Espresso is made when a small amount of near boiling water is pressure forced through finely ground coffee beans. It is also the base for many other coffee drinks; like cappuccino which requires frothed milk. The water for the espresso requires a different temperature than the milk frother. Coffee extraction for espresso requires a temperature between 198 and 204 degrees (just below boiling), while the milk frothing process requires steam at a much higher temperature.
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine.
Double Boilers Vs Single Boilers
There are different espresso machine designs, and they handle temperature variation in drastically different ways. In general, espresso makers can be divided into two groups: single boiler and double boiler.
The most popular kind of single boilers are “lever” and “heat exchangers”, also known as hx. For a technical overview of how these two single boiler styles work, click here , but what’s most important to know is that the heat exchange is more efficient and consistent than the lever styled espresso makers.
Dual boilers have two separate boilers and thermostats. They have an advantage over single boilers as they allow you to brew espresso and froth milk at the same time. Although convenient, it’s probably not a deal breaker for most people. In a commercial setting, the double boiler is preferred as it is best at cranking out espresso after espresso. But this lovely feature does come with a disadvantage; added cost from additional power consumption.
For the home brewer, the single boiler style is just fine (as long as it is an hx). Both of the machines in the Breville Barista Express vs Rancilio Silvia debate use hx single boiler technology. I feel confident that either of these machines could handle any volume you can realistically throw at it.
Click here to see price for Breville Barista Express
Click here to see price for Rancilio HSD-Silvia
Aesthetics is always a matter of opinion, but the Breville looks better..to me. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find an appliance brand that makes better looking products than Breville. I can appreciate the classy well-thought-out look and feel of the Breville line.
The Rancilio HSD-Silvia looks good too, but its more industrial design would be better suited in a coffee shop or other business atmosphere.
The Breville Barista Express has the superior features, and it ain’t even close. So, while the Rancilio brand is historically used in commercial environments, the Silvia doesn’t have those convenient features that the home-barista might want.
For example, used coffee grounds are compacted into a “puck” for easy dispensing. It also has a built-in conical burr coffee grinder with a ½-pound hopper attached. This is very a beneficial feature. A good coffee grinder cost at least a couple hundred bucks.
Rancilio Silvia espresso machine.
The Rancilio Silvia has a commercial grade group head (mechanism that controls heat stability and extraction quality), and this probably would give it a slight edge in performance over the Breville; however, when you read on below, you’ll understand why this isn’t the case.
Both of these machines are perfectly capable of making great espresso, cappuccino, and other coffee drinks. In fact, on Amazon you can see pics of customer creations using the Breville Barista Express, just scroll down to the customer reviews, pics are on the right side. Pretty cool stuff.
Click here for more details on the Breville Barista Express
Click here for more details on the Rancilio HSD-Silvia