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Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia

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Last updated: December 20, 2023

Quick Verdict: I’d recommend the Gaggia Classic Pro to most people as it offers better value for money than the Rancilio Silvia. The Rancilio Silvia is a marginally better machine so buy it if you care more about getting the best possible machine than getting the best possible value.

The Gaggia Classic Pro and the Rancilio Silvia have the exact same look and functionalities, however, the Rancilio Silvia is around $300 – $400 more expensive than the Gaggia Classic Pro.

In this comparison of the Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia I’ll be looking at whether the Rancilio Silvia justifies this additional cost over the Gaggia Classic Pro, and if so then how.

Let’s get started.

Should I Buy the Gaggia Classic Pro or the Rancilio Silvia (Quick Answer)?

I’d recommend that most people get the Gaggia Classic Pro over the Rancilio Silvia.

The main reason for this is cost. The Rancilio Silvia does not do enough to justify costing $300 more than the Gaggia Classic Pro.

Better Value than the Rancilio Silvia
Gaggia Classic Pro
$499.00 $432.99
The Gaggia Classic Pro’s relatively low cost, durability, and modification potential make it better value for money than the Rancilio Silvia.
Get it on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/27/2024 04:05 pm GMT

I’d only recommend the Rancilio Silvia to people who know that they want to get into espresso machine modding and want the best foundation for this regardless of price.

Although I don’t think the Rancilio is $300 better than the Gaggia, I cannot deny that it is the superior machine of the two.

Best if Price is Not a Concern
Rancilio Silvia
$865.00

The Rancillio Silva’s powerful steam wand and more heavy-duty build make it a better espresso machine than the Gaggia Classic Pro.

Get it on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/28/2024 05:55 pm GMT

Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia: Overview of Machines

The Gaggia Classic Pro and Rancilio Silvia are very similar machines with far more commonalities than differences.

They are both semi-automatic espresso machines, which means that they have manual volumetric dosing for espresso shots. 

They both have pinhole steam wands which allow you to make thick textured milk and silky microfoam for latte art.

They both are heated by a single boiler without a PID. 

This lack of a PID means that they do not have the best temperature regulation and you’ll need to develop a temperature surfing routine in order to pull consistent shots with either machine.

The table below shows the key features and specifications of these two machines:

Gaggia Classic Pro Rancilio Silvia
Description
Semi-automatic espresso machine with pin hole steam wand
Semi-automatic espresso machine with pin hole steam wand
User interface
Button operated
Button operated
Heating system
Single boiler
Single boiler
Boiler capacity
3.5 oz
10 oz
Heat up time
25 seconds
70 seconds
PID
No
No
Steam wand type
Pin hole
Pin hole
Time to steam 4 oz of milk
21 seconds
42 seconds
Cup clearance
5 inches
Dimensions (width x depth x height)
9.5” W x 8” D x 14.2” H
9.5” W x 11” D x 13.5” H
Price
Less expensive
More expensive

What are the Differences Between the Gaggia Classic Pro and Rancilio Silvia?

I’m now going to list the differences between these two machines (in order of importance) and give my thoughts on how they affect the machines’ performance and usability.

Cup Clearance: Rancilio Silvia has 5 Inches of Cup Clearance, Gaggia Classic Pro has 3 Inches of Cup Clearance

While an extra two inches of cup clearance might not seem like a huge deal on an espresso machine, the Rancilio’s additional cup clearance allows you to do the following that the Gaggia cannot do:

  • Brew with a scale under your cup without removing the drip tray (weighing your final espresso is key to getting consistent shots with a semi-automatic espresso machine).
  • Brew with a standard-sized mug, rather than an espresso or cappuccino cup.

One of the biggest frustrations with the Gaggia Classic Pro’s limited cup clearance is that (unlike other parts of the machine) it is very difficult to modify.

The only workaround to fit a scale under your cup when brewing with the Gaggia is to remove its drip tray and place a cup under its solenoid valve – hardly an elegant solution.

Winner: Rancilio Silvia

Boiler Capacity: The Rancilio Silvia Has a 10 oz Boiler Capacity, and the Gaggia Classic Pro Only Has a 3 oz Boiler Capacity

Boiler capacity refers to the volume of hot water that each machine can keep at brewing temperature at any one time.

The Rancilio Silvia’s larger boiler gives it two advantages over the Gaggia Classic Pro:

  1. The Rancilio Silvia can make back-to-back shots faster and with fewer temperature fluctuations than the Gaggia. 
  1. The Rancilio Silvia has a higher steaming pressure and can steam milk for longer than the Gaggia. Steam pressure is the result of an interplay between a machine’s boiler, pump, and steam wand.

Winner: Rancilio Silvia

Modification Potential and Community: Both Machines are Good for Modding but the Rancilio Silvia Has a More Active Community Around This

Both machines can be (relatively) easily opened up and modified.

Both machines have a lot of modding kits specifically put together for each machine (for example a PID add-on), along with in-depth guides and videos of how to use them.

Both machines have their own subreddit: r/gaggiaclassic and r/ranciliosilvia where a lot of modding chat goes on.

There do seem to be more kits and resources available for the Rancilio Silvia than the Gaggia Classic Pro. 

However, both are ultimately great machines if you want to get into modding.

Winner: Rancilio Silvia (but only just)

Size and Weight: The Rancilio Silvia Has Two Inches More Drip Tray Width and is 10 lbs Heavier Than the Gaggia Classic Pro

The Rancilio Silvia’s drip tray width gives you more space to work with when pulling your shot. This makes your brewing a little bit easier, especially if you are putting a scale under your cup – nothing feels squashed or crowded.

The Rancilio Silvia’s additional weight compared to the Gaggia means that it will not move when you attach its portafilter. The Gaggia Classic Pro will move and you need to push down on the top of it to keep it in place when you attach its portafilter.

Winner: Rancilio Silvia

Now that we have gone through the differences between these two machines I am going to compare them against the following criteria:

  • Espresso quality
  • Milk steaming performance
  • Functionalities
  • Ease of use
  • Design and build quality
  • Value for money

Espresso Quality

The Rancilio Silvia can produce slightly better espresso than the Gaggia Classic Pro

The Rancilio Silvia and Gaggia Classic Pro can both brew with very finely ground coffee without channeling.

This means that they can both produce complexly flavored and well-bodied espresso.

In his comparison of the two machines, barista, and coffee YouTuber James Hoffmann said that the Rancilio Silvia can make a better espresso than the Gaggia Classic Pro, but that the Rancilio’s shots are also more inconsistent than the Gaggia.

He put the Gaggia’s slightly worse shots down to the fact that it runs at too high a pressure (this leads to a slightly harsh bitterness as it your coffee becomes over-extracted) and said that the Rancilio’s inconsistency is because it has a tendency to run at too high a temperature.

You can see his thoughts on the two machines’ espresso in the video below watch from 10:32 – 11:53 for the Rancilio Silvia and 13:12 – 15:05 for the Gaggia Classic Pro):

It’s worth noting that you can control temperature more easily than you can control pump pressure, so with a bit more experience you should be able to better overcome the Rancilio’s inconsistencies than the Gaggia’s pressure problem.

You can only remedy the Gaggia’s pump pressure problem by modding the machine.

Espresso Quality Winner: Rancilio Silvia (but only just)

Milk Steaming Performance

While both machines can achieve the same quality and variety of textures of steamed milk, the Rancilio Silvia steams milk much faster than the Gaggia Classic Pro.

In his testing of these two machines, James Hoffmann found that the Gaggia Classic Pro steamed 4 oz of milk in 42 seconds and that the Rancilio Silvia did this in 21 seconds.

Both machines do, eventually, make the same quality of milk foam and can be used to make thicker foam and silkier microfoam.

The Gaggia Classic Pro’s lower-pressure steam wand is better for beginners, but as you get more used to steaming you will find its slowness frustrating.

Its little surprise that one of the most popular modifications for the Gaggia Classic Pro is to fit it out with the Rancilio’s steam wand – this will raise its steaming pressure, but it still won’t be as high as the Rancilio Silvia due to the Rancilio’s larger boiler.

Milk Steaming Performance Winner: Rancilio Silvia (but only just)

Functionalities

The two machines have the exact same functionalities.

Both machines can do the exact same things. They can:

  • Pull shots with manual volumetric dosing
  • Steam milk to a variety of textures.
  • They can dispense hot water through their steam wand by turning on both their brew and steam buttons.

Both machines have relatively few functions compared to Breville espresso machines.

Functionalities Winner: Draw

Ease of Use and Cleaning

The Rancillo Silvia’s increased cup clearance and extra drip tray width make it easier to pull shots with than the Gaggia Classic Pro.

By far the biggest difference between these two machines, as far as usability is concerned, is the Rancilio Silvia’s increased cup clearance.

You cannot brew with a scale under your cup with the Gaggia Classic Pro unless you remove its drip tray. This is a really annoying design flaw, especially as brewing with a scale under your cup is necessary if you want to pull consistent shots with a semi-automatic espresso machine.

The Rancilio Silvia has enough cup clearance to brew with a scale, even if you are using standard (non-espresso) coffee cups.

The Rancilio Silvia also has an extra two inches of drip tray width which gives you a bit more space to work with when pulling your shots.

In all honesty, I wouldn’t recommend either machine to a beginner who isn’t willing to go through a fair bit of trial and error with their shot pulling. Since the machines do not dose automatically or have PID you need to master brew ratios and temperature surfing to use either machine properly.

If you are a beginner and want to learn more about easier machines to use, please see my roundup of the best espresso machines for beginners.

Both machines require the same cleaning and maintenance procedures. 

The Gaggia Classic Pro is marginally easier to clean than the Rancilio Silvia because the Rancilio drip tray is very shallow. This makes it hard to remove from the machine when even slightly full without spilling coffee-tinged water all over the machine and your counter.

Ease of Use and Cleaning: Rancilio Silvia

Design and Build Quality

Both machines have a very high build quality and should last you decades. The Rancilio Silvia is better designed than the Gaggia Classic Pro, largely due to its increased cup clearance.

The Rancilio Silvia has a marginally better design and build quality than the Gaggia Classic Pro.

  • The Rancilio Silvia has enough cup clearance to brew with a scale under your cup. The Gaggia Classic Pro does not.
  • The Rancilio Silvia has a higher quality portafilter than the Gaggia Classic Pro. The Gaggia’s portafilter is very flimsy and feels like it’s going to snap when you lock it in.
  • The Rancilio Silvia is heavy enough that you can lock in your portafilter without the machine moving. The Gaggia Classic Pro is not heavy enough to do this.

Despite these shortcomings, the Gaggia Classic Pro is still a very well-built and durable machine. There are lots of reports online of both these machines lasting their users decades (once they have replaced their portafilter).

Design and Build Quality Winner: Rancilio Silvia (but only just) 

Value for Money

The Gaggia Classic Pro offers better value for money than the Rancilio Silvia

The Gaggia Classic Pro is around $300 cheaper than the Rancilio Silvia.

The main difference between these two machines is that the Rancilio Silvia has increased cup clearance, so you will need to remove the Gaggia’s drip tray to brew with a scale underneath your cup.

Is Rancilio’s extra cup clearance worth $300?


Probably not for most people.

Value for Money Winner: Gaggia Classic Pro

Gaggia Classic Pro vs Rancilio Silvia: Final Verdict

Most of you will get better value for money with the Gaggia Classic Pro than the Rancilio Silvia.

Better Value than the Rancilio Silvia
Gaggia Classic Pro
$499.00 $432.99
The Gaggia Classic Pro’s relatively low cost, durability, and modification potential make it better value for money than the Rancilio Silvia.
Get it on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/27/2024 04:05 pm GMT

The Rancilio Silvia is a superior espresso machine to the Gaggia Classic Pro, I just don’t think it is $300 better than the Gaggia.

If you want the best possible semi-automatic espresso machine and don’t care about cost, then go with the Rancilio.

Best if Price is Not a Concern
Rancilio Silvia
$865.00

The Rancillio Silva’s powerful steam wand and more heavy-duty build make it a better espresso machine than the Gaggia Classic Pro.

Get it on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/28/2024 05:55 pm GMT

If you’d like to find out more about how the Gaggia Classic Pro compares to other machines, please see my comparison of the Gaggia Classic Pro vs Breville Barista Express.

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