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Brandon Bohling

Taming Rancilio Silvia (Miss Silvia)

There is no other consumer espresso machine that has a bigger customer base nor the cult following than the Rancilio Silvia (aka Miss Silvia). Just do a Google search on Rancilio Silvia or the more common name Miss Silvia and you will start to see what I mean. Arguably it is the best home espresso machine for the money. However, she can be a bit fussy at times.

Pulling the shot

In my previous post, Taming Rancilio Rocky, I mentioned how important the grinder is to making exceptional espressos. Another variable that is so very important is (consistent) brewing temperature…which Miss Silvia (out of the box) does not do very well on her own. Again, it’s possible to train Miss Silvia to behave so not all is lost. I have read dozens and dozens of in-depth tutorials on temperature surfing Miss Silvia, but I think most will be satisfied just following the simpler instructions in this video…

The key (at least for me) was to quickly let out some hot (steaming) water before pulling the shot. Very simple, quick step, but until I watched the video had no idea.

Frothing Milk

Like everything else to do with espresso there is A TON of information out there on frothing milk. Again, I think most will be just fine if they following the tips in the video below. However, if you have time and really won’t to be a frothing master I highly recommend you start here.

What surprised me in this step (other than the video abruptly ending) was to NOT let the orange “not ready” light go out when frothing milk.

Bonus Material

If that is not enough for you, below is some bonus material that you may or may not find useful, but since I found them, I will share them.

  • Cheating Miss Silvia: have her ready to go in 8 minutes instead of waiting the appropriate 20+ minutes for Miss Silvia to warm up. Or just buy a $10 heavy duty (3-pronged) timer and set it to turn on at least 30 minutes before you wake up.
  • Rancilio 101 video. This a great overview of MOST of the key tips.
  • Some great articles from Whole Latte Love. Covering every aspect of espresso, plus some specifically for Rocky and Silvia.
  • Coffee Geek Forums. One of the best forums I have found.

Well, I think that about covers it. If you’ve made it this far maybe you now realize (like I did) that few will ever truly be espresso experts, but it sure is a fun journey!