If it weren’t for their distinct looks, people would’ve thought that the Gaggia Classic and the Rancilio Silvia are the same espresso machine. However, even though they are very similar when it comes to how they brew the coffee, they do have some differences that make one of the machines better than the other. Even though both of the machines are easy to use and quite compact, they differ in the way you can froth milk on them and some other things.
- Two filter baskets (for pods and double espresso)
- Milk frother
- Three-button control panel
- Steam dial
- 72-ounce water tank
- Three-way solenoid valve
Makes single and double espresso
Has a huge water reservoir
Comes with many accessories (scoop, tamper, descaling powder)
It might take you a while to learn how to froth with the frother on this machine
- An easy-to-understand control panel
- Manual steam wand
- Steam dial
- Stainless steel housing
- Commercial grade group head
- Three-way solenoid valve
Great overall performance
Makes single and double espresso shots
Has an ergonomic filter handle
Is easy to use
Our pick: Rancilio Silvia
The Rancilio Silvia performs well, and it has been upgraded throughout the years to meet the needs of its customers. It is a very durable machine and it will last for years. It has a manual steam wand, an ergonomic portafilter, and makes great coffee. All these things make the Rancilio Silvia a great espresso machine.
The Gaggia Classic is a semi-automatic espresso machine, and we’re glad to inform you that there’s a newer version of it. This machine makes both single and double espresso shots. With it, you can also make milk-based drinks because it comes with an attached Panarello steam wand. Furthermore, the Classic lets you make espresso out of pre-ground coffee or use ESE (easy-serve espresso pods) to make your espresso.
Even though it’s very compact, this espresso machine has a huge water filter with a capacity of 72 ounces. This means that you won’t need to refill the tank that often.
It is very easy to use the Gaggia Classic because its control panel has only three rocker buttons. These buttons let you turn the machine on and off, steam your milk, and brew your coffee. The machine also comes with a passive cup warmer which is great for raising the temperature of your cups before you brew your coffee into them.
To make the coffee grounds well-formed and dry, the Gaggia Classic uses a three-way solenoid valve. This valve releases the pressure off the water after the brewing is done and lets it get out of the coffee ground. Therefore, the Classic won’t let soupy pucks be an issue when you’re brewing coffee on it.
The Gaggia Classic looks nice, is pretty compact (measures 14.2 x 8 x 9.5 inches), and makes nice espresso and steamed milk. However, you might find the Panarrelo steam wand on the Classic to be a bit problematic to froth your milk with. Therefore, it might take you longer to learn how to steam your milk on this machine.
However, you can replace the steam wand with some that you might find to be more convenient to use, such as the Rancilio Silvia manual steam wand. The Rancilio Silvia wand is also great for making latte art.
The Rancilio Silvia is a machine that’s been upgraded throughout the years. The machine has been proven to perform great over and over again and it deserves to be titled a ‘Premium Pick’ on our list of best espresso machines under $1000. The handle on this machine’s portafilter has been improved to be more hand-friendly which makes it easier to use. Furthermore, the heating element of the boiler on the Silvia was made of copper in the past, and today it is made of stainless steel. The stainless steel can protect the boiler from burning out if the machine ever happens to run dry by accident.
Another thing that’s been upgraded on the Silvia is the steam wand. While in the past the steam wand on the machine could move only left and right, today you can froth your milk by moving the wand in the direction that you want. Of course, the Silvia makes great milk foam which goes well with the espresso that the machine brews.
This machine can brew both single and double espresso shots, and you can operate it in a very simple way. The Silvia has four rocker buttons on its front side and it also has a steam dial. The control buttons will help you brew your coffee, purge the brewing system, use the steam feature, and ‘temperature surf’ your machine.
‘Temperature surfing’ is something that could be of good use for you when you’ve been steaming milk and want the Silvia to brew you some espresso. To do ‘temperature surfing’ of your machine, just press on the hot water button and open the steam dial. The water that will come out of the steam wand will cool down the temperature of the water and also clean the steam dial after usage.
We think that there is only one thing on the Rancilio Silvia that’s missing and that is a grinder. However, the Silvia performs great and is easy to use. As for a grinder, there are many good affordable grinders that you can buy if you want to enjoy in the perfect espresso that this machine can make.
Similarities between the Gaggia Classic and the Rancilio Silvia
There are a lot of similarities between the Gaggia Classic and the Rancilio Silvia.
For starters, they are both espresso machines that come at an affordable price and have stainless steel housings. Both of them make single and double espresso shots and they can both make milk-based drinks. Furthermore, both the Classic and the Silvia have rocker buttons and stem dials that are intuitive and easy to use.
The three-way solenoid valve is present in both the Silvia and the Gaggia Classic, so you will get soupy pucks with none of these machines. Also, the Silvia doesn’t have a coffee grinder and neither does the Classic. Both of the machines work fast, quickly switch from steaming to brewing and vice versa, and they both come with portafilters and filter baskets.
Differences between the Gaggia Classic and the Rancilio Silvia
Even though it might seem like the Classic and the Silvia are practically the same machine, this is certainly not the case.
The Silvia has a steam wand that many people find easier to use than the one on the Classic. As we mentioned earlier, the steam wand on the Silvia has been upgraded to best serve the needs of the customers. Therefore, the Silvia certainly wins the ‘steam wand battle’ against the Gaggia.
These two machines also have different dimensions. Taking its dimensions into account, the Gaggia Classic is more compact than the Rancilio Silvia. The Classic measures 9.1 x 9.1 x 9.1 inches, while the Silvia measures 9.2 x 11.4 x 13.3 inches.
Furthermore, the portafilter that comes with the Silvia has a better, ergonomic design. This makes it easier for you to use the portafilter during the most important steps of the coffee-making process—filing the portafilter with ground coffee and locking it in the slot of the machine.
However, there is one more thing in which the Gaggia is better than the Silvia, and that is that it works with easy-serve espresso pods. On the other hand, if you want to drink espresso made from coffee pods or capsules on the Silvia, you’ll need to buy a special adapter for them.
!Note for the newbies: Don’t confuse the easy-serve espresso pods with Nespresso pods or with Keurig K-Cups because they are different products. Nespresso pods are usually used by Nespresso coffee machines and K-Cups are used by other kinds of coffee makers which you can read about here.
Which one should you go with?
We think that the Rancilio Silvia is better in comparison to the Gaggia Classic. Even though the machines are pretty similar, the Silvia has a better milk frother and that makes a big difference for the taste of all those milk-based drinks.
The Gaggia Classic, on the other hand, is one of the best espresso machines in its class, and now that it’s turned into a Classic Pro, we understand if you prefer this machine over the Silvia. If you, however, like the Gaggia brand, but the Gaggia Classic is not what you need, you could take a look at our articles on the Gaggia Brera and the Gaggia Accademia.