Breville Barista Pro Vs Rancilio Silvia: A Detailed Comparison

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Breville Barista Pro vs Rancilio Silvia: Both entry-level espresso machines are ideal for cost-conscious coffee aficionados who may not have the budget for more advanced super-automatic machines. For the question, “Which is better?” I give a nod to the former.

Since its initial release in 2019, the Breville Barista Pro has received various rave reviews. It comes with many bells and whistles for making barista-standard coffee and delivering an improved user experience. Also, it is an appliance that will look beautiful in any kitchen.

The Rancilio Silvia is also a great value-for-money espresso machine, but I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners. Besides the need to practice frothing milk with a steam wand, it requires learning “temperature surfing,” as it doesn’t have a PID controller.

Breville Barista Pro Vs Rancilio Silvia: Comparison Chart

Image
TIE
Breville Barista Pro Espresso Machine BES878BSS, Brushed Stainless Steel
TIE
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machinet,0.3 liters, with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch
Model
Breville Barista Pro
Rancilio Silvia
Dimensions/Weight
13.5 x 13.9 x 16 inches/20 lbs
9.2 x 11.4 x 13.3 inches/30.8 lbs
Heating System
Single ThermoJet System
Single Brass System
Interface
LCD Display & Buttons
Switches
One Touch Drink Options
2
2
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/4 inches
Dual/3 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2 liter/0.24 liter
2 liter/None
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
15 Bars
Built-in Grinder
Conical Burr Steel Grinder
Grinding Settings
30
Pre-Infusion
Filter
Breville Water Filter Cartridge (Optional)
Milk Frothing System
Manual Steam Wand
Manual Steam Wand
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
What I Like
Price
$829.99
$865.00
TIE
Image
Breville Barista Pro Espresso Machine BES878BSS, Brushed Stainless Steel
Model
Breville Barista Pro
Dimensions/Weight
13.5 x 13.9 x 16 inches/20 lbs
Heating System
Single ThermoJet System
Interface
LCD Display & Buttons
One Touch Drink Options
2
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/4 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2 liter/0.24 liter
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
Built-in Grinder
Conical Burr Steel Grinder
Grinding Settings
30
Pre-Infusion
Filter
Breville Water Filter Cartridge (Optional)
Milk Frothing System
Manual Steam Wand
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
What I Like
Price
$829.99
More Info
TIE
Image
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machinet,0.3 liters, with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch
Model
Rancilio Silvia
Dimensions/Weight
9.2 x 11.4 x 13.3 inches/30.8 lbs
Heating System
Single Brass System
Interface
Switches
One Touch Drink Options
2
Spigot Type/Cup Clearance
Dual/3 inches
Water Reservoir/Bean Hopper
2 liter/None
Pump Pressure
15 Bars
Built-in Grinder
Grinding Settings
Pre-Infusion
Filter
Milk Frothing System
Manual Steam Wand
Compatible With Pre-ground Coffee
App Connectivity
What I Like
Price
$865.00
More Info

Last update on 2024-04-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Breville Barista Pro Vs Rancilio Silvia: Differences

The Breville Barista Pro decidedly outperforms the Rancilio Silvia with a tally of 4-1. Keep reading to find out which one is your best bet!

Coffee Flavour

Winner: Breville Barista Pro

Built-in Grinder

The Rancilio Silvia has no built-in grinder, necessitating a separate grinder and extra space to accommodate it. Meanwhile, the Breville Barista Pro comes with a conical burr grinder that is made from steel. Having an integrated grinder is always a good thing since it saves you from spending extra bucks for any additional units, but this one has some cons that bear mentioning.

breville barista pro’s conical steel burr grinder
Breville Barista Pro’s conical steel burr grinder

First and foremost, a steel grinder is always prone to overheating during the grinding process, which can negatively impact the taste of your espresso. No one wants to invest in quality coffee beans only to have them scorched, right? Ceramic grinders can alleviate this issue, but they are typically found on higher-end models.

Moreover, I found this grinder to be noisy. It’s not really ear-splitting, but there’s no way you could sneak up on brewing an espresso early in the morning without stirring others from their slumber.

Prepare for a revelation that might leave you astounded. The Breville Barista Pro has up to 30 different grind “steps” or settings. Seriously, Breville? Even many of the steeply-priced machines from Jura usually offer a mere six settings. 

the barista pro's grind size knob
The Barista Pro’s grind-size knob

30 grind sizes are truly more than enough for you to pick the perfect one, and you’ll never find your ideal shot flavor stuck between the two grind settings. Dialing in between rotation settings is a breeze by twisting a knob on the side. My only small quibble is that shifting from one setting to another can feel like too many “jumps.”

The Rancilio Silvia features a well-made 54mm portafilter, whereas the Barista Pro comes out of the box with a commercial-grade 58mm portafilter. Frankly, these stainless steel portafilters are among the nicest ones that can be found with home espresso machines. With an elegantly molded handle, they will definitely fit snugly and firmly in your hand. The 58 mm commercial portafilter is the same size that is widely used in coffee shops and is, to my mind, the best for pulling extraordinary espresso shots.

The Rancilio Silvia only has 2 filter baskets, whereas the Barista Pro is accompanied by 4 (pressurized and non-pressurized options for both single and double shots). For the unknown, the pressurized filter basket (also called the dual wall filter basket) is ideal for beginners or the use of pre-ground coffee since it negates the need for perfectly sized grinds to achieve rich and tasty shots, unlike its non-pressurized counterpart.

the barista pro comes with 4 filter baskets
The Barista Pro comes with 4 filter baskets

I was glad that both come with heavy, solid metal tampers instead of cheap-feeling plastic ones, which usually come with entry-level models. I have tested many Gaggia machines, and most of them have disappointed me with their flimsy plastic tampers. Fortunately, that was not the case here.

Heating System

Both are single-boiler machines, meaning they can’t pull espresso and steam milk at once, as a model with a dual-boiler system can. But as for the Barista Pro, that isn’t a deal-breaker, at least for home use, as this one can transition quickly from brewing to steaming, thanks to the ThermoJet heating system

This system is essentially a cylinder coil that can help the machine reach the optimal temperature in just about 3 seconds. So the Breville Barista Pro, no doubt, is among the quickest espresso machines regarding shifting from brewing to steaming. This nifty feature not only saves crucial time during your morning coffee preparation but also provides a speedy solution for hot water needs such as brewing tea, bypassing the lengthy wait for a kettle to boil.

On the other hand, the Rancilio Silvia features a single marine-grade brass boiler, which takes more time to reach the proper temperature. Brass is an alloy containing copper and zinc. Despite this material lacking the thermal conductivity of copper, it still serves as a superb, cost-effective alternative for an espresso machine’s boiler. If you want to expedite the heating process, consider the Rancilio Silvia Pro X with a dual boiler, a PID controller, a pressure gauge, etc.

One thing that the Breville Barista Pro has over the Rancilio Silvia is its built-in PID controller. This unit helps maintain a default brewing temperature of 200 °F, which is important for producing high-quality espressos with optimal flavor. Also, it allows customizing the brew temperature in 2°F increments (5 settings in total).

As for an espresso machine without a PID like the Rancilio Silvia, you have to practice “temperature surfing,”  a method typically used to manage the temperature of a single-boiler machine. Simply put, after the machine heats up for milk steaming, instead of waiting for it to cool on its own, you might pull a shot right when you believe the temperature is at its optimum point for brewing espresso.

Of course, this method requires experience as well as your level of familiarity with your espresso machine. So if you’re just dipping your toe into the world of espresso making, you might want to explore other options like fitting a PID controller onto your Rancilio Silvia or investing in a machine that already comes with an integrated PID like the Breville Barista Pro.

I also recommend pulling a blank shot (a shot without coffee grounds in your portafilter) on both before extraction to ensure the portafilter is adequately preheated. This slows things down a bit but is essential for precise espresso brewing. Alternatively, you can also pre-warm your mug thanks to a cup warmer on top of both.

Brewing System

Before extraction, the Breville Barista Pro pre-wets the coffee grounds with hot water at low pressure (8–12 seconds), resulting in better extraction and more well-rounded espresso shots. At this point, this stage feels like a standard in the world of espresso machines, but a few still lack it, such as the Rancilio Silvia.

The Silvia really has no pre-infusion function, but there is a trick. All you need to do is open up the frothing wand valve a quarter turn, followed by pressing the coffee switch – This will divert most of the pressure away from the group head. Once your desired pre-infusion interval has passed, just close the steam valve, and extraction will begin. There it is – a “knock off” pre-infusion for the Rancilio Silvia!

One thing I really appreciate about the Breville Barista Pro is its ability to adjust the pre-infusion duration. So if you deem the standard 10-second duration to be too long, it’s easily adjustable.

Then both hit up to 15 bars of pressure for coffee extraction, well above the 9 bars of pressure necessary for an adequate espresso pull. For uninitiated. These espresso machines rely on a pressure pump instead of gravity to pull a shot.

The result? I found the  Rancilio Silvia Pro yielded robust, delightful espresso shots boasting a magnificent flavor with a dash of sweetness. Meanwhile, the Barista Pro was able to extract sumptuous shots filled with flavor, which everyone wants to enjoy in the morning.

Milk Frothing System

Both the Breville Barista Pro vs Rancilio Silvia have classic steam wands rather than automatic frothing milk systems, so you are responsible for manually frothing the milk to create microfoam for your milk-based drinks instead of relying on an automatic cycle. This requires practice, patience, and experimentation to get satisfactory results. So don’t let the below-expected results discourage you, and don’t force yourself to master the steam wand in one go.

breville barista pro vs rancilio silvia’s steam wand
Breville Barista Pro vs Rancilio Silvia’s steam wand

Here is the basic way to froth milk with a steam wand: Fill a milk steel jug with your cold milk, and position it under the steam wand so it is 1 cm below the milk surface. Then turn the steam dial and wait until the pitcher is too hot to hold. Finally, wipe the steaming wand with a damp cloth and flush out the steam again to remove residual milk.

The Rancilio Silvia has a 2 hole steam wand, while the Breville Barista Pro features a 4 hole one. That means the latter delivers a more even steam distribution and better aeration, which is advantageous for achieving a creamy and velvety microfoam for cappuccinos and latte art. But after all, the quality of the milk’s frothing depends mainly on your own skill and technique.

These steam wands feature a stainless steel finish for easy cleaning. They can rotate smoothly for easy anchoring at the proper angle, and the Barista Express’s steam wand even features a rubber grip for easy navigation. These small yet useful features like this always catch my attention.

I found the Rancilio Silvia to have abundant steam power, which is more than enough to create beautifully textured microfoam for a nice cappuccino or latte art. There is an adjustable steam dial on the control panel used to fine-tune the pressure in small increments. With just a hint of practice, whipping up café-standard microfoam for your morning cappuccino right in your kitchen will be a dream come true.

The Breville Barista Pro also features impressive steam power. Paired with the four-hole wand, it can quickly produce airy froth for a cappuccino or ultra-creamy microfoam milk for latte art.

Design & Usability

Winner: Breville Barista Pro

Dimensions, Footprint & Weight

Breville Barista ProRancilio Silvia
Dimensions13.5 x 13.9 x 16 inches9.2 x 11.4 x 13.3 inches
Weight20 lbs30.8 lbs

The Rancilio Silvia has a simple, boxy appearance wrapped in a solid stainless steel exterior. This one is clearly built to be a rugged tank rather than an ultra-modern, visually stunning Rolls Royce. Its control is also kept to a minimum with some switches and a chunky steam dial – although they’re plastic, not metal, they give a sense of durability that suggests they will endure over time.

The Breville Barista Pro is also a sleek bean-to-cup machine with a stainless steel finish, but don’t let that fool you – This one is made mostly of plastic to maintain an affordable price point. Its modern look is enhanced by an LCD screen that displays key details such as grind size, brew time, and water temperature. Adjusting these parameters is a cinch using the menu button and grind dial.

breville barista pro vs rancilio silvia's control panel
Breville Barista Pro vs Rancilio Silvia’s control panel

Both are compact espresso machines that will seamlessly fit on your kitchen countertop. Still, don’t be fooled by their size – they are somewhat heavy, especially the Rancilio Silvia.

Pre-programmed Coffee Options

Breville Barista ProRancilio Silvia
Espresso 
Hot Water
Espresso 
Hot Water

These entry-level espresso machines have no pre-programmed milk-based drink, so you will need to put in the time and effort to make milk foam on your own with their wands.

Both have a hot-water function, which comes into play when you need to brew tea or make hot chocolate for your guests. But while the Barista Pro boasts a private hot water spout, the Rancilio Silvia dispenses hot water via its steam wand. If you opt for the former, you can conveniently create an Americano by watering down the espresso without needing to shift the cup and ensuring your tea remains free of any milky residue all the time.

The Breville Barista Pro gives you more control over brewing espresso. This one allows for detailed modifications of grind size, grind amount (the amount of ground coffee dosed into the filter basket), pre-infusion time, water dose, and temperature. Once set, these configurations become the default until you make further adjustments.

No matter how crazy you are about bean-to-cup drinks, there will come a day when you will need to use pre-ground coffee as an alternative, such as when your bean stock runs out. In that case, just put your pre-ground coffee into the pressurized filter basket and pull some cups of decaf.

Spout & Cup Clearance

Breville Barista ProRancilio Silvia
Spout TypeDualDual
Cup Clearance4 inches3 inches

Their cup clearance is somewhat limited, but that’s not a big deal considering they’re only designed to pull short espresso shots. To get extra space under the portafilter, you can pull out the drip tray, but I never recommend this.

breville barista pro vs rancilio silvia's cup clearance
Breville Barista Pro vs Rancilio Silvia’s cup clearance

Both have a 2-cup function that allows you to prepare two espresso cups at once. This feature is not only a time-saver for you and your loved ones during the morning rush but also serves as a peacekeeper. If you’ve ever found yourself in a heated exchange over who gets coffee first, you’ll appreciate what I’m talking about.

Water Reservoir & Bean Hopper

Breville Barista ProRancilio Silvia
Water Reservoir2 liter2 liter
Bean Hopper0.24 literN/A

Their 2-liter plastic water reservoirs, to my mind, are too large for home use. They are removable and can be refilled at the kitchen sink or on the spot, depending on your lifestyle. Just ensure to change the water at the end of the day so you can enjoy the best-flavored espresso every day.

The Barista Pro can pair with a water filter to remove impurities from your water, so the machine doesn’t need regular descaling and preserves the ultimate espresso flavor. The initial purchase comes with one filter, but keep in mind that you will have to replace it every month, thereby incurring a small recurring charge.

the breville barista pro can pair with a water filter
The Breville Barista Pro can be paired with a water filter

The bean hopper on top of the Breville Barista Pro can house up to 230.0 grams of coffee beans. It is fitted with an airtight lid, which not only dampens the grinder’s noise but also contributes to the beans’ freshness over an extended period.

the bean hopper on the breville barista pro
The bean hopper on the Breville Barista Pro

Cleaning & Maintenance

Winner: Tie

Descaling these appliances is a piece of cake since the process is automated. It basically involves adding a descaling solution to the water tank and running it through the entire machine. As mentioned earlier, the Breville Barista Pro doesn’t need to be descaled too often if it is to be used with the filter.

Regarding cleaning the frothing milk system, just purge all the milk residue inside automatically with hot steam and wipe the exterior with a soft, damp rag after use. Apply the same thing to clean the group head: run a blank shot through the portafilter.

There are some daily maintenance tasks that you need to keep up with, including emptying the drip tray, emptying the dregs basket, wiping down the machines’ housing, washing the portafilter, etc. With proper maintenance and care, these espresso machines can provide reliable performance for numerous years to come.

Utilities & Other Features

Winner: Breville Barista Pro

Auto-off Function

The Breville Barista Pro will automatically turn off after 30 minutes of inactivity to conserve energy, protect the element, and cut down on your electricity bill. This is indeed a great feature, but I do wish there was an option to shorten the waiting period.

Quick Rundown Of Breville Barista Pro

Breville Barista Pro Espresso Machine BES878BSS, Brushed Stainless Steel
  • Item Package Dimension: 17.39L x 16.59W x 16.09H inches
  • Item Package Weight - 27.20 Pounds
  • Item Package Quantity - 1
  • Product Type - COFFEE MAKER

Last update on 2024-04-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Sleek and compact design.
  • Has up to 30 different grind settings.
  • The ThermoJet heating system heats up quickly.
  • Features an adjustable pre-infusion step.
  • Its large water tank is compatible with a water filter.
Cons
  • Quite heavy.
  • Noisy grinder.

Quick Rundown Of Rancilio Silvia

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machinet,0.3 liters, with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch
  • Ergonomic porta filter handle same as the proven design of Rancilio commercial machines
  • Commercial grade group head for superb heat stability and extraction quality
  • Articulating steam wand offers complete range of motion and professional steaming knob precisely controls steaming pressure
  • Classic linear design fits most decors
  • Optional pod and capsule adaptor kit available

Last update on 2024-04-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Has an user friendly control panel.
  • Features a powerful steam wand.
  • Has a high-quality portafilter and tamper.
  • Compact and fits any kitchen countertop.
  • The water reservoir is large and easy to refill.
Cons
  • No built-in grinder.
  • No PID controller.

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References:

Rating 5/5 - (2 votes)