best out of them.

Ms Silvia is a non forgiving bastard! If you buy standard beans, or very cheap beans: they taste awful. It gives the coffee to you, exactly as  it is. Ms Silvia is designed to be honest. On the other hand: you get the wonderful different tastes and aromas from beans which have been carefully roasted and sold to you of people who love espresso coffee.

Rancilio Silvia


The Rancilio Silvia is heavy (14 kilos!) and it takes some time for it to be overall warm. And when it is warmed up, it will better keep a constant temperature during brewing.

But the first shot in the morning, made imidiately after the indicator lamp has switched off, is ok.(2008 model).

For having the correct tempereture, all the  around 25 seconds it takes to brew a cup, you can do the following.

The highest temperature on the machine is there immediately after the indicator lamp switch it self  off. That’s the best time for brewing. While the indicator is switched on – Ms Silva is heating – when it is switched off, the temperature will slowly drop, until the thermostat automatically turns on the heating again.

Do this:

  • If the indicator lamp shows it’s heating: wait until it switch it self off, and brew immediately after.
  • If the indicator lamp is off: Before you put the portafilter on the machine; make a small amount of hot water down to a glass. Wait 2-4 seconds, and see if the indicator lamp switch itself on.
  • Repeat until the indicator is on – it normally takes 1 – 3 times
  • Wait until the indicator lamp is off
  • Brew your coffee imdiately after.

It sounds perhaps a little cumbersome; but i reality it becomes an easy habit. And you will under alle circumstances want to clean the water/damp dispenser. Making it puring a little hot water will remove the small remains from last brew.

One Response to “Beginners guide to Rancilio Silvia”

  1. Grinder setting for Rancilio Rocky | The joy of espresso coffee
Leave a Reply

RSS for Posts RSS for Comments